Here’s another rant that’s been coalescing and needing expression. It has to do with fandom itself. And no, it’s not about any particular individuals, it’s about running into certain aspects in any fandom. However, if anyone feels like they need to take it personally, well, have at it, I guess.
It seems that every time a movie or show comes out that’s sci-fi/fantasy related or is based on graphic novels, there is an inevitable gaggle of deviant obsessives that immediately flock to it and apply their overzealous escapism to it.
It started with Star Trek. A show came on that appealed to many people of diverse interests and some of the fans took it upon themselves to organize and save the show so it didn’t get canceled. That, I find pretty admirable in itself to some extent because it shows that people are capable of organizing when they care enough about something. Too bad it’s usually about a TV show than really important things, but there you have it.
Then, the sci-fi conventions started and began to get more popular in the 70’s. People started dressing up as the characters on the show, and certain obsessive traits started to become evident. People would adopt a character and not break it, even after the convention. People made their vehicles look like shuttles and spaceships. People acted as if there actually was a Federation and acted as if they were actually part of it. They obsessed about the show until it became more important to them than real life.
Fanfiction and filking started to emerge, where people wrote stories and songs pertaining to Star Trek, which isn’t such a bad thing in and of itself…but then again, lots of people were getting too obsessive.
Then the slash started. Someone started writing Star Trek erotica, with Kirk and Spock fucking each other. Now, I’m no homophobe, but even Erasure would call that too gay. Then others joined the bandwagon and started writing slash with different “pairings”. “OH!! What if we get Chekov and Sulu together too!” Little did they know…
Somehow, out of the sci-fi/fantasy convention culture, a very special abomination emerged. The furries. People who fantasized about anthropomorphic creatures, such as human-like bodies with fur and animal features, fucking each other. Bestiality with a twist. It started with just art, but then they had to go and make the costumes. Now they have conventions of their own, and I shudder to think of what strange orgies must go on behind closed doors.
In the mid-70’s, Star Wars came out, and people applied the same fervor and fandom to that. Once that happened, fandom began to take hold in almost any sci-fi/fantasy setting. People would take these obsessive traits and carry them forth from fandom to fandom. Now, you can’t escape it. The cosplayers, slashers, furries, and now the various Japanese-style fandoms. Culturally, the Japanese are known for making obsession an art form. This is the last thing fandom needed.
I applaud William Shatner for going on Saturday Night Live and doing that skit where he asked in exasperation “Don’t you people have a LIFE?!?”
Fandom has become a form of insanity. The people involved will defend their obsession with ferocity, and act as if their fandom actually matters in the world. No. There are TV shows and movies and bands. They exist to express creativity and to make some money and provide entertainment. That’s it. They don’t really matter in the big picture.
The last straw for me was after seeing V For Vendetta. I dug the movie and wanted to discuss it with some other people who also dug it. I joined a couple of communities on LiveJournal and didn’t see any discussions of any depth concerning the movie or the graphic novels. In fact, there was very little discussion of the content itself in any way. Why? Fandom.
Fandom took over immediately, and within a week of the movie coming out, the structure of fandom, being already in place, simply shifted its focus to yet another subject. The cosplayers were making their costumes and masks. The slashers were writing their various fantasies. The rabid icon-makers were hard at “work” making endless icons. The quizzes and memes came pouring forth. Somehow, as they always do, even the furries added their own twist. The artists were drawing V as if he were some cute and cuddly cherubic figure, when his character was anything but.
I posted a comment or two about the social application of the V story, and that’s when all that I’ve written up to this point came together in my head. The people involved in fandom aren’t interested anymore in what the shows themselves have to offer. They are simply looking for something else to obsess about. For fucks sake, I have even heard of people writing slash for Band of Brothers!
It seems that those in our society who suffer from being clinically obsessive have found a way to maintain their ailment. Of course, if you bring up the fact that they are obsessed and are substituting their fandom for dealing with reality, the mild ones will just tear your head off verbally and then post in every forum on the net about some insensitive bastard just doesn’t get it. The more rabid ones will suggest that all kinds of terrible things should happen to the dirty bastard who dared bring up reality. To fandom, reality is the enemy.
Dip a toe into any fandom and you’ll see what I mean. Peruse a few communities and forums. Ask a few questions. If you really want to have fun, suggest that “It’s just a show, it not like it really matters” and watch the fur fly. Literally. The sad thing is, it’s not just a few people. Fandom is massive.
It’s pretty sad, actually. Why can’t people simply enjoy a show, movie, band, or book without becoming rabidly obsessed? Why can’t they just dig it and discuss it without all the crazy shit? Why does every form of media now have to attract obsessives, deviants, perverts, and the rest?
I’ve come to the point where I feel that fandom is bad for society, because it provides a semi-legitimate foundation for enabling all kinds of mental and emotional conditions. It makes people feel like there’s nothing wrong with completely evading reality to the point where a show matters more than their job, family, or anything else.
I like weird people. I love freaks. I think the world needs more weirdos. However, there’s a difference between being silly and freaky and being actually fucked up. Even Marilyn Manson knows how to take off the makeup and contact lenses and could be just a dude on the street if he wanted to.
It’s just a show. It’s just a movie. It’s just a band. It’s just a book. They are important as far as art itself is important, but art is meant to be enjoyed, not to be substituted for reality. If fandom was something that people took part in on an occasional basis as a hobby, that’s fine. However, there is a great number of people who use it as something to distract themselves from very real problems to such a degree that it affects their lives in negative ways.
If people’s involvement in any kind of fandom affects any aspect of their life negatively, then it going too far. If it’s taken seriously at all and goes beyond simple discussion, then it’s going too far. Hell, people can write stories or sing songs or dress up or roleplay for fun at a convention from time to time, that’s fine too. But for fuck’s sake, when the convention is over, put away the costume and live your real life. Talk about things that have nothing to do with your fandom. Travel for the sake of experiencing other cultures and places. Write about many subjects, not just your fandom. And, for the love of gawd, stop the furry shit. That’s just wrong.
© 2015 William Suphan
- Doing the Unstuck
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