100,000 tote bags can't be wrong
November 1, 2018 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Hermione 2020. "I’m going to be very careful about overstepping into rhetorical hyperbole that makes you doubt my ability to process scales of importance or things in relation to other things. But I still have to tell you: There are so few objects in this world that fill me with as visceral and physical a rage as a “Hermione 2020” sticker." (sl Vox, Cursed Child spoilers)
posted by betweenthebars (68 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, you pick your hill, I guess. But personally I can think of three or four things that are worse than pretending that Hermione Granger is running for President.

Hell, I could probably come up with a couple more if I take a few minutes to really think it through.

I mean I guess she sort of gets that. But still, just lampshading something doesn't really deal with it.
posted by Naberius at 2:47 PM on November 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


I get where she's coming from. I really do. When you're in a siege mentality, as I increasingly feel that I am and other politically active people are, you're not interested in humor that you can't use as fuel or a weapon. I don't like fun political slogans anymore. I used to walk by a handicraft store (run by and for hippies) with a sign that said "Make Beading Great Again," and to me it seemed about as tasteful as "Arbeit Macht Fun." I'm tired of jokes that aren't jokes but shibboleths. And, yes, I do kind of long for the days when this type of geek humor at least referenced Lord of the Rings, which had some of the flavor of real loss and war.

But I've said it before -- we strike out at the ones we know we can hit. And so she's striking out at this naff little sticker, instead of the kind of people who wear "Rope, Tree, Journalist" shirts, because they are unreachable. I'm reminded a little of this article I saw earlier, wherein the author is mad online because grown people are increasingly comforted by the words of Mr. Rogers, instead of retreating to grim stoicism and relentless anger.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:25 PM on November 1, 2018 [79 favorites]


But personally I can think of three or four things that are worse than pretending that Hermione Granger is running for President.

That's just the thing. Familiarity breeds contempt. Of course there are worse things out there. Plenty of them. Usually by awful people. But this is *her people*, trying to do good, and it grates on her, and because it's just such a little thing that bothers her, it bothers her even more.

A gash hurts more than a cut hurts more than a splinter, but the splinter is more *irritating.*
posted by explosion at 3:26 PM on November 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Getting mad at "Hermione 2020" stickers seems about as helpful as getting mad at "Giant Meteor 2020" stickers. It doesn't take a very generous interpretation to realize it's not about endorsing a specific person (or space rock) as President as it is expressing how you generally feel about the world in a specific pithy way.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Ugh, remember the Giant Meteor 2016 stickers? Like...screw you. Obviously there's a really bad candidate that half the country is gonna vote for by default, but yes let's assume everyone is equally terrible and we must instead pray for a mass extinction event.

I'm a little cranky about Granger 2020 -- not in the least because we probably just had the most Hermione Grangerish candidate we can ever expect to have -- but not "write an extended take" cranky.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2018 [35 favorites]


...ok, that's pretty funny
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:29 PM on November 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


The real problem with this "campaign" is that she is british and I think that's against the rules.

I also do not think there's anything wrong in wishing for an extinction event, I am pro-meteors.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, there are worse things than a wistful “Hermione 2020” sticker. At the same time...shit's on FIRE right at the moment, which makes it difficult for me to take the live-and-let-live approach I'd probably go with in a normal timeline. The energy/money/attention that have gone into this lighthearted shampaign could have been directed into much more productive and effective channels to challenge the officeholders currently making awful policy.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've never seen these, but now I hate them too. Here are my reactions: this is fictional, whereas what we're going through is real. It trivializes the actual situation. Also, it reminds me of the idea that "they're (politicians) all the same." (so let's have fun and pretend that a fictional character is running for President BECAUSE IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER WHO WINS, "they're" all (equally) lousy). (no, they're not, and a real American woman can be President, and eventually will be.)
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:34 PM on November 1, 2018 [28 favorites]


I used to like those "Why choose the lesser evil: Cthulhu 20xx" stickers. But I am no longer amused now that our president is far worse than any Elder God.
posted by acrasis at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


just lampshading something doesn't really deal with it.

