So, in case you’re not plugged into the Geeky-verse, Simon Pegg said a thing and sent everyone CRAZY. To paraphrase: something something, the dumbing of the world, blah blah intellectual ART, deep questions, blah, comics and superheroes are for children not for GROWNUPS.
I’m honestly not that interested in getting all huffy at Simon Pegg; I’m disappointed at him, sure, but mostly for trotting this incredibly tired, repetitious bullshit and then claiming that this was a “state of our union,” timely reality check, or that this SO OLD IT’S TIMELESS rhetoric is relevant, interesting, or worth spending any time wondering about. (Telegraph article about the statements here, and Pegg’s response to the pushback on his blog here.) And I’m not going to bother addressing the obvious fallacy in accusing comics and movies based on comics of failing society by not addressing “serious questions,” because they do, and we know they do, and even Pegg admitted they do. I feel kind of sad for Simon Pegg, honestly, because at some point someone made him feel like he had to walk away from “geeky” things to be taken seriously. And he believed them instead of laughing.
What I am interested in talking about is what does or doesn’t count as “serious,” “good,” or “grown up” art for reading, watching or otherwise consuming. In case the quotation marks didn’t give it away, I fundamentally disagree with the question.
Art is art, and writing is writing, and if you’re reading I’M THRILLED and I don’t really give two shits about what you’re reading. I’m definitely not going to assert that some genres are somehow superior to others. If you love romance novels, awesome! If you love sword-and-sorcery, yay! If you like modern fantasy or science fiction or comic books or PICTURE BOOKS, I honestly am just happy that you have found things in this world that bring you happiness.
Comic books are not at fault if people are talking more about Age of Ultron than the earthquake in Nepal. Age of Ultron isn’t at fault for that either. Our joy about things we enjoy is not at fault if we neglect the world around us. Art does not have a fucking job to do except make us feel; it doesn’t have to make us feel only serious business feelings. There is nothing wrong with being a forty-year-old superhero fan, and if someone ever says that to you, you have my permission to punt that toxic garbage right out of your stylish cape-wearing life.
To Simon Pegg I say: You want people to talk about the earthquake in Nepal, Simon Pegg? YOU TALK ABOUT IT. YOU’RE A FUCKING CELEBRITY AND A WHITE, WESTERN, CISSEXUAL (last I heard, anyway), MAN. LEVERAGE THAT FUCKING PRIVILEGE AND TALK ABOUT NEPAL. Hey, if that’s not entirely comfortable, aim closer to home and say something fucking useful about misogyny in tech and geek culture.
To the rest of you: love what you love, people. So long as it does no harm, rock your world however you like. Read Harry Potter, read comics, read graphic novels, read Shakespeare, read Stephen King, read Grisham, read Doctor Seuss. Read and find joy in it. Read and find interest in it; read and find enlightenment, find a distraction, if that’s what you want. And if you’ve got the time, the spoons, the resources to try to help others, that’s a really good thing that can bring joy and beauty into your life too.
Buy art because it’s pretty; read a poem because you like the rhythm. Go see a Transformers movie because EXPLOSIONS. I’m never going to judge you based on what you read, and people who are judging you are telling you more about themselves than anything else.