Monday, August 3, 2015

Episode One: The Fandom Menace

If there's one thing I love doing, it's ranting about my life and the little things in it that don't make sense. So why the hell have I not actually used this blog that I registered three years ago? Simple. I was busy exhausting my other options.

Now that I have deleted my tumblr and reddit accounts, I'm free to share my thoughts and grievances with the nice people on Blogger. Yes, I had a tumblr account. No, I don't want to talk about it. That period of my life is over, and I'm better off not looking back on it.

So what am I going to rant about first? Well, there are several options, but first I'm going to talk about fanbases.

I believe that Strong Bad of  the "Homestar Runner" series summed it up best:

"Fans are great, but it's the addition of the word 'club' that totally roons(sic) it."

In small numbers, fans are awesome people who possess a love of something. People often assume that this label only belongs to pop culture geeks and/or nerds, but in reality, it's possible to be a fan of anything, and everybody in the world is a fan of something. Even if you don't like video games, movies, TV shows, comic books, word books, radio, music, there is something in the world that you enjoy which gives your life meaning (yes, religion does count). This is what being a fan means.

But, when these fans are grouped together in overwhelming numbers, problems start to occur. As it turns out, when people with vastly different personalities become involved in the same fandom, arguments will break out over the one TRUE way to experience it. Spoiler alert: there is no one true way to enjoy something, and anyone who tells you differently is probably the kind of person who starts heated arguments like this. No two people ever have the exact same experience.

Then you have the problems that occur when change happens. When the indie band goes mainstream. When a cast member leaves and gets replaced by a new guy. When the new model comes out and it's radically different from the old one. A lot of human beings are resistant to change. They like to think that they've got everything all worked out and their world is whole. So, when something changes that throws their world out of balance, they will often act hysterically (and not the funny kind of hysterical either). Some will take these changes in stride, whether they like it or not, but the loud minority who don't like change will always cause issues for those who are just trying to enjoy the experience without unneeded hassle. Just like in politics.

Third, and probably most majorly, is what happens when rabid fans and anti-fans are thrown into the mix. Rabid fans are the people who live and breathe their fandom lifestyle. Kind of like how some people own lots and lots of cats and after long enough, cats are the only things they can talk about. Anti-fans, on the other hand, are the people who hate what other people like, and would gladly see the entire world burn if it meant getting rid of the thing the hate. Oftentimes, these two groups develop parallel to each other: the more people who would die for the cause, the more people who would die to see the cause vanish. These two groups regularly bump heads, not just with each other, but with themselves as well. Most fans are not like this, but since these minorities are the most vocal of their groups, it's easy to believe that the entirety of a fandom is like this.

And it's really a shame. In theory, fandoms should not be about arguing what is better than something else. They should be about enjoying something, no matter what your reasons are for liking it. But sadly, once the fandom grows big enough, you will inevitably be drafted into a flame war in which the stakes are win or die by your passion.  And it doesn't take much to get involved. Oh, you bought a new Lego set? Congratulations, you are now in the AFOL army. We strike the Mega Blox camp at dawn. Semper fi, maggot.