This year has been interesting so far. The Avengers: Infinity War event has come and gone, E3 2018 has wrapped up, and we still have movies to be seen this summer. Of course with anything popular, the good also comes with the bad. Earlier this month, you may have heard that Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran was ran off Instagram by belligerent fans because of her role as Rose. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the dark side of fandom, but it’s certainly one of the more high-profile examples on display. As much as we want to assure that the toxic members don’t make up the whole community, it’s time to admit they are still representing the fandom and that’s a problem needing correction.
Here’s a way to look at the situation. Fandom reputations are only as valuable as the fans that can present it in high esteem. Star Wars is the best example to analyze in this case being arguably the most polarizing. However, no other fandom (video gaming, anime, music, table top, etc.) is exempt by any means. While addressing this fan problem in addition to previously giving positive marks to The Last Jedi, I’ve encountered “fans” (usually faceless) that resort to insulting my intelligence because of my thought process. I’ve also run into fans that didn’t enjoy TLJ, but also understood why myself and others did. These fans are allies. The former are not.
For all intentions, fandoms are essentially communities. As such, they need to take responsibility for their toxic members. This means the communities need to step up and be the captain to steady the ship when the storms come. Negligence allows them to flourish and by doing nothing makes you complicit. Don’t be afraid to argue when a select group is making the whole community look bad. Of course, initiating a debate has it own set of problems as of late.
“I’m entitled to my opinion” is the evasive tactic we often run into which ultimately leads to a dead end. This notion has somehow become both politically correct and an oxymoron. Simply put, it’s more of an excuse for overzealous people to say something stupid, no matter how stupid. After a lot of processing, I’ve come to a rational conclusion. Fans aren’t simply entitled to their opinions. They are entitled to their opinions if the argument has legs to stand on. It all remains subjective, but without a strong foundation (your argument), you’re just making baseless statements centered around your feelings. Feelings pass and holding onto them sometimes stunts your ability to critically think.
Does this all sound incredibly idealistic? Of course, but let’s face it, the world could use quite a bit of idealism about now. People have gotten incredibly bold in addition to incredibly ignorant (root word, ignore) hiding behind their entitlement. I’m not a hardcore fan of Star Wars, but I’ve been a fan long enough to speak on this. Recent events have made me ashamed to be a fan, which is, in a sense, why I’m calling allies to arms. We need to start representing our fandoms the right way. There are always going to be trolls roaming the internet, but allowing them to go about unchecked doesn’t help the fandom. I’ll say this in closing. If reading any of this makes you take exception or feeling a type of way, you need to take the time and really ask yourself why.
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