SWAG77 Editorial: HBO Max’s 15 Minutes Of Shame And Schadenfreude

HBO Max’s 15 Minutes Of Shame was produced by Monica Lewinsky of President Clinton fame and Max Joseph of the TV Show Catfish. A very odd group to present this concept of what happens on social media, but necessary for this age.

Monica Lewinsky was only 22 years old when her name moved around the world, and it is her shame. My grandmother used to say she was called “everything but a child of God.” And I remember the comments made about her in 1998. I was an adult in graduate school when it happened. I don’t know how strongly I felt. I probably was mad because I encountered how some women cozy up to celebrity men by any means necessary, and the man is helpless unwittingly. I had undergone the most humiliating embarrassment of my life at that time, and I thought such nasty things.

Today, I have learned from an unlikely source differently by being more open-minded to why one would say and do what they say even if they are in direct opposition to me. I still have far to go.

Anyhow, 15 Minutes of Shame outlines very recent individuals who have made a tiny error in life, even apologize for it and wind up on social media lambasted. They are threatened with their lives. Their family’s life is threatened. They lost their jobs. Their story never stops, and it is not even accurate! Moreover, there is identity harassment: harassment of an immutable trait, like race, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender diversity, or religious belief — anyone who is not of the mainstream and part of the marginalized communities — facts that can’t change — and the result on social media is not just a few harassers, but hundreds per day, on large format social media where someone, a lone wolf, can take action to harm.

We on social media know these facts. But I suspect many, mostly younger than me, don’t know that the bullying, harassment, and blasting are helping social media companies profit from individuals’ errors and demise. In the United States of America, we have freedom of speech — which genuinely means the government can’t come after you if you think of administration of governance or elected official or officer of the court is foul. You can’t threaten them with harm or injury. But if you say they’re an idiot for whatever reason, you have that right, and they cannot kill you or put you in jail.

But social media companies are protected by a law written in 1996 that whatever individuals say on their sites, they are not responsible. This law is euphemistically called “Section 230”. The issue is the law is dated and old-fashioned. Back then, up until the 2000s, social media was in its infancy. People used it to learn new things and new ideas. It was a fun and exciting dynamic. Then at some time in 2010-2012, it went haywire. Individuals discovered that they had power and could use it. That information posted goes unchecked, and the social media companies didn’t care because they won’t be held accountable. Threats of bodily harm could be rampant, but since social media is a business, the harmful individuals RARELY were penalized. However, at some point, social media companies discovered that they could make more money to increase engagement by making a post go viral. It can get viral by appealing to the bottom urges of humanity’s brains — the medulla oblongata — the rage and anger areas through moral outrage. The morality centers taught to us, our underlying values, if they run algorithms from Artificial Intelligence (AI), the more trigger words or catchphrases or comments of moral turpitude you make, the more ads get shown to you that bolsters your emotions to act devoid of critical thinking skills and questions.

Moreover, it works when people are sad and depressed. Of course, rage leads to sadness and depression. In comparison, anxiety comes from fear of the unknown, which can lead to anger.

The Yoda idea: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering…

The big tech makes money manipulating that process to make you more angry by showing similar posts which can goad you on and ads that will cater to your base desires.

For example, I do not like cheaters. I loathe them. So ads that will piss me off are raunchy romance novels where either the women or men are cheaters, which makes me angry. Or showing my friends’ posts who say they are undergoing a divorce because their significant other cheated on them. Or videos where one woman goes over to another woman’s house and starts kicking her ass. There’s more. Lawyers that specialize in divorce because a spouse cheated. Movies about cheating. All of these kinds of information get me to either re-tweet it or share it. All in the hopes of more people seeing it to make money off of a few keywords and what I like and do not like or share.

What is going on is FEAR. Fear is the mind killer — and we must face our fears. Or the anxiety explodes. To fight that off, we get angry, and the anger peaks, then we spiral down into a pit of despair. And then it becomes a vicious cycle because we get addicted to it. Literally, dopamine, the pleasure chemical, is released, and we desire that reward of a high from a sadist’s perspective in getting back at the person under our closest radar and ire. We seek the weakest—all of us.

What does this have to do with Star Wars?

A lot. I was harassed relentlessly by a narcissistic lunatic in 2011, where I had to leave Twitter. This fool makes 100s of burner accounts all to harass me over a lie fabricated by utterly hateful people. It was before I knew that Black women were targeted. Before I knew there were “misogynoirists” who hated Black women. People who were anti-Black and that a large portion of the fandom is racist. I learned people hated me because of my identity, but at the time, I thought I was the only one.

