My last post, about the slapfight between William Shatner and RLM fans, contained a passage perhaps intemperate:
More to the point, I think people who do fill their house with junk and go to such conventions are spiritually depleted dorks. Am I still a fan?
It seems I let my rhetoric get away with me. This won’t stand up to objective analysis. Am I saying everyone who has a Funko Pop, or has ever been to ComicCon, has something wrong with their soul?
Let me concede: no, that isn’t true. It’s obviously not true. It’s not true according to the point I was making, that fandoms are not automata, but contain multitudes. There isn’t anything wrong, in itself, with collecting things, or going to events where things you collect can be purchased.
And you don’t need me to tell you that. I’m not the Pope of Fandom, and this blog is not my Index Expurgatorius. I wouldn’t want that job, and if it existed, I would rebel against it. I’d rather be the Martin Luther of Fandom.
My personal tastes are what they are, and while I understand (and engage in) collecting media that can be read, viewed, heard, or otherwise experienced – consuming art – I will continue to dislike the modern practice of people identifying themselves with what they enjoy consuming. That’s the problem I have with “fandom”, as a thing. It elevates consumption of media to a social identity.
Obviously, this exists on a gradient. I’m not going to become the John Calvin of Fandom, demanding that you destroy your icons. That would make me a prig, and the universe would be justified in telling me to shove a hand-glazed statuette of IronMan in the most convenient orifice.
But consider this:
Now, I’m on record as disliking almost every decision Lucasfilm has made over the last quarter century. If “the fans” are in revolt against Lusasfilm, it’s entirely Lucasfilm’s fault. SW fandom was low-drama and chill until George Lucas started treating the universe like a rented mule in the 90’s.
But consider the mindset it takes to interpret corporate rumor as Proof of Victory. Who does that? Who pours through Mark Hamill’s anodyne public statements like they’re Samizdata from the Underground Resistance? Who has this much energy for this? Why?
There’s a difference between critiquing art and raging about it. An ocean of YouTube videos saying “The Last Jedi Stinks Like an Outhouse Under a Bridge, and Here’s Why” will not raise a single eyebrow from me. That’s a human encountering art, and rises to the level of argument.
But that’s all it is. George Lucas didn’t rape your childhoods. Kathleen Kennedy is not a monster from the deep. Star Wars being bled out like a Passover lamb is unfortunate, but it doesn’t cry out to Heaven for vengeance. Dial it the fuck back.
By the same token, people who don’t like things that you like are not heretics. Criticism can be argued with, but dismissing it with banal rhetorical tropes (blah blah fat blah blah parents basement blah blah incel) is just you trying to control who gets to sit at your table, and what color they wear on Wednesdays. And in case you haven’t noticed, it doesn’t work.
The fact of these behaviors is a sign of devotion, and I’m sorry, but I question devotion to this kind of object. I understand it, and have experienced it. But I don’t think it’s reasonable or healthy. I think it reflects a spiritual lack. I think it’s turning everything into a war of Us and Them, the definitions of which change daily.
Being a fan is fine on its own. It doesn’t need a dom.