First off, I want to say how much I love my fandoms. I wouldn’t be painting or hanging around in them if I didn’t.
But DAMN there’s some toxic shit going down that makes me shake my head.
Look, I really disliked The Last Jedi and I found The Force Awakens ludicrous at best. I think Star Wars needs to be put to rest at this point. Do I still love the original trilogy? Absolutely. Will I take the time to bash the creators, actors and whoever else online about what I think of it?
I’ve seen quite a few celebrities withdraw from social media due to responses that are completely over the top.
Or are they? What’s really going on here?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the sense of ownership has changed in fandoms. How we now do far more than just passively consume content.
There’s actually a point where that started and if you’re old enough, or know enough about the history of Star Trek, you’ll know what I’m talking about: the successful movement to save the original Star Trek series back when it was cancelled after two seasons.
Right there, in the late 1960s, fans discovered that they had power and sway in a way that had never happened before. And this was done with letter writing, my friends, no internet to be found.
This discovery of power
I tend to stay out of anything online that is polarizing. From religion to politics to fandoms, I am neutral.
Unlike words we say in person, anything said online is there forever. Even if you delete it. Even if you’ve changed. We can look at the example of James Gunn if you really want to see the power of old internet based words biting you in the ass.
But I’m breaking that to take a stand here, now, in fandom because I think it needs to be said: love your stories, movies, shows but do not shit on the people that bring them to life. This doesn’t exclude being critical, I am talking about the vitriol that seems to be the norm is so many fandoms. The almost literal shit.
Here’s the thing, if our words had the impact we wanted, we’d end up with content that isn’t worth consuming.
A story told by a committee to appeal to everyone will appeal to no one.
A story told with only the favourite parts included will miss emotional impact.
A story told with only one gender and one race misses the depth and fullness that comes from diversity.
A story told that keeps characters alive long past their story lines have ended just because the fans like them, cheapens those characters.
Creating transformative works, art or fiction or whatever, is an amazing way to extend our stay within our cherished universes but it doesn’t extend us any kind of ownership. Nor does buying licensed merch. Nor does spending money for conventions and photo ops.
As fans, we are ultimately the consumers of the content, regardless of how that consumption looks and I think it’s important to remember that.
If we want to continue to have access to the stars, writers and creators of the fandoms we love, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to be better than we are right now.
Love. Critique. Analyze. Create.
But if it’s no longer working for you, walk away. Be as invested as you want, just don’t shit where we play.