I love being a fan.
It’s totally fun. It means there’s something you enjoy.
Most people are lucky enough to be fans of something: a TV show, a movie franchise, a sports team, a musical artist. Fans are some of the most creative, kind, and brilliant people I’ve ever met.
And maybe you’re a casual fan of certain things, while being more passionate about others. That seems inevitable and reasonable and well rounded. But there are those few really special things that will make you rise from your chair and give a mighty cheer. I hope something does. I really do. It’s a wonderful feeling. I support you sirs and madams!
Being a fangirl can be slightly more problematic. For one thing, the term has garnered a fairly negative connotation. Which is a little silly. If you break the word down, your saying “hey there. I’m a fan of something.” But also mentioning, “I happen to be a girl, as well.” Nothing wrong with that, right?
Wrong, apparently. The current climate suggests that “fangirls” are the contemporary equivalent of Beatle-maniacal teenyboppers.
It appears as though there’s been a recent surge by fangirls attempting to reclaim the word (or something), but the squeeing perception remains. Hell, I embrace a good squee every once in a while. And I spent a healthy portion my school days as the pariah. It’s nothing I can’t handle. This is NOT my main problem with fandom.
Fanboys are a thing too. They don’t seem to struggle with the same sorts of pressures as their female counterparts. The very fact that when I type “fanboy” it’s recognized as a word, while “fangirl” is underlined as a typo says something. So fangirls can maybe sometimes be catty-er, but they can also build each other up in a way that fanboys just don’t, won’t, or can’t. But no. This is NOT my main problem with fandom.
Generally, being in fandom may leave you open to ridicule (though recently it’s become much more accepted), writers and other creative types of the thing you love may do horrific terrible things to characters that you really care about, or fandom may suck a ridiculous amount of time, money and energy from your life.
But NONE of those things are my main problem with fandom.
There’s a thing that I refer to as the fandom fandom. Basically the group of us that are a fan of being part of a group of fans. But lately I’ve felt a tear in the fandom fandom. And I’m not sure it’s a group I want to belong to anymore.
Sure, I can’t help being a Whovian or a Potterhead, but I’ve seen some things recently that’s flipped enough of my switches to make me want to exit the fandom fandom. And it’s coming from “fans.”
As a for instance, cause it’s the one that, at least this week is the topical issue, Ghostbusters. Everyone please take your seats and CHILL THE FUCK OUT.
I’m a fan of the original Ghostbusters movie. I’m also curious to see what the remake will be like. Both can happen simultaneously.
Case in point, one of my favorite movies for a very long time has been The Day the Earth Stood Still (obviously by my banner on every social media site ever). I’m talking about a movie from 1951. A movie that was remade. A remake that I was curious to see at the first available Universal Citywalk screening the night it was released. Is the remake any good? Well, it’s fairly solid from the perspective of responsible filmmaking, but it completely lacks the staying power required for a memorable film. Has it ruined my childhood by being inferior to the original? Of Course not. Actually, the only way it’s affected my life is that when I talk about The Day the Earth Stood Still I have to clarify which version I’m talking about (it will be the original 98% of the time). And this usually requires clarification anyway, since everyone thinks that one super-famous quote is from Army of Darkness.
And regardless of the reasons why (some of which I also find very troubling), if you think that your childhood will be ruined by any one film, then…wow…I’m sorry. I can only surmise from such information that you had an almightily* shitty childhood.
The thing that’s ruining Ghostbusters for me is the ugly hateful messages these fans are spreading.
The problem is furthered by the fact that this isn’t an isolated incident. It seems to be happening with every movie/TV announcement (a black Stormtrooper?! A woman as the Master?!). Why is the fandom like this? When did we break?
Not long after Gamergate, I wrote a post about generally accepting people into fandoms, how we should try not to be so damn exclusionary, and how I’ve screwed up in the past, but was trying to be better. Well, maybe we should also be a bit less quick on our keyboards the moment an initial reaction hits our brains. I want to be on the same side as all you fans. And most of the people who read this post probably won’t need this message. But if there’s a handful of people who do, and if you’re willing to change, to put in that extra bit of effort, and would like to act as goddamn adults, maybe you could try to be a bit kinder?
I’ll keep trying too.
*Yeah, “almightily.” It’s a word. ENJOY.