Feb. 14th, 2012 01:51 pm
simon_says: (grumpy toad)
[personal profile] simon_says
Ah, the world of fandom. It's a double edged sword because you get these great joys and new friendships from the common ground but the whole situation will gut you as soon as look at you. You'll never see it coming. Let's dive right into this.

I've been part of fandoms across the board: movies, music, comics and sports. I've been a die hard member at times, I've been the "newbie" to the "elitist" and I've been everywhere in between. I've even been on the other side of the rope in some regards when it comes to music, I was lucky enough to work with bands (note: not be best friends or anything like that, I worked with them and that was that) and I got to watch from their point of view at times. Literally, I'd stand or sit behind them while they did signings and meet and greets. I got to watch people coming up thinking they were so witty or so cool, I got to see the truly grateful and I got to see people that lost their ever loving minds. All kinds of reactions and sometimes it was with bands that I knew jack diddly about so it was really fascinating to watch it through neutral eyes but sometimes it was bands I thoroughly enjoyed and I definitely identified.

I cried when I first saw some of my favorite dancers perform, I cheered for the opposing team when I finally got to watch a favored player score an amazing goal in front of me after 10 years of being a fan, and I've traveled the entire country to go to a show and wait for 12 hours in line despite the weather and a persistent fear of hobos. I've been a part of fandom, I really have been and I won't pretend I never was.

One thing I've never been a part of is the online forums. People are mean when it comes to the internet, we can hide behind a username and the anonymous option and leave whatever kind of hatred and acid we want and think that's okay. It isn't okay, but this isn't about bullying (but it is bullying when you pull that crap). People online are forever trying to one-up each other, the elitism stands out a lot more than it does when standing in line or at a venue. I'm aware it happens there, it'll happen everywhere, but online? Good grief! If you don't know every fact, every detail, love whatever the subjects of adoration love . . . whatever! You're a bad fan or any number of things but suddenly there are rules for being a fan, for being involved with something that you love, or loved, and suddenly it isn't as free.

When you first see that movie or read the book, it completely sweeps you off your feet and that world absorbs you. Even when you put the book down or pause the movie, or either is finished, you still dream and think of that world and you're happy. It's an escape and you love it for whatever reasons, but they're yours. Same with a song or a performance or a sports team, that moment and that world is something freeing, uplifting and damnit you can't always put your finger on it but it makes you happy and things feel a little bit better and brighter for that moment. Even when you're at your lowest and darkest point, you can go there and it is a nice little haven from whatever is wrong. So, naturally, you want to share it with others and in today's age, we turn to the internet. You want to share it with your friends, you want others to know and hopefully feel what you felt because it is a great thing! To you, it is wonderful!

Then . . . good feelings gone.

People tell you it's stupid, they hate it, or they point out all of these errors. Or worse, you find people that you think love it and they want to police it with their big named fans and social hierarchy with no semblance of rules aside from whatever suits them to give them a position of power. There's also another side, you do find people that feel like you and it becomes an obsession and suddenly it takes over, every little aspect of life relates to it and relies on it. Things you create within it became real to you and you fail to see or accept fact or reality of some circumstances and instead stay to your fantasy (for example, people that ship others, especially real people versus characters -- they date outside of your OTP or pairing or if they have a life outside of it? Rage! You hate their spouse or significant other because they're not who you want them to be with and you let them know, god damnit! You're mad, of course you do!).

Suddenly, you read the book and remember what people said online. You watch the movie and you see the errors. You hear the song and you swear you know who or what it is about (sometimes a spade is a spade, folks) or you watch a live performance and you're holding onto that hope for a moment where two members will share that profound look or moment, that moment where your fantasy becomes reality. You meet someone and you think you know how they'll act and they're not everything you dreamed of, heaven forbid they have a bad day or they're distracted. How dare they be human!

Fandom skews things. The idea of coming together with people with shared interests and the ability to express this is a lovely and wonderful idea. And believe me, I know fandoms are fearsome and powerful things. I see it in trending topics on twitter, I hear about record numbers of votes or purchases or sales. Some bands go so far as to call their fans cults or armies because of the numbers and blind faith involved in them. One person, in the band (for example) can say one thing: I don't like butterflies. This is taken three ways by the fandom! Death to all butterflies, so and so doesn't like them! Oh no, I wonder why he does? Let us create fanciful scenarios in his childhood or early adulthood that could corrupt this lovely species forever (either childhood trauma or they remind him of a lost love, probably someone else in the band). Or there's the middle ground where they bitch about both sides of the reaction and call everyone stupid.

