Long ramble grumping over fannish culture and how it kills people’s love of a thing. Unedited, probably impolitic, quite possibly wrong (I’m sure Tumblr will tell me how).
I love this post by jaxblade so much because so much of nerd culture kills the genuine love we have for things. Nerd love or geek love of something is often competitive or conditional or policed in some way. You need to love it more than someone else, you can love it but only until you’re a certain age, you can love it but only with a string of disclaimers and apologies for how you know it’s really shitty/the creator is shitty/the actor is shitty. And, yeah, there’s a time and a place for problematizing things and having good meta discussion and there’s a certain age appropriateness to some things where it’s time to step aside a little with your love to let little kids coming up behind you take the stage.
But I so hate the bully/police culture that infuses geekery and nerdery–it’s not recent either, I’m properly old and I remember it from childhood. You can’t like that, I liked it first. I like it more because my mom bought me all the toys. You’re wrong about it because you didn’t read the comics, shut up. You can’t like that because it’s too violent/the ladies aren’t dressed enough/it’s not realistic/some boy in Ohio paralyzed his sister imitating it. You can’t play that game because you’re a girl, you can’t have that toy because you’re a boy. Whether it’s authorities or peers, that love of things just gets crushed until you’re cramped into the back of your closet with the thing you love hoping that no one shows up to tell you off.
We tell each other: You can’t really love it if you’re not doing it right. I got told to stop writing a certain canon bc my spell checker corrected a name to the common spelling instead of the canon spelling at the last minute before I posted a piece of fanfic. I got a rant telling me to get out of the fandom because I didn’t love the character–the character who was the first time I’d really seen someone like me in media. Like, whoa. Man. I spelled a name wrong. Sometimes I don’t see right. But I gotta get outta fandom for that? I’m old enough and tired enough to just say “hahaha fuck you” and carry on, but not everyone is. This is the same mentality that made another kid take away throw out the comic I had when I was six because it was a baby comic and I didn’t really like comics because otherwise I wouldn’t be reading it.
You can love a piece of media or a canon even if all you know about it is what you’ve gleaned from Tumblr–its meaning to you doesn’t get less because you didn’t consume the whole thing any more than someone loving a series of books suddenly is less of a fan because a movie came out and they didn’t see it. Sure, you might need to know the whole canon if you’re going to deconstruct it and analyze it but since when did that start to equate to love–loving something is a very personal thing about the alchemy of you and the thing and nothing more.
You go into any nerd space and I guarantee you it’s a flurry of oneupmanship. Why did Bronies get so popular? Because the people who couldn’t make it in the usual nerd circles appropriated it to have a space to one-up each other instead of ending up underfoot again. They took their paradigm with them. I see it in every new fandom that creeps up. Genuine love of stuff gets policed, corrected, cramped.
That needs to stop. That’s not human nature, that’s our capitalist/patriarchal/kyriarchy talking. If openness and flow and acceptance are going to happen, going to be practiced, why not in fandom and around fannish things? I wish there were a way/a space to make so that people could really love things they love but I don’t think that’s going to happen until we learn how to deconstruct the way we relate to each other. Fandom and nerd/geek culture needs to do better because I see posts like JaxBlade’s way too rarely at a time when I’d think we need more unfettered joy over something, anything at all.
For my part, I’m just going to try to make sure when I talk about things I love I don’t do it in a way that makes it seem like I’m trying to take anything away from anyone else. I’m going to keep trying to encourage people who create things that are’t what I love–because they love them. I’m going to give a try at seeing why people love things I don’t. I’m going to try to make room for other people’s squee because the squee is more important than just about anything else.