Episode 116: The Fandom Menace

February 8, 2013

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

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14 comments on “Episode 116: The Fandom Menace

  1. Michael Feb 8, 2013

    Well, except for the needless slam of Trekkies at about 53 minutes in (ahem!), this was a fantastic episode. Very classic “old school” SFC: well-thought-out, well-said. I really enjoyed it.

    James is right, though, you know: football fans really are the craziest fans out there, and I don’t know why our culture accepts it in a way that, even now, sci-fi and fantasy fandom is not accepted. After all, our fandoms are about stories – even if, as Ben says, we are not always mining those stories for all the depth they can offer. But what are football fans passionate about? Only one of the most violent and brutal sports the world has to offer.

    Maybe I’m being a bit unfair. I asked my son (11 years old) why he likes to watch football. He talked about the strategy of coaches and quarterbacks choosing which plays to try; watching the progress of the march down the field; etc. So I guess there can be thoughtful football fandom, too…

    Anyway, good episode! Thanks for it!

    • Football fans ARE fans of story.

      It’s drama, it’s exciting, it’s story.

      • Michael Feb 21, 2013

        Good point, Ben – not only the narrative within the game itself, but the overarching off-field narratives of team rivalries, trades resulting in playing against former teammates, coaches’ dramatics, etc…

  2. Adam Pracht Feb 8, 2013

    Lord of the Rings bobbleheads. That is all.

  3. Brandon Feb 9, 2013

    I went to college with some furries. Every full moon they would don their furry ears and tails. No joke.

  4. Re: 13 episodes — networks want multiples of thirteen, because its a quarter of a year.

    This is not for American networks, necessarily, but for international markets. Production companies often get orders for their future productions by pre-selling, which helps cover production costs.

    So even for something like Netflix, 13 episodes becomes a pragmatic number. Unlike Ben’s taking credit for finally getting people to do their storytelling like this, this was not a story choice. It was purely pragmatic, to reach the greatest number of venues and make the most money.

  5. @32 minutes — “fandom as sixth story type”?

    No. Are you going to put “making money” as a seventh?

    Stories for fandom use story to engage the fans, and to continue engaging them.

    I do not see this as an actual story type, but a story response. It uses the types, though.

    Fandom is a response by the consumer, and can be a motivation for the producer. But it doesn’t work as a category, at least by your other definitions. All the examples you mention actually use one of the five story categories.

    I think you category of “fandom” could be more accurately described as “world building”: story for the sake of emerging in a world.

    Your condemnation of fandom, as you break it down, is more a condemnation of bad art.

  6. I don’t know why I’m actually responding to an old episode, when because I leave too many, too long comments that Ben is not interested in anyway, but you are ignoring what the market forces are like.

    Companies are afraid to take risk with new things, because they have to market things that are recognizable, and when something “catches fire”, so to speak, that’s where they have to go.

    As someone involved in a few different types of media, my materials ate hampered because people do not know me. I am not a proven entity. Now, my work for Marvel, with George R.R. Martin above the title, sold, and sold quite well. But a comic company, looking at working with me, asked if I had done anything else, and when I told them I had not worked on anything else for Marvel or DC, the conversation stopped.

    A movie that costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars has to make a return on investment. It’s a reality, unfortunately.

  7. Without fandom, a LOT of stories you like would not be there. The Dark Knight movies are a part of, say it with me, fandom. No DC fandom, no Dark Knight movies.

    I agree it strangles good stories, and it also does not allow new stories to break out. But there is some good to come from it.

  8. Hi, there! First-time listener. I agree with a lot of the general concepts about the bad/obsessive side of fandom, but COMPLETELY disagree with the main target that you chose to aim at (The Avengers).

    After years of “dark and gritty” superhero movies that were inappropriate to allow my nephews to see, I was thrilled to watch a movie that actually took heroism seriously, and actually displayed the optimism that used to go hand in hand with superhero stories. *That* was its theme; that was its purpose.

    OK, so it didn’t have as many levels as The Dark Knight, and Joss Whedon has also done stuff that has more themes. But he’s also done stuff that was much more subversive. I was thrilled that he actually respected Captain America’s faith and patriotism and didn’t mock them.

    And, yes, mindless entertainment can be bad, but I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun at the movie theater *without* having to shut off my brain. It’s a smart, funny and engaging film.

