Monday, 8 April 2013

Fandom - Or Opinions You Wanted to Give But Were Too Afraid of the Backlash

So fandom. "What is this thing?" I hear you cry. It is TWO things:

1. The name of my friend's cat
2. The collective name of a group of fans for a particular show, such as The Vampire Diaries fandom or the Game of Thrones fandom. Fandoms have tended to thrive online on Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler and are mainly people who are obse care passionately about their fandom.

Image - author's own
I myself am a proud member of several fandoms -the main ones being Buffy the Vampire Slayer (including Angel the series), Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. I also am part of the Prince fandom and the Dresden Files fandom. 

One of my other fandoms, that I am SO happy with right now, is Veronica Mars. I started watching this because Buffy had finished, I wanted something to fill that hole and also some bloke named Joss Whedon had said in an interview that he too loved the show and that Buffy fans should watch it. And as a good fan, I did. 

And I'm so glad I did. WHAT A SHOW!! 

The sassy lead character (played to perfection by Kristen Bell), her (male!) best friend, the cases each week as well as the arc of who killed her BFF, Lilly Kane, LOGAN, the music, the setting, her Dad, LOGAN!! etc, etc.

And the writing? Sublime. So clever and witty but emotional and tender. 

I was devastated by the cancellation of the show after three seasons. Since then, I have waited with baited breath for news of any developments, but alas there were none. Until a few weeks ago when Kristen tweeted that her and the show's creator, Rob Thomas, would be making a big announcement the following day. My battered heart dared not to hope and I genuinely believed that the news would be a cast reunion interview and photoshoot. With joyous laughter and much squeeing I was proved wrong! A Veronica Mars film was to be made IF enough funds could be raised through a Kickstarter appeal. The target was $2 million and this was raised within a few days breaking many Kickstarter records along the way.

I have heard criticisms of this - Why should fans fund a studio movie? The studio will sit back and make the money from it?

And do you know what I say to those people? Fuck off!! 

This is a story about a TV show that was so loved by its creators, cast and fans, that we wouldn't give up. By funding the film we are opening the door for a new way of making entertainment (hopefully) and proving the studios wrong at the same time! So often these nebulous people make decisions in my name, about what shows will be continued and so many times they've cancelled the great ones to leave us with the mediocre ones and the reality shows. By funding this, we are showing that we still have some say (If you haven't donated yet and would like to, you can here, but hurry up as it finishes on April 12th).

You can see from my list of fandoms at the start of this rant blog, that the majority of my fandoms come from Joss Whedon related shows. I have grown up along side Joss' work - starting with Buffy - and they have shaped a lot of the ways I think as an adult. He writes intelligent, thoughtful and funny shows, that show that being 'different' is not a bad thing. That being judgey and bullying is not good. Joss himself has done a lot of work with equality organisations and I like to think that I stand for many of the same things.

I had ME for a long time and we couldn't afford to have a computer or the internet so it has only been over the last 4 years that I have been on the internet with any regularity. Through it, I have met many amazing people, discussed many difficult topics and now taken part in my first podcast with the Rogue Demon Hunters, which I loved (linky). 

However, I have noticed, and it has increasingly PISSED ME OFF, that I only have to mention certain things and it causes certain "FANS" to become extremely rude, to the point of aggressive. In fact, it was only on Saturday I was called 'delusional' because I said I liked a certain character. 

"Tis a mere flesh wound!" I hear you say!

But I'm a 37 year old, strong woman. I'm not a young girl.

That didn't seem to stop a group of "fans" at a screening of Once More With Feeling a few years ago. A young lady, who didn't like the crowd's incessant bullying of Dawn, was shouted at and told to "toughen up"!!!!! BY ADULTS!!! (original post here and follow-up post here)

At what point is it OK to do this??

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good debate and thoroughly enjoy discussing the nuances of characters and plots. But it is not OK to be rude or nasty or BULLY other people because they disagree with your opinion!

If you read the original blog posts in the links above, it is VERY interesting to read the comments. It baffles me just how many of them seem to think that this was OK because the character is annoying!!! And miss the point of it that a young girl was bullied!!

So next time you claim to be a fan or part of fandom, consider which you want to be.

I know where I fall and it would be in front of the young girl at the Once More With Feeling screening - protecting her.


  1. Very well said! It sometimes amazes me too how much bullying there can be inside a fandom. There are some fandoms I avoid just for that reason. I might enjoy the shows but can't take the fact that opinions that differ from the mainstream aren't tolerated at all. If you dare to say a bad word about a character everyone else adores, you'll have a horde of "fans" attacking you. And with this I mean maybe criticizing something a character did, not character bashing. Don't know if I'm expressing myself too clearly but just wanted to leave a comment that I agree with what you said above :)

  2. You are expressing yourself perfectly! :)
    Totally agree - my experience has been with the Buffy fandom but I'm sure it exists in others. I find it incredibly sad but also makes me very angry :)