The Five Follies of Fandom

What Is a Fandom Value?

So what to do after identifying the problems? It isn’t so easy to change the way people behave. Trying to lead the internet is akin to herding cats: they will go in whatever direction they please, as long as they are moving away from your insistence. The best way to lead is by example. Holding ourselves to our own standards is more important than trying to impose those standards on others. It is difficult to achieve, I know this as well as anyone. Sometimes the desire to participate in the follies of fandom begin to feel overwhelming. We want to pretend things are a certain way, or that others are stupid for thinking differently, or fall into our tiny sheltered communities, or claim our interests make us more important than others, or simply to withdraw entirely and not participate at all.

The biggest problem is in the way people treat each other. All too easily people lower themselves to the behavior of the lowest common denominator in a group. One person acts like a jerk and everyone else feels that if that person can act like a jerk, then acting like a jerk is perfectly acceptable. Resisting that temptation is the first step in the process.

It is okay to be critical or to have a narrow standard of quality, but it is important for all sides to understand the fundamental difference between criticizing content and criticizing people. A review in itself can make good entertainment, even when it jabs at the fanbase that typically consumes it, but we shouldn’t get immediately defensive when a critic dislikes a title that is popular with our fandom. And we certainly shouldn’t use that criticism as a justification to become belligerent ourselves.

What it basically boils down to is this:

People are entitled to like what they like, regardless of quality, just as much as people are entitled to not like those same things out of different tastes or for perceived flaws. It is not okay to ignore the hypocrisy of our worldview. It is not okay to look down our noses at everything to avoid being looked down upon ourselves. It is not okay to marginalize others for thinking differently or liking things we believe are not worth anyone’s time, whether it is subjective or objective in its consideration. It is not okay to shelter ourselves from said criticism by shutting out dissent. And most importantly, it is not okay to stay silent, whether out of apathy, ignorance or fear.

I don’t expect people to read this and instantly change. I want to be a better fan, and a better person, so I am going to personally endeavor to realize these values in myself. When I start to feel myself slipping into pretense, disparagement, wank, possessiveness or silence, I will take a step back, breathe and consider my words more carefully.

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3 comments on “The Five Follies of Fandom

  1. aoi_aka says:

    I have found myself guilty if not all of those things, then at least a couple of them. I know I tend to be in the silent majority. Sometimes I’ll disagree with what’s being posted and I start typing a reply. I realize that my point is stupid or makes no sense or I don’t want to rock the boat. More than likely it’s the latter. And so I click cancel and continue on my merry way. I’m a coward.

    Hentai doesn’t bother me. I read it. Some kinks I stay away from and others I look for them specifically. I do believe that hentai is healthy in moderation as everything else in life is. It does become a problem when it becomes an obsession and the person needs professional help. Any person condemning pornography is more than likely guilty of having looked at it and to assuage their guilt, they lash out against it and people who provide it or enjoy it. They are hypocrites.

    Any woman condemning hentai, and is a fujoshi, should seriously look in a mirror and shut up. They really have no ground to stand on. I’ve never hidden the fact that I enjoy it. I’ve said it on different social media outlets before as the occasion arose.

    About a month ago I read the history of two huge Harry Potter … personalities, for lack of a better word. The histories were about Msscribe and Cassandra Claire. The wank that resulted was so terrible that all I could do while reading was sit back and thank the stars I never got into HP back in the day (not really my thing). I did sorta witness some wanking in the LOTR fandom, but it was all second and third hand. My tendency is to stay on the fringes of fandoms and slowly disappear the same way I appeared. Wanks are so vicious and can ruin your life if the people after you have the means to do it. They really have no sympathy, but for themselves and their sycophants.

    Your article as opened my eyes. I wish to be more aware of my behavior in the fandom. I do believe that if I have nothing nice to say, I keep my mouth shut. There’s a bit of cowardice there, but if what I say is only hurting somebody else, it really serves them and me to stay quiet.

    • cmbranford says:

      The thing about fujoshi ripping on hentai that baffles me more than the hypocrisy is that they seem completely oblivious to their hypocrisy, even when you point it out. It might stem from a mass delusion that yaoi is never pornography because porn is that stuff that only men look at.

      My cowardice was the thing I considered first when I was writing this, but I did see my own actions a little in each section as I was writing. There is a way to get your point across, though, without being hurtful. As I was reading the Moe Talkback discussion (and that Free one, too) on the ANN forums a few weeks back (and admittedly cowardly did not participate) i read through some of my old posts on the forum. Even then I was trying not to be an unrepentant ass while the people around me were falling over themselves to be the biggest ones. That’s why I ultimately stepped away from those forums as well. I couldn’t make myself suffer that way anymore knowing that even if I tried to be a decent person, no one cared.

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