I used to skateboard. Now, I didn’t get into the hobby until my junior year of high school or so, but growing up in the 80s and 90s, man did I want to skateboard.
You have to understand that, even for a kid growing up in the middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire, California culture was everywhere. All I wanted to do was surf, do martial arts, be in a rock band, and skateboard.
Of course, my parents weren’t okay with such s dangerous hobby. But when I was old enough and had my own money, I bought a deck at the local skate shop and started to shred.
Sorta. I never approached mediocre, but I had fun. It was an excuse to be outside and hang out with all my friends who did skateboard–including some who were professionals while we were in high school–listen to cool punk rock and metal, and know what the hell I was doing when we all played Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater on our PlayStations.
I subscribed to Transworld and Thrasher, wore skater clothes, and used this new thing called The Internet to try and figure out new tricks.
I stopped skateboarding when I moved to Boston for grad school. I tried skating to class, but Beacon Hill isn’t exactly conducive to skating. And the big skatepark under the Zekim Bridge hadn’t been built yet, so I stuck to walking.
But what being immersed in skate culture, taking a deep dive as a total newbie, did was gave me an appreciation for having to learn about a subculture prior to being accepted.
No one will take you seriously if you show up to a skate park with a top-of-the-line deck, expensive skate shoes, and brand-new designer clothes, when you can’t skate, don’t know the history of skateboarding, and have no idea what the thingie on your skateboard that attaches the wheels to the deck is called . . . and especially if you can’t even skate.
But if you show up humble and willing to learn, and don’t lie about knowing stuff about the subculture, you’ll find you have a whole bunch of cool new friends eager to help ease you in. At the very least, the people in the subculture will respect you, even if they may resent your intrusion. In time, you learn to be a part of the crew.
The same was true when I got into guitars and being a rock musician. And jazz too (scratch that–jazz musicians are assholes).
All this is to say, I agree completely with J.D. Cowan’s assessment that poseurs, not normies, ruin subcultures.
Imagine the poseur I described above. Now imagine he comes in and makes demands about the subculture he literally just joined seconds ago. Now even worse, imagine if the people in the subculture go along with it and let the poseur take over. Pretty soon, the poseur remakes the subculture in his or her own lame image, driving off the original people and ruining the subculture, wearing it as the proverbial skin-suit while demanding respect.
A long time ago, ever since culture began, there have been subcultures. These are smaller branches that connect to the larger trunk of our culture and identity. It means we are all in this together. Everything connects, and that is the way it should be.
This term was used all the way up until the 21st century when it was slyly replaced by those in charge to being called a “community”. This change matters because it has changed the scene in question from being about bonding over a certain, smaller aspect of culture that would unite to a greater whole into being a “community” of isolated obsessives. It became about being friendly and nice and going along to get along in order to escape the wider world which we cannot empathize with therefore are our enemies.
This is a radical shift, and no one ever questions why this change was made. But it is undoubtedly not the way it was meant to be.
However, what can be said is that these changes weren’t made by “normies” with limited investment of the subculture in question. This is because normal people have lives and interests away from said scene. By definition they can’t do what they are accused of doing. If I enjoy a game of Tetris every now and then I’m not going to go to a Tetris fan community and try to take over their moderation staff to enforce rules in my image. Why would I ever do that? That’s nonsense. It’s fiction. It doesn’t happen.
The reason this shift from open subcultures to closed communities was made wasn’t because “normies” got in charge, but it sure would be nice for the real culprits if you and them fought over it! The reason these changes were made was because fanatics who didn’t understand the subculture in question pushed themselves in charge and began rebuilding it in their image. This is the habit of the elusive poseur, evading detection for decades.
He’s absolutely right. We call subcultures “communities” and allow soyboy weenies and lame chicks to call the shots, wrecking what made the subculture great in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.” We’ve seen this in rock n’ roll, tabletop role playing, sci-fi and fantasy, sports, video games, acting, improv comedy, and even farmer’s markets. I don’t know about skateboarding, but my bullshit detector points to “yes.”
About the only subculture that hasn’t been totally ruined is heavy metal, but give it some time.
What do a lot of these subculture have in common?
- Predominantly male
- Not where the stereotypical “Chad” tends to spend his time
- Culturally influential
It’s the first and the last that make them such attractive targets, and the first and the second that make them so easy to infiltrate.
Here’s what I mean:
Male-only spaces have to go. Especially male-only spaces that are culturally influential. The little parasitical, zero-accomplishment NPC-types want that power! And a influential subculture made up of mostly socially awkward young men has a huge weakness: female attention.
Get enough attractive girls with an agenda interested into a group, and you can infiltrate it and change it from within.
Women and, to a lesser degree, high status men.
RPG geeks and video game nerds, for example, crave female attention. And since men, contra decades of feminist agitprop, really like women, they’ll accommodate to let them in all for the merest possibility of even getting a hug from one of them. They’ll tolerate rule-changes and will modify their own behavior so as to not offend the girls in the gang, and before they know it, their subculture is over.
Now, it is true that there are females in various subcultures who honestly enjoy partaking in said subcultures and are not, in fact, poseurs. These women also want to keep the subculture they way they were that attracted them to it in the first place. The thing is, in my experience women are better at picking out the female poseurs than men, because men in the group just like thinking girls want to be around them.
Except skateboarding. That attracted misfits, anarchists, and guys who were pretty successful with women. Of course, skaters also skew very left, so I’d imagine they’re on-board with all manner of SJW lunacy.
The end result is that you have to be vigilant or your subculture will be destroyed. I’m with J.D.: not all gatekeeping is bad:
This is why gate-keeping exists: to keep everything in order, guide normal people who are interested in, and to make sure the narcissists stay out of power. This is how a subculture retains its identity and grows at the same time. By letting obsessives in charge, everything has shrunk. We got fat and lazy, and cared so little for our fellow man that we let them destroy themselves by taking charge of things they had no right taking charge of, simply because we didn’t want to be called mean names. It is our fault this happened.
Without some kind of initiation, some probationary period, you allow your subculture to be infiltrated and dominated by people who hate it and want to remake it in their own twisted, pathetic, and lame image. Everything is not for everybody, and that’s not a gendered thing.
It’s a personality thing.
No one, absolutely no one, wants miserable, mentally unstable and emotionally incontinent, narcissistic, power-hungry, and hate-filled wretches with daddy issues of either gender as a part of their group. Don’t be afraid to freeze them out.
One final point: there is nothing wrong with male-only spaces or male-dominated subculture. There is also nothing wrong with female-only spaces and female-dominated subcultures.
Yet only male-only spaces and male-dominated subcultures are marked for destruction. This is why I’m not outraged at all by trans-men competing in and utterly dominating women’s sports. I find it utterly hilarious and a perfect encapsulation of the non-logic undergirding the majority of life in twenty-first century America.
One way in which bad gatekeeping is being overcome is in the realm of publishing where the arbiters of “approved” sci-fi and fantasy can be circumvented. Support independent authors!