Saturday 5 April 2014

Personal Pickings - Being a Fan in a Fandom

Personal Pickings is a feature here at Beautiful Bookish Butterflies that allows one of us to approach subject personal to us that has no link or connection to our bookish endeavors. Today, Amanda is talking about hierarchy in fandoms between newer and older fans and how quite frankly, it's absolute rubbish.

Let us be frank here, I would feel confident enough to place bets that everyone reading this is in some sort of fandom, and if I'm wrong, you've won the feeling of knowing I'm wrong and you're right, but it's the relationship between fans in fandoms that I want to talk about today. There are those fans who insist that they are 'the real fans' of something because they've been there from the start, or in the case that sparked this post, liked the books rather than a film adaptation and it got me thinking about where on earth these fans have developed a sense of hierarchy in the fanbase, and in doing so, crowned themselves the royals. Did they go through a rigorous testing system, putting their knowledge, wits and mental strength to the test? I doubt that very much, and because I doubt that, I want to give three real life examples of why there is no such thing as a 'fake' and 'real' fan.

Let us start with the most common question - What makes you fan.

If somebody asked me that question, I'd probably answer with something along the lines of;

somebody who enjoys something on a level higher than decent. They have found comfort and a constantly pleasing level of enjoyment from that something, and as so, have decided to keep coming back to that form of entertainment because it makes them happy

If I ask Google what a fan is, they come with:

a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art form, or famous person.

Not in any of these definitions does it talk about a length of time you have to liked something to be defined as a fan, nor does it have any specific criteria for becoming a fan. In both my own definition and the grand ruler of the Internets definition, the only thing you are to required to have in order to be a fan is a liking for something. It's as simple as that people! So, riddle me this, why is just liking something not enough for people these days?

Lets move onto the reason for this entire blog post..

This here is the reason for this mini rant. This here is the reason I get so angry with some of the fans. This here is wrong. There is nothing wrong with liking a film adaptation more than books, neither is there anything wrong with liking the books more than the film. In fact, there's nothing wrong with not liking either, and you know why that is? It's because we're all different; we all like different things through different mediums and we all have our own opinion. To me, defining yourself as a real fan because you believe your different opinion is right is like calling people who are gay 'fake humans' because they're life isn't right in your eyes. It's a really stupid way to try and assert yourself as being better than everyone else, and doing so, you look like you want to start an argument and you make other fans feel like rubbish in the meantime. I've had this kind of attitude directed at me in the past when I went to watch Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief in the pictures. I will admit it right here, I hadn't and still haven't read the books, but I really enjoyed the film on it's own. I thought it had a strong plot point, good character development and an unexpected plot twist; that was all I expected and wanted from the film and it delivered. It was only when I came to talk about how much I enjoyed the experience that I was shunned, told I was wrong and that I shouldn't have liked the film because it 'isn't anything like the books' and 'they changed everything that was in books' and 'Logan Lerman is a rubbish Percy.' I was overwhelmed with all these other people telling me my opinion was wrong; not to mention I wasn't even aware it was based off a book series at the time, and instead of rushing to find myself copies of the books, I've avoided it profusely at every turn because of those few fans. They made me feel like my opinion wasn't important and in turn, it made them feel powerful. What they should have done is politely told me they felt differently rather than shunned me; and that's what pictures and phrases like the one about Divergent fans comes in. It doesn't matter whether you were there from the release of Divergent, whether you started the series last week, or whether you haven't read it at all and have seen the film loved it. You're still a fan, and that's what matters.

There are no 'real fans', all fans are equal..

That brings me onto part two of this post, how things can and should change within fandoms and the perfect example of this is between my Mum and my Stepmother. They are both Danielle Steel fans, avid in fact, they each have a huge collection and they both enjoy the stories Danielle Steel has created, however, my Mum enjoys them in book format and my Stepmother enjoys them in film format. They don't consider each other any less of a fan and neither do they argue that they are better than the other, they appreciate the others opinion and understand that not everyone is going to agree on the same thing. In fact, my Mum has been a fan for a longer period of time than my Stepmother, but they consider each other equals. Another example of this is my own. I very recently joined a new fandom, The Skulduggery Pleasant fandom, and it's been around for 7-8 years which is pretty big for a book series based fandom, so I was afraid I would feel disconnected to others involved because I'm pretty late to the party, but they welcomed me with open arms. I got talking to a few readers who'd be fans for a few years and there was a real sense of appreciation and respect. We didn't agree on everything, and there were characters some of us liked over others, but there wasn't a sense of one person being better than another because they'd been there longer; we were all fans, so what did it matter?

That is how it should be in fandoms. If everyone in fandoms just considered each others opinions and feelings a little more, rather than assuming they're better than others because they've been around the block longer, than maybe these rifts wouldn't happen, there would be fewer arguments and fandoms would be fun to be a part of again; we might even all be friends..

Lets see what we've learnt today:

  1. We've established that in order to be a fan, you have to like something.
  2. We've established that somehow, a hierarchy has been created in fandoms that allow some fans to bully others.
  3. We've established that is completely possible for people in a fandom to appreciate and respect others opinions.
  4. We've established that there is no 'real' and 'fake' fans, only people who enjoy something passionately.
  5. We've established that I have a great hope that one day, there will be no subtle bullying involved in fandoms.
  6. I've established that hope is nothing unless there's people out there that feel the same way I do..

What are you thoughts on this own situation? Have you ever been the victim of 'real fans' shunning your opinion, or have you ever been that person? What are your feelings on how fandoms work and is there anything you think could be done to help fandoms be a better collective community? Let me me know down below..


  1. I completely agree with this post, Amanda! It infuriates me when people deem themselves 'true' fans because they liked something longer or found out about something earlier or like a movie more than the books. It's so silly. If you love something then I think you should welcome anyone who has given it a chance and loved it too. It shouldn't matter if they started it years after you or days after you. I'm usually a book before the film person but I don't judge someone if they didn't read the book first (I've done that myself) or liked the movie more than the book. Everyone has different opinions, if we didn't the world would be a truly boring place. It's those differing opinions that make for amazing discussions about the books/movies that we love. Great post! :)

    1. Thank you Charnell! I think this is a huge thing and there's a lot of hate in fandoms because of this. It's a real shame..

  2. Wow Amanda, a truly fantastic post! Now that I think about it, I probably have been shunned before in terms of liking certain games, movies based on books/comics (particularly Marvel ones) and other things. Despite all of that, I pretty much just ignore their superiority complex because not all of them are like that. If they want to push home their own opinions, then fair enough but as long as they don't criticise my own then that's fine. There's a fine line though these days!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. Thank you Jeann! I was really afraid I would stir up arguments with this post today, but it seems to have gone down okay so far. I totally agree, there are plenty of fans out there who are lovely and just want to share the happiness, and I always try to look on the bright side, on the parts of the fandom like that, it makes things easy. Opinions are great, and voicing them is also wonderful too; there is a fine line between having an opinion and thinking what you think is a fact.

  3. I love this post! I hate when readers think they are bigger or better fans of something just because they read the book first. I personally dont give a shit if they were the first or last person that read the book. Im a huge Harry Potter fan and have never read the books. People should be happy there are other people supporting the books/movies and not try to put others down...

    1. Thank you hun, it means a lot!
      I completely agree, support is support and a fan is a fan, so there shouldn't be a competition at all :)


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