Fandom Can Be A Lot Like High School — Here’s How To Avoid The Bad Stuff

So how do followers navigate these communities, to seek out the great components whereas being conscious of the dangerous?

Amy Ratcliffe, managing editor for the popular culture website Nerdist, addresses this as a part of her new e book, A Kid’s Guide to Fandom. She says it is the e book that she needs she might have had when she was a younger fan searching for others like her. Ratcliffe remembers rising up as a fan of the Wheel of Time sequence, utilizing her household’s dial-up web to go to on-line boards.

She says her goal is for youths to concentrate on fandom, “that different individuals like the identical issues that you simply like … even when it is one different particular person, such as you’re not alone.”

“I nonetheless hear tales about young girls being bullied because they like Star Wars; they assume they’re the one child,” she says. “It is about educating youngsters that there are … many different individuals who like the identical issues that they do in the identical enthusiastic methods and hopefully, serving to youngsters really feel extra snug and assured.”

Nobody will get to determine who’s a “actual” fan

Ratcliffe explains in her e book that some followers can turn out to be gatekeepers, individuals who wish to determine who’s or will not be a “actual fan.” Followers, she says, ought to by no means must show themselves.

Ratcliffe herself has run into gatekeepers; as soon as, at a Star Wars conference, a person noticed her Insurgent Alliance tattoo, “seemed on the tattoo, checked out my then-boyfriend who was with me, and was like … utterly critical by the way in which, no sarcasm, like, ‘oh that was very nice of you to get that tattoo in your boyfriend.'”

Her recommendation for youthful followers who wish to discover communities is to begin with teams or locations that they know: an area library, or a sport store they go to with their household; to belief their instincts once they really feel one thing is off; and to get an older sibling, a mum or dad, or guardian concerned.

Assume critically concerning the work you want

Mackenzie MacDade has thought quite a bit about this too, as somebody who’s deeply engaged with fandom and is a variety and inclusion advisor for, amongst different issues, Buffering the Vampire Slayer, a podcast about Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and Noelle Stevenson, creator of the Netflix present She-Ra and the Princesses of Energy.

“The very first thing I begin with, whether or not youngsters or grownup, is: Don’t passively devour media,” she says. She explains meaning individuals ought to assume critically about what’s portrayed, concentrate on issues both within the fictional world or how creators and stars behave, after which determine to benefit from the work anyway if that’s what they need.

For instance, she brings up the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars films — a favorite topic for fan fiction writers.

“If we take a look at how Kylo and Rey work together, is {that a} manner that you’d truly wish to work together with somebody after which date them? Would you are feeling snug and secure doing that? No? Nice. You perceive, then be happy to learn the fic anyway if that is what you wish to do.”

“Do not watch it and simply assume, ‘oh, that is simply leisure’, as a result of well-liked tradition shapes our tradition whether or not we wish to admit that or not,” she says. “Now, we type of do form well-liked tradition, however for essentially the most half, the messages that we get from well-liked tradition are internalized and infrequently performed out.”

What are the creators doing?

MacDade provides followers may also look to the creators, or individuals concerned in a film or TV present or e book sequence, to get a way of how they work together with followers.

“What one of the best creators do: they create a sandbox, they construct a few castles they usually let it go, they usually let individuals play and have enjoyable,” she says. “That is how you discover one of the best fandoms, I feel, you take a look at what’s the creator doing, how do they really feel about it.”

She cites the instance of Rick Riordan, creator of the Percy Jackson e book sequence, who promotes fan creations, and prolonged the his fictional universe by working with authors from different backgrounds to write about the gods in their cultures.

Tracy Deonn, creator and creator of the Legendborn fantasy e book sequence, thought particularly about future followers whereas writing her e book. She says there are moments that she selected to not write as a result of it is perhaps one thing that folks may get pleasure from writing as fan fiction.

“It is form of my love letter, my thanks again to the fandom group, creating the little pockets … followers will usually discover the crack in a narrative, and I prefer to say they get in like water and increase like ice,” she says.

“That natural development is why individuals stick round,” she says.

Fandom is an id you select for your self

Deonn’s recommendation to followers is to seek out the individuals who get pleasure from one thing in the identical manner they do, to know there are most likely different individuals like that on the market, and to do not forget that their relationship to a piece is particular.

“I take into consideration what number of completely different identities are utilized to people from exterior sources … I am strolling down the road, I am minding my very own enterprise, another person externally refers to me as a Black girl, after which that comes with an entire lot of historic, social, cultural weight relying on who that particular person is and what they’re taking a look at,” she says. “Fandom is one thing that’s pure alternative: nobody can actually name you a fan of one thing simply primarily based on an exterior visible. Even when I am strolling down the road sporting a Leia costume, somebody might name me that however they do not absolutely perceive my engagement with the story. That appears like one thing actually private and empowering …when somebody claims for themselves that they are a fan of one thing.”

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