So I came across an interesting article last week…and I’m going to digress from writing a bit and talk about fandom in its broadest forms.
The article: Don't listen to the naysayers...
The article in itself isn’t that surprising. Mom tells girl who had a particularly rough time at school (a la most of us geeks/nerds/bookwyrms) to ignore the mean girls and chart your own course. In and of itself, not that unusual, I suspect most of us have had the same conversation or a similar one either with Moms, Dads, Husbands or Wives.
But what did strike me as interesting what the flood of comments that followed the article. Almost universally supportive, positive and relatable. There were over 200 comments most of which in the vein of “Been there, great article, great reminder.”
As a geek/former con-runner/author and participant in the NERDIQUETTE 101 movement, I think this advice to be ourselves is one that we still don’t hear enough. Too often we are afraid of being made fun of or labeled (see the FAKE geek girl controversy) to speak out about our chosen interests. And while movement’s like NERDIQUETTE 101 and conventions taking responsibility for their environment are a great start, I can’t help but wonder is there more we should be doing as fans?
Maybe it’s starting a conversation with the shy guy in line in front of you for the autograph of a favorite actor. Or maybe it’s asking the girl in the corner reading to tell you about the book (if she seems willing and not just wanting to read for a few!) Maybe if we start by asking questions of others, we can start to bring all of fandom a little closer.
As I learned two weekends ago at Mysticon, fandom has a depth and breadth to it that is amazing. We can always stand to learn a little more about either our fandom or someone else’s.
As an example, I stood in line for over an hour at Mysticon (great con, btw), waiting for Peter Davison’s (one of the Doctors of Doctor Who) autograph. Now, I’ll show my lack of geek cred here… I’m not a Dr. Who fan. I’ve seen an entire two episodes of the Matt Smith Doctor and that’s it, but a dear friend of mine is a HUGE fan of the entire series, so I stood in line for her since she couldn’t be there.
Now while in line, I struck up a conversation with a young man from Maryland. We got to talking about how Doctor Who fandom has a very wide breadth of fans ranging from older fans of the first two or three doctors to new fans in their teens that came into the fandom at the last two doctors. What struck us both as interesting was that all Dr. Who fans seemed to identify themselves as Dr. Who fans. While there might be some teasing about which Dr. is “better,” the fans all accepted each other and congregated around each other because they were Dr. Who fans.
I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve seen that strong/obvious amount of inclusion in some other fandoms. Now I’m sure it’s there. Certainly there is a good amount of inclusion amongst the Rebel Legion, the 501st and Mandolorian Mercs within the Star Wars costume groups…but at the same time, I can say I’ve seen sniping attacks between Star Wars the movies fans and Star Wars the Expanded Universe Fans or between ST:TOS and ST:TNG fans.
But what I witnessed this past weekend was Dr. Who fans. That’s it. Just Dr. Who fans.
So while I do think we need to try to be more inclusive of others within fandom, at the same time, I think if we are “flag waving” fans of a genre, then it’s time we take pride in that. We need to believe in ourselves enough to speak about our love of anime or Star Trek or Labyrinth and even if we do get a giggle from someone in the audience, it’s okay. It’s okay to be a fan of something. And ya know, maybe our passion about something will convince someone else to go read a book, rent a movie or watch a TV show that they otherwise wouldn’t have. After all, it’s the love of “whatever” that brought us into this crazy world of fen to begin with.
You can fight/Without ever winning
But never ever win/Without a fight