Being an unashamed comic book and superhero enthusiast, I have had a multitude of experiences with other devoted fans of pop cultural phenomena (as you would know if you read my previous blog post). Attending Toronto’s Fan Expo has become an end of summer tradition for me, an occasion that necessitates me to cosplay as some obscure character from the pages of a comic book. So yeah, I fit the “fanboy” profile quite snugly.
One of the best things about an event like Fan Expo is that you are able to talk and interact with so many other people who love the characters, shows and movies that you do. It is liberating at an event of Fan Expo’s magnitude, to witness that your geeky tendencies are shared by thousands of others in the GTA—maybe you’re not quite as weird as you thought! It is in this aspect of appreciating pop culture that you feel like you’re a part of a bigger community, and it feels awesome! This communal appreciation makes you so proud to be who you are and to embrace your passions unashamed and unafraid.
However, there are some “fanboys” and “fangirls” who take their passion to an unwarranted and unwanted level. Take for example the ongoing “console war”. It’s great to have your own opinion; personally, I love Sony’s Playstation systems. It’s when so called “fans” degrade and demoralize each other on online chat forums and through emails for liking a certain brand or game that things get uncomfortable. To expand on those ideas, the recent “Gamergate” scandals have made the act of journaling video games news a messy business indeed. “Fanboys” have been equated to misogynistic, sociopathic pigs who fire off hate mail and death threats whenever something that they don’t agree with comes to light. This false representation of the gaming community has been detrimental to those who genuinely love playing video games. This is where the line has to be drawn!
A notion that was hard for me to grasp at first, but has become incredibly clear in light of recent events is that there is no right or best game system—heck, there is no best anything in this world! What’s deemed as best or desirable by one individual may not agree with another… and that’s okay! Being unique and liking different things is great; you will discover things in this world that you would have had no idea existed previously. So what if you cater to Microsoft’s Xbox One over Sony’s Playstation 4… We both love to play video games, don’t we? That is something we share that cultural or preferential differences cannot take away from us. It connects us and comforts us in ways that fighting over who or what is best could never do.
We are all “fanboys” or “fangirls” of something; we have a passion that a friend or sibling might not understand or appreciate. Yet, passion has its limits: putting down others because they have chosen to express their own opinion is one of them. Being a fan is a communal experience: welcome others in; don’t just turn them out. After all, we need all the friends we can get.