What is lampshading in this context? I Googled and couldn’t get a clear answer (although apparently, pairing thigh-high boots with a large sweater is called lampshading #themoreyouknow).

Of course there are worse things than this slogan, but what struck me from reading the article is that "Hermoine For President" subtly reinforces the idea that any woman running for president has to be Absolutely Perfect in a way that no human can be.

Hermoine literally has magical powers and is played by Emma Watson. She fights the type of evil villain who laughs maniacally and declares itself to be evil -- no politlcal doublespeak here! She’s also, what, 17? 18? in most fans' perceptions of her? So she benefits from not having a decades-long professional record that can be pulled apart and criticized.

I have come to realize that any woman — and any person, really — who mounts a realistic presidential campaign is most likely not someone I’m going to have emoji-heart eyes for. That's something I have come to terms with in the last couple years, and I am now more politically engaged, not less. My desire to only volunteer for candidates I was over the moon for was keeping me back from fighting for my values.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2018 [34 favorites]


I was confused when some other time on the Blue someone said young progressives are big into HP, This make some of those pieces fit together a little better. I do think the obsession with HP as politics is a fairly liberal thing though.

I don't have anything good to link, but there's a lot out there about HP, how the reverence for authority, chattel slavery, blood purity, strict class system and role of women all point to very conservative world, and reflects a decidedly liberal understanding of both the world order and what is to be done.

Hermione is, as far as I recall, the only one who challenges any of that. Yet it's interesting that it's tied to the play, and that Hermione is perceived as the kind of president people would want. Like, obviously better than Trump, which is the context of the fantasy, but I'm still surprised.

Is it just that people wish they could vote for the heroine they know, or do they have imagined policies and politics? Would she even be a Democrat?
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:40 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


People get annoyed with constantly referring to current events through the lens of Harry Potter, but you have to admit that blatant and unrepentantly evil people seizing power from the institutions meant to stop them while the media attacks the few people resisting is spot on.
posted by ckape at 3:45 PM on November 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


Ignoring the hate. It doesn't matter which party Hermione Granger would be. She has proven her worth over and over, has worked extra hard to get where she is, and she is SMART. Just proving herself in that way is enough for me.
posted by Snowishberlin at 3:47 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


A Conservative is just a Liberal who's been Muggled.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


But I've said it before -- we strike out at the ones we know we can hit

and i really really REALLY wish we all could stop doing that, at least a little, before we all destroy ourselves

we also strike out at the ones we know will get us clicks on social media, and to me this piece is mostly that: ginning up some tasty Rage Shares through some ol' reliable targets
posted by halation at 3:53 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


I seem to recall seeing fannish extolling of Secretary Clinton's tendency to be deeply engaged in details and desire to protect marginalized groups as being Hermione Granger-ish, so I guess I just don't see the visceral offense in saying you'd prefer a fictional character with those qualities as President than the guy currently in the office.

I mean, I wasn't crazy about the pussy hats being the Symbol of the Resistance, but it doesn't pain my soul that other people wanted to wear them. We can all loathe Trump and vote accordingly.
posted by tautological at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Don't boo. Vote.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


The problem with 'read another book' is that, well, what else are you going to use to explain this moment? We're dealing with implacable evil of the kind of literature has been convincing us doesn't really exist. Genre is the only place where this kind of monstrousness still gets a play - and there, it's mostly used as shorthand for the bad guys.

If you want something that both has ultimate, deeply bigoted evil, and also some kind of gesture at how actual humans react in the face of that, Harry Potter, with its on-the-nose metaphor, is a lot closer than most.
posted by Merus at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


The real problem with this "campaign" is that she is british and I think that's against the rules.

