I’ve followed Joe Bob Briggs, the B-movie host and social commentator, since I joined Twitter. He was part of my first round of follows, along with Stephen King and Clive Barker – horror icons who helped form me into the genre nerd I am today. But not long after, I began to wonder about him. I began to wonder about the things he posted and the columns he wrote. And now, in a present time when everybody is being held accountable for the things they have said and are currently saying, I’m still left wondering – Is Joe Bob Briggs “problematic”.
The word ‘problematic’ has been getting a lot of use lately, and it’s often used to tag something that is neither wholly good or wholly bad. Rupaul’s Drag Race is problematic. Rose McGowan is problematic. Social media itself is problematic in that it allows everyone (even robots and racists) to have a voice. But does one of our most beloved genre icons belong in this category?
(Note: The numbers below will correlate to JBB’s pieces at the end of the post, so that you may read them and form your own opinions.)
Recently, JBB has posted opinion pieces on how social media giants should take zero action towards racist/violent/abusive users on their platforms (1), how he still doesn’t understand the issue of cake bakers refusing to bake gay couples wedding cakes (2), and how “antifa thugs” are often the cause of violent interactions during alt-right rallies and that alt-right speakers deserve to be heard without any interference (3). Last year, he posted a piece in which he condemned the New York Times for publishing an expose on Silicone Valley men sexually harassing women seeking investment money (4), and then there’s his piece on New Orleans taking down confederate monuments (5).
JBB doesn’t mince words. He knows he’s politically incorrect and uses terms like “safe spaces” and “triggered” as casually insensitive jokes. And in a chance to offer up balance, he has also written pieces on how American big media doesn’t care about non-white victims of natural disasters (6) and he’s critical of Trump (7). But everything considered, is he still really just “problematic”? Or is he a genre icon we should all stop listening to and leave behind?
Personally, I’m leaning towards the later. In this new year, in these modern times, I’ve found I don’t really care to listen to viewpoints like JBB has. I don’t want to hear explanations or opinions like the ones he’s expressed. And for me, it’s as simple as that. I chose to leave him.
I’ll always remember my weekends as a youth, staying in on the weekends to binge some horror delights. I’ll always cherish the memories I have of watching MonsterVision before USA’s Up All Night or Tales From the Crypt. But I’m a grown man now, happy to see sexual harassers getting called out, happy to see confederate monuments being torn down, happy to watch discriminatory business shutter and fail in the courts. And I’m happy to unfollow celebrities who do not believe in the same social justices I hold dear.
POST NOTES: Some have wondered why I solely focused on JBB for this post, failing to mention any others. And to answer, I’d have to say it’s simply because of the sheer reach he seems to have with other genre fans. Yes, Kristy Swanson (from the film-version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is a known Trump-supporter and fake news believer that is still getting booked at horror cons. And apparently Rhonda Shear, another famous midnight movie host, is a supporter of our Baby-In-Chief as well. But neither of those women, or anyone else I looked in to, had nearly as many common followers of my own as JBB did. This caught my attention and was immediately perplexing because he is highly vocal about his controversial beliefs. That was what led me to make him the focus of this post.