Fandom Fanaticism

Whenever a form of entertainment in any medium arises, there also arises a group of followers known as “fans,” but what exactly is a fan? Wikipedia alternatively terms them aficionados or supporters, further defining them as “a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something, such as a band, sports team, or entertainer.” Collectively, these people form fandoms, and may show their alleged “enthusiasm” by becoming members of fan clubs, holding fan conventions, and so on.

“Fan,” moreover, is allegedly short for “fanatical enthusiast,” although in many instances, “enthusiast” doesn’t accurately describe members of particular fandoms, and in these cases, “fanatic” alone is sufficient enough expansion of the term “fan.” Some sites such as Wikipedia hold the opinion of these “fans” on equal ground of those of professionals such as film critics and reviewers, and sometimes, it is noted that fans aren’t exactly supportive of something such as a movie or videogame series.

How can one describe himself or herself as a “fan” but then despise something? For instance, the Wikipedia entry for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull describes critical opinion as positive but fan opinion as mixed. These “fans,” as one should mention, coined a term based on a scene early on in the movie, “nuke the fridge,” intended to be the equivalent of a television series “jumping the shark.” The latter term, it should be noted, was coined years after the show that provided it, Happy Days, ended, while the former term came shortly after the movie premiered.

Perhaps the reason fans sometimes dislike something is because being a “fan” is not always synonymous with actually liking something. “Fan” can, this writer mentioned, be short for “fanatic,” and the term accurately describes some members of these fandoms (more like “hatedom” if they collectively despise something), akin to political or religious fanatics. Even if people in various fandoms are very familiar with some of their aspects, such as certain characters, they don’t necessarily have to like it to be considered a “fan” of something.

It is easy, for instance, to find a member of the Star Wars fandom (although one could more consider itself a hatedom), who enjoyed the original trilogy but disliked the prequels, and more difficult to find a fan that likes all the movies equally and easily acknowledge the good and bad aspects of each film. Even movie and television critics can sometimes become fans of particular media, with the opinions of both professional critics and fans in the area of the Star Wars franchise, in general, being consistent.

Should the opinions of fans, then, be taken seriously? While some of their knowledge of various media is admirable, in many instances, they do border on fanaticism, much like in the subjects of politics and religion, and their views, therefore, are in a good many cases a poor substitute for the opinions of professional critics, the actors who actually work in various media, and the writers of various television and film series. Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw said it best: “Fans are clingy complaining dipshits who will never ever be grateful for any concession you make. The moment you shut out their shrill, tremulous voices the happier you will be for it.”

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