By Jerry Chandler
This is certainly going to be one of the more… different… pieces I’ve ever written for Needless Things. I’m usually fairly direct when it comes to things I’m writing about, but, at least right now, I’m being courteous about the matter. I’m not going to risk stirring up a hornets nest for someone/a group of people by addressing the matter directly and in detail. I will, it’s just going to have to wait a half dozen or so Thursdays before I can. In the meantime, I’m going to comment on various groups of people out there, sadly some in fandom, by discussing their mindset. Well, discussing might be the wrong word…
It might well be a version of what we’ve come to call First World Problems. Sadly, it’s a particular problem that ultimately doesn’t have the comical edge to it that Al manages to so successfully attach to so many of the others despite the seeming stupidity of it.
Imagine you lived in a country where once there roamed terrifying, evil dragons. These terrifying, evil dragons were once mighty terrors. During their time, they legitimately destroyed lives with a grin on their face and, even worse, sometimes the belief that what evils they did were righteous and just.
But those days are gone. All of the terrifying, evil dragons were slain decades unto centuries ago. After the last one was slain, there still existed some lesser evil not quite dragons after that. However, most of them were also slain within a few decades of the last of the terrifying, evil dragons being slain. The age of the terrifying, evil dragons and the lesser evil not quite dragons ended, and it has been over for a long time now. Sure, there are still a few slimy monsters creeping around and occasionally leaping out from their hiding places in order to try to pray upon the weak, but they’re nothing compared to what the dragons were like. For the most part, there’s just no need for dragon slayers in this day and age. At best, we still need a few slimy monster wranglers here and there, but most of the regular folk have gotten pretty good about banding together to put down slimy monsters when they pop up.
But, then, a new generation came along and declared that they were dragon slayers and they would go out and slay the terrifying, evil dragons. But there are no longer terrifying, evil dragons. So, the self-proclaimed terrifying, evil dragon slayers- having no terrifying, evil dragons to slay -decide to invent them. The self-proclaimed dragon slayers invent them by going out and finding tiny, harmless, defenseless lizards and declaring them the new threat to us all. They proclaim that, after all, the lizards have scales and eyes and claws and teeth like terrifying, evil dragons, so they therefore must be terrifying, evil dragons. They then declare war on them while trying to convince the gullible in the land that these are really terrifying, evil dragons and proclaim that the others need to join them in this new war against the terrifying, evil dragons.
But, in reality, they’re doing absolutely nothing of value. At best, they’re running around and looking like idiots to most reasonable people by declaring war on lizards and claiming they’re terrifying, evil dragons. At worst, they’re pointlessly harassing and tormenting people who like having the lizards in their yards because the lizards eat bugs.
They may even be doing harm in their crusade to do “good” as they see it.
Then, at the end of each long week’s being useless nuisances, they engage in large circle jerks where they congratulate each other over the valiant battles they’ve fought and the terrifying, evil dragons they’ve slain during their most recent attacks on the lizards.
Sometimes they accidently manage to find themselves a few slimy monsters creeping around, but even then they overplay it. When they find a few slimy monsters creeping around, they can’t just play it up to the masses as just slimy monsters that they’re fighting. No, the slimy monsters are so much more of a threat than the lizards that they must be represented- or rather misrepresented -appropriately. The slimy monsters, monsters that most of the people living in the country have gotten good at handling themselves, were suddenly made out to be dragons that may be an even greater threat than the dragons of old, and they had to be dealt with via even more extreme measures than the lizards portrayed as terrifying, evil dragons were met with.
They may have found some scary looking lizards, and the slimy monsters were certainly slimy monsters, but the fact was that nothing they found was ever the threat the dragons of old were; nor were they ever on a comparable level with the dragons in any true way. But no one could or can ever tell that to the self-professed dragon slayers. Oh, some might try, but the self-professed dragon slayers would hear none of it. They were dragon slayers after all, so if they were slaying anything it was obviously a dragon, they would tell you in a demented version of Q.E.D. But rather than thus it has been demonstrated, it was in reality more like the my cat is a dog fallacy. Their dog has four legs, their cat has four legs, and thus their cat is a dog. Or, in this case, their lizard a dragon.
But because their lizards could not possibly be just lizards, anyone saying they were lizards was against them. If you were against them, well, you were against what was right. If you were against what was right, you were obviously with the dragons and you must be exposed for what you are and fought as well. Occasionally, those who must be exposed and fought were even other dragon slayers who eventually didn’t see the threat in a particular lizard deemed an evil threat by the dragon slayer powers that be.
If life were truly just, the real world would work more like a Terry Pratchett story. The fools would go on to be fools and largely seen as such by most of the population. Hell, they may even find themselves getting done in by their own idiocy in quite spectacular and comical fashion.
Unfortunately, the real world tends to work, well, more like the real world that Terry Pratchett would parody so well rather than providing us the satisfying resolutions sometimes found on Discworld. In the real world, the “dragon slayers” acquire more and more of a following. Some of it is formed by the foolish and easily manipulated, some of it from the manipulative, and some from the easily cowed. The easily cowed are probably the easiest to sway. For some of them, fear of falsely being labeled a dragon or dragon ally is enough of a threat to support the “dragon slayers” as they attack other things that are not actually dragons or even anything truly like dragons. Or, even if they don’t support the “dragon slayers” in their folly, they don’t stand in their way or stand to protect their targets.
This leads to the “dragon slayers” becoming more and more bold, and, unfortunately, it also results in them far too often winning battles that they should never be allowed to win.
Tiny lizards are not dragons. Slimy monsters are what they are, but even they aren’t the dragons of old. The people that can tell the difference between a lizard and a dragon and say so are certainly not dragons or dragon allies. Sooner rather than later, for the good of everyone, the “dragon slayers” need to be laughed at for what they are and told to piss off and go home.
Jerry Chandler is a lifelong geek who, while enjoying most everything fandom has to offer, finds himself most at home in the horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction genres. When not wasting too much time on social media, he can be found writing regularly here at Needless Things, but has also written for websites like Gruesome Magazine as well as remembering to put up the occasional musings on his on blog. He’s been a guest on several podcasts from the ESO Network, Decades of Horror, and the Nerdy Laser. He has also recently become a regular cohost of The Assignment: Horror Podcast.