What is it about fandom that results in us having a false sense of ownership? Some may say the amount of time and money in going to conventions, comic shops, buying action figures that entitles them to a seat at the table during staff meetings, or at minimum a call from DC Comics when they feel Batman should go into a new direction after all these are our characters, right?
Merriam-Webster defines fanatic as a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity. If this isn’t comic fandom then I don’t know what is. As a fandom in general we are steadfast in our lines that we have drawn in the sand about who is the better company Marvel or DC? Who is the best Robin? Who is the definitive leader of the X-Men? All these questions and many more just like have been the subject of many conversations be it in person or on the internet that has ended in friendships being lost and enemies made.
Regardless of where you stand on these ever-important issues, one thing should ring true throughout fandom…it really doesn’t matter who the definitive leader of the X-Men is. The great thing about comics is the interpretation that will come with each new set of eyes that read the book and with each new interpretation should come new and interesting conversations and sometimes that is the case and other times we are witnesses to the dark side of fandom. All fandom has its own versions of “less than stellar” people that inhibit the ranks and every fandom has its underbelly.
I’m not saying that you have to always like change to your favorite title, character, etc, however, when change signals rage and gives a false sense of ownership the lines of being a fan and being a fanatic get a bit more blurred. If you’ve stuck around this long, I’m sure there might have been an eye roll or two and that is fine. What I’m trying to hit on is when you are so bent out of shape, that just not reading the comic anymore is no longer good enough. You would much rather insist that because you do not like a book, character, movie adaptation, etc that must mean that no one else can like it and if they do they are somehow a lesser person who doesn’t know the “true meaning of…” and god forbid someone likes the Star Wars prequels.
The internet has become a great vehicle for fandom in both regards to the different sides. One side you have natural dialogue from folks that just want to be a part of something to get them away from their day to day lives and have some fun. The side is hell-bent on making sure that unless you see things from bully/toxic mentality you must be part of what is wrong with a fictional male character loving another fictional male character.
Toxic behavior has made celebrities quit social media, some folks I know of have gotten out of the hobby all together solely because they no longer want to deal with the toxicity. I can’t blame them, this behavior is nothing but bullying and for many having to deal with that growing up, why would they want to battle it as an adult. As someone who was bullied growing up for being a part of this great fandom, I’ll be the first to say that I will not deal with it as an adult and I move as far from it as possible and refuse to even engage in conversation with those type of people.
Imagine being so self-involved that changing a fictional character somehow triggers you into such a hate-filled delivery vehicle of shittiness that somehow you will find justification for your reprehensible behavior. This fandom is fun and has been the 35+ years I have been in it but there are folks that set out to disrupt that fun and in their strong-willed ways to upend that remarkable bond we share with each other I truly believe we have only become stronger.
Do companies owe their fans? I say yes, but to an extent. They owe us honesty, clarity, and love for their craft to shine on the panels. Sometimes there is a loss in translation when it comes to the business model overall and that is to be expected. I love our fandom and as with everything else in life we have our fair share of assholes and that’s ok. I say that’s ok only due to the fact that we can use their absolute way of shit thinking as a teaching moment and what is that moment? Just because you don’t like something, do not ruin it for other people.
Thanks for reading!
Comics, Culture, & More...A Personal Journey pt. 8
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