Of Crazy Fandoms and Fanaticism
I haven’t been on this blog for almost a year since I started. I love writing whatever topic that comes to mind, but with the arrival of a job and the lockdown kicking me sideways the last thing I wanted to do was to write. I still had time to read fanfics and watch movies that contemplate about life, but the part where I loved writing was fizzling out and on the verge of being abandoned because of work and the need to just crash in bed. For some reason or another, my very first entry where I spoke about tea & watermelons jolted me back to this blog. I stared at how pitiful and empty this supposed sanctuary of mine looked like, so here I am typing away my thoughts again.
Life contemplation aside, the fandoms that I’m part of are getting increasingly….unhinged. I guess that would be the best way to describe the dynamics of the social media space that I’m involved in. While I’m actually happy seeing how danmei (Chinese literature genre that focuses on male romantic relationships) has developed and became more internationally loved by readers, the discourses and spats surrounding the genre makes my head spin. Every single time I open Twitter it’ll be like this:
One faction of a fandom would be fighting another faction of another part of the fandom, and the quarrels are getting increasingly petty. Childish even! It’s to the point fanfic writers are being harassed because their favorite characters are not written in the styles/personality that they like. It’s no wonder so many people are leaving the fandom space: what’s the point in staying if people are at each other’s throats trying to prove that “my fav is better than yours!”? The fanaticism in trying to find issues and discourse with certain parts of the community is mind-boggling to me, yet this sort of diehard almost cult-like appreciation and display of protection towards characters continue to fascinate me. There were instance I would somehow get pulled into these fights when most of the time I don’t even want to get involved (this normally happens when I’m in a conversation chain).
A close Discord friend and I had been discussing in detail over this discourse. Frankly speaking, the toxicity of the whole situation is making us want to leave the fandom space altogether; we’re just staying on because of the many memories that we’ve made through our interactions with content creators, many of whom continue to produce amazing fanfic stories and arts despite being picked on and bombarded with abuse from fans who don’t like their content. It does make me wonder though; can’t these fans who dislike the content that they stumbled upon Twitter or Tumblr just scroll past and move on to whatever that they fancy? Is it really necessary to nitpick about a content that makes you uncomfortable?
Now that I think of it, there was an article that I’ve read in the past where fans would form attachments to their characters, and would even hate on the authors who originally came up with the characters’ personality traits. The need for the fans to somehow wanting to find something to relate to them and legitimise their pain somehow motivated the fans (or stans in fandom speak) to lash out to the authors. I am seeing this trend happening in the fandom community that I am in, and it’s honestly very concerning how these attacks would go on a daily basis. There are times that I wonder if the pandemic is to blame. With the majority of the world that had spent more time online within 2 years, I noticed the uncomfortable shift where fandom space turned from a community of comfort to a place of petty spats. To a lot of these fans, it’s just a matter of them wanting to have the last say and be the winner.
I wrote this out because it’s a topic that’s been in my head and it was something that I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time. Now that I’ve written this out I found that there are so many more aspects that I’m actually considering to analyse. It’s fascinating how an observation of fandom culture motivated to even borrow books and read articles on this topic.
Maybe when the a flicker of inspiration hits, I may go back and expand and explore more on this issue.