Simple, cannon: Americus Birthcertifcatus. Poof an american.
posted by sammyo at 4:06 PM on November 1, 2018


I would also like to add that on our local NAS hard drive, we've renamed all of those movies Hermione Granger and the ... rather than the name of that fool of a boy raised by muggles.
posted by Snowishberlin at 4:10 PM on November 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Getting mad at "Hermione 2020" stickers seems about as helpful as getting mad at "Giant Meteor 2020" stickers.

But are we really obligated to never be anything but purely helpful every second of every day? Speaking personally, if I did nothing but solve major life-or-death issues with grim determination 24/7, and never took a little time to also blow off steam about burrs under my saddle, I'd have a standing reservation in the psych ward.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


Simple, cannon: Americus Birthcertifcatus. Poof an american.

Are we talking this Hermione or this Hermione? I'm afraid it might make a difference...
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:18 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Neil Gaiman once spoke of an elderly cousin of his who had survived the Warsaw ghetto. Books were a capital offense, but she had gotten ahold of a novel nonetheless. At night she would read it; by day, she would recite the story to the girls she worked with. And so, bit by bit, they kept their souls alive.

That book was Gone With the Wind. Today, I would just about use that book as a plunger stand in the back bathroom. But, awful as it was, it was storytelling; and if people cannot get good stories, they will take what they need from whichever stories are lying around.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2018 [18 favorites]


“Who better ...than a young female heroine that so many people in the literary world love?” she asked, and I was having trouble gearing up to argue until she followed it up by saying, “She’s so relatable and easy to champion.”

Oh, no. I know this is not what she intended, but I don’t think I can stomach, again, being presented with the impossible goal of finding a woman who is ambitious and driven and one-in-a-million smart and also relatable. Also not threatening. You know, not the hero of the book series that built a billionaire.


This get s a good point. That HRC wasn't cuddly enough is horseshit. That Elizabeth Warren probably isn't cuddly enough either sucks. It also sucks that Obama had to be the right kind of black, thought that's getting off on a tangent. That US politics is a big branding first and foremost and a system based on truth and justice and representation only from time to time is horse-shit, and I can see why the author of the piece finds this particular emblem of that reality so jarring.

Personally, I've started getting real sick of watching MSNBC and CNN turn our nation's downfall into cotton candy every week, even if they are doing good journalism work on the side. Rachel Maddow seems like she's having a little too much fun, sometimes. It all feels like they're selling us our sorrow after the fact, and the worst of it is when they try to make you laugh it off and shrug like "what are you going to do?" Herminone 2020, LOL is definitely that kinda nonsense.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:30 PM on November 1, 2018 [33 favorites]


es_de_bah, I worked for a progressive org for a while where some of the leadership actually expressed to staff that it was fortunate when shitty political things happened because it would mean we got more donations. I think if you are a professional political commentator whose livelihood is from having outrageous news to talk about, or you're running an organization funded by donations from outraged supporters, you can lose track of the fact that it would be better if the news weren't happening.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


But are we really obligated to never be anything but purely helpful every second of every day?

Obligated? No. Expected to be? Yes. And it’s not because any one person is making unreasonable demands on your time, it’s because several thousand people (like this one) want just one minute apiece.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2018


This immediately makes me think back to the 2016 coverage of Hillary Clinton, so yeah, the first emotion that comes to mind is sadness.

But I would definitely be in favor of Clinton/Granger 2016 stickers. Maybe 2020, but it's touchy and I'm not caught up enough to know if she wants to run again.
posted by halifix at 5:07 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would also like to add that on our local NAS hard drive, we've renamed all of those movies Hermione Granger and the ... rather than the name of that fool of a boy raised by muggles.

Hmmmm.... "Hermione Granger and the" Alien.

Shut up and take my money!
posted by mikelieman at 5:32 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hermione would be pretty far left of the Democrats, I think. Remember her campaigning for the liberation of house elves? I doubt the DNC would stick their necks out for them, wouldn't want to leave the important conservative-leaning wizards without their servants and risk offending them.
posted by signal at 5:33 PM on November 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Rachel Maddow seems like she's having a little too much fun, sometimes.

