HOW TO BE A FAN IN A FANDOM WITHOUT BEING A FANATIC
Fans are passionate, intense and fervent. Gaming, sports, comics, movies, bands, books, shows. There are many things and people to be a fan of now. With social media, you can have tons of fun being a fan or get into tons of trouble.
By definition, a fanatic (fan) per Wikipedia “is a person who is enthusiastically devoted to someone or something.”
Fan and fanatic don’t seem to mean the same thing anymore though. A fan is just that, a fan of something. You like a particular thing and enjoy it. A fanatic has a more negative connotation now. You are obsessive about your interest in an unhealthy or obnoxious way.
Everyone knows how to be a fan right? You just cheer and show your support for your team, show or band. Easy, right? Right?? Well, maybe. Let’s take a closer look at this and use being a fan of a show as an example.
The Show Of All Shows
You watch a show and instantly it speaks to you. You fall in love with the show, the characters, the plot and everything about it. Yes, the show has some flaws but you overlook them because of all the goodness packed within.
You watch every episode multiple times. You memorize certain lines, episode titles and the actor’s names. You start paying attention to who the directors and writers are for each show.
You know exactly how many times your favorite character has eaten a waffle smothered in lime jello. Congratulations! You are most definitely now a fan.
Welcome To This Flippin Fandom
Naturally, you want to share your love for the show with others. You want to talk about the show with others. In essence, you want to belong to a fandom and you may not even know it. No, this is not a blog about addiction but that is a very real thing in fandoms.
Being a part of a fandom used to mean, right after the dinosaurs died off, being part of an online chatroom with very little interaction with the principal people involved in the show. Now with social media, you get to directly interact not only with other fans but with the actors, writers, directors, and crew.
This really has changed the dynamics of the actor/fan relationship in many ways.
Who Are You, Really?
Today you get unfettered glimpses directly into the lives of actors. Yes, some of this is very controlled to protect and promote their image. Other actors bare their soul, among other things, for all to see, to discuss and to dissect.
What can be a shock to you is that actors really are not the characters they play on screen. Astonishing isn’t it!! Exclamations intentionally added to intensify the sarcasm.
You can especially see this on Twitter. A fan once mentioned to Jewel Staite that she wasn’t as “nice” as she was on the science fiction show Firefly. Several others chimed in saying the same thing.
Ummm…Jewel played Kaylee, a wonderful fictional character on Firefly and in the follow-up movie Serenity. She is not Kaylee. This is called acting. You know, actors playing pretend people?
So, when you fall for a character it is important to remember to not confuse the actor for the character. Otherwise, your virtual heart can, and most likely will, be broken.
You are better off appreciating the art of the actor who brought this character to life that you enjoy so much. Thank them for their hard work and effort.
Big Shows Big Fandoms Big Disappointment
Here are the Barenaked Ladies…I mean facts. If I Had A Million Dollars…dang it! Wrong blog.
The bigger the show is the less interaction you will be able to have with those involved in the show. Don’t take it personally; it is just a numbers thing. It is very hard to win, just like the lottery. Or the Game of Life. The actual game, not life itself mind you.
What can you do? Unless you jump onto the bandwagon right away you can get lost in the crowd of fans of mega-popular shows like Games of Thrones on HBO (George RR Martin), The Walking Dead on AMC, The Big Bang Theory on CBS or This Is Us on NBC.
You actually might want to start right when a show is announced. You can repost or retweet production updates and inform others when actors join the show. Heck, you might even be the start of the fandom!
Then you can follow the actors, get to know them and share their comments about the show.
You can speculate, with others, what you think the direction of the series will be.
The Big Hurt You Really Don’t Want To Hear
As a fan please remember that the actors and those involved in making the show don’t owe you anything. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Tough to hear isn’t it? They are not under any obligation to like or share your comments or to follow you.
Asking them repeatedly every day to do so is not recommended. You may think you are showing your undying loyalty and commitment but it could come across as annoying. In fact, you could end up being blocked. That would not be fun at all.
Most likely that will not happen. Those that are a part of the show have a vested interest to encourage fans to watch.
The Amazing Like Or Comment
Occasionally you might get a like or a comment from an actor or crew member. This is amazing! You want to shout it from the rooftops and share it with everyone. Do it. It is fun. Don’t forget to thank them for responding…but just once. Be thankful and gracious.
Detox The Toxic Fandom
Should you tell the showrunners your thoughts on how to run the show? While feedback is appreciated, if you get offended that they don’t listen and implement your ideas then you are probably taking it too far.
Can you be vocal about your opinion? Sure, go for it! Should you piss and moan about it if they don’t listen? Well, you can but how is that truly showing your support for the show?
Instead, make your suggestions and just leave them out there. If other fans like your ideas they will echo them throughout the fandom. If it happens, it happens.
A Shipping We Will Go
Ships. Hoping two particular characters have a relationship on a show is a very popular thing to do. But nothing seems to be more toxic than when fans can’t agree and then argue about their ship.
If you do it for fun and keep it in perspective it can be a cool, exciting thing to do. Otherwise, it just divides fandoms up into groups which can be pitted against each other.
The Put Down
Being a super fan does not mean you have to put down other shows or fans of other shows in order to display support for your show. “My show is great, yours sucks.”
Why? Just why?
How about state the first part and then explain why you think your show is THE SHOW. How does getting in a pissing match with someone else about which show is better, help anyone? It all is a matter of opinion anyway folks. Really it is.
Or maybe try this. Watch both shows. They might both genuinely be good shows. Boom! Mind blown!
The Toxic Fan
You enter a fandom professing your love for the show but all you do is knock it down every day. Hey, criticism is fine. You don’t have to like everything about a show. But you had better throw out some honey with all the vinegar if you want to last long in the fandom.
Negativity breeds negativity. It also won’t get many other fans following you. Don’t forget to share why you like the show and why you joined the fandom in the first place. Positivity breeds positivity.
The Demanding Fan and the Best Friend Fan
Demand something from an actor, like an autograph or photo or even money, and the odds of them communicating with you are minimal. They have lives. They really do. Like you, the most important thing is their family and friends.
If they were to fulfill every request they received they wouldn’t have time for anything else. So, if you tag an actor in a Tweet or post asking for something don’t be surprised if they don’t respond.
Please realize that while they love and appreciate your support they are not going to be your best friend no matter how much you want that to happen. You are a stranger to them. Please respect their right to protect themselves.
Enjoy The Fandom Fan Experience
Believe it or not even with all the possible ways to screw up listed above you can still have a great experience in a fandom. Connecting with other fans is one of the best experiences of all.
Sharing ideas, comparing theories and talking about each episode of the show can be fun. This shared experience that you can have with other like-minded fans is exhilarating and liberating.
The End Of An Era…Or Maybe Just This Blog
Obviously, these are all just suggestions for you. It is up to you to choose how to be a part of your chosen fandom. Hopefully following some of these will help you to avoid some pitfalls and possible faux pas. Go forth and Fandom!
This is BrianZFandom searching the Zombie Apocalypse for Zombie shows and movies as well as other interesting horror stories and in this case Fandoms in general.
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Ok, maybe it wasn’t his biggest mistake ever, but rumor has it the people of Chicago are still complaining about the time Brian Z was throwing his @$$ blaster around at Walker Stalker Con. The following is a guest post about his folly and hopefully his redemption.