Comic Spotlight: Is There A Right Kind of Fan?

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As casting news for all these comic book adaptations come out the internet gets even more flooded with fan response. You have “I HATE THIS WITH MY ENTIRE SOUL!”, “I LOVE THIS WITH MY ENTIRE SOUL!” and “I’ll wait and see”. Then the fighting begins. Watching fan pages and seeing fans react to these things, I got to thinking about fans. What is a fan? What makes a fan a fan? Is there a right kind of fan?

A fan is someone who supports (for the purpose of this article) a certain comic writer, series, publisher, artist, character or even the whole genre. It’s what you like, it’s what you buy, it’s what you talk about. A fan can be from anyone who just wears the t-shirts (yes really) to someone who reads 50 comics a month. Fandom has no measure and should have no measure. Fans care, to any extent, about what happens to their favorite character. This can be from who’s writing their new comic all the way to who movie studios cast to play them in a movie. While there is no right or wrong kind of fan, there should be some standards of how fans interact.

The internet has near killed being a fan. The anonymity and the forum to voice your opinion was once thought as a great thing to have. Now, I clamor for a time that we didn’t have so many places to voice our opinion. Let me clarify, it’s not the opinion I don’t want to hear, it’s everything that comes after it. In my experience, I used to be able to go to a comic shop and talk comics with people. You would chat and if there was a disagreement it was basically shaken off. There was no actual argument in which your goal was to change someone’s mind. It was just conversation. Debate and conversation are two different things.

The internet has taken genuine conversation between fans and turned into something ugly and has created labels. Fanboy, fangirl, fake nerd girl just to name a few. It’s become normal to attack others for either expressing their feelings or for basically being a fan of something. The negativity has grown to be stronger than the positive and those who spew the negativity will claim it’s honesty. Honesty is fine but there comes a point where I have to wonder why one is a fan to begin with if they can find nothing to embrace.

What exactly is wrong with being a positive fan? Why has loving something become such a bad thing? It’s almost expected now that a fan of anything be ready to defend what they like. It’s almost a tribe and if someone else attacks what you enjoy, you’re pushed to fight over it. A person is almost forced to get in an argument that will no doubt end nasty including the insulting “you have no taste” line.

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There is something to be said about being a critical fan. I consider myself to be one of those. I can enjoy my favorite series and characters but can also see the flaws in it. On the flip side though there are fans who will almost force themselves to constantly find flaws just so they can avoid the dreaded “fanboy/girl” label put on them. The meaning of boy and girl are a bit insulting to an adult but it’s the fan part that bothers me the most. Because we comment on how much we like something or how much we dislike something, we’re immediately wrong for it? I see no problem with any fan commenting on creative team changes or even casting for movies.

Fans of comics are why these movies get made, it’s why the comics continue to sell. Of course we’re going to comment. Are all comments okay? No. There’s been body shaming, death threats (really, there have) and just plain nastiness. That’s not okay. However, voicing your displeasure about something is perfectly fine. There’s a difference between judging a movie as a whole and commenting on a casting decision you don’t agree with. As a fan it’s your right to comment. There’s just a way to do it.

Being a fan does not automatically make you the be all and end all authority on the fandom. Of course there are fans who have more knowledge of the character but imagine you’re a “newbie”. You want to get into a series or a character but their fans are snooty and will attempt to school you on the character instead of allowing you to discover things yourself. There is of course, no harm in helping someone with where to read but often times it comes off incredibly abrasive to attempt to educate someone on the series or character before they get a chance to enjoy it. Unless your help is asked for then let the new fan discover the wonder themselves.

There is no such thing as a correct fan but there is a certain way we should all behave. The internet has taken away our basic manners. It’s pit fan against fan for really no reason. We can all have our opinions without any one putting a label on us. If a fan wants to be really negative or really positive then so be it. There is no right kind of fan. There’s only a certain way to behave.