Rachel Maddow burst into tears on-camera when reporting on the kidnapping of asylum-seekers' children.

I was going to say, "This all just reads like one of those situations where you're annoyed at something and don't bother to analyze deeply enough to realize that that annoyance is an expression of anger at something else entirely" but then I hit the end and she basically admits just that, so, um, good job yelling at the wrong people for several hundred words in hopes of getting a little scratch for yourself? Are you under the impression that that is actually more useful than buying a Hermione 2020 shirt, lady? You'd be wrong.
posted by praemunire at 5:57 PM on November 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


The real problem with this "campaign" is that she is british and I think that's against the rules.

Okay, but check this. You remember that Swedish girl who pulled the sword out of the lake? Turns out she's actually American! I shit you not! She's from Minnesota. The family moved to Sweden a couple years ago to be near her Mom's family. So she's an American citizen!

That's not just by chance, you mark my words.
posted by Naberius at 6:00 PM on November 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


GoblinHoney: The real problem with this "campaign" is that she is british and I think that's against the rules.

Oh god. Is JK Rowling going to tweet out "By the way, Hermione was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. In fact, her whole family has deep roots in the American South and she speaks with a heavy southern drawl."
posted by mhum at 6:05 PM on November 1, 2018 [27 favorites]


then I hit the end and she basically admits just that, so, um, good job yelling at the wrong people for several hundred words in hopes of getting a little scratch for yourself?

Listen, buddy, these clicks aren't gonna bait themselves.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:06 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's time for a cat person in the White House!
posted by Little Dawn at 6:50 PM on November 1, 2018


I ran out of angry juice when Gore lost.


Er...”lost”.


Since then, I’ve just been going on angry fumes.
posted by darkstar at 6:52 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nthing that there are far worse things in the world to complain about. If daydreaming that someone you admire could run the world, even if it's impossible, cheers you up a bit and helps you fight on more, then go to it, I say.

"And so, bit by bit, they kept their souls alive. That book was Gone With the Wind."

I would imagine that "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again" would be relevant to their interests. For all the dumb self-absorbedness of the lead character, girl does survive.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:06 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


It works best seen as a critique of the books for not centering Hermione as the protagonist.

Seen as an admission that you can't think of any real woman you'd be more excited about running for president than a fictional character, it kinda sucks.

But the obvious intent is, "We need a President with the virtues of Hermione Granger," and I can get behind that.
posted by straight at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Republicans for Voldemort" is still cool, though, right?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


My sixteen year old daughter is all about gender equity, social justice, etc., etc, etc. My completely unbiased opinion is that she might be president some day. She also COMPLETELY LOVES Hermione Granger and has for years. Why wouldn't she?

I'm grateful for this article because it had a link to a spot where I can buy her a Hermione 2020 t-shirt.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 8:02 PM on November 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I mean, in the primary, I'd vote for a Silver Dragon over a Gold Dragon because I think the former would be a bit more populist and willing to listen to common folks than the latter, but in the general election you better believe I'd vote for any shiny scaled dragon over the mess of a white dragon* incumbent we currently have.

* This is totes a sick burn. Crack your Monster Manual to see why!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:06 PM on November 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


nerds read literally any other book challenge
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:21 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's time for a cat person in the White House!

I think they're called "furries."
posted by KChasm at 8:48 PM on November 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Indeed Hermione is perfect in nearly every way, but all of these books are named after someone else. Someone who probably would have died by I'm guessing the 4th or 5th chapter of the 2nd book without her intervention. And pretty much every chapter after that. And I guess she is a POC, but I'm pretty sure Emma Watson isn't. So Hermione is only perfect enough to be the side kick to some guy that can talk to snakes. Better make her white too, because as Patrice O'Neal once said, if you're a POC and there's a chance you might get lost in the woods or fall overboard, tie yourself to a white girl.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:52 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Did anyone ever get around to writing any books about the Nazis? I'm surprised literature overlooked that subject.

