Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rant: Do Fans Ruin Fandoms?

In life, it is a reality that we're all fans of something. You can try and say you're somehow different because you're sports fan or something and that somehow sets you higher than comic books nerds and the like, but at the end of the day you're someone who adores people in brightly coloured outfits battling other people in brightly coloured outfits. We're all just a bunch of geeks who love our own things, for better or worse.

I think football fans actually invented cosplay without even realizing it.
But then there are the fans who are excessively loud. The fans that other fans often find off-putting and overbearing. People who will latch onto things they love to an almost unhealthy level, pushing other facets off their life aside for this love. Homestuck fans know what I'm talking about, because their fandom in particular has gotten a lot of hate because of a certain segment of them. The My Little Pony fandom has similar problems. I have no issues with the Bronies, but I really do hate that my niece might try searching for pictures of her favourite characters only to run across pictures of them getting the Mr. Hands treatment.

Some things just aren't meant for some holes.
This brings us to the title of this article: do fans ruin fandoms? Well, it is a fair question. As I've pointed out, there are definitely some vocal fans that do tend to colour the opinions towards the fandoms they're a part of. It's not unlike politics or religion, where oftentimes the most vocal members are the worst examples. I'm sure that most Christians aren't terrible people who think badly of differently coloured skinned people who might have different sexualities than their own, but then we have the various members of the KKK who often tend to claim Christianity as their religion of choice. That doesn't mean all Christians are huge dickheads who wears sheets and funny hats to cover up the urethra on the top of their heads. Same goes for fandoms.

I'm guessing these guys are big fans of Twilight Sparkle.
It's easy to forget that fandoms are large things with various different sorts of people, not all of which are nice or even great examples of humanity in general. The human race is a mixed bag and most of the time the bag tends to be full of the sort of things one might find lit on fire on their front step. Speaking personally, I find that the vast majority of comic books fans are a rather difficult crowd to interact with. There are plenty of fans who behave in a civil manner, discussing things they love and hate with other fans. And then there are the fans who send death threats to writers for not liking the same things they like.

Yes, because this cover is truly worth threatening the life of another human being over.
The truth is that it's really hard to be a fan, because it means that by declaring yourself a fan you risk getting a stigma attached to you because of the more extreme members of your fandom. Being a fan can be a downright miserable experience, when you get right down to it. But we soldier on, striving to walk that line and show our love in a hopefully non-creepy manner that doesn't involve hurting other people. And, as a guy who recently got into the wide world of YouTube, I now worry about the idea of someone perhaps developing an unhealthy obsession with me. It might seem farfetched, but then we look at some things that happened in the recent past to certain famous personality. Things that do, in fact, make me worry a bit. Because when you put yourself out there like myself and others do, you are taking a risk.

Who could resist stalking such a perfect specimen?
But I love you folks, so I keep right on doing this. I love this, even though it doesn't pay well at all, and I fully intend to keep right on putting myself and my opinions out there for you to read. If that means I get some threats, so be it. It wouldn't be the first time people threatened my life. Getting down to the question I originally stated in the title, I honestly don't think fans ruin fandoms. Obsession ruins fandoms. Violence ruins fandoms. Ignorance and intolerance ruins fandoms. Fans are what make fandoms great. I proudly state that I too am a fan. Of what? Well, you've got Masters of the Universe, Speed Racer, Kaiju, G.I. Joe, various comics.... Hell, a cartoon saved my life.

No, not quite in the same way that one saved Jack Slater's life.
You see, there's this show called Young Justice that used to come on. It was not unlike Teen Titans, giving a new fresh take on some young heroes from DC Comics. It came on Cartoon Network and I loved it immediately. It came at an especially bad point in my life where I was having certain...harmful thoughts. But this show that some people would simply shrug off as yet another superhero cartoon, it helped me. It made me want to hold on every week because I needed to see what happened next. I needed to see these characters again. Their lives, their stories, kept me going and not just on television but also on the printed page when they did a comic series. Christopher Jones, the artist on the comics, actually sold some prints based on it that I actually bought. With the last print, I shared my story with him and he gave me a letter back along with two additional prints (one of which I gave to my nephew).

I tell no lies. I just make terrible jokes.
That really touched me and made me a lifelong fan. I encourage you all to go check out his work, because he really is a great comic artist. It also hammers home why I and many others choose to be fans while also highlighting why I and many others put our work out into the world. Sometimes we all need something or someone to hold onto, whether it be a goofy guy on YouTube or just a cartoon that executives cancelled because it didn't sell enough action figures. Fandoms are important and so are the fans that make up them. Just remember to try and make your fandom a good place that people feel welcome in rather than a place that people find scary and off-putting. To quote Bill & Ted, "be excellent to each other." Later days, bleeders

Now I need to go find a shirt.

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