Fandom Isn’t Perfect, But It’s Not Broken

Fandom

A recent article from Birth Death Movies titled “Fandom Is Broken” has stirred up an enormous reaction across social media.

CjNhQhnVEAAri-zAt first glance, the “Fandom is Broken” article seems to have some good points, especially in regard to the gendered based backlash against the new Ghostbusters film.  The vile behavior of many of the commentators is deplorable, misogynistic, and needlessly cruel.  Both creators and fans have been subjected to this horrible behavior for months.  But the issue with the article arises when the author conflates this hateful rhetoric with the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaigns as a whole.  There’s a huge difference between a campaign rooted in hatred and a campaign with aims of encouraging creators to include more diversity in their works.

Let’s get one thing clear: death threats are awful no matter who is sending them.  Hate speech and harassment is terrible.  I will never make excuses for that, even if they are on “my” side of the argument.  But this article isn’t talking about this specific aspect of the campaigns.  It clearly defines the two groups it’s criticizing.  To quote the article directly, it’s about people reacting to “to an all-female Ghostbusters reboot but also the hashtag that trended trying to get Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2.  The people who have an issue with an all-female Ghostbusters tend to be reacting because it’s an all female cast.  The way it’s phrased isn’t including people who are upset with the idea of a reboot or just don’t find the trailer that interesting.  Those people exist, but that’s not who we are talking about here and the article makes that quite clear.

However, it doesn’t specify any hateful subsection of the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend crowd.  He’s not talking only about the ones sending death threats.  He’s talking about the entire movement as a whole.  I was hoping he would clarify at some point, but no, he reiterates that it’s the people that want “inclusion” that he’s talking about, and not just ones that may be participating in violent targeted rhetoric.  “Whether driven by hate (Ghostbusters) or a desire for inclusion (Frozen 2) both campaigns show the entitlement of modern fan culture,” he states.  It seems pretty clear where he stands on the issue.  He’s talking about all of us.

Addressing the hatred in fandom is important.  It’s a conversation worth having.  Unfortunately that’s not what this article is addressing.  It’s about “entitlement.”  Writer Chuck Wendig, who received a massive amount of backlash for including LGBTQ+ characters in his Star Wars novel, has addressed the hatred using this article as a launching point.  He had this to say on the matter:

And then my favorite tweet from his entire string of tweets:

Chuck has made many great tweets on the matter, so give it a look starting with this tweet.  I’ve only selected a few choice tweets that rang true for me here, but his entire series of tweets is worth reading (and liking and RTing!).

Even though Chuck Wendig is a creator who seems to understand the balance in fandom, I’ve seen many creators I admire share this article without defining the nuances between these two groups.  A part of me thinks so many creators are sharing it because they feel that an active and vocal fandom may be trying to dictate their stories.  They may feel fandom feedback, including calling for more diversity and inclusion on screen, is hampering their creative process.  And you know what? I get that.  I’m a writer, too. I write articles here on this website (and guest write at a few others) and creative fiction as fanfiction in my free time. Some of the feedback I’ve received both on my articles and on my fanfic has stung me deeply so I get it.  I’ve even been doxed before, so man I really really get it.  Your desire to want to continue creating free of this type of hurtful behavior isn’t outside of my comprehension here, but you can’t lump all of your critics together into one big bunch.  You need to look at their motivations and what they are asking of you.  Hatred and a desire for more diversity in media are two entirely different beasts here.

vm2Furthermore, fandom reaction to your creation and the creative process doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It may feel like people are being demanding, but fandom has done some pretty amazing things that have allowed creators to do more than they would have before.  In some cases it’s given creators more freedom beyond what their networks had originally allowed them.  For a couple of prime examples of this, I leave it to Geekiary author Emily and her series of tweets regarding the Firefly and Veronica Mars films, and various charitable projects inspired by her fandoms:

Geekiary writer Dot also spoke out on the positive sides of fandoms, including the Wayward Daughters campaign.


Is fandom broken?  I don’t think so.  It’s got some problems, but overall I believe it’s a net positive.  To quote Chuck Wendig, “shitbirds gonna shitbird.”  The dangerous and hateful language does need to be talked about, but lumping in people who just want to see more diversity in the media is terribly offensive and does a major disservice to those who are on the receiving end of these types of bigoted attacks.  We aren’t the same so don’t tell us that we are.  We see that hate too.  We see it every day on social media and off the Internet in our real world lives.  We see what you see, so please don’t put us in the same boat as the hateful and bigoted fans who are hating on us too.

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.



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