I’m sure that title is about as original as fandom wars are, but it serves its purpose with the same pride we have for all things geek. For those of you who don’t know(you should be ashamed and banished to the naughty corner!) a fandom is defined as follows:
Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fanscharacterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.
Personally, I’ve never heard the term fannish, but if it’s on Wikipedia it must exist, however this particular definition is the best I could find. Fandoms sound interesting, don’t they? They sound cool and exciting. Just think about it! There is a corner in this world where people who love the same things as you do, live, interact, get excited about everything and anything that you yourself get excited about! What’s not to like? Now that we got to this moment, we all know that I’m about to drop and anvil on your heads and tell you exactly what we’re not going to like about fandoms.
It’s shocking, it’s brutal, it’s easy to guess because let’s face it, it’s also obvious. The one thing to hate about fandoms are the fans. No, before you go on a roaring rampage of revenge for me saying that, I don’t mean everyone and anyone, I merely mean that little faction that every fandom from The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries to Hannibal or CSI or everything in between has, but let’s face it there are too many books/comics/series/movies to list here.
The: my *insert show/book/etc *here is better than yours! group. They are more vocal, more fanatical, they will follow everything and anything that’s related to what they love, while also following all the other inconsequential things that exist in the world, but only to trash them by comparison. Some call them trolls, some call them heroes, but regardless of the name, they exist and thrive on making others miserable for liking the awful knock-offs of their show.
Maybe you’re into fishing shows and they like Hannibal, maybe you like ponies and they like Spongebob, but you’re still going to blip on their radar if you even mention your attraction or affiliation to anything other than their own, beloved “thing”. And once you’re there, you’ll never escape their clutches.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is like that. Most people are sane, safe to be around, caring and loving and when they do get involved in something fandom related it’s going to be for a charitable event, in order to help a fellow fandom member or simply to showcase their affection towards a favourite cause of someone involved with the object of their fannish affection.
Supernatural and the several events they host for charity come to mind, Misha Collins’s fans who did so much for Haiti, the Norman Reedus fans who bought his 3 Films to help Japan are just a few, off the top of my head fandom actions that have gained my appreciation for fandoms. Unrelated people gathered up to protest for a cause or another, to help save someone in need that they have never met, to honour people that would’ve remained anonymous otherwise. See? That’s the bit I love about fandoms, yet…when I see the word pop up on my screen in relation to a show/movie/book, it’s not what comes to my mind.
What I do think about is the fandom wars, the horrible slights people hurl at one another simply because they can’t accept that tastes, whether involving salting your soup before or after tasting it or revolving around the things you watch and read are non-debatable.
Having an opinion on something is fine. Posting it on your blog, on your site, on your twitter feed is just as fine. What’s not okay is going into someone’s backyard and yelling from the top of your lungs that their baby is crummy. That their hero, whether the actor/actress or the character they portray just plain…sucks. Don’t do that. It’s like going on a playground and saying “you mama” jokes. It’s a big no-no and it just goes to show how badly things can degenerate in between groups of people, it’s almost a social experiment in itself: gather a group of fans (I’m using the appropriate meaning of the word – fanatics). Add water. Watch them transform.
Now, from my experience, fandoms come with inner revolutionary movements themselves. Let’s take show/book X and do a quick analysis. You can replace the X with whatever you want and the result will be the exact same one. There are always going to be ship wars, particularly if the author was never clear on who gets the girl/boy/alternate life form. While on the surface everyone is loving and nice, the ripples just beneath the mirror of the water are what eventually will break things from within. Gale/Katniss or Peeta and Katniss? Castiel and Dean or Dean and *random gorgeous girl here*? I would go on with this, but I am afraid I will end up being the first person to discover the word limit for wordpress. But I do believe my point is made, right?
Fandoms can be great and fandoms can be horrific and just like with families or friends, all it takes is a single spark to ignite a war that will span centuries. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, since I’m sure few shows/books etc will actually survive the test of time, but given that there are still people who argue over whether Buffy should’ve chosen Spike over Angel or the other way around, I’d say we’re still looking at a few decades of quarrels at least for some of the things people focus their affection on.
The bottom line is that this should be one of those situations where we live and let live, because let’s face it, no matter what we love or how much we love it, when push comes to shove, this is still a fictional world we’re adoring. We might jump up and down in anger over someone picking on Doctor Who, but if our house is on fire, I doubt the TARDIS will appear, however that person you just insulted just might.
All in all, if your show preaches peace love and understanding, don’t go Westboro Baptists on anyone for not liking it. I’m not saying turn the other cheek, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t stand up for yourselves, but think just what you’re consuming your nervous energy on. And when you feel like going out, guns blazing and smite the offending party for picking on your favourites, remember that a sad puppy is weeping for humanity somewhere in the world.