Not a fan

The always insightful lemur-in-a-business suit over at Ten Bad Habits wrote a particularly good post the other day and it crystalized something for me that I’ve been mulling for some time.

You see I am into a lot of nerdy/geeky things but I find I have startlingly little in common, personality-wise,  with most people of similar interests.  The thing is, I am not really a “fan” of stuff.  I mean, I enjoy Adventure Time and Walking Dead and other touchstones of nerd culture.  But I don’t obsess about them; I don’t think making references to them somehow constitutes wit; I will not be crushed when they go off the air.  (In fact we recently canceled our fancy cable and I don’t miss them.) I like a lot of this stuff but I’m not a fan of it, and I don’t really understand fans, and they get on my nerves.

Here are some disparate things that are leading me to this conclusion:

Case one, the Monty Python fans:  One of the first times I vividly remember being seriously annoyed by my fellow geeks was back in college.  I was introducing a new roommate to some people I knew.  He was from Czechoslovakia (well, it had just become the Czech Republic) and his English wasn’t great and all my friends could do was make (lame) Monty Python references over and over throughout our conversation.  At the time I thought I was just embarrassed by the cluelessness of my friends (who would rather share some pop culture in-jokes than interact meaningfully with this guy who who could barely follow their conversation without their badly mimicked caricature accents of Monty Python skits).  But in hindsight I was less embarrassed by their “rudeness” than by the fact as I watched them mimic stuff they saw on TV I realized that they really were relying on old foreign comedy sketches to supply them with something worth talking about.  Don’t get me wrong, the occasional reference or quote has its place.  But these half dozen college students couldn’t get through a frigging conversation without breaking into repeated and extended recitations of sketches.  I will watch Monty Python almost any time it is on, but I guess I’m just not a fan.  I don’t think shouting “Ni!Ni!” is always inherently funny, and I don’t want a Monty Python screen saver or merchandise.  So I guess I don’t automatically feel a bond with people on the basis of a shared appreciation of a show, movie or book.

Case two, a Facebook group: I ‘joined’ a Facebook group for fans of science fiction in my area.  I get one or two emails notifying me of activity there every week.  Usually it is someone gushing about a new science fiction film or TV show, or an old one now on DVD or Netflix, or a link to some piece of merchandise that slyly references Star Trek, Star Wars, Trek Wars, or Star Star.  I get the sense that the other folks in this group are excited just because the new film is science fiction, regardless of how stupid or derivative the trailer looks.  I have read a fair amount of science fiction, but I don’t read just anything and I have never, ever read single novel about Star Wars or Star Trek; I don’t know much of anything about Orson Scott Card (except that he makes himself sound like a real douchebag in interviews) or George R.R. Martin (except that he keeps writing some kind of soap opera fantasy saga and is unlikely to live long enough to finish it); I don’t assume Japanese animated films are going to be anything special.  (OK, I watched Akira and Vampire Hunter D and few other films 20+ years ago; they were pretty cool).  Sure I love reading fantasy and science fiction, and I probably set a lower bar for genre fiction and films than I do for non-genre stuff, but I can see I’m not a “real” fan because I don’t just get automatically excited to hear a new this or that is coming out.  So I guess I am not a loyalist to a particular genre.

Case three, Joss Wedon (or is it Josh Wedon? Is “Joss” a real name?): I have heard from many people I know that this Wedon character was behind some great TV shows or something and so I should look forward to anything else he touches.  In fact I can think of think of a couple of otherwise intelligent people who think anything he touches automagically turns to gold and shits rainbows.  I don’t get it.  It seems like they just outsourced their entire palate for what is clever, cool, or worthwhile to this one person’s imagination.  Because I’m not all that interested in binge-watching the entire Buffy or Firefly catalog, they have practically nothing to talk to me about.  It’s really weird.  I mean, I do have a few directors and writers I really like, but I can admit that, say, some of Ralph Bakshi’s movies are kind of lame (cough, Cool world) or that some of Poul Anderson’s books are pretty flat (cough, Beyond the beyond, Winter of the world…).  So I guess I don’t properly idolize any genre artists.

Is that what fandom is?  Idolizing pulp/genre artists? Uncritical loyalty to a genre? A sense of belonging based on this shared fanaticism?  Well then I’m not a fan.

And yet — I do enjoy “genre” entertainment.  I do have favorite authors and directors whose work I’ll seek out.  So maybe I’m a fan of the genres, just not of fandom?

Published in: on March 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve never understood obsessing over anything. Normally I just wander my way through life trying not to make too much of an ass out of myself and often failing at it.




  3. Heh, Mike, you are just letting your brains get in the way of your heart. You see, deep down, you are a producer. You create stuff, and you understand the creations of others. Fans, of the variety you mention, don’t create. They memorize, they parrot, the love the creations more than the act of creating. You and I have more than libraries in common, I am not a “fan” either, but I am connoscenti, and I swim in fandom like a shark in the sea. (metaphor deliberate).

  4. Please forgive the typos. I know better, but errors slip thru.

  5. Fuck you Firefly is great.
    But seriously I think for similar reason I never really got into prepackaged worlds like Gayhawk. I guess I would call my self a fan of many thing but not in the sense you use it. Yes I look forward to the Walking Dead and some other shows, but no I don’t memorize the lines or watch an episode more than once. But as you look down your nose at my Walking Dead, Angel loving self, think about this whole blogging and facebook stuff your into. Search of recognition much? Some people might think that it is a little pathetic too. 😛
    One thing we all have in common is were going to die, so maybe let people get their geek on how they like. Life is too short for self importance.
    Then again I am a syfi fan and blog reader…

    • Hah! Actually you’re not either of the “Wedon fans” I was thinking of, and no I don’t think of you as a “fan” in the sense I’m talking about.
      As for not harshing other people’s geek mellows, I didn’t mean to, I just had this realization that there are people who are hard core “fans” of stuff and I don’t get it. I’m not looking down on anyone. The blog has “dorkery” right in the title…

  6. I feel like the boundary between enjoying something and being a “fan” comes with personal investment. Fandom blurs the line between who you are as a person and what you like as a person. These folks have placed so much of themselves into the things that they like (Joss Whedon, Doctor Who, Dungeons & Dragons) that they must be infallible.

    That’s why people take it as a personal attack when you say something like “Dollhouse wasn’t that great,” because in a sense, it IS a personal attack.

    • Good point. People get personally invested in all kinds of beliefs and opinions, and I guess I shuold just be glad the Trekkies have never blown up a building or denied rights to Star Wars fans or whatever. Fandom is a pretty harmless kind of fanaticism!

    • I agree. I don’t like the works of Joss Whedon and I’m tired of arguing with people who don’t think I’m NERD enough because of it. It’s my opinion on his filmography, not a condemnation of those who enjoy it.

  7. Totally agree with this, and well put. I wrote a comment over here about the issue a couple of days ago:

    You’ll want to check out the “new school” definition of “nerd.” It’s unsettling.

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