4/10/2003

Worst Fan Ever or, What I really think of fandom, and why I keep my distance...

I can't remember a time that I haven't been a science fiction and fantasy fan. It's pretty much all I ever read, the only genre in which I write, the only thing I watch on TV (except for CSI, and that's sort of fantasy. I mean, it's set in Vegas, come on). It's the one subject that ever truly gets me worked up into raving, frothing paroxysms of delight and fury (okay, there is that teensy issue I have about the popular media and carbon dating, but we won't talk about that right now).

So, yes, big, huge SF&F geek. I live it, breathe it, love it.

But I avoid fandom like the plague.

SF&F fans aren't any weirder or crazier than any other group of people out there who are devoted to a particular pastime or interest (Football fans? Historical re-enactors? Gamers? All equally insane). It's fandom as a concept I avoid, not just specific to a genre or a show. I always seem to run into the people who take their chosen hobby just a bit too seriously, who let their interest take over their lives to the point of being unable to operate on a daily basis, or interact with people outside the sphere of their obsession (or even within it).

I did sort of become involved in the fringes of Trek fandom. Trek was my first true SF love. Until recently, it's the only show that inspired me to write fan fiction, and I got involved in the "original" Trek fanfic community for a few years (the folks who've made up their own characters and ships). I got into an online RPG sort of thing. I got involved in a couple of message boards and lists.

Then I got fed up with the petty power games, the egos, the attitudes, the posturing and the general fun-ruining behavior of my fellow fans who just couldn't get over themselves.

So I left. I still write Trek fic (well, not really . I haven't touched Adventurous in over a year) and still correspond with a couple of people back, and I still love the show (excepting Voyager and Enterprise) but the fandom as a whole had left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Fandom had sucked all the fun out of itself for me.

And then I discovered Stargate.

I'm a latecomer to SG-1 fandom. Not having had Showtime, I was never able to keep up with the series through the first five seasons. Oh, I'd catch an episode here and there, and liked what I saw (given how scornful I'd been when I'd first heard about the concept: "Stargate SG-1? What kind of stupid name is that?"), but until SciFi began to run Stargate with Farscape (another series I caught onto late), I hadn't really paid it much attention.

Well, that changed.

I got sucked into Season Six last summer, and just fell in love with it. I also remained blissfully unaware of the vast controversies over Michael Shanks departure and the fan response. Then I started checking out the past seasons online, reading fic, and quite unexpectedly discovered the Great Fandom Divide.

I almost ran screaming right then and there. Dear God, what a mess. It was everything I'd come to hate about fandom. And then some. It astounds me that an issue like an actor leaving a show can turn a bunch of adults into the worst caricature of every schoolyard bully in existence (I'm talking both sides of the Great Divide here). I've never been fond of the "It's just a show, get over it!" trope, since it's usually bandied about by people who really shouldn't be throwing stones, but boy, did it fit here. Those people honestly scared me. It went beyond petty into outright malevolence.

They were wacko.

So I was all set to content myself with my DVDs and SciFi reruns and Gateworld announcements and a few pieces of really good fanfic. My own little Fan Island, where I could be Supreme Dictator of Snark about the characters, get all shippy about Jack and Sam, and generally enjoy the show without fear of crossing the wrong line or offending the wrong person.

Then I wrote a little piece of fiction. Of ship fiction. I was going to hide it on my hard drive, but I'd been following a few ship authors, and low and behold, they weren't all crazy! Well, not in a bad way, at least. They were mature, rational, articulate and intelligent. Sure, they squee and ship and make the occasional suggestive LJ icon , but they all appear have a firm grasp of the fact that it is just a show, and while they love it, it isn't worth the complete breakdown of civilized society.

I decided to risk sending it out. And you know, I was right about them. They are smart and funny. Good people. Even if they did introduce the word "squee" into my vocabulary. So I think I'll give fandom a try again (though well armed with a healthy dose of perspective and a really big stick).

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