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When Fandoms Attack

We all have our fandoms, and other people have theirs.
| Mar 1, 2017 | 4 comments |

We all have our fandoms, and other people have theirs. With the never-ending expansion of shows and movies and franchises, no one has the time to join every fandom. Even if we did have the time, no one would have the inclination; human tastes and interests vary too widely. But isn’t it nice to witness the endless enthusiasm other people can show for things that hold, for us, so little interest?

No, not really. Because to be subjected, at length, to enthusiasms you don’t share is so much aggravated boredom. You can’t tell other people you don’t think their fandoms are interesting, any more than you can tell them you don’t think their pets are cute, but you can certainly think it. Dwell on it, even, until your indifference is gradually transformed, by dint of another person’s passion, into implacable hostility.

Why should this be? For one thing, we are all self-centered. If I were a kinder and more generous person, I would have more patience, and even interest, for other people’s enthusiasms. But sometimes fangirlfans go too far in insisting on their opinions – over contrary opinions, and contrary evidence, and obvious disinterest. Sometimes, fandoms really do attack.

We all have our fandoms. In the interest, then, of not going on the offensive, here are three principles that we should all, as fans, try to live by.

Number one, in order to have an actual conversation on your fandom, you need another fan. Trying to talk fandom with people who are not fans is like trying to talk shop with people who are not in your business. They likely won’t know what you’re talking about, they probably won’t care, and they certainly will have nothing to add to the conversation. Indeed, this is one of the surest signs of a fandom attack: a conversation – in the loosest sense of the term – that goes on and on even though one party’s main contribution is “Uh-huh.”

Number two, retain your objectivity. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. The worst sort of fan is the one who has lost all critical judgment; who in regards to their fandom will hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil; who insist that the newest movie in the franchise is awesome before actually seeing it, and perfect after seeing it; who feel greater affinity for those who share their fandom than for those who share their nationality, religion, or blood; who can scarcely credit the intelligence or motives of critics; who still cannot admit that Tom Brady probably did not destroy his cell phone because he was innocent.

Don’t be this fan.

Number three, keep your perspective. The better part of no one’s life consists of his fandoms. It really is all right if other people reject, even strongly, your fandoms. And don’t be offended by jokes or parodies or insulting memes. It’s not worth the energy or a fight. Everyone has the right to object to, for example, parodies of his religion or jokes about his mother; no one’s fandom is that important.

These principles will help all of us to, in our fandoms, keep from going on the attack. And if we’re on the defensive when fandoms attack, there are three principles for that, too. Smile. Nod.

Back away.

Shannon McDermott is the author of the fantasy novel The Valley of Decision, as well as the futuristic The Last Heir and the Sons of Tryas series. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website, ShannonMcDermott.com.

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R. J. Anderson

Good post. I would add to this that on fan-dominated sites like Tumblr, programs like XKit and Tumblr Savior are your best friend. Use them liberally to block posts about fandoms you don’t care for and other content that you dislike or find offensive. And don’t be afraid to whittle down your Friend/Follow list if your interests (or other people’s interest) change. Don’t be a slave to social media, or allow fear of what your friends/followers may think to rule the decisions you make about it. If you conclude that the healthiest thing for your spiritual life and mental health is to pare your followers down to a handful or even delete your account and walk away, don’t hesitate to do so.

Not that I am speaking from recent and vivid experience or anything. *cough*

Kat Vinson

I can see what you mean about #2 & #3 but I think #1 is excessive. Someone talking your ear off when you’re not interested is hardly an attack. It can be a little self-absorbed and unaware but it’s only natural for people to get excited about things they love and to want to share that love with others. And we *all* have our moments of getting carried away.

I also don’t know why you think you can’t tell people their fandoms aren’t interesting – though putting it that exact way would be rude and brusque. Now fans who fall into #2 & #3 may not react well if told, “I’m glad you love it but it’s just not my cup of tea. Do you mind if we talk about something else instead?” But most are going to be understanding – after-all, they certainly have subjects they aren’t interested in either. Besides, no one wants to intentionally talk on and on about something that bores the listener and they’d probably be equally upset that the listener let them keep going and going.

Many, many fans don’t require a mutual fandom but just the mutual fact of being fans period. Even if we are fans of different fandoms, there is still a camaraderie that we all know the joy of having enthusiasm for something. And if we care about the person/fan, then we should care about their interests all the more. I may not be a huge fan of Sailor Moon but I will read the manga, watch the anime and listen to my daughter rave about it for hours – and I’m never going to develop an implacable hostility toward it. Just like my mother watched episode after episode of Saved by the Bell merely because my siblings & I loved it growing up. Because it’s not about the fandom – it’s about the people and relationships behind it.

Imo, fans who fall into the obsessive, attacking spectrum are usually indicative of a lack of maturity. But I’m not sure reacting with impatience and aggravation is any better. They are both going to have the equal effect of pushing people away.

Tamra Wilson
Tamra Wilson

Moms put up with so much. On behalf of now grown geeks, I thank and salute you.

Tamra Wilson
Tamra Wilson

Thank you for this. I have seen such nastiness for so long in fandoms. Fandoms are supposed to be fun! In most of the fandoms I am or was involved with, there is like this undercurrent of bullying and its so sad. Thank you for this!