We did not, as a culture, handle understanding the Nazis as well as we could have. We turned them into cartoon villains; we turned them into a creeping force of evil; we told the stories of the Jewish people fleeing their home and falling under their control. Given where we came from, this was important, and I don't mean to denigrate it.

But there's a reason why people keep misreading "First They Came" - because there's so, so much less from that perspective, and from the perspective of Germans who realised too late just how much in trouble they were. This is something that almost everyone punted on, because then you have to admit that it can happen here and that the Nazis got a lot of their ideas from what America already does, and you're not doing much about that. Where do you turn for a place to start if you're privileged, very complicit, but you have empathy. Indiana Jones went toe-to-toe because he's a pulp action hero. Oskar Schindler smuggled people out once it was too late to stop it but you're not at that point yet. So what pop-cultural touchstone do you use that everyone you know is aware of?
posted by Merus at 9:56 PM on November 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


So what pop-cultural touchstone do you use that everyone you know is aware of?


I guess I don't understand this question. Is it meant to suggest there is good reason to use a pop cultural touchstone instead of someone/something from reality? That to me is at the crux of the problem, people continually falling back from reality into pop fictions and fanfic versions of it as ways to avoid dealing with reality directly, preferring to address it through commercial pastiche instead.

Hermione totes for kids are harmless, cute even, as they signal some future interest in a kind of candidate or qualities they appreciate. Adults carrying the same message suggests something different when there are actual people who they could be supporting, maybe someone like Kamala Harris or any number of real world possible candidates that could actually defeat Trump, but instead they want to signal their preference for Harry Potter and likely their own virtue for being a "reader", something that seems to have taken on a weird and somewhat unhealthy life of its own lately. The constant retreat to fantasy worlds, and largely juvenile ones at that, is not something I see as any kind of virtue in face of so many real and incredibly pressing problems.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:38 AM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


That to me is at the crux of the problem, people continually falling back from reality into pop fictions and fanfic versions of it as ways to avoid dealing with reality directly, preferring to address it through commercial pastiche instead.

Communicating through references is not a new phenomenon and I assume is as old as humanity. Only the referent changes.

Today we use Rick and Morty, GoT, and Harry Potter references. A decade or two ago people referenced The Simpsons and The X-Files. In decades and centuries past we'd talk about the prodigal son, the widow's mite, the unjust steward, or Pilate washing his hands of it. Shakespeare runs through most of the last 400 years. The Romans no-doubt referenced the Greeks. I am not familiar enough with Eastern literature and writers to give you their referents but I'd be shocked if they didn't exist.

If you're waiting for humanity to abandon cultural references, well, forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.
posted by Justinian at 2:18 AM on November 2, 2018 [19 favorites]


Nah, it isn't that uses of cultural references exist, more how they are currently being used in common practice in regards to issues that are of great importance. References within culture to other cultural works can help provide depth of meaning, references used like the tote serve more to strip meaning from reality. Context is the important thing.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:25 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


...what else are you going to use to explain this moment? We're dealing with implacable evil of the kind of literature has been convincing us doesn't really exist.

I realize it feels good to write that, and concur with the underlying sentiment of "this sort of shit is not supposed to exist."

However (yeah sorry, I pulled a "yes but," however – nested "yes but"! – it is important to recognize the validity of "this sort of shit is not supposed to exist" because that means there are people who can't conceive of it, and that's generally good news), there is inded literature that deals with exactly this. A lot of it. Ever since the beginning of humanity.

One book in particular that I've recommended everyone read since I was first introduced to it twenty years ago, and talked about a lot here on MetaFilter (yep), especially in the run-up to the presidential election two years ago, is The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht. Here's a summary.
Arturo Ui is a renowned criminal, but his infamy is flagging. The media have lost interest, people have stopped talking about him.

