Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Fans and Gods

Fandom and the Obsession with Superiority

I consider myself to be a fan of many things. I am a fan of sporting teams, directors, actors, musicians, painters, writers. I seek out their works like a rat to cheese. I wish for it to be good. I want with every fabric of my be a representation of everything I enjoy about their work. Yet I understand that in the end there's no guarantee that it will be. I understand that it could be crap. It could be rubbish. I could simply be wasting my time. Then again, so what if I do? So what if I watch it and don't end up liking it? I don't like lots of things, why should I expect not to occasionally dislike one of their works? It's bound to happen. It's just the way things are. But am I a true 'fan' because I admit to not liking it? Because I admit that there's some of their work that I don't care for? The answer: Yes.

There's a long standing tradition of vanity and public figures. Especially those public figures we deem 'artists.' Some built in belief that because they are in the public eye they are somehow superior. That widespread social appreciation for one's work defines general human perfection. This in and of itself is a bad starting point for people's lives, on both ends of the spectrum.

This mindset has spawned countless groups adoring them. Closing their minds to any fallacies, and embracing their work as a declaration of greatness. These groups seek out their work, hope to one day shake their hand, perhaps get their name written down on something they own (preferably by themselves). These groups flood their walls with pictures of them, fawning over them like some subservient would. These groups are fans.

I don't have any issues with the basic concept of a fan. It's good to show appreciation for one's hard work, especially if you feel they've been good for a long time. What isn't so good is the belief that you're lesser than them for it. How many forum posts can you find today telling you not to question a certain director because they've been good up until now? How many for actors, writers, and the like? It's countless. Fans organizing the masses under some label of being a 'true' fan because they've liked everything up until that point.

These 'true fans' preach the gospel of their selected deity, or in this case 'artist.' Anyone who questions their work is unworthy, doesn't 'get it,' and is therefore decreed a lesser being. And for what? Because they exercised one of the most basic animal instincts: taste.

More and more people seem eager to shed any sense of self. They want others to tell them what they like, see, desire, want, feel, care about. For what? To be 'accepted?' By whom? Other people in the exact same boat? That's not acceptance, it's brainwashing. Creating a society of mindless zombies more and more convinced that popularity is all that matters. That those on television, in films, the center of arenas, are better because they have all the popularity.

Being a fan is about being passionate about something, not being a slave to it. You can love something without needing every piece of it to be perfect. You can idolize something, even if it is flawed.

I hate to risk going too Howard Beale on everyone, but I find it rather depressing to see the role fans play. Lining up in the thousands for the hope of just seeing one person. In the end that's all they are. Just one person. One whom is as flawed as any of us. They're not gods. Not everything they do will be, or is, great. When you forget that basic, most fundamental, of facts you lose their humanity. With enough time, it seems apparent lots of them lose it too. I mean really, which of us could live a life of constant worship without letting it go to our heads? Being a 'true fan' is not a solution to any problem, it's the start of way too many.

Thus ends this week's rant.

7 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Very interesting...might I ask what inspired this?

Castor said...

While Univarn was typing this, thousands of Harry Potter fans are getting ready to camp outside their movie theater overnight in anticipation of the movie release!

Anonymous said...

I have the same question as Hatter... still, it's a well thought-out and passionate rant, Univarn, and you raised some very valid points. I am guilty of vehemently liking a certain actor/movie/director/what have you, but I also realize that it's all a matter of taste... so I'm not one to try to 'evangelize' to people if they don't share the same feeling about said person/idea. So I like what you said here 'Being a fan is about being passionate about something, not being a slave to it. You can love something without needing every piece of it to be perfect. You can idolize something, even if it is flawed.' And I personally can't imagine running a fan site that talks about only one thing... oh how boring would life be! :)

MovieNut14 said...

Said the man who essentially worships Akira Kurosawa.

Univarn said...

@Mad & Flix: Most of my rants such as these come from simultaneous self evaluation and years of reading forums. Very seldom do I have a single jump point from which I derive a rant. It's just not my style.

@Castor: Haha I do quite enjoy the Harry Potter series. Read all the books this summer and they were quite good. However I wouldn't camp out for tickets, or even if a new book was released.

@Flix: How boring indeed, and yet there are people who do it all the time - especially forum mongers who eagerly refresh web pages waiting for someone to dislike what they enjoy so they can immediately cut them down.

@MovieNut: I figured you'd be the one to bring up Kurosawa and to that I say Extremely Passionate, borderline Worship, yes, but do I believe he is infallible? No. I love Kurosawa, and the great majority of his films. However the key word there is majority. There are films of his I don't like at all, some I can't stand to sit through. If you tell me you don't like Kurosawa I say 'ok then' not 'what's wrong with you for not recognizing his superiority!' They may be subtle, but it's the difference between treating him as a human whose work I'm greatly fond of and treating him as a god.

I recognize the fine line, but my argument here is that fine line is an incredibly important one.

Castor said...

Kurosawa sucks. One of the most overrated director of all-time.

Simon said...

Watch yourself, Castor.

And indeed, Univarn. Indeed.

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