Benny Johnson Asks Superheroes Who They’re Voting For

Perception and reality are often at loggerheads, and that’s true of the geek community as much as anywhere else. It’s generally assumed that fans of sci-fi, video games, and comic books are largely left-leaning, not only because entertainment now speaks almost exclusively to that contingent (and despite the financial woes this has resulted in) but because those voices are amplified. But what happens when you challenge the accepted narrative? In a new video, conservative commentator Benny Johnson talked to various cosplayers (and some surprise guests towards the end) at Megacon, the fandom event held this past February in Orlando, and asked them if they supported Donald Trump or Joe Biden, the (technically) presumptive presidential candidates in this year’s US election. The results were unsurprising to anyone who’s spent time at conventions or comic shops or in online geek spaces, but may shock those who like to nod along to the mainstream media:

The best part of Benny Johnson’s video isn’t seeing a bunch of people say the candidate you’re not supposed to support publicly, but the fans who don’t give an answer. It’s fun to hear people unabashedly say “Trump” when the popular expectation is that they’ll say “Biden,” but it’s gratifying to hear a guy dressed like Batman say, “It don’t matter to me; I’m still fighting crime out here.” Not only is that a hero’s answer, but it’s what most people really want: divisive politics taken out of fun stuff that’s supposed to be for everybody. To use an extreme example, I don’t think Trump, Biden, or anyone else should host a campaign event at a fan convention like Megacon (with the possible exception of Jeb Bush; I’d like to see a crowd dressed like Spider-Man and Darth Vader asked to “please clap”) because it would declare the event exclusive to (roughly) half the country. That scenario is easy to laugh at, but it’s not far off when you make superheroes or space-faring adventurers take a clear side on specific, modern-day issues, or even try to influence voters by supporting or villifying a candidate.

superheroes vote

Those who bray that politics have always been part of popular entertainment are missing the point. The stories that people still remember talked about higher ideas and broader topics than abortion, illegal immigration, or a specific politician. For example, Marvel’s “Civil War” comic and its cinematic adaptation, Captain America: Civil War, are not about a specific issue but about government control vs. the rights of the individual. From that, you can apply the conflict to smaller issues – gun control, privacy, seat belt laws; but that’s up to the reader/viewer and how he wants to apply it. You could also think about the larger point itself, or ignore it and have fun watching Captain America and Iron Man punch each other. This is true of large swaths of genre fiction, from Star Trek to Robocop. It’s not the same when, to use a particularly egregious instance, Supergirl had Superman delivering Hilary Clinton campaign slogans; who wants this in their escapism?

Not the attendees of Megacon, according to the video. I didn’t see MAGA hats or Biden buttons; I saw Batman, Carnage, Poison Ivy, and Gandalf, and they wanted to celebrate their favorite heroes and villains, not the ones they cast in those roles in real life. This is the point Ryan made at the end when he referenced “pandering to freaks;” this means forcing divisive elements into stories where they don’t belong, alienating normal people who want to have fun with popular fiction to cater to an audience so small it can’t support these mediums. (And his point about Captain Marvel was dead-on; I didn’t see that coming.) The Trump vs. Biden responses indicate the same is true for divisions of larger segments of the population; just stay out of it and let entertainment be entertaining. It seems like common sense, but the last decade or so suggests differently, and that’s why Geeks + Gamers is here.

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