It gets exhausting being a fan. It’s hard enough to keep straight the reboots, prequels, sequels, offshoots, and all the merchandise that comes out in every flavor possible without then having to ask yourself – am I one of THOSE fans? And the THOSE in this case are the fans that take things not just a little too far but who take things a lot too far. These are the people that don’t just get upset when their beloved franchise takes a misstep, or forgets canon, no, these are the people that are outraged to their core at the idea of say, a woman getting a lead role, or a person of color taking the spotlight. These are the people who can’t just moan and grumble in the forums but who have to scream to the world their outrage and then threaten anyone involved in the series so they know, they KNOW that they done this poor fan wrong.
And ya ask – am I really one of them?
For me, the answer is no.
I am a fan of a lot of things, an ardent fan, but I just don’t get that upset with everything anymore. I grew up with STAR WARS. I still remember the theater I saw EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in. It was on Dort Highway in Flint. Huge old indoor theater. And I ADORED that movie. These were movies that I grew up with. I played with the toys. Every major holiday brought more figures or playsets (I sold off all of this for money a few years, SORE-EEE). I still remember how often I would talk to friends about what episodes 1, 2, and 3 would have been. How Vader got burned. How it all came together. I was fascinated by the ‘clone wars’ – which in my head was a robot war. Then, boy oh boy, when I learned there was talk of episodes 7, 8, and 9, holy CATS I flipped. I don’t even know where I got my information. No idea. I had it though. And I thought about it. I loved STAR WARS.
I still do.
I just don’t get caught up in the drama of it all.
I follow the movies and shows and watch them all.
I love them all.
I have quibbles with things here and there, and raise an eyebrow at this or that but I also don’t look at the ‘original trilogy’ as some sort of untouchable holy text. The movies changed my life. No doubt. But they are movies and have whatever power over my life that I allow them to have or give them.
STAR WARS, like a lot of other fandoms I am part of – HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, MARVEL, on and on – is part of my pop culture life. I just have other things IN that life as well. And the thing is, whether I like it or not, these are properties, are PRODUCT, and and as such, they will continue being made as long as they make money and how artistic or good or bad they are can often be as much a toss of the dice as anything else. It’s a matter of what the vision from on high is, who is pulling the strings, who they want to get to write and direct, who they get to act, and all of it coming together.
Sometimes it works.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
In the end though, these are all products, and we’re consumers.
We can walk away any time we want and say – BASTA! – but we don’t. Most of us. We’d rather carp about this or that and get bitter about how they aren’t doing what we want them to with these properties. For some reason we fans think we know best and, while some of us know BETTER, who really gets to say what’s ‘best’ for these things?
Who are we to make demands of writers, or filmmakers, or musicians, or anyone?
We’re fans, like millions of other people, who also have passion for these projects and products, and who have opinions just like you. Some of the fans want the band to go back to their grittier style that reflected their punk influences. Some prefer their newer, more polished stuff that is more mainstream. Some like the mid-career records that were still rough around the edges but were showing their evolution. It’s all a matter of taste. That’s the fun of a live show, where good bands play all of it and remind you that, hey, we’re still the punk kids you fell in love with but we have other influences in our lives and music now but this is all US in the end. THEY get to choose their sound, not you. They choose it with their writing, with the producer, with the engineers, with the equipment they choose, and with the label they are on. Some fans not liking this or that can’t dissuade them from their vision because once you let fans decide what you’re doing then you’re not really doing it for yourself anymore and are just punching in and punching out.
And fans, if we are anything, are a fickle lot.
A fickle, mean, cruel lot.
If modern social media interaction has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t feel the need to hide behind fake names and profiles any longer because you can say almost anything to people, famous or not, and face no repercussions unless you actively threaten their lives. You can grumble at your beloved franchise’s ‘Wokeness’ and then post about how much you hate the people involved, how their Wokeness ruined your childhood – ROONED IT! – and that they’ll rue the day. It doesn’t even have to be that dramatic. I knew a guy who was BENT out of shape at the new films and just shy of said they ruined his childhood. Literally.
And I love movies.
But still, come on.
Go watch FRIDAY THE 13TH Part VIII and TELL me the new STAR WARS movies are worse.
And don’t give me – that’s DIFFERENT – because it isn’t.
It was a popular franchise that, while not a world beater on box office, it was a reliable money maker. The idea for the movie wasn’t even bad. It was the execution. The penny pinching. And we got a terrible movie.
That I still sorta like.
Because I am a fan.
Ya take the good, ya take the bad, ya take them both and you have genuine fandom.
Not the troll fandom that wants just what you want, like you’re a spoiled ten year old who has to get their way or they’ll throw a tantrum.
Don’t like the STAR WARS prequels, don’t watch them.
Don’t like the STAR WARS sequels, don’t watch them.
Don’t like the television shows or animated projects…you know the drill.
There is plenty to enjoy, even if it was just those three original, flawed movies.
Enjoy them and shut up.
Stop putting YOUR weird conservative politics on movies that are about REBELLION!
Do you even follow context clues or just like laser swords?
This is where we are, with fandom.
We pick and choose what we accept, reject the rest, and rant and rave when we don’t get what we feel we deserve.
We could move on, find another thing to be a fan of, another movie, band, writer, or artist, but we won’t, because we love the hate.
We need it.
The hate is what we’re a fan of, in the end.
Because we can find others like us that hate just as brightly and our fandom is hate now and whatever joy we took from these things pales in comparison to the brilliance of our impotent rage.
How sad, that the things that should comfort us, should give us joy, and should be part of the memories we cherish becomes a thing that angers and upsets us. Sure, art lets us down sometimes. Movies, music, books, and the lot can disappoint us. Our favorite creators and artists don’t always bring it home, they don’t always make magic. Sometimes though, we just don’t ‘get’ the project. It’s not for us. It could still be something that makes someone else happy, or shows them parts of themselves or the world they never saw before but we just don’t see that. It happens ALL the time. I hear music all the time that doesn’t move me in the slightest but which connects in every way with other people.
That’s the magic of the arts.
And the things that move us may rankle someone else.
It’s like magic.
How we see the world, whatever narrow view we have of what we need our fandom to reflect, isn’t reality. These are things we don’t need in our lives as we need air and water and food. These are things we choose to have in our lives. We choose to let them upset us. You can get as mad as you want at the world around you, at some sort of Wokeness or Liberalism or whatever. You can go on a forum and rant about it if it makes you happy. In the end though, it’s on you to leave if the property doesn’t reflect your beliefs or interests. It’s up to you to stop listening to the band that suddenly is too political or sold out. It’s up to you to stop reading that author who is a racist or whatever.
You have the power.
These things, these artists and properties have a right to exist.
They have a right to do what they do.
They have a right to move people.
The world doesn’t revolve around you, no matter what some other trolls may have you believing.
In the end, your opinion, like mine in this blog, is a pile of steaming crap that some will find corn in and others just stink. It’s still crap though. It’s still not nearly as important as the art that you are so angry about.
If you are so adamant that you know best then go prove it. Create something. Make something. Take your passion and forge something new. Prove them wrong. Or don’t. Be a slovenly troll that sniffs your own crap and smiles because it smells like the work of a genius.
If you’re so smart then shut up and prove it.
Or just shut up.
As someone who likes to rant, I can appreciate that art.
I also create though, so, um, go do something ya filthy troll.
I create lots of stuff, go hit the links and learn!