Fan Behaviours That Need to Stop
In the past we’ve spoken about some of the more…troubling…groups of fans you may have encountered. Most people liked the article, some people (read: Bronies) did not appreciate it so much. I’ve often considered putting together a sequel, but haven’t felt inspired by any particular group. And no, I’m not going to include Furries because they’re not ‘fans’ of a particular product. Stop asking. Seriously.
Instead I’m going to discuss fan behaviours that we often see around the place and, well, we can all do without them.
Rapid Defense of Everything in the Brand…Even if it’s Terrible
Some time ago I wrote a review of the new pilot episode of Supergirl. The episode was…fine. Some really good action and a good lead, but some appalling support cast and a very, very rushed narrative. Some comments agreed, some disagreed. Then we got ‘fanboyed’, which is a word I made up just now.
I don’t know who Jose Kuervo is. They’re not a regular commentator or a subscriber to my knowledge. Shortly after the review went up they started replying to every comment added to the article in the defence of the character like it was a personal vendetta. Provide an alternative viewpoint, please, but don’t go on the attack because you think the character deserves more blind devotion.
This attitude outright confuses me. Some part of the fan brain misfires and believes that if you like something than no part of it can be bad and damn anyone who suggests otherwise. We’ve even had people flip out on us over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because we questioned the purpose of the ending. In their words the article was “stupid” because “the movie was awesome” (whilst complaining that people weren’t being considerate of their opinion because hypocrisy). It’s on par with the ‘Twihards’ who blindly defend the awful decisions of the Twilight movies when it’s clear to all that they were rushed through production to capitalise on the fad.
Star Wars is the most obvious example of this. George Lucas can make movies as unwatchable and nonsensical as the ‘Prequel Trilogy’, a set of movies that have such complete disregard for the continuity and characters of the originals that Lucas didn’t care enough to rewatch them before dribbling out a single draft of a script. The amount of cheap merchandise is endless, from the lazy Force Awakens games to the shonky CGI movies and people stampede each other to buy them to prove what massive fans they are.
No matter how poor a Star Wars movie is someone is going to defend it and buy every special edition they put out. For 25 years they haven’t needed to make a product good for it to sell, and they know it. It’s reflected in the pointless product tie-ins and shoddy products. Somewhere there’s a couple of very rich CEOs laughing their asses off because their audience never demand better quality.
I’m a huge fan of both Batman and X-Men, but you’ll never see me defending Batman and Robin or X-Men 3. Because they’re bad movies that do a terrible disservice to the brand and the fans. Being an official part of the series doesn’t excuse everything wrong with them. I’m going to criticise them and demand better things before I put down my money. I’m certainly not going to buy the Blu-Ray editions on top of the VHS and DVDs just to show what I fan I am. If it sucks, don’t try to prove what a fan you are by trying to say otherwise.
Elitism in Geek Communities
Man, it’s good being a geek right now. So much of the entertainment industry is catering to us, and that’s because the numbers of people in the culture have grown in a huge way during the past 20 years. It’s wonderful seeing so many people discovering what we knew to be fun and exciting. It’s a community that’s growing and more accesible than ever before.
Yet many people seem to have a real problem with this. We recently came across a discussion about the what was then the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, prompted by this image:
I can’t speak to the intention of the original poster, but they clearly believe the movie won’t be up to their standards as a comic reader (nor have they looked into the movie enough to find out which characters will be in it). The ensuring discussion cast a critical, negative view over the cinema-goers, seemingly blaming them for the changes to the story and positioning them as pretenders to geek status, people who think they’re into comics without having proven themselves. This is, for the time being, putting aside the point that a perfect retelling of ‘Civil War’ in a movie would be a terrible idea.
This idea that some people are better fans than others is not new, but it’s getting louder. Some will quiz people on comic and gaming lore, expecting them to prove themselves. Others will dismiss anyone who’s a newcomer to the fandom as though they have to pass some kind of initiation. These gatekeepers of the geek community are determined to hold themselves above the normal population regardless of how petty their victories.
For the life of me I can’t see what the problem is. I love comics and have done for decades. The current spate of movies allows more people to see what it is I love about them. If they have questions I will happily try and answer them, and recommend where to go from there. It’s exciting seeing so many new people joining in on the fun.
Speaking of elitism, it takes an uglier form when gender politics get thrown into the mix. For some the geek community is a boy’s club, a treehouse with a ‘no girls allowed’ sign hanging from a branch. As time gets on this attitude gets more and more ridiculous.
An ongoing joke online is that there ‘are no girls on the internet’, that it’s such a male dominated platform that girls wouldn’t even bother with it, contrary to 45%-50% of users being female at any given time. The same is true of video games, still seen as a male dominated industry when in reality 48% of self-described gamers are female. In spite of this women get treated like an anomaly and are often met with disparaging attitudes or cringe-inducing fawning.
A high number of women have said they create male characters in MMOs so they can get on with playing the game like everyone else.’Gamergate’ may have had some real things to say about the way games are reported on but they were entirely lost amid the hordes who saw it as an excuse to unleash their inner monster. When one woman produced an academic study of negative female representation in gaming (something that is pretty damn hard to deny) she was met with critics who took aim at her gender, threatening rape and murder because she was ‘fake geek girl’.
The entire concept of a ‘fake geek girl’ is one that took hold surprisingly easy on the internet with it’s very own meme. It all started with this oft-criticised article and completely bogus on Forbes demanding that girls stop trying to get in on the geek community. It’s confounding. Where are these women who are trying to pass themselves off as geeks to score themselves some of that…actually, what is it people think they’re trying to get out of this?
Aggressive Aversion to Change
Maybe some of this sexism stems from many geeks inability to accept change. They pine for the days when Wonder Woman could only join the Justice League as the secretary.
There’s nothing like changing part of an ongoing series to get people upset. Not using the classic costume in the movie? Disrespectful. Casting a new voice actor in a game? Abomination. Adapting a recent story instead of using the classic? Pointless. A woman or person of colour playing a character who was previously a white male? Pure madness.
We’re finishing this article on this point because it’s a slam dunk. Yes, things in the past have been good, but if you’re going to insist that this was the be-all, end-all of human achievement and entertainment we’re not going to get anything good in the future. There have been some reimaginings and changes that have failed, but they get forgotten about. The good changes we get to keep forever.
What changes are we talking about? Where do we begin? The reimaging of Blade from a vampire hunting Shaft to leather clad, super cool hunter in the movies, the many interpretations of the Joker including Heath Ledger’s insanely popular take, the modernising of Green Arrow for television audiences, switching Warcraft from an RTS to a MMORPG…we could spend all day on this…
But we’re not. We’re going to purge all this negativity with an article about why this decade is the best decade to be a geek in. Coming soon!