Are You A “Real” Fan?

It gets tiresome, and has since I first encountered organized fandom. “Only real fans like…” The worst offenders are the Star Wars fans upset with how the sequels have gone. The Trek fans went at it for a while, but most of the grumbling has been reduced to “looks too new to be set ten years before Shatner” and “I have to buy another streaming service?” Those I can live with, particularly since the Captain Pike storyline has been awesome this year.

But it goes back to my misspent youth. Did you read the right novels tied into our favorite shared franchise? If you like the new movies, you’re not a fan. You’re not a fan if you like so-and-so playing this character. Then there’s my personal pet peeve. It’s not really a peeve. It’s a rage trigger point.

The word “fanboi,” a monumentally stupid word used as a slur by idiots who seem to forget their teens are at least a decade in the rearview mirror. I see that word, and I immediately deduct 75 IQ points from my estimate of their intelligence. It should be a red flag in job interviews, credit applications, and background checks. “I’m sorry, sir, but you called everyone who liked the Red Dwarf reboot on Reddit a fanboi. We cannot hire you.”

Listen, I get the passion for a franchise. That’s why they create them. It’s kind of disingenuous to say, “Oh, well, it’s all just wringing money out of people.” Believe me, there’s a lot of other ways to take people’s money, and a lot easier than trying to get actors to sign on for another installment. But some of the abuse heaped by disappointed fans exceeds how badly they are wronged. You’re all upset that Luke Skywalker turned into a bitter old man and didn’t fit your pet theory. Well, I took my mother-in-law to the hospital for pneumonia two weeks ago. Guess which one of us looks stupid for being upset.

Back in the early 1990s, some fans were so vocal in their opinions of Star Trek: The Next Generation that people asked me, in all serious, “Am I allowed to like both shows?” I, in my immaturity back then, said, “Yes, and anyone who says otherwise should be punched in the face. Hard.”

I don’t care if you don’t like something. I don’t care if you even say you don’t like something. But if you’re going to be outraged by it, you really need to get your priorities straight.

1 thought on “Are You A “Real” Fan?”

  1. But I used fanboi in my prior comment.

    Dungeons and Dragons, back when it was popular, had similar issues. There were a few people who took it WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. What limited them somewhat was the intimacy of pen, paper and dice D&D. It was intensively interactive in that small groups came together in the same room for hours and created the game session jointly. Talking, inside jokes, junk food and scribbling were constant.

    If someone was a total choade, they generally didn’t get invited back. The rule-lawyers, macho-men, hack-and-slashers, treasure hoarders, author-specific gamers, and a dozen other variants could probably all find someone to game with. This could reinforce a stylistic group-think with gaming circles that didn’t like contrary ideas. To me, these groups would be dull, but people played for different reasons. Across most groups I knew, if someone was unhinged or crossed the this-crap-is-real line, they worried the majority of gamers who managed to hold down a job and have some semblance of a personal life and relationship with outside reality. We’d joke about a few guys we figured were at risk for running around the sewers with a hatchet but also bristle at the overwrought media representations of the same.

    I get people enjoying a particular franchise above all others. In my teen-early 20’s gaming group (all guys you knew), each of us had a different author we preferred and basically stole ideas from (which was every D&D campaign ever.) We had all read much of the same stuff, but one guy preferred Donaldson and poured those ideas into the game, while others preferred Moorcock or Tolkien and I tended towards Leiber, plus a few obscure thrift shop finds that were the only fantasy books not usually read by everyone.

    Nobody was conceited to the point of dismissing other player’s favorite authors as trash. Gamers who preferred a serious year-long story arc across 20 sessions where the final end goal was a monumental achievement for the forces of good would chafe a bit at my sardonic sessions where the characters were in debt, scrounging for a meal and picking up a shady job from a fast-talking fence targeting an even bigger crook who probably had it coming. Both, and a hundred other variants were valid, and we spent (too much) money on TSR stuff and the various knock-offs. They probably wish we’d have bought rather than written most of our material, but much of the company stuff was formulaic. (Monster, trap, treasure. Repeat.) Some people like that, though.

    When a person is so dedicated to a franchise that they fail to see the value in other media creations, there is a problem. A person who doesn’t give a crap about Star ____ isn’t less of human than one who has dedicated their entire waking life to it. The casual fan isn’t more or less valid as a person than the serious fan, or the dedicated single-universe fan(atic). Shit, there are like 100 kinds of ice cream in a decent sized grocery store. I don’t feel compelled to berate people who pick something besides French Vanilla. To think that my preference in that, or some type of entertainment, is the only valid on shows a fundamental lack of empathy. THAT causes issues in many aspects of life. (And may contribute to fanbois sending threatening and hateful messages to actresses who cause them cognitive dissonance by not matching some pre-conceived notion that is in their head.) Down 150 points!

    It isn’t just SF or media. This exists in similar forms across sports and consumer products and living in a particular geographic area. For whatever internal reasons, some people really dedicate effort and attention into something that they like, to the exclusion of all others. People assault fans from another sports team, only buy vehicles from one company (and put decals bragging about it), or who refuse to have anything to do with city X, state Y or country Z. Same or similar mental characteristics with franchise super-fans. Maybe if they weren’t super-exclusive specific-species of SF fans, they be they guys driving their fourth dark blue Ford pickup, with the custom giant logo tail-gate, the sticker of Calvin pissing on the Chevy logo, wearing a Ford hat, a T-shirt saying “I’d rather push a Ford than ride in a Chevy” and a fancy gold Ford key ring. Maybe some people just turn out this way and a particular SF franchise is where the wind deposited their mental seed as opposed to on Ford, Kerr County Texas or The New York Yankees.

    I have a legion of vices, but missed this one. Krull was an absolutely horrible movie that I spent $4.25 on to see in the theater in the hopes of borrowing some cool D&D ideas. Despite my vast and enduring disappointment, I didn’t decide to harass any cast members, or anyone who tells me that they actually loved the movie. (Full disclosure: this is an allegory and I haven’t met that person yet.)

    Oh, and Red Dwarf as a reboot. Hmmm.

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