Fandom’s Underbelly – A Hive of Scum & Villainy.

Fandom.

I always thought it was supposed to be about a shared love of something. Meeting others who had some of the same passions and interests as you, and bonding over those common appetites.

And while this can be true, a lot of the times, this is also just a surface view. Underneath in the deeper waters of fandom, run people thinking they’re the bigger fish in this ocean of big fish.

I’ve seen it get uglier than I thought it could, over something that everyone involved in is supposed to love.

There are websites, forums, chat rooms, twitter feeds all dedicated to these shared loves.

Despite that it always seems to be a free-for-all with people attempting to show that they know more, love the characters more, indulging their own self-importance and delusions to make themselves into some towering super-fan who we general fans should be bowing down to in thanks and awe.

I personally don’t understand it.

I’m not a (and here’s a word I hate to describe any fan) “hardcore” fan in any of my fandoms. I love my Doctor Who, Sherlock, Quantum Leap, Trek, Wars, Lost Girl, Thrones, Bond, Potter, Indiana Jones, X-Men, Superman, Batman, etc. ad infinitum, but I don’t wrap my life up in it and then have to go around showing people how much better I am than them for the way I love these things.

Yet, people not only do that, but they also see it as necessary to tear down things as well, instead of promoting them. Or if it doesn’t appeal to them, despite being about something they ‘love’, not talking about it all.

The amount of people I hear complaining about the way conventions are run, or that there are two differing conventions scheduled on or around the same time (You know what? Pick the one that is the most important to you, go to that one, and engage in it! Have the time of your life! Be happy with where you are, not tearing down the fact that you didn’t get to go to the other one as well. Life is about choices, make yours, and live with it).

I didn’t get to go to a single convention until I moved to TO. I never had the cash, nor transpo to get across the country. So when I got here, and got to attend my first FanExpo, I was agog and enjoyed every moment of it. And that is how I like to go into my conventions, hope, excitement, and ignoring those other ‘fans’ who just seem to be going to make it all about themselves, complaining about lines, how they didn’t get to ask their fave celebrity a question in their Q&A, and making sure that everyone knows how miserable they are, and how much better it was last year.

Now, while I am all for the constant improvement of the convention-going experience, it doesn’t help my current experience if all you’re going to do is whine about what a terrible time you’re having. You know what? Don’t come.

Events like conventions are designed to make money, I get that. Yes, it’s a cynical view, but it doesn’t have to be a cynical experience. So why then do people lament the fact that the guest they really wanted to come wasn’t asked or couldn’t make it? You know what? Instead of throwing the tantrum of a two year old, why don’t you look at all the other things that the convention has going on. And you know what, if you don’t like it, please do us all a favor and DON’T COME.

Sue had an experience with Booster when they were trying to organize the 2nd Flanvention. She threw in her support whole-heartedly, constantly and completely, until they cancelled it, right out from under her. She was understandably upset and frustrated by that. BUT in a shining moment of true fandom, a number of people organized a backup celebration with no resources, no financing and no time to plan… Sue threw her lot in with them, because this was about the mutual love and support of a show/movie, and they went above and beyond, not whining about what didn’t happen, but reveling in the amazing things fans CAN do.

I think it would be good for events like FanExpo, Polaris, Wizard World Comic Con, and the like to perhaps send out email polls before and after their events, or even hire staff to poll convention-goers at entry and exit. This way they can look for ways to improve their events. But to try and ruin everyone’s experience during the convention, that is the height of ego-maniacal self-indulgence.

It happens on forums and twitter as well. Everything seems so nice and supportive on the surface, but then underneath it, trying to rise above everyone else are fans who just have to be ‘better’ than everyone else.

Along with this comes the sense of entitlement and ownership that these fans have about their subject. That it is, was, and always will be only theirs, and the rest of us are lucky to tag along.

That is just inherently wrong, and I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with these people.

Geekdom and fandom, the two are one as far as I am concerned, for the longest time were ostracized and pushed to the peripherals of society.

But now, geekdom has become more mainstream.

And with mainstream comes choice. We are no longer on the fringes of society, we are becoming our own. We are growing daily, hourly, as someone discovers a new show.

But with the growth of this society, it’s taking on some of those traits that caused us to be ostracized.

Fandom has become cliquish. If you weren’t there from the beginning in that ‘core’ group, then you can’t be a real fan. You get shunned, pushed to the side, and you can forget about sharing any ideas you may have for events or the like because you’re new, you weren’t there for the start, what could you possibly know?

I’ve joked with those younger than me, that if you weren’t there in 1977, doesn’t matter if you weren’t born yet, then you can’t be a real fan of Star Wars, you’re a poser. But it was always a joke, and never something I truly believed, I’m simply echoing the mindset that seems to exist.

It’s sad that even our love of something can drive people apart instead of bringing us all together.

This needs to be fixed, because it’s not right.

We are no longer mighty.

We are bickering partisans.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Enkosky says:

    Loved this post. Touched on a lot of my pet peeves. One thing that’s irked me lately is the tribalism of fandom: all the different fan groups–Horror, sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, etc–looking down on the other groups as inferior. “Oh you like ____ genre? Yeah, I was into that before I matured.” It just strikes me as foolish.

    For the record, I’m more of a horror fan, but I don’t care what anyone’s particular genre of choice happens to be; it’s all about personal preferences. We all have our own geek obsessions.

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