Some e-migos and I were discussing this in an offline. The movie in question was Fight Club. I think we all agreed that the movie’s no-doubt-SJW writer thought his film was about “toxic masculinity,” but that’s not how it was received — most people nowadays who watch Fight Club (which came out nearly 20 years ago, remember) really want to be Tyler Durden. He’s not a caricature of chest-puffing machismo; he’s an ideal to aspire to.
I know, I know, if they could see the obvious consequences of their positions they wouldn’t be liberals, but the goodthinkers behind too-clever-by-half “deconstructions” like Fight Club really ought to have had second thoughts. Back in Fight Club days, postmodernism was all the rage, and if you got past English Lit 101 you’d soon be introduced to the joys of reader-response criticism. A work’s author, this theory says, is irrelevant; what a given artwork “means” is how the audience responds to it.
Now as with all things Leftish, there’s a grain of truth to this. Cracked.com (the genesis of this particular discussion btw) is chock full of semi-amusing listicles about authors who hated their most famous novels, actors who despiste their iconic roles, etc., almost all of which boil down to “the stupid audience doesn’t understand what I was doing.” The audience is a big factor, probably the main factor, in determining how a work will be received.*
Which suggests a nice line of counterattack for the Alt-Righters, who internet much better than the SJWs. Reader-response criticism puts authors on the defensive. If everyone who loves Fight Club thinks Tyler Durden is a role model, then it’s up to Jim Uhls (screenplay) and Chuck Palahniuk (novel) to explain why he’s not. Maybe they’re too big to respond to the likes of us, but it should be pretty easy to back your average Gender Studies major into a corner in a comment section: “So tell us, Snowflake, just why is Tyler Durden an avatar of ‘toxic masculinity’? And no, ‘wow just wow I can’t even’ is not an answer.”
Meme it up. Why, for example, is this so bad?
Someone like me can discuss the pros and cons of National Socialism with you, because I’ve read a book that isn’t Harry Potter. Can your average SJW? To ask is to answer. I say The Man in the High Castle, book and tv series, is about how great life is in the Greater German Reich. Discuss.
See what I mean? Put them on the defensive. Wow just wow, you can’t even? Gosh, you’re really getting your $250K in student loan debt’s worth, eh Snowflake?
*Which explains a lot of “great” literature, in my opinion. Starting around the turn of the 20th century, writers wrote exclusively for critics — guys like James Joyce would be embarrassed to death to make a single grubby dollar off their work. The audience responded, and we’ve all had to memorize the “fact” that bizarre, schizophrenic-chimp-on-crack stuff like Finnegan’s Wake is “Great Art.”