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gwalla
28 November 2005 @ 09:10 pm
In the past few years it's slowly started to dawn on me that frequently fandom is not about liking something, but hating it.  Superhero comics fans gripe about the directions DC and Marvel are going in. Harry Potter fans kick up a fuss when the latest book invalidates their speculation on romantic pairings. Wrestling "smarks" complain about the latest angles. It's like a sort of masochism: those superhero fans hate what DC is doing but continue to buy the titles, those Harry Potter fans will undoubtedly be standing in line to buy the next volume when it comes out, and the smarks who bitch about Vince McMahon and Triple H tune in to RAW and Smackdown every week

This isn't exactly new, but I recently stumbled across a few good essays on the phenomenon:

What is a fanboy?
"What characterizes a fanboy, as opposed to a mere consumer? Paramount sinks a lot of money into producing new episodes of Star Trek, so one assumes that it must have a mainstream audience far beyond the realms of obsessive hobbyists. Either that, or there must be an awful lot of fanboys in the world. Is there a difference between 'Thinking that Star Trek is an enjoyable television programme' and 'Being a Star Trek fanboy?' Can we come up with a definition of Doctor Who fanboy other than "One who has watched 'Creature from the Pit' more than once, and watched 'The Gunfighters' at all"?"
The Third Age of Fan
"It would not be fair to say that the fan-boy does not like the thing which he is a fan-boy of. It would be more accurate to say that liking and disliking is irrelevant to his activity. Fan-boyhood grows out of nostalgia and therefore fixes its gaze on something ephemeral, commonplace and of low artistic value. It then attempts to catalogue it, study it, collect it—or in extreme cases re-enact it, thus investing it with significance and mummifying the memory."
Fandamentalism
" ... (noun, pl.); fans who violently believe the only valid interpretation of any entertainment source is a dogmatic adherence to their favorite version of that source. Any change to the smallest detail is inherently unacceptable (see also heresy) and met with frantic scorn. See also Hal Jordan and Klingons, bumpy vs. smooth."
There also seems to be a growing realization among Internet wrestling writers of this trend and an accompanying backlash. That the griping continued even through the recent death of and memorials to Eddie Guerrero seems to have made some of them realize that something is wrong. There have been a few angry pieces on 411mania.com taking fans to task for astoundingly insensitive comments on the memorial episodes of RAW and Smackdown.

Fortunately, webcomics fandom seems relatively free of this trend. I was going to say that I thought it was because it hasn't been around for long enough to develop, but then I remembered that Harry Potter hasn't been around for very long either. So I'm not really sure why it hasn't developed. It may have something to do with the fact that most webcomics are the products of single creators: there is only one creative voice in effect, so there can be no complaints about the author not being "true to the characters". And the only real examples of it in webcomics (that I can think of) are indeed times when someone other than the original creator stepped in: T Campbell's run writing Cool Cat Studio for Gisele Lagace, and to a lesser extent some artists on Fans. Harry Potter fandom provides a counterexample, though, in the Harmonian Uprising (when the Harry/Hermione shippers, who called themselves "Harmony", got pissed that the latest book hooked Harry up with Ginny and Hermione with Ron, and even produced a re-edited version with names changed to be "romantically correct"), when the series has always been 100% J. K. Rowling.

So I'm really at a loss. Any ideas?
 
 
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