Fandom: with great power comes great responsibility


I’m a geek. I’m a card-carrying member of several fandoms. I have even cosplayed.

 

Now, a quick heads-up before I proceed. Here I am post #2 and I am about to shout divisive  things from the rooftop here… or at least potentially controversial…or difficult to hear/read.

But first, a story.

As a freshman in college, I very soon realized that my intense love of all things Sailor Moon might land me The Wrong Impression with my new roommate who had — what seemed to shy, nerdy me — very cool friends. You know, the sort that might look askance at a girl like me purposely watching weekday airings of Sailor Moon on the local public access channel. So I hid my geek.

These were the days before social media. A time where most anyone I knew didn’t have a cell phone and a personal computer was something you may or may not have, because just downstairs in all the dorms were labs to take care of that need.

It was 2001.

Ancient times.

Anyhow. I watched Usagi Tsukino (Serena, because it was the American dub) battle her friend Rei for the heart of Darien Shields (again, American dub), cry over skinned knees and the apparent defeat of her allies in the face of unspeakable evil. I watched, eagerly — and with the volume at near zero — as the Scouts won the day and saved the world. (It helps that said roommate had come to college with a best friend from high school and was often sleeping over at her friend’s room because: why not! College freedom = having as many sleepovers as you want!)

As any good guilt-ridden stealth-cartoon-watcher would do, I often changed the channel to something mundane when I was done. Like the news. One bright Tuesday morning, I did just that. And three minutes later, I was watching in disbelief as a commercial airliner crashed into the second World Trade Center tower.

This stealth watching of cartoons is how I managed to see the Twin Towers fall, live on TV, the morning of September 11, 2001.

I think I was the very first person on my floor to know of the news.

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There is no moral to this part of my story. It’s simply a story; a very vivid experience that connects directly with how I once felt about my geeking out over certain fandoms in a place where there seemed to be no group of like-minded folk. In September every year, people ask each other: Where were you on 9/11?  And though I don’t always answer with anything beyond “in my college dorm, getting ready for my first class of the day” … I know exactly where I was.

 

The following year, I was Sailor Moon for Halloween. I made my first (and surprisingly obliging) boyfriend dress as Tuxedo Mask. (You know who you are – thank you for that!)

 

So what am I saying today? Where are the promised controversial/divisive things, shouted from the rooftop?

A second story.

When the first news came that they were going to make a new Ghostbusters film … with all women ghostbusters … I, with many others, gave an unconcerned shrug and grumbled something along the lines of “money-grubbing Hollywood.” A tiny part of me was very concerned, a tiny part of me excited.

And then the trailer came out, a trailer that soon became the most ‘disliked’ movie trailer in YouTube history. (Interesting article, actually, mainly for such intelligent observations as: “The dislikes eventually got to a point where it became a game among those who hate the movie and frequently return to watch the numbers grow. When one fan commented, “We made it to 500000 dislikes,” another followed up with an enthusiastic, “Lets [sic] get it to a million!” — I suggest reading the article because it succinctly sums up most of the buzz around the movie better than I could here.)

I didn’t much care for the trailer, either. But that’s because my taste in movies has changed so that I am not a fan of a lot of slapstick, gross-out humor.

The original Ghostbusters came out when I was not quite 2. I saw it on TV with limited commercial interruption when I was … gosh, I dunno. But I know that, by the age of 6 or 7 (release of Ghostbusters 2), I was drinking Ecto Cooler, grooving to the theme song — because the instructors at my dance school had caught Ghostbusters fever, and playing in a Ghostbusters tent bed. I now own the original film on Blueray. I love that movie. I have fond memories of the hype that it created for me during that one magical summer in 1989.

And, yes, that is where news of a reboot movie hit me. Because, if it was a cash-in, then I feared that a new generation of fans was getting the short end of the stick. I was indignant for them. What if they got a “dumb” movie? What if it doesn’t “feel” the same? How unfair!

Then I thought it out… (Cue divisive statement alarm.)

Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II are dumb movies. They are delightfully dumb. They are ridiculous. Fun. Strip away the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia and the originals aren’t any less “WTF?” than this trailer we all seem hell-bent to hate. …. And, I think, the same goes for Star Wars. Take or leave TFA, I really applaud J. J. Abrams for standing up under the stress, the pressure of putting out new Star Wars to The Masses.

And so the tables have turned and turned again. The Internet has given us communities to share, and chat, and make connections with like-minded folk. We can geek out over the fandoms we adore and talk to death every backstory and inconsistency and pet theory.

Or we can band together and hate on something, collectively bully and bitch. Use our power to call together fandoms to antagonize what others like, secure in the “knowledge” that we, of course, have impeccable taste and that our fandom is simply “better” — either through longevity (longevity in a different world… see my ‘ancient history’ comment above) or through sheer numbers (usually through blanket marketing $$$; yes, I’m looking at you, Star Wars Oranges.)

Which is better?

 

In 2001, I sat in my dorm room and watched Sailor Moon on near mute and changing the channel afterwards, feeling foolish for liking anime as an adult.  In 2002, I was Usagi Tsukino for Halloween and last week, through the modern miracle that is The Internet, I binge watched new Sailor Moon Crystal episodes while ironing my husband’s shirts and feeling very much the responsible adult in spite of my cartoon watching. “Tsukino hikari wa ai no message!”

 

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[above image: my first official cosplay; Concinnity 16.
A.k.a. What happens when you watch TFA and think “Rey’s staff could easily be a sonic screwdriver…”]

 

 

(Note: I had this post all planned out without realizing that trailer #2 for Ghostbusters was to land earlier this week. Funnily enough, the second trailer seemed to hit the mark better for me… it felt more “Ghostbuster-y” with its quips and pacing and all-around giving time to the main characters. Haven’t seen it yet? Check it out here on YouTube.)

 

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