Meanwhile, Dogsborough, a senior cabinet minister, is getting a little too cosy with the grocery industry. Business sentiment is falling and public money needs to come to the rescue. But rather than going towards infrastructure, government grants appear to be lining the pockets of Dogsborough and a select few shareholders.

Ui seizes on the opportunity, insinuating himself into Dogsborough’s political institutions, bringing his criminal gang and their brutal tactics along with him. To improve public perception, he trains himself to walk, sit and speak differently. Soon, he has the whole city at his feet. When he’s done there, the whole world.
The character Ui is the head of a Chicago gang that extorts, robs, and kills in order to gain power.

Brecht purposefully chose the States and a mafioso character for his satire of Hitler.

Let that sink in.
posted by fraula at 3:49 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Justinian: Today we use Rick and Morty, GoT, and Harry Potter references. A decade or two ago people referenced The Simpsons and The X-Files. In decades and centuries past we'd talk about the prodigal son, the widow's mite, the unjust steward, or Pilate washing his hands of it. Shakespeare runs through most of the last 400 years. The Romans no-doubt referenced the Greeks. I am not familiar enough with Eastern literature and writers to give you their referents but I'd be shocked if they didn't exist.

Yellow Emperor for President.
posted by clawsoon at 4:02 AM on November 2, 2018


I mean, in the primary, I'd vote for a Silver Dragon over a Gold Dragon because I think the former would be a bit more populist and willing to listen to common folks than the latter, but in the general election you better believe I'd vote for any shiny scaled dragon over the mess of a white dragon* incumbent we currently have.


Or just vote for Tiamat. Lawful and competent would be an improvement. Plus. she'll combat inflation and wealth inequality by takng everyone's gold!
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:11 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Everyone is coping in different ways. Shitting on people on the side of the angels for their preferred coping mechanism, one of which is comedy or escapism, is just dumb. Don’t boo. Vote.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:47 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


“Who better [to do that] than a young female heroine that so many people in the literary world love?”

Real women.

This shit wouldn't bother me either if not for the fact that we have a very very real problem in US politics with equal representation. I'm not talking about the unreachable right wing assholes, I'm talking about the incredibly prevalent and un-examined sexism from the left.

Remember all those bros who said "I would totally vote for a woman, just not THAT woman?" Yeah. We need to do the hard work of finding actual human female candidates to rally behind. We need to accept female candidates with flaws. We need to let go of the idea of perfection, because lack of perfection is used disproportionately to marginalize women.

Call me a humorless fucking feminist, but I agree with the article. There are bigger problems to worry about, of course, but the escapism is A problem because it reflects and helps validate behaviors that hurt all women in politics just as on a larger scale in society as a whole.
posted by lydhre at 6:12 AM on November 2, 2018 [20 favorites]


Adults carrying the same message suggests something different when there are actual people who they could be supporting, maybe someone like Kamala Harris or any number of real world possible candidates that could actually defeat Trump, but instead they want to signal their preference for Harry Potter and likely their own virtue for being a "reader"

I'm sorry, this is flat-out ridiculous. You cannot be under the impression that carrying a humorous tote bag somehow displaces direct political activity (for anyone who would be likely to engage in political activity in a universe without said tote bag). There is no meaningful real-world way for anyone to "prefer" a Harry Potter character to a real-world person who is actually running. And the most politically active women I know--apart from at my job, which is public-interest and so not a fair basis for comparison--are in fandom.

Also, I'm not saying there are no such things as hypocrisy or ostentation, but "virtue signalling" is a right-wing term and anyone accusing others of signalling or performativity these days is likely to be saying more about themselves and their resentment of other people for not taking up space in quite the way they'd prefer than they are about those other people.

(Somehow this was NOT AN ISSUE back in the day when you could spot a "Don't blame me, I voted for Bill and Opus!" bumper sticker in any college town during the Reagan years. Quite the mystery.)
posted by praemunire at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


The oldest argument against SF is both the shallowest and the profoundest: the assertion that SF, like all fantasy, is escapist.

