First off can I just say that I get it.
You really, really, really, really don’t like Justin Bieber.
And Twilight is awful, so is 50 Shades of Grey.
Not a great actress.
Let’s not even go there.
It’s cool, I get it. I don’t like it either. But remember that awesome quote from Simon Pegg that was all over the internet a while ago? Basically he said that being a geek is great because it’s giving yourself permission to love and love big. To be enthusiastic about the things in life that make you happy.
I love the quotes because it really sums up that sort of utopic zeitgeist of internet fan culture. The internet gave us permission to be unashamedly in love with the things that make us happy because it gave us communities of people who were just as giddy about it as we were.
I knew that my high school classmates wouldn’t get how much I loved Harry Potter or LoTR but I also knew that fanfiction.net, theonering.net, and deviantART existed. Online I found people that shared my passion. It was our folie a plusieurs, but we were plusieurs and that made all the difference.
Recently though, a shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind, there is a dark side to this force and is corrupting our beautiful fandom utopia, I call them the anti-fandoms.
It’s worldwide (probably). I can’t go anywhere, online or off without running into people joining together in mutual hate for one thing or another. How terrible things are is a wealthy and easy topic especially for those of us who find rl conversations difficult. In some sense it can give us that same feeling of unity that I found writing and reading fanfiction. I mean, Nickelback is the worst and the fact that thousands of people on Facebook agree with me about it makes me feel validated in my opinions and less alone. The problem with these types of communities, the ones built around hating things, is the fundamental difference between love and hate; Love builds on itself. Love creates. Hate takes what people have created and dismantles it. I’m not saying it’s wrong to dislike things. I’m just saying I don’t get the point of constantly reaffirming the fact.
I’m exhausted by people constantly wanting to assure me that they in no way like Miley Cryus. Okay…And? “Because her music is terrible” they’ll insist on telling me whilst they sip port and pull on a pipe. They’ll go on to list off all her faults, how her music corrupts the young, how it has no artistic value, and how she regularly does and says stupid things.
I get that she’s probably an idiot and I’m even willing to except that a lot of people who like her stuff don’t have much going on in the whole brain department either, but the thing is, she’s a kid isn’t she? (I don’t really feel like looking up her age but I’m fairly confident that she’s at least a few years younger than me) Surly that’s why she sometimes seems like an idiot, because kids are idiots, kids like and do idiotic things.
It’s the one benefit of getting older, the assurance that even as you inch closer to death you are becoming slightly less of an idiot.
But people get really into this whole thing. I mean Justin Beiber hasn’t had a moment in his life that wasn’t scrutinized by a bunch sanctimonious adults saying “Look at that young person with shit loads of money being less than mature and level headed.” People never shut up about it. Why? Why is necessary to tell me you don’t like him?
There is a certain stink of superiority in the anti-fandoms, in the way that they dismiss the music or the book or the movies by suggesting that this dismissal is evidence of their more discerning taste.
You’ve seen the Youtube comments that get covered in upvotes for any older or not quite mainstream song. It’s always something along the lines of “I can’t believe this has less views then Beiber” or “Fuck Beiber, this is what people should be listening to.” I’m not totally sure what these commentors feel like their accomplishing because they’ve already establish that the people these comments are meant to be shaming aren’t watching the video. The only purpose of the comment, therefore is just to congratulate yourself for liking the music you like because it’s clearly better than the music you don’t listen too, because you just said it, just then.
I was a huge offender in my past because, as I think I’ve previously alluded to, I’ve always been a superior little shit. The bane of my existence used to be the Harry Potter movies. Now, book purist are the Pharisees of nerd culture and one of the oldest and most supercilious of the anti-fandoms. I was whole heartedly one of them. When I watched The Prisoner of Azkaban I was enraged that they had not fully developed the back-story of the marauders (I mean seriously ,why do they only really ever talk about Lilly and ignore James?). I was engulfed in righteous fury that they had taken Ron’s parts and given them to Hermione (Ron was more than just the comic relief!). I left that theater, head swelled with what I felt was a divine mission to tell every single person who liked that movie just how wrong they were. I lectured my friends (and remembering this now I’m surprised I had any) endlessly about the sins of Alfonso Cuarón. I felt justified in hating a thing that was so not the thing I loved and yet claimed to be a representation of it. I even felt justified in hating not only the people who liked it, but the people who were indifferent to it.
As a nerd or a geek or whatever, I knew full well what it felt like to be odd man out. I knew the isolating feeling, pre-internet access , of loving Dr. Who but knowing no one else who had even heard of it. Maybe I was tempted to feel like that was the place of the geek, entrenched in a war against people who’ve never seen Highlander and who think Star Trek is lame. It had become so much a part of my identity as a social failure to be persecuted, that I sought that persecution out.
But loving Harry Potter in the beginning had been about loving Harry Potter, about shipping fictional relationships, about sharing theories on where Snape’s loyalty truly lie. Now loving Harry Potter meant bitching about screenwriters and actors I didn’t know. Who cares? Why the fuck should I care so much? What a waste of time.
What 16 year old Jo didn’t get, that 25 year old Jo sort of gets, is that some people are terrible and like thing that I think are terrible. I mean, Real Housewives is a thing that exists and I just don’t get it, but okay, whatever, let it exist. People have different tastes than me and think that the Prince Caspian movie where Susan and Caspian kiss at the end isn’t the worst thing ever and isn’t worth getting so upset over that you literally cry with anger in the movie theater (Yes, that happened. I got so mad I cried). Those people who think that Prince Caspian was okay aren’t going to be swayed by my blubbering attempts to convince them that their wrong and I hate them. And who cares? Let them like it. Their liking that version doesn’t take anything away from my liking the version in the books.
The world is a big old terrible place full of big old terrible people and we all have different tastes.
Some of us like awesome dynamic, strong female characters like Hermione Granger and some of us like weird, bland, disturbingly co-dependent characters like Bella Swann.
Who cares? Let them like it.
Some people like good music like (and I don’t know what to put here because I literally know nothing about music) and some of us like the guy that sings the song which from the clips that I’ve heard appears to be just him repeating the word ‘baby’.
And who cares? Let them.
Because, if you’re fighting to get people to see the world exactly the way you see it, you’re fighting a losing battle. Nobody is going to love the things you love the same way you love them, because nobody else is you. So instead of trying to convert the world into a bunch of yous, why not just love what you love loudly and proudly and ignore the urge to give your time and energy to hate?
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”