Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

June 2, 2022

On fandoms and why I have never been part of one

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 3:51 AM

Earlier today I realized that I have never been part of any fandom organizations, websites, mailing lists etc ever and this was a bit of a revelation because as those who know me can attest, I am quite passionate about a bunch of topics, comics, TV series, Books, Movies etc. So I spent some time trying to figure out why that was the case and it hit me that the reason I am not part of any of the fandom sites/mailing lists/organizations is that they are too passionate about this stuff, to the point that they make it a central part of their being.

Another problem is that they all assume that if you are part of one fandom then you would not be part of another, famous example being: Are you a Star Trek Fan or a Star Wars fan? I would get asked this question lots of times in college and I would get a very confused look back when I replied that I liked both of them. Most people do that, being a Star Trek fan (or a Star Wars fan) is not mutually exclusive and I don’t have to dislike one in order to enjoy the other. Being a fan of one series vs the other is not the core part of my identity. I have more interesting things to obsess about.

I do get annoyed when a TV series/movie/Comic I like makes changes to the core aspect of the story. For example, below is my take on Spiderman 3 and how they handled Uncle Ben’s Death:

The first major issue I have with the movie was how they made the Sandman responsible for Uncle Ben’s death. This is completely against how the comic’s and books look at that event. His death was a major point in Peter Parker’s life because he felt responsible for his death as he had let the crook that killed him get away because “It wasn’t his problem”. This guilt made him realize that “With great power comes great responsibility”. So when they made Sandman the killer they changed a basic fact of Spiderman history. I know. I know. Its just a movie, but still its jarring/annoying to those who follow the comics.

I saw the movie, disliked the changes, posted about it and then went on with my life. Compare this to the reaction of “Fan’s” who reacted badly to the recent changes in the Star Wars movie, or the Ghostbusters Reboot or Doctor Who casting/Story changes etc etc etc etc. For some people it seems to be a life or death decision that the story being shown is just as how they remember it as a child. I mean how sad is that? Yeah, I have a lot of childhood memories about watching cartoons or movies and they give me great joy, but there were other great parts about my childhood and if a story is changed a bit then it doesn’t really “ruin my childhood” because guess what; your childhood is over. You are an adult and if the only thing that gives you joy is watching the same stuff that you saw as a kid then let me introduce you to this fascinating thing called recordings, which will allow you to watch the same things again an again without any changes. 🙂 Stories change over the years and stuff that was acceptable a few years ago is not acceptable now due to change in the social/political climate. Or do you still think that we need to worry about Romans and Barbarians? It is good to read / watch stories that take you outside your comfort-zone, as they will teach you new things.

This is not to diss the people who love the stories, dress up as characters in the story or write fan-fic in the same world. I know for a majority of fans it is a way to celebrate the story and share their joy with others and I love that. I do on the other hand, have a problem with the people who act like jerks online, send death threats to actors in the stories, pedantically butt in all over the place trying to gate keep by insisting that you can’t be a ‘fan’ unless you can name the gobdly-goop of the blahdy-blah correctly while standing on one foot. There are so many cases where people are harassed in conventions and asked to constantly prove ‘their worth’ by reciting useless facts about something that has no connection to real life, especially by men trying to exclude women.

This obsession that people demand as a requirement for being a fan is not something I like, so I sub-consciously didn’t join any of these fandom’s. There are so many things to read and so many things to watch why would I want to keep re-reading/rewatching the same thing when there are some many new stories to consume? (That isn’t to say that I don’t love rewatching/rereading my favorites once in a while but still…)

A few weeks ago, Will Wheaton had a guest appearance in Star Trek: Picard. It was a surprising cameo and meant as a laugh/shout out to fans became another reason for ‘fans’ to be really abusive to Will. In Star Trek: Next Generation, his character was not much liked as it came across as a know-it-all annoying brat. However, that was the character in the show, it doesn’t reflect who the actor was/is and the actor playing a character doesn’t have the same personality as the character. I would think that this is common sense but it is not and the amount of verbal/written abuse Will has suffered through the years for his role is not right.

The fandom has now become so toxic that it is expected for actors & directors to receive vitriol, death threats if the ‘fans’ disagree with the casting or the story choices. The most recent example is the casting of Moses Ingram in Obi-Wan Kenobi which has aired just 2 episodes so far but the hate has gotten to the point that ‘Star Wars’ actor Ewan McGregor had to record a message defending his co-star Moses Ingram from racist trolls. The same nonsense is happening over at the Dr Who fandom, Marvel Fandom etc etc. It is like if anyone not white and not male is given any meaningful role in the industry the white fans loose their minds and go nuts. Guess what, the same series that you think have now become woke, have always been that way and even if they didn’t, there is more to the world than the ‘White Man as savior’ stories. Most of the world gets along fine without the white man interfering.

The writers of a show/book/whatever don’t owe you anything. No one can create something that will be a universal hit, someone will always dislike even the most popular things. If you don’t like something, stop watching it. Anne Wheaton put it best while commenting on the discussion about the TV show:

It is fine that you like something, but it doesn’t mean that nothing different should be done with the story just because you like it. Or that things should only be done a particular way or have only show one aspect of society or one way of telling stories. Remember as the Vulcan belief states: “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” (The Vulcan belief that beauty, growth, progress — all result from the union of the unlike). I have been reading books by authors who are not traditional white, male authors from the western world and their stories are some of the best I have read in a while.

There is a whole world out there, don’t be so scared that you are unable to enjoy it.

– Suramya

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