This statement is shallow when made by the shallow. When an insurance broker tells you that SF doesn’t deal with the Real World, when a chemistry freshman informs you that Science has disproved Myth, when a censor suppresses a book because it doesn’t fit the canons of Socialist Realism, and so forth, that’s not criticism; it’s bigotry. If it’s worth answering, the best answer is given by Tolkien, author, critic, and scholar. Yes, he said, fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the knownothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can.
--Ursula K. LeGuin (bad feminist?).
posted by praemunire at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


So much of it comes down to if you know the person and your perceptions of them.

Someone whose politics I don't know, who is broadcasting that they prefer a TERF's fantasy to reality? Suspicious.
Someone who I trust, who chooses to indulge in escapism?
Well, fair enough, take care of yourself.

It's the balance of how charitably you should view the actions of someone you don't know, and when politics is concerned, I think there's an inclination to be less trusting right now.
JK Rowling is not someone you hear good things about these days, while art =/= artist, well, I wouldn't wear a Burzum shirt either.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2018


There is no meaningful real-world way for anyone to "prefer" a Harry Potter character to a real-world person who is actually running.

Of course there's not, that's the point. The message it sends is one of wishing the whole thing away, saying the real world choices aren't of interest or sufficient. You can say it's just for fun and they're really going to be voting in some other fashion, but as a huge percentage of the population doesn't vote and does prefer entertainment to action, I see no reason to credit an interest that isn't shown instead of taking the statement more on its face.

I'm gonna skip the virtue signalling bit because the way that argument is constructed is impossible to answer. I'm not sure what your belief is on statements people make, if they're always meant to be taken at their face value, then see above, or if one can read things into them, then the argument doesn't make much sense other than in the word choice. We disagree on the feeling the totes message sends, that's fine. If I had been asked at the time you would have heard me say something similar about Bill and Opus. I didn't care for that and I don't much care for this. YMMV.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:22 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


* This is totes a sick burn. Crack your Monster Manual to see why!

I hope the Monster Manual explains it better than the Urban Dictionary definition that was my first result when I googled that.
posted by gladly at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have a Hall/Oates "Dreams Come True" 2016 sticker on my car still. I leave it there because when I see it I allow myself a few seconds' little escapist fantasy where Hall and Oates won in 2016 and share the presidency. It gives me a smile. We gotta take our smiles where we can find them, people.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure no one is saying that SF as a genre is escapist (many times it is precisely anything BUT escapist), just its application in slogans to current politics - especially when it reinforces sexist narratives that there are no good candidates to vote for.
posted by lydhre at 11:48 AM on November 2, 2018


I hope the Monster Manual explains it better than the Urban Dictionary definition that was my first result when I googled that.

I just checked that UD definition, and um, yes, they are very different.

MM (5E) : White dragon, the smallest, least intelligent and most animalistic of the chromatic dragons... They are vicious, cruel reptiles driven by hunger and greed.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:00 PM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


The message it sends is one of wishing the whole thing away, saying the real world choices aren't of interest or sufficient.

People who have been activists for more than five minutes know that wishing the evil away is a natural human impulse in no way incompatible with acting the evil away, as they arise from the same root of desperately wanting the evil to be gone. Forbidding humans striving to better the world fantasies in which the world becomes better without requiring infinite sacrifice and labor is not only incompatible with human psychology, it's incompatible with any true radicalism, which by its very nature requires a will to imagine a world well beyond our own.

You can say it's just for fun and they're really going to be voting in some other fashion, but as a huge percentage of the population doesn't vote and does prefer entertainment to action, I see no reason to credit an interest that isn't shown instead of taking the statement more on its face.

