|Firefly promotional poster with all the characters|
Imagine that every time you try to have a conversation about Firefly, I show up and talk about Star Wars. You bring up the laser in the brothel episode, I talk about the new lightsaber cross-guard. Talk about Serenity the movie, I bring up the timeline of Episode 8. Fox canceling mid-season? That's not going to happen with Star Wars because of the Disney merger (which you think is great because....). The way canon psychics didn't get developed in the show. I talk about Force powers and midichlorians.
When you finally point out that you're actually talking about Firefly right now--not Star Wars, and that I am derailing a conversation in the middle of a Browncoat's Ball, I claim that you obviously don't LIKE Star Wars, and have no real interest in the broader arc of modern science fiction as a whole–even though both those statements are patently false (and in fact, you can probably better contextualize how Star Wars fits into the Science Fiction milieu than I can). You're a huge fan of science fiction, love Star Wars, and discuss at length how Star Wars's mainstream acceptance has brought more acceptability to a genre that was considered fringe.
But it is patently obvious that what I really care about is not the "science fiction milieu" but really just making everything about Star Wars.
But Star Wars is better, I claim! Everyone has heard of Star Wars. Star Wars wasn't cancelled in the middle of its only season. No one even knows all the characters or actors in Firefly. I can't even be bothered to learn what Firefly has to do with that vampire show from the 90s. Firefly fans are just hanging on to something that's over and alienating younger fans.
No matter where you go or who you're talking to, there I am (or someone like me) to derail your Firefly talk into Star Wars. It's not enough to say "You're right, Star Wars is awesome" and go back to talking about Firefly. I demand that the subject be changed. I demand that you stop talking about Firefly. I derail every single conversation. And I fricken show up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
This is called derailing.
It's not wrong. It's not that it's not a good conversation to have. It may even fit in to a broader point if it's brought up in a way that fits into a broader point. It's just not the actual conversation that's going on, and insisting it change brings a lot of stop energy to what is currently on the table. And it's actually quite a bit easier than most people think to tell that THIS IS THE GOAL of derailing.
Derailing is actually about forcing a topic change to a new issue. Whether it's bringing up "all lives matter" in response to BlackLivesMatter or "men suffer too" when discussing women's issues. It's not that these things are important. In fact they are probably well considered by the folks in question. It's not that they can't be brought up in a compatible way. ("As a man who has been raped, I wouldn't wish this on anyone, and consent is important.") It's that the way it is brought up is explicitly intended as a counterpoint. ("Men get raped too, ya know!") At worst it's a calculated attempt to keep the focus on the subject of social supremacy. But even at best it's just a clueless and rude invasion into a conversation that's about something else entirely.