I’ve always had a contrary personality, but only in one area of life: fictional media. Specifically, when someone tells I have to read/watch something. My first thought was always “since you told me, now I’m not going to.”
When I was younger, it was Harry Potter. I’m not sure how I missed the Harry Potter craze, but I never bothered much with it as a kid. When I got into my early teens, and Harry Potter was popular subject, people would always ask me if I’d read it. When I said no, the fans usually responded with outright shock and disgust. The more they looked down on me for not reading it, the less I wanted to. Through the years, I managed to learn all the major plot points and spoilers. Reading it now would be a formality, with no surprises or real magic. But people still insist that I should do it.
And this leads me into my main point: fandoms can be incredibly toxic. This doesn’t mean that any person that is a fan of that media is inherently bad. There are just as many lukewarm fans as crazy ones. But the crazy ones yell the loudest, so they’re the ones I’m focusing on. Here are a few major dangers of fandom culture.
- They’re divisive
The more fanatic members of fandoms tend to insist that the game/book/TV show/movie they’re interested in is the best. Which, by nature of logic, says that all others are lesser. This doesn’t usually end well, creating rivalries between major fandoms (Star Trek versus Star Wars, for instance). This can spread to members of one fandom genuinely looking down at the members of another. Judgement based on what fictional story a person prefers is one of the more asinine reasons. But fandoms often encourage it.
- They reflect badly on the very thing they’re about
There have been plenty of decent games/books/shows that were pretty well received at their onset. But obsessive fans can turn the mainstream opinion at large against them. For example, there was a well known Indie game called “Five Nights at Freddy’s”. It was incredibly innovative at the time and pulled a lot of publicity from Youtube gamers playing it. But over time, fans of the series became borderline crazy, demanding those same Youtubers to play more and more clones of the game. Many outside the fandom will refer to it as “cancerous”.
- They demand high levels of emotion from everyone
When a person from a fandom tells you that you “just HAVE to” read/watch/play whatever they’re a fan of, it’s not just a request to partake in their fandom. It’s a demand to partake and be as excited about it as they are. It’s not enough to simply enjoy that piece of media. You must have the same opinion as them. It puts large amounts of pressure on the newbie to the media and causes unnecessary conflict.
- They can turn literally dangerous
Most of the time, members of any one fandom will keep their obsession to letters and online forum posts. But there are a few times in which fandoms have turned dangerous, both to themselves and their creator. In the Victorian Era, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally killed off Sherlock Holmes to rid himself of the burden to keep writing the character. He was never meant to come back to life….until members of the fandom sent literal death threats to Sir Doyle. They threatened to burn down his house if he did not bring the famed detective back. The man was so shaken he wrote an entire novel to avoid their ire. In modern times, a shockingly large amount of “Beliebers” (those in the Justin Bieber fandom) took to cutting themselves for the singer and posting the pictures to social media.
Like I said before, simply being a fan of one form of media doesn’t make someone a bad person. But using a specific game/book/movie or anything else to create a mob mentality is dangerous. People should be allowed to like different things. They should be allowed to believe a singer is overrated or the gameplay of the latest AAA release is subpar. There are a million things divided us already. The things we’re a fan of (or not) shouldn’t be one of them.