Bristle’s Babbles #19 – ‘The Neverending Circle of Fandom Hate’

So… fanbases… there’s a whole lot of them. Amongst Anime alone we’ve seen the growth of numerous pretty sizeable fanbases for certain shows and franchises. One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and, more recently, Madoka Magica, Mirai Nikki, Steins;Gate, Guilty Crown, Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, Hunter x Hunter, Kill la Kill, etc. etc. etc…. I could literally sit here for days listing off Anime with big fanbases, and potentially months and years if I go beyond Anime to other media fanbases ranging from your My Little Ponys to your Pokemons to your Walking Deads to your Frozens to your Harry Potters to your Justin Biebers, etc. etc. etc… Each and every single fanbase I’ve listed is, to some degree within some notable circle, not very well liked, and 99% of the time it boils down to two fundamental criticisms:
1. They’re obnoxious about what they like.
2. They overrate what they like.

I’m not here to waste my time defending any of them because I probably won’t convince too many a soul of much at all, not to mention the truth of the matter is, all my personal opinions on said things aside, popular things can be bad. As a matter of fact, I think saying it’s the truth is putting it lightly; it’s a truism. The fact that it is a truism is what I find to be the issue. I’ve grown beyond complaining about complaining these days, because quite frankly “people hate popular things for both logical and illogical reasons” is also essentially becoming a truism. The issue to me is less something that personally bothers me and more so something I believe needs to be seen from a more reasonable perspective.

Out of all those fanbases mentioned, the one I’m probably most familiar with is My Little Pony. Yep, I was a Brony, a pretty darn big one. I’ll keep it brief considering some people are less than favourable when it comes to Bronies, so that I don’t encourage fandom bashing while attempting to discourage it. I loved MLP: FiM and I still do. The Brony fandom was probably the first place I started to develop a personal identity, but nowadays I’m not quite as favourable. I don’t consider myself a Brony any more, even though I’m still a big fan of the series, simply because I don’t involve myself in the fandom. I’ve come to realise that my main problem with Bronies is that the majority give themselves the image of a fandom that challenges gender roles and yet do little more than dwell on their masculinity by asserting the notion that MLP is manly, redefining MLP as being masculine rather than “redefining masculinity” in itself. Even the “Brony” name is essentially a way to avoid saying they like something that, let’s face it, is aimed primarily at a female audience, showing that many of them are too afraid to confront social norms and thus have no chance of being able to put a meaningful dent in them.

Do I hate Bronies? Absolutely not. I’m all for anyone doing whatever the heck they want as long as they’re not being an active nuisance, something the fandom was once guilty of but not so much these days now that people have somewhat come to terms with their existence. Did I hate Bronies at any point? I sure did. After leaving the fandom I was fed up with Bronies to the point that I couldn’t even enjoy the series as much as I once did, but needless to say considering what I’ve already said I don’t exactly find that to be an ideal mindset. I was 15, mind you. It was when I realised people with barely half a clue as to what’s wrong with the fandom inserted their generic two cents that I started to look at the issue more broadly. A lot of them just saw it as another annoying fandom to be angry about, and their dislike usually stemmed primarily from “they watch a little girl’s cartoon”, followed up with the aforementioned clichés of “they’re obnoxious about what they like” and “they overrate what they like” as reinforcement.

It’s a circle of vapid negativity, and I see people go on diatribes about fanbases with the exact same issues as the last one every time something really popular comes out and they put themselves on a pedestal for saying “hey, this thing isn’t as good as you say it is”. I’m content nowadays to move away from these people before they start to bother me, but the thing is they don’t want to quietly avoid people who bother them, and whenever I went to the pointless effort in the past to confront them it’s always been a dumb excuse for actively inflating the issue, typically “even if I avoid them, they still bother me”. Whether or not people share this perception with me, I believe that annoying fanbases are so common that they essentially qualify as a non-issue. Even limiting your perspective to first world problems, it’s trivial. There are so many more meaningful pursuits in bettering yourself and the world around you, some of which are equally easy pursuits. It’s an issue in itself to dwell on fanbases the way I see it, and while I’m no life coach I think it’s reasonable for me to say that if you physically can’t prevent yourself from doing it maybe the next meaningful step in improving your world is improving your own attitude and perspective.

Fans in general can really… really suck; I know that from a plethora of personal experiences, and I could indulge in those bitter memories to work myself up in to a fit of anger, but what would I achieve? Do as you please, but when E3 rolls around next year and the fawning over the latest Mario or Zelda announcements gets to you and you want to tell people how much it bothers you keep in mind that they’re one obsessive and extremely biased group of fans amongst potential billions or more.

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