Right, okay then. All three reactions are a bit over the top, in my opinion. But, I've seen more and more of this happen.

Now, what does this lead to? Eventually, people get frustrated by the bullshit. You get tired of other fans, even ones you never and will never meet personally but they just never shut up and you're sick of it. You unfollow them on whatever social media forum you use, but people reblog them and retweet them. You can't get rid of them, they get under your skin and suddenly what made you so happy to begin with now reminds you of things that drive you bonkers. The happy place is tainted. It's pretty normal to be mad at this, I think. A lot of times, this is when people say they're not into something or someone anymore and they walk away from it. It could be for a time or for good, every single person is different. The beauty of taking this break? You tend to discover something new and the good feelings come back, it isn't all bad. You suddenly have the time and attention to focus on something else and it can be a refreshing experience but you've got to be wary of throwing yourself into something new full speed because it can crash and burn again.

I personally have walked away from a number of things over my life. A sports team, a good handful of bands, TV shows and books, and even some dancers. At some point, I just realize I've had enough and to some that makes me a bad fan and I think it makes me human. You don't go through your entire life with every little like being the same the whole time. Your taste buds do change as you grow up, why can't your fandoms or interests?

I've reached a point where I've actively worked not to be involved with the online aspect of fandom. Now and again, it does happen, but I usually back away as soon as I realize I've done it again. I would love to talk to other fans about things but in my personal experience, it leads to disappointment. I have a favorite football (soccer) team, but I avoid the other fans and especially the rival team. It gets ugly and petty and I'd rather sit back twice a week and enjoy the beauty and complexity of the sport. When it comes to music, well, music is a whole other world entirely and recently I've lost interest in a band because of making friends solely off of being fans. Some are awesome and we've discovered mutual interests in various artforms and there is a creative community to it, but I'm finding myself pulling away from people truly caught up in fandom. Like those that go on about how so and so is so sexy (and all variants from it, including the hnng and unf people or those that claim it is orgasm worthy). Also those that swear there is a pairing or relationship that doesn't exist.

All of the recent dealings with the fandom led to this post and my feelings on all of it. It isn't all bad but it isn't all good. I think a good deal of it is maturity. I'm 26 while others are still teenagers, they quite honestly don't know any better because of their age. Not to say they're not smart, some are brilliant but there are life experiences and just a little more than comes from age. I look back at my teens and shudder, I look back at 22 and wonder how I didn't get arrested or die. Both ages? I thought I was brilliant and mature and boy howdy, I was wrong. I can't get too mad at these kids but damn, fandom can still try my ever loving last nerve and I'm walking away from it.

Hopefully, in time, you (and I) will be able to revisit things with fond and some bittersweet memories and have those same good feelings again. If you make true friends from it all, bond outside of the fandom, have more than that as a foundation to it and be awesome to them. Don't leave someone hanging in a dark spot because of something happening online or with your favorite fandom.

(no subject)

Date: February 15th, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] cholera
Basically this entry says anything I could've wanted to say about fandom. I always say I have a love/hate relationship with this many-headed beast, and this entry describes pretty much perfectly why that is.

I have no problems with people wanting to have fun, or doing things in good, harmless fun. But when the 'good, harmless' bit disappears to the wayside and the 'fun' starts to effect other people, at times negatively, then fandom can turn toxic quickly. When someone can't find the fun or the enjoyment in a given fandom because of other people, that's when a step back is needed.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm too oversensitive about fandom, particularly the slashy side — particularly how I perceive others' perception of me in the slashy side — of things. You've heard my diatribes more than once (and I appreciate you so, so much for enduring them, because I know that you're not into slash or RPF pretty much at all), and I think maybe a lot of my feelings stems from a subconscious spring that consists of the concept behind this post. It's because of feelings like these that I really only toe the lines in most fandoms now — the way you do with footy or movies. I'm happy to enjoy things from the sidelines, and I'm glad that you and I have things that we can share, even peripherally, and that we also have bonded outside of all known fandoms, because you're certainly one of the best friends I've had, and losing you over a fandom dispute or difference (or indifference . . . or losing you at ALL) would pretty much suck.


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September 2012


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