Read a great New Yorker article this week about Superfans and the sometimes toxic culture in fandom. We saw it recently with the end of Game Of Thrones; people were losing their minds over it. I find it interesting, this deep-dive into the story probably because I have never loved a story/pop-star/thing enough to lose my perspective. Okay, yes, I did love Boy George and the Culture Club as a 13 year old, but hey, I was a kid!
I think this is a fairly recent turn of events, probably a result of social media and the ‘everyone is entitled to an opinion’ catchphrase that seems to be bandied about willy-nilly. Okay, yeah, you can have an opinion, but why you gotta tell everyone? Why do you need to protect your opinion, even at the cost of your dignity? Why do people feel the need to rush to the ‘defense’ of their hero? Is it because they think the object of their affection is going to see what an amazing fan they are and invite them around for tea? Sure, I recall getting pretty antsy if anyone criticised my pop idols (which later expanded to Elton John and George Michael…mmmm…) but I was a kid; a sheltered, idealistic kid.
Remember the 7th Harry Potter book? It was too long, the stuff in the Forest of Dean was about 40 pages too long, the Malfoys didn’t get their comuppance and Privett Drive…seriously? That dump should have been wiped off the planet! Perhaps it was the lack of social media back then but I don’t recall any uproar about it and it was, ‘in my opinion’, a less than perfect finale for the HP crew.
Can I say that? Will JK Rowling care? Nope. But there are fans who might. According to the New Yorker article, there are instances where someone having a contrary opinion on a pop-star or other cultural ‘product’ could land them in very hot water with the rabid fan base. I hear people were so upset over the end of GoT that they signed a petition in the tens of thousands to make it again – with new writers . I personally thought it was a terrible ending but surely people can just move on. Read the books. Move on.
I was introduced to the concept of Fan Fiction by a friend a few years back and I have to admit, it’s not really something I enjoy. He also explained ‘shipping to me, as in ‘I was shipping Archie and Jughead so hard’…as in I wish they were in a relationship and someone would make a story about that. I’m not really into romance either in novels or cinema but it seems there are millions of words written each year based on ‘shipping. Each, as they say, to their own.
What makes people fan so hard? God, I hope I write something one day that will make people go a bit gaga for it, although I am not going to hold my breath.