Fandom, You Deserve Better Friends
So, almost every day I get letters from people asking me to expose some evil-doer, or tell the whole story about some whack job fan cult or whatever, like my word has magic power, and bad things will stop happening if I sprinkle the holy water of my blog on it.
Not only is there only so much I can do, but when it comes to fandom, some people really like drinking the Kool-Aid.
Sure it’s poison to you, me and every other rational person on the planet, but everyone else isn’t rational. For example, a friend of mine directed me to a bizarre online thread for “Supernatural” fandom which consisted of over 9000 comments, all about how the stars of the show were secretly gay and how horrible it was that they had fake marriages and were actually having children just to keep their love in the closet. There was much awesome crazy in that thing, reams of misogyny directed at the women in the actor’s lives, and it is a perfect example of how cultish some fandoms can be. It’s sad to think how much life energy – not to mention how many hours of electrical energy – went into something so ridiculous, disrespectful of the real people involved, and unproductive. (EDIT: No, I don’t care if you ship your favorite characters. Yes, anyone should care if you attack actors and their families for not living up to your fantasies.)
You are never going to be able to convince some people that not only is what they’re doing nuts, but it’s self destructive. And frankly, some people come from such bad places, any affirmation or familial group is going to seem like an improvement to them, no matter how abusive it is.
This setting is a communal living situation in Southern California when a bunch of working professionals in their late 20s realize they need to find a new roommate after losing one to marriage. After an apparently rigorous screening process (over 500 inquiries, 150 applications and 17 interviews – did I mention rent was $500 a month including utilities?) they ended up with “Sarah,” a 27-year-old programmer whose only real blips seemed to be a boyfriend (who was out of town) and a few legal name changes. Naturally, it wasn’t until after she started getting a little weird that they discovered she a) was actually the head of a cult that believes they are reincarnations of characters from Suikoden, b) funded her living expenses by extracting donations from said cult members, and c) had legally changed her name to match that of her “soulbonded” character. That’s a twist you won’t find on The Real World.
Sure they’re “spiritual”, but so were Jim Jones and L Ron Hubbard.
That publisher/convention is awful and weird, you say? Getting noticed by a Real Publisher, no matter how penny ante or unprofessional the outfit is, is as good as it is ever going to get for some people.
I can’t spend my life cleaning out other people’s oubliettes. I have to pick my battles. And I can’t always fight yours. We are not all reasonable people here, and I guarantee you, people who think they can bond with cartoon characters and take spiritual guidance from same, are not rational, no matter how much they try to conflate the experience with whatever they read by Joseph Campbell. I don’t have the energy to deal with that level of crazy.
If you’re stuck in one of these bizarre groups or fandoms, the best thing you can do for yourself is just walk away. Yes, they will trash the hell out of you. Yes, some of them are stalkerish and destructive. Once you are not Of the Body, you become a Bad Person. That’s hard. I know from personal experience.
Accept that in this imperfect world, you will never have a perfect reputation. Accept that you can’t right every ship. Accept that any attempt to clean up the mess will bring a shitstorm on you. The miscreant will move on to other targets. Other people in fandom will happily send other victims in that direction. No matter how crazy, how abusive, and how deeply dishonest the abusers are, they will deny, obfuscate, and abuse further, all while wearing the friendly mask of whatever book, or comic, or movie you like best.
Hell, they’ll even sign petitions and boycott conventions which have bad reputations, while concealing their own long and sordid history of treating underage girls at conventions like their personal harem.
If there are criminal matters involved, if you don’t go to the police, I can’t do it for you. I am not a party to the action, and have no standing in the matter. Fandom needs to clean up its own mess. And most of the time, fandom does not want to clean up its own mess. They’ll spend time preaching about abuses in the Catholic church, while treating a con committee like the Holy See. Fandom will turn on anyone, no matter how right you are, rather than make fandom look bad.
It’s only been in the last few years that this has started to change.
If you are a witness to a crime, or you are involved in something that is ugly and abusive, then you are the one who must take action. Either you go to the authorities for help, or you get out of that fan group as quickly as your little legs will carry you.
If you can’t make what is happening to others stop, you can stop it happening to you. There are a lot of fandoms out there which are friendly, supportive, and operating with one foot firmly planted in the real world. Find one. You are not alone in having a bad experience in fandom, you are not betraying anyone if a group is uncomfortable for you and you leave. You have the right to leave any situation, for any reason, at any time.
Other people have the right to pick and choose their friends, and so do you.
You deserve better friends.