Jimmy Hall, Assistant Opinions Editor @Jimmyrhall
Being a fan isn’t bad. There isn’t any shame in being passionate and enthusiastic about your chosen medium. This is the essence of being a geek and geek, especially today, is cool. Comic-Con revels in and thrives off of it.
What is bad is when this phenomenon of fanboyism becomes intolerable.
I’d define “fanboy” as someone who is overly enthusiastic about some piece of media or entertainment. They are devoted to this thing come hell or high water.
Innately, there’s nothing wrong with it. I have my own share of fandoms: the TV show Community, Seattle Seahawks, Quentin Tarantino movies, and even the Harry Potter books and movies. Sure, they’re geeky, but they’re what I love to consume. They bring happiness in sometimes a dismal world.
And I know I’m not the only one too. If you have a favorite sports team, you’re a fanboy. If you like a certain brand of clothing – fanboy. If you are particular towards one gaming console then guilty as charged.
But there’s a point to this overdone fanboyism where it becomes a problem. When it comes to diminishing another’s fandom of choice that is not your own is when being a fan loses its fun.
In large part, the Internet contributes to this fanboyism. With the luxury of anonymity, there are no consequences of what’s being said. No self-censorship, no repercussions if you call someone offensive names which stems toward cyber bullying. In fact, this the driving fuel of most fanboy bouts.
For example, let’s talk about the most intense fanboy competition out there: the infamous console wars. Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One and their fans have been cat fighting for years. And why? They’re essentially the same console, specs, and features just in a different plastic box. The cause for this contention is simple: gamers don’t want to look silly for spending hundreds of dollars on something that is “inferior” to the others on the market.
This is the cause of the online flame wars. What we see isn’t praising fan’s chosen system, but belittling the other consoles. By smearing the other competition is just like cutting off someone else’s legs to make yourself look taller. You’re not any taller. You’re just self-conscious.
By saying this, I’m not also saying that competition is bad. In fact it’s empowering for the industries. Without competition the only choice on the market would be mediocre at best.
Another type of fanboyism I see is when expectations aren’t met. Of course, we expect the most out of the things we love. We don’t want our beloved IPs to suck. But when they do, their fanboys have a conniption.
Take “Star Wars” for another example. The prequels, maybe rightfully so, still get a fair share of flak from the diehards even eleven years later. Let’s hope that the Trekkies can forgive “Into Darkness” and comic book aficionados can forgive “Man of Steel” in the future.
But what good does this do? It won’t change the actual movie. It will always be there along with the original products that you grew to love.
Lastly, a side effect of a large fan base comes with the bad fans. Recently, my fellow Seahawks fans “threw” some food on an injured 49ers player as he was getting carted off the field. Although it was blown completely out of proportion, it gave the whole 12th Man a bad name.
Not to defend anything remotely related to this, but blaming the entire fan base on the dumb actions of a single person is insanely illogical.
Don’t take this the wrong way. As said before, fanboyism can be a good thing. It’s what drives the entertainment industry. It’s what makes it exciting. Bouncing back and forth of ideas and criticism between devoted fans is the soul of geekdom.
So, whether you love Marvel or DC, iPhones or Androids, Justin Bieber or One Direction, enjoy what you want to enjoy.