Does Fandom Mirror Society?

Well, it seems that no one took me up on my AMA last week.  No one had any burning questions or even little curiosities that they wanted satisfied, so… that leave me with a bit of a conundrum as to what to write today.

Actually, that’s not true. I was asked one, well two, linked, questions, both related to Star Trek and conventions of sorts… so I suppose Fandom questions.  The answers: Vegas, yes, I believe so. The Cruise IV…? Well I’d love to say yes to that too, but that’s more complicated – not to mention expensive.

Fandom. There’s an interesting and complicated topic of conversation. The dictionary defines ‘fandom’ as follows:

noun: fandom; plural noun: fandoms
1. The state or condition of being a fan of someone or something, e.g. “my life long years of science fiction fandom.” 2. The fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture, e.g “The Star Trek fandom.”

My experience of fandom began when I was… knee high to a grasshopper, I grew up with Doctor Who. Yes, I used to hide behind the couch from the scary parts.  After Doctor Who came Blake’s Seven. Folks outside of the UK or science-fiction fandom might not know what on earth that is, so here’s the IMDB entry for it.  It was cheesy (in the way of late seventies, early eighties sci-fi was), but I loved it. It was my first ever experience of fanfiction, maybe even before fanfiction was a ‘thing’ and I cried when the show ended.

My first experience of a convention for anything at all came with the ITV show Robin of Sherwood.  Back then they were fan run conventions, not the huge things now run by organizations like Creation Entertainment.  They were smaller, more intimate, more engagement with the actors that had agreed to come and speak with the fans. I kind of miss those kinds of experiences. The large conventions are so impersonal and regulated, and designed to keep a wall between the fans and the celebrities, and maybe that’s a safety concern, maybe it’s something else, but I think it’s also a reflection of the way fandom communities have evolved (or devolved, sadly, in many cases).

Leaving aside the Star Trek fandom for a moment, (thought recently it has its moments), fandom ‘communities’ have been a breeding place for unpleasantness, rife with (this is gonna date me) fandom wanks and flame wars about something or another, these days usually ‘ship’ wars. Where is the ‘community’ that fandom’s are meant to engender? Groups of people bonded over their shared love of a body of entertainment?  Why are we so divided, even within our larger fandom communities?

Nowhere have I seen that worse than the Once Upon A Time fandom, it’s a minefield! You’re not a true fan if you don’t ship this couple or that couple.  You have to hate x, y or z to fit in. It got so bad at one point that at a convention that one of the actors from the show gave everyone a well deserved talking to. Where is the sense of ‘we all love the show so… pick your poison… Choose Your Pain.’

Which cycles nicely round to where even the Star Trek fandom is letting itself down lately. Those in the know will recognize the title of a first season episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

Ever since the ‘reboot’ movies, and more so with Discovery, the most inclusive fandom ever has been infiltrated by ‘haters’ – a “very small but vocal minority” according to one of the administrators of the Cruise IV Facebook page, who warned they would block said dissenters should they start spewing forth their hate.  It’s very sad to me that such warnings should be necessary in a fandom where IDIC* is the guiding tenet of show itself; that such a friendly, accepting and inclusive fandom should suddenly becomes a horrible mirror of society where hate rules and those who are loving and kind are seen as weak,  and therefore derided.  When Discovery first aired those haters labeled it STD – which these days doesn’t really work the way they intended since those kind of diseases are ‘infections’ and that’s basically what the haters are, some kind of infection spreading from society as a whole to the the fandom community; a blight, not unlike the mold and fungus that spread on Tarsus IV (in the Trek Verse) and threatened the community there.

We (generally) don’t have Starfleet to help us out though. We’re on our own and it’s up to us to make our fandoms inclusive again, no matter what show, or book, or team or ‘ship’ whatever.  And to the Star Trek fandom, I say, let’s just go ahead and DISCO** like it’s 1999.

And while we’re at it, let’s enjoy the fact that even the cast can ‘make fun’ of themselves. Thanks to the Nerds!

*Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
** Yes, I know it’s ‘party’ not disco, and yes again, I dislike intensely that Discovery has that ‘short’ version even on the ships workout/under clothes too.  This may be the one and only time you’ll see me use it. I’m DSC all the way!
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About Eirian Houpe

Writer and Teacher. Published works: Eternal Dance (as Linden S Barclay) and articles for Wigston Magna Dog Training Club, and SFX Magazine.
This entry was posted in fandom, Life, Television and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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