The Fandom Menace

Before you ask, no, I did not make a mistake with the title. This isn’t an article about Star Wars, though nothing tops Star Wars. However, this is about FANDOM.  See, fandom basically consists of people who share a mutual love for something, they usually refer to their close-knit groups as families, where they can show their love for their favourite celebrity, TV show, songs or movies, without fearing those who don’t have the same preferences.

But why The Fandom Menace? Why not the Fandom Strings of Endless Rainbows? After all, it sounds like a nice thing to have, a group of people who like what you like, particularly if you have an interest that is considered peculiar or that isn’t on the popular list that year. So, why a menace?

Perhaps because these so called families turn on each other for petty reasons. Remember the whole Team Edward vs. Team Jacob? Or Cas fans vs. non-Cas fans from Supernatural? How about which brother is better in The Vampire Diaries? Is Bill hotter than Eric? Is Britney Spears better than Christina Aguilera? The list is endless and so is the line of those who believe that somehow, by being part of the fandom, gain access to something that us, mere mortals, will never achieve, possession of what they love. And if you own something, you must defend it, even against your “family” or if it’s called for, the creator of that thing.

It might sound odd, but think about it. Take a fan of let’s say Harry Potter. Show him the 7th book of the series and watch him or her rant for hours about how J.K. Rowling destroyed HIS/HER story. Or a fan of Glee and tell him that three of the main cast will leave. Ryan Murphy previously worshiped will, if ever caught, be burned at the stake in a very public square.

Oh, you’re a fan of Harry Potter but you don’t like Draco Malfoy? Shame on you, he is just a poor misunderstood soul, you don’t think *insert actor/actress name here* is the best thing to walk the earth and is God’s gift to humanity? Well, let me grab my rocks cause a stoning is in order. This is why a fandom can be a menace, at least in my humble opinion.

It’s not something that happens with every group out there, it’s mostly the younger generation (though not always) that tends to be a little more vocal and quite a lot more aggressive with their likes and dislikes. Some groups have learned to accept their differences and to make the best of what they share, there are charity events, there are groups that reach out to their community, united by a common thread, people who have previously had no friends finally find someone to help them out in their time of need. And that’s what makes fandoms a lovely place to be. But is it enough to balance out the hatred that sometimes seeps out of their groups?

In case you were wondering, we’re all part of fandoms. We might not refer to it as such, but if you’re a fan of Norman Reedus or Lady Gaga or any other celebrity and you follow their career, watch their movies, listen to their songs, you’re already there. If you have a show you can never miss or the sky will fall on you, guess what? You’re part of a fandom. Does that make you warm and fuzzy or not so much?

I sometimes see certain fandoms as a game of telephone where what you say at one end is perfectly innocent, but at the other end it becomes the most vile thing ever. It’s how sometimes messages get passed around within such a group. You might start with the respectful declaration of admiration for something, say a most reviled character. Which is fine, it’s your opinion after all, but then: Boom! You have now made the black list of some people who will flame you forever and sometimes follow you wherever you go just to throw some dirt on you.

Let’s not even start on “ships” and no, again, not talking about the water floating devices that transport people and merchandise around the world, but about the couples that should or shouldn’t exist in a movie or TV series, hell, even reality has ships, even if logic contradicts their existence. God forbid you speak against a ship! Hell awaits you. Actresses and actors have received death wishes and death threats for daring to challenge a certain ship. Even if it’s just, you know, fictional and at the end of the day they all go home as friends.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on fandoms, there are thousands of confessions on-line about how a certain fandom has saved people’s lives, pulling them out of depression, making them feel better about themselves, but there are also those few people that felt victimised by their so called “family”.

I suppose it’s a matter of perception, but I honestly think fandoms can be as harmful as they can be helpful and sometimes a harsh word from someone you consider family will do more damage after you’ve made someone feel good about themselves, given them safety only to take it away in one swift move because something they said doesn’t agree with you.

We all claim we’re unique so we should learn to recognise that in others…show some respect for their opinions, their likes and dislikes, even if we don’t share them. I suppose that is quite a lot of wishful thinking, but I am still young enough to afford a little naivete.

Am I right, am I wrong? I wouldn’t know, feel free to prove me one way or another.

by Cristina Daniela

One Comment

  1. Fandom is like anything else: If you take it or yourself too seriously, you aren’t going to have any fun. If you surround yourself with negative people, you will have a negative experience. I’m not trying to over simplify the problem, but really, it boils down to you being in charge of your own online fan experience. The vocal and aggressive crave a forum where they will get the most attention. Block/ignore/do not engage. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, who cares if it made a sound or not?

    I’ve encountered many negative, bullying people in fandoms. I’ve also made some of the best friends of my life, people who I can’t imagine not talking to at least once every single day. When I go to a party, I don’t go hang out by the gossip hound that cracks racist, homophobic jokes all night. I ditch their ass and find someone whose company I enjoy. Why should it be any different online?

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