Let’s start with the premise that we don’t know everything. This is simple. and most people will agree. If you already know everything there’s nothing for you here. You can stop reading and go torture some mortals. Now let’s say that we pick one particular topic, one subject. We believe we have extensive knowledge on this subject. Can we agree we don’t have all the knowledge there is on such subject?
No, that’s a harder one. We all have favorite subjects that we think we know better than anybody else. Let’s skip any personal territory. This is not that kind of a blog. Speaking about geek fandoms, there’s plenty of fans, followers, addicts and hardcore geeks of one topic. The more history a particular TV series, comic, movie saga, video game, novel or any work of fiction has, the deeper the rabbit hole goes.
Nowadays with reboots, alternate universes, expanded universes, follow-ups and spin-offs, any saga can continue on forever as long as there’s a fandom. Or to put it more basic terms, a market for it. People that will invade the social networking spheres with delectable viral chatter that will generate buzz making it a fertile ground to create new works of that saga, both official or fan fiction.
As much as you want your fiction to live on, the other part of that equation is also bringing in new fans. That’s where I’ve seen a lot of resistance, specially from old school fans where this sort of hazing starts by belittling and demeaning the rookies.
Every rookie has the capacity to show you something new about your beloved work of fiction, an aspect you had not seen before. However, the first thing that hardcore fans do is shoot them down. I’m not talking about debate. I love a healthy back and forth discussion on the merits of two antagonizing points of view, may their be canon or expanded universe. I’m talking when you have to show your creds and it turns out you just heard about this story, game, book, etc from a friend and you want to know more about it.
There will be more than a few old fans that will want to share and tell you about it. I just can’t stand the whole holier-than-though mentality of people who think that they can’t be taught anything. If there’s nothing else for you to learn, then please move on. I just can’t stand the fact that someone would use knowledge (and this is fictional knowledge) to bully another fan into silence. There’s a lot of things where there’s a pecking order, why do fandoms have it?
That’s not to say that you should get into a new fad thinking there’s nothing for anybody to teach you. You always should be ready to listen to the nerd (and this is respectful title) that saw the original series from the 60’s upon which the new 3D version reboot has been made. I’m just saying this should not be a two-way conversation and not a monologue.
Every work of fiction has inherent something to teach us about ourselves. Fiction about extraterrestrials often depict racial issues. Robots involve feelings and free will. Advance civilizations hide subjects on the unfairness of human conditions on third world countries. There’s values hidden in most works of fiction. Yes, there are plain geek candy with mechas and spaceships and laser guns. You have to have your protein with some sugar. It’s all part of a balanced meal.
The worst part of geek elitism is when it also involves discrimination. Yes, old series often had stereotypes in them. New series or new remakes attempt to break those. This is good. That also means you should break old rules as well and allow people of both genders, diverse cultures and alternative lifestyles into the mix because they will enrich the fandom.
I will throw in my two cents here regarding the whole sexism controversy that is a hot topic of blogs everywhere when it comes to the comic conventions and game conventions as of late. There’s no excuse for anybody to act like an asshole. I know there’s a component of violent trash talk in video games. At some point civilization flew out the window on that one. Most people will say it’s just talk, but there’s been a few generations growing on that diet (ok, I might be overdoing the food analogies…) and it does spill out on real life.
It’s just a game? Do we suddenly gain the right to be abrasive and beligerent because you’re playing a game? If an adult threatened another adult in a work environment with one of the insults from that game, they’d run the risk of losing their jobs. Trust me, it happened to me.
I don’t want every aspect of a fandom to be turned into a complicated issue of political correctness. I do expect some level of pwnage upon my character when I start a new game. I do expect to be schooled by a hardcore fan when I get into a new fandom. And there’s something to be said about the classic stories of old school sci-fi versus the new. But there should be a perceivable level of friendship when such jokes are uttered – because if you are joking and not insulting the new guy, he OR SHE, should be in on the joke.
It’s obvious, so make it obvious to the newcomer. But if it’s actually insult and racist and sexist behaviour you want to embark upon then you have no argument. There’s a difference between blowing some steam and feeding (yeah I know, there I go again) your hatred. And if all you want to be is a complete dick, then you don’t have any business talking to people. Don’t expect the rest of us to sacrifice a place because “you got here first and this is my universe” kind of deal.
Food for thought (perhaps I need a snack) or just junk that you already knew? If this is no more than stuff everyone knows already then I’m happy to be the last one to know.
That will do for now.