All I was doing was writing fiction for Star Wars as a part of my fandom, reading Star Wars books, buying Star Wars books, asking Star Wars questions, and doing Star Wars roleplay. They hated me because they harassed me, and I told them I could find them so they could say that silly stuff to my face. They got scared, so the group blocked me.

So, because of Twitter bolstering ugliness on its site, I took to Facebook on a recommendation of a fellow fan. I did that until the lunatics directly harassed me with racist comments and said they would kill me. I was not too fond of that, but I was not concerned until I saw my real name on a white supremacist Facebook page. Facebook did nothing after all my reports and then deleted my account because they made up new rules.

So, I had a legal business. It was time to use my business license and start obtaining advertising affiliates. I found out Amazon had one, too. I used them for a while until they decided to kick me off for no reason when they screwed up. But I got something for them. It won’t matter much, but it’s something.

Then a young man helped me seek out a better Star Wars fandom and pursue the “big league” kinds of stuff. It is competitive to do what we used to do, but I could make some things work with some of my training in political campaigns and non-profits. I did business with Disney Lucasfilm Star Wars, which I’m very proud of, and I’ve had my time.

I’m concerned about Star Wars Fandom these days because I endorse a relationship (ship) that only a handful of fans endorse. I support the shipping of Grand Admiral Thrawn with Sabine Wren. They have a 20 year age gap between them as adults, and the story is about agency, choice, consent, and acceptance. It is not all about sex, but fanfiction is about sex, generally.

I fucking got Grand Admiral Thrawn into Star Wars Rebels with the “Get Thrawn In” campaign with a $5000 fan table at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. When Sabine Wren was first announced as an “explosive artist” Mandalorian, a couple of fans said she would have a lot to discuss with Grand Admiral Thrawn. Then her story became clear. She is more important in the galaxy than we once thought. The only being to properly be with her as a supporter is Grand Admiral Thrawn. Moreover, one of her compatriots, Fenn Rau, pledged himself to support her no matter what by raising an army under her rule. Fenn Rau knows nothing about creating and implementing efficient battle plans, but Grand Admiral Thrawn does.

I don’t know the end of my story due to writer’s block. I do not have an idea block. However, I get hung up on what other people say — another pitfall to social media that social media companies have organized.

Star Wars fans of Grand Admiral Thrawn force other ships on the character. I do not care for these ships. Thrawn is shipped with characters from past books to current novels and in the Star Wars Rebels TV show, except Sabine Wren. That is fine with me, but I ship him with Sabine because I want to do it. Fans dislike my ship because they do not respect me. They ridicule me and call me a pedophile when my story is about adults. These acts are NOT Star Wars fandom — it’s Star Wars The Fandom Menace. It is cruel to see my demise because they think it is wrong or not created by them.

I do not waste my time bashing other fans because I have too much to do. I sell books, and some fans buy them from me. I take those funds to maintain the quality of my social media. That takes money. I do not know where fans think this money should come from, but it is not about working a second job. What it is about is monetizing my fandom. If I’m going to get called a pedophile for shipping a fanfiction about Thrawn X Sabine, then I need to be paid for enduring the cruelty of that lie.

Look, I am not afraid of the swatting some warped Star Wars fan tattles to police. I do not care what they say. I have lawyers, too.

It is about a young person who is a fan of Star Wars with parents who have a considerable age difference, and their life is perfect. It is about another Star Wars fan who has met the love of their life, and there is a considerable age difference. Still, they consented and are okay with what they enjoy. It is wrong to say age differences are a problem when people are consenting adults. Power dynamics and grooming are not enough to say it is wrong. That is not right. Older people have the right to love, too, as long as it is welcomed, consenting, and everyone is an adult.

I fight for those Star Wars fans. These antis against Thrawn X Sabine are HURTING Star Wars fans with such heinous accusations. I don’t fear them calling me stupid. I do worry other Star Wars fans who have been supportive of my group being called that. Not because they can’t handle themselves, but because that is not how we are humane to one another as fans. If a fan does not understand or disagree, be sure it is about mutual respect and not falsities. And I have seen so much false information than supportive information in recent years.

This idea of mutual respect brings me back to 15 Minutes of Shame — the antis get high off of shame. It feels good. It raises pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine to seek the reward that one was right on the assumption. It is to seek that high of schadenfreude.

But ask yourself, as a fan, is it that important to get that high when you triumph over a fictional movie because of personal vendetta? To mob attack individuals who might disagree with you? Then preach being holier in piety as if you are the authority? Is that the kind of Star Wars fandom you want?

Because if it is, you are killing the Star Wars Fandom when you seek schadenfreude.

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Published by Star Wars Actors Guild 77

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