I think I’ve written this post before, but here I go again. Venting about nuance.

I find it very frustrating when I write out long, nuanced stuff, and then people respond with hostility to some little snippet of it without reading the rest. Like they React and then they think that Reaction should be my problem, without actually investing any effort into anything except Being Hostile.

It is normal to respond to things with your wounds first. I do this a lot. I have to be really careful engaging with people about some things (especially publishing). What I encounter the most is misogynists. If you’re a misogynist, you’re going to respond to any content that is vaguely feminist with your broken assumptions about women, and you’re going to explode over really anything I say without recognizing the nuance. That is normal. That doesn’t mean you should do it.

Disagreement is cool. Misreading (or not reading at all!) and then being hostile is uncool. It’s not hard to tell the difference between people engaging in good faith and those who aren’t. If you’re not, why engage at all?

The impulse is to stop writing long, nuanced things, except…that’s not interesting to me. So instead I tell people to fuck all the way off and block them. I am not thrilled with that response. But if they’re not making effort with me, they get my crabby low-effort side too.

Saying Nothing is always a great option.

There’s a rule of three I find personally helpful to consider when choosing to respond to someone:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said right now?
  • Does this need to be said right now by me?

The internet provides casual access to a lot of conversations I (or you, broadly) don’t need to be part of at any given moment. Access doesn’t mean entitlement to engage. Some people seem *terribly* offended by the idea that every last thought of theirs isn’t worthy to share, but if you feel that way, you should really interrogate it. Everyone has something important to say. But not on everything, everywhere, all at once.


People also seem to misunderstand my critical reviews a lot. There is a lot of all-or-nothing thinking. Surely if I’m criticizing a movie’s reflection of society (for example), then I mean that I hate it, and I’m attacking it, and I’m saying it’s bad or whatever. They get defensive! You would not believe the defensive reactions I get when I criticize a movie that someone loves in particular.

I love movies. I love Film and Cinema. I love Stories! The fact I love Cinema and Stories means I can extract enjoyment out of movies that Aren’t For Me through analysis. Analysis is not inherently meant to be an insult — I will say “full insult” or “insult intended” when I mean it that way, and sometimes I do! Analysis is just a process of dissecting a story to look at all its mechanical-emotional parts, which is great fun.

The truth is that I very seldom hate movies. I hated The Proposal (2009) and outlined why exactly, but that’s the only example I can even recall off the top of my head. If you look at my Letterboxd account, I heavily skew toward five-star reviews. I almost always think that a movie has some value to it.

Yet people think I’m being scathing when I point out Irish Wish (2024) was made with grossly conservative values. Did y’all miss the part where I gave it three stars? How I love Lindsay Lohan’s performance? Very little in this world is entirely one thing. I’m living in a country run by conservatives. It hasn’t escaped my notice. I still manage to enjoy myself all the time, and find valuable things to do, but I don’t do it by ignoring the gross stuff. I can point out the hostility of things and just…leave it at that.

I’ve even been telling folks that Poor Things might be worth watching for them (and I thought the story was garbage at its basic concept). For every review I’ve seen with a disabled person revolted by it, I’ve seen others who found it relatable for very similar reasons.

There is ample space for a spectrum of reactions to anything. These reactions are mine. Why does it hurt you? The movie’s not your bff, it’s not paying your bills, and I’m not even attacking it.

Before responding to me with frankly absurd assertions — like thinking my reaction to Poor Things implies only men like sex, when you’re talking to *me*, of all people — you could just stop and wonder, “Does this need to be said by me right now?” And then don’t do it. If you’ve got stuff to get off your chest, go write your own blog. Or get therapy.


I often hear how the internet isn’t a space for nuance. To that I ask, what is?

Have you tried talking to your extended family lately? Do you get to have nuanced conversations with them?

How about your coworkers? Your neighbors?

Is it in the newspaper?

What about academia? And if it is, who gets to access it?

Is there just no room for nuance anywhere?

Should we reduce everything to sound bites, quotes, propaganda posters, one-frame cartoons, headlines?

Where do the nuanced conversations happen? Sincerely, where? I have limited social connections in real life. I don’t have a full perspective on this. If you’d like to point me toward something accessible for a person with my limitations where I can actually get thoughtful engagement, definitely let me know, because right now it seems like there is no room for nuance anywhere.

The internet definitely makes this effect worse — or at least, social media does, with its algorithmic censorship and limited post length. Yet it also should make it possible for longer-format thoughts to reach one another. We have the tools. We have the technology. The choice to be reductive for the sake of SEO or what-have-you is definitely a choice.

As I write this, I’m looking at the “excerpt” box in WordPress and chuckling to myself. I’m going to have to produce a little blurby-doo for overlaying upon a graphic, as I do with every post.

I know I’ve written posts like this before. I think it gets whinier every time. “Why do I have to deal with reactive randos everywhere I go? Why is everything all-or-nothing? Where is the alternative?” Maybe I should just get it on a bumper sticker. But hey, if I can’t complain about this stuff on my own blog, then where do I do it eh?

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