    And we’re using the Marvel movies as a cautionary tale? I’m glad that Marvel has gotten their act together and started telling interlocking stories. I wish Marvel had gotten its act together even sooner, tying things in as early as 2000’s X-Men movie. I wish DC finally *would* get its act together. We should have had a Justice League movie 10 years ago already.

    Also, The Dark Knight Rises was very well acted and written, but it was also way too long and bleak and depressing. I’ve seen it once at this point; I’ve seen Avengers three times. Not because Avengers is “mindless” fun, but because it reflects my own faith and optimism–or perhaps the faith and optimism that I’d like to have as an ideal self.

    Of the three top highest-grossing films of all time–the other two being Avatar and Titanic–The Avengers is the only one that makes me feel like there’s some hope for the human race to find redemption and salvation. The other two make me want to give up on people entirely.

    Unfortunately, because The Avengers has been so popular, people love to take potshots at it. I would love to just enjoy something unironically again, but Internet fandom has made that impossible. I can’t go five minutes without someone peeing on this movie (metaphorically, of course).

    And that’s another side of fandom which I was surprised you didn’t talk about: In modern fandom, the cool kids hate everything *about* their fandom. It drives me bonkers.

    Examples: Steven Moffat brings Doctor Who to a more intelligent and fun place than it’s ever been, and most of the fans say that he’s “ruining” the show because it’s not exactly the same as how it was before. Also, after Berman and Braga ran Star Trek into ground, J.J. Abrams saved it from extinction by making it exciting to watch again, and all I hear from fans is how he “ruined” Star Trek. Talk about ingratitude.

    Modern-day fans complain about every new episode, every new book, every new video game, etc. And yet they don’t just LEAVE the fandom. They stick around and continue to complain, making some people miserable and dragging others down to their level.

    Ironically, the only fandom where this kind of talk isn’t allowed is Star Wars fandom, and that actually *deserves* the criticism! Aesthetically speaking, George Lucas *did* ruin Star Wars–not because it was different, but just because it was badly made. Yet his fans gush endlessly about the newer films, and the fans say that others aren’t “real” Star Wars fans if they don’t love everything–which makes about as much sense as saying that someone isn’t a “real” Batman fan if they don’t love Joel Schumaker’s BATMAN AND ROBIN.

    It’s *because* I’m a real Batman fan that I don’t like BATMAN AND ROBIN. It’s because I’m a real Star Wars fan that I don’t like the prequels. Anyone who says otherwise is, I think, a fan for the *sake* of being a fan, and it doesn’t really matter what the product actually is in the end. They might as well just obsess over their socks as anything else.

    But I do respect your opinions, at any rate. Even though I disagreed on certain points, Ben expressed himself eloquently. He’s not a “hater”; I just don’t agree with his perspective on the Marvel movies or The Avengers. The rest of it was just my discussion of an aspect of fandom that I dislike, not a disagreement with anything either of you said.

    Whew. As usual, I’ve gone on way too long. 🙂 Thanks for reading my rambling post!

    • Michael Feb 23, 2013

      Hey, Tom! Welcome to the SFC community! Glad you listened, and certainly hope you will keep doing so.

      I wasn’t on the podcast discussion, but thought I’d chime in to say that I like a lot of what you have to say here. I have noticed that Star Wars fandom seems to be the one venue in which one daren’t breathe a word against the prequels. I do think it’s generally a good idea if fans at least give everything their franchise offers them an honest shake; but, of course, not every fan is going to respond to every offering equally, nor should they be expected to.

      That’s where I might differ from you a bit: when we start thinking of ourselves as the only valid expression of “real fandom” or “true fans” of any given story or franchise, I think we’ve swung too far in the other direction. In my case, I’m a Star Trek fan, and that’s why I didn’t like the ENTERPRISE tv series. It didn’t (for half its run, anyway) seem true to the established Trek mythos or spirit. But I wouldn’t say that Trek fans who like it are just being fans for the sake of being fans. Perhaps (even probably?) they are just having a different reaction than I am. I am in favor of generous inclusion when it comes to definition of who’s a real fan and who’s not.

      Maybe I’m not following you exactly, though – you can say more if that’s so. I hope you’ll say more in any event, because I like the way you say it! Again, welcome aboard, and keep listening, and keep commenting!

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