I’ve become increasingly hostile towards trolls.
I will admit, much to my growing shame, that I once found them amusing…especially when they would trigger some poor slob.
Before we continue, it woul d probably be of benefit to define a troll;
A troll is NOT someone who disagrees with you. I know this is news to some. But people are allowed to have their own opinions and that doesn’t mean they’re attacking you as a person to have an opposing point of view.
A troll IS someone who purposefully intends to elicit an emotional response by doing or saying something shocking. Most of the time, a troll doesn’t even believe in the thing they’re saying or doing. They just want some attention and like idiots, we lap it up. Hell…America elected one and the Brits followed one right into Brexit. We’re all susceptible to being trolled and most of us have done it in some way or another.
This piece being a prime example of that.
The fact is that there are people who are irrelevant without their trolling.
Once upon a time, Mr. Wheaton was a Hollywood pretty boy cast as the precocious genius son of Dr. Beverly Crusher. For reasons never satisfactorily explained in the series, a staunch career military officer instilled an underage child on the bridge of the flagship of the Federation while ensigns who’d spent at least four years at the Academy languish in mediocrity before being placed on the bridge moments before they’d invariably be chosen for an away mission and die.
During the filming of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wil Wheaton, from most reports, was an arrogant little douchebag and “Shut Up Wesley” was the direct result of the writers losing their patience with the young Wil Wheaton, his agent and the show’s producers. It was decided that Wesley Crusher needed to get more air time. After a year off due to either Wil’s movie role or a reprimand by Paramount for an altercation in which he allegedly punched a production assistant, he returned to the show a little less arrogant…but “Shut Up Wesley” would resurface from time to time much to the amusement of everyone except Mr. Wheaton. This is all covered in the special release DVD commentary tracks, in case you’re so inclined to listen to it. The stories tend to be cringe worthy anecdotes of a cast of adults having to toe the studio line with an annoying child star.
Now, after the show ended, Wil Wheaton ended up mostly relegated to made-for-TV movies and really didn’t do anything nerdy until 2002 when he reprised his role as Wesley Crusher. It was at this time that he started doing conventions. Now, to be fair, there weren’t many Cons prior to 2002 and while he spent the better part of a decade trying to distance himself from the role and “crazy Star Trek fans”.
After realizing his career will forever be tied to the series, he seemed to embrace being a nerd and started taking animation, sci-fi and guest appearance roles. Although, he always seemed to be cast as the arrogant former child star and one would be led to assume that, like Seth Green, he did so trying to shed the moniker of a bitter self-hating nerd while embracing his rumored/accused persona.
This brings us up to…well…a few days ago when Wil Wheaton posted to social media a selfie of him across the street from The Last Jedi premiere. Quick to trigger, the internet exploded in a torrent of nerd-rage while utterly failing to notice that unlike Rogue One, he was not invited to the viewing. He just showed up like some random passer-by and took a selfie.
Of course, the media being excellent at their jobs posted screen captures of his appearance on an episode of The Big Bang Theory (Season 9 episode 11 – The Opening Night Excitation – aired Dec 17, 2015) in which he showed up at a Star Wars movie dressed as a Vulcan science officer. Didn’t that picture seem somehow staged?
Just in case you’re still not convinced…
So, to summarize, in order to get some attention, Wheaton ripped off a Big Bang Theory bit in order to piss off some Star Wars fans. Why? Only Wil Wheaton knows. Perhaps it was for the lulz. Triggering fanboys is incredibly challenging for someone who’s been acting for over 30 years.
So, like a certain angry orangutan, he’s succeeded by playing to the lowest common denominator; do something shocking and get people to react to it.
During the aforementioned nerd-rage explosion, accusations were flying like a poorly styled comb-over. TableTop was cancelled. His role on the Stretch Armstrong series was recently axed. He needs to line up his next project and can’t do that without proving to some producer that he’s still socially relevant. But really, only Wheaton would know why he so blatantly ripped off someone else’s joke to sow discord amongst his own people.
Let’s pause to talk about that for a moment. Why are Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans at odds? The franchises take place in space. That’s the beginning and end of their similarities. I’m a big fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek. I was introduced to them around the same time and never knew there was conflict between fans of the franchises. I just enjoy character driven content. There have been times Trek has gone hard-sci-fi, meaning the science isn’t sound in some series while they adhere to science more strictly in others. There have also been times when Wars have gone very fantasy (ahem…midi-chlorians). I couldn’t care less. When enjoying fiction I tend to suspend disbelief in much the same way as I elect to ignore reality when I watch pro-wrestling.
Now, I wasn’t one of those nerds who were triggered into a reaction. I just didn’t find it funny. When I discussed the event with my wife and friends, an alarming number of them found it hilarious. My wife is not a sci-fi fan at all, despite her enjoyment of DS:9. Most of my nerdy friends were torn between being fans of one of the franchises, their innate distaste of Wheaton, or ambivalence because…and I quote; “Dude, who cares? Farscape is better anyway.” At least there I did chuckle. Not because she was wrong, just because it’s another franchise I love.
The point emerges.
At what point are we going to stop rewarding stupidity? When we have other child stars like the sickenly handsome Joseph Gordon-Levitt privately funding Hit REcord WHILE acting in some pretty amazing movies. Or Abigail Breslin, erstwhile adorable scamp Little Miss Sunshine who admittedly made an error in judgement reprising the role of Baby Houseman, but knocks it out of the park playing Veronica in the sleeper hit (subjective, I’ll admit) Final Girl WHILE continuing to write and produce her own music.
Why do we give trolls what they want? Is it really worth the chuckle to continue encouraging behavior most of us try and steer our kids away from?
I’m not sure anymore.
Perhaps it’s because trolling has become a political tool and it’s lost its luster. I probably would have found Wheaton’s stunt more amusing prior to Nigel Farage helping to set a country up for financial ruin. I probably would have been more entertained before a failed businessman and reality show star became the president of a country while under the scrutiny of collusion with another country (ally or enemy status of a country is not relevant to treason) and under accusation of sexual assault all while shrugging it off as “fake news”. I would probably have found it more amusing before the largest mass shooting in history was followed by rescinded gun laws across the planet.
I’m sorry to make a silly publicity stunt into a larger political issue, but I’m just not amused anymore by attention whoring idiots. With everything 2016 brought us, 2017 was another year of one outrageous scandal after another casually shrugged off as normal. Insanity has become normalized.
The question invariably becomes; why are you writing this if you weren’t triggered?
The answer is simple. I’m a writer. It’s what I love to do. I find a topic, investigate some anecdotal evidence and then spin a yarn in an editorial fashion and hope more people find it interesting than tear it to shreds. I’m not a professional asshole, I’m just practicing.