This opinion belongs in the historical dustbin alongside the theory that women shouldn't read novels because they will be excessively morally influenced by them into either vice or idleness, as both views share the same incredibly flattened and narrow-minded view of women's relationship to texts. The belief that a woman carrying a "Hermione 2020" totebag is significantly likely to have displaced all her political energy into the toting and is probably signifying her withdrawal from politics altogether because, e.g., Elizabeth Warren is not of interest to her when compared to a fictional character who will not be on the ballot is a deeply sexist presumption and one that, given your comments, is not based on any familiarity with any women who actually do.

A large percentage of the population, male, female, and other, doesn't vote at any time. It's not because they're taking it out on Harry Potter tote bags.
posted by praemunire at 12:26 PM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


I feel like this represents a variant of the threads where we discuss attempts to debate conservatives (like the Peterson thread further down the page). There's this strong but in my opinion absolutely unfounded idea that there is one - precisely one - proper way to Be An Effective Activist/Citizen/Whatever We're Trying to Be Here and it is the responsibility of all True Whatevers to relentlessly attack deviations from the One True Way.

Some people probably do react to Hermione 2020 tote bags with amusement that shades into apolitical complacency. Others - some of whom we've heard from in this thread - clearly don't. I suspect the same applies to reactions to Earnest Political Essay #94839203492, or YouTube clips of the latest televised debate with [Insert Name of Horrible Person Here].

This isn't a video game. Everything doesn't magically become better because we all pressed A-Up-A-Down-B simultaneously. Different people are reached by different strategies, different people deal with stress and frustration differently. And. That. Is. Okay.

I feel like I've seen enough of these "Look At the Unspeakable Wrongness of This Person Activisting Wrong" thinkpieces that there should be a name for the genre. Or at least a very long German word.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:28 PM on November 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


Not sure if Right Deviationist or Left Revisionist.
posted by clawsoon at 3:40 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Different people are reached by different strategies, different people deal with stress and frustration differently. And. That. Is. Okay.

A plurality of approaches, and acceptance of approaches that don't meet your personal yardstick of political correctness (in the original sense), is so important. In my opinion, the most dangerous mistake that leftist activists make is the expectation of purity - that there's a narrow range of acceptable action, and anything that falls short of that is a failure that must be purged. It's dangerous because it's an attempt to use shame as a political tool, and the thing about shame is that it's an indiscriminate weapon. It doesn't have to be based on anything real, it lingers longer than you might expect or intend, and it'll often hit your own side. It's the mustard gas of psychological warfare.

Who better [to do that] than a young female heroine that so many people in the literary world love? Real women.

The reason why people put Harry Potter references on slogans - the whole reason people use references - is that a) they can expect that everyone else will understand them, and b) the narrative that goes along with suggests a next step. Putting real women on a slogan because they don't get enough visibility undermines the whole point of having a slogan in the first place, which is that people either already understand it, or they have the sense they're supposed to. But it's not enough to just be recognisable. Thanos is recognisable - Disney spent a lot of money to make sure - but Thanos doesn't do anything that suggests the kind of action that people want to encourage. Thanos doesn't make This Mess We're In seem solvable, because his story's not about getting out of the kind of mess we're in. Hermione serves here as a symbol of women unequivocally defeating fascists and then becoming leaders, in a way that tends not to work out with real women because real life is messy and real people don't usually get to live happily ever after.
posted by Merus at 7:38 AM on November 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Arya 2020
posted by Going To Maine at 2:57 PM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wtf. I would probably buy a Hermione 2020 tote bag or at least a sticker, and also I just canvassed for Mikie Sherrill in NJ 11, a center left white woman for whom I bear no particular fondness, but, well, her opponent is a terrible person, and if we can flip this district, it will have been a victory. I am 100% capable of both enjoying the thought of a supremely capable women as president (yes obviously I voted Clinton) and living in the reality that politicians aren't perfect and women aren't perfect and having another white cis woman politicians especially isn't perfect but sometimes you just have to do the thing anyway. I contain multitudes; I know it's shocking.
posted by Ragini at 3:21 PM on November 3, 2018


You can boo and vote.
posted by tzikeh at 7:27 PM on November 3, 2018


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