I know 99 Facts About Star Wars But a Friend, Not One

Recently I read a review on Ernie Cline’s new book Armada. I thought the book was okay but the reviewer haaaaated it. He did make some good points about the book pandering to the nerd audience more than focus on a cohesive story. He also made a point about fandom today that I wish he had dove into more than the actual book review.
He talked about how fandom has become more non-inclusive within nerd circles. How there is some imaginary ‘you need to be this geeky to ride’ line that has now appeared forming a class system.  And I don’t mean the warrior, rouge, etc. type of class system. I mean the kind that makes people feel big about themselves by looking down on others.  This kind of nerd privilege has been on the rise as of late and has no value. It needs to get taken down a peg like a black knight guarding a bridge.
HF 1
I want to first get the elephant in the room out in the open on this topic. Yes, just like any other kind of “I’m better than you because…” status system there has been a nerd against nerd structure for many years. I will clarify that I don’t think this will go away either, It’s part of human nature to feel this way some times. I just want to ease up on the throttle Ripley before we grind any more metal.
I’ve heard people say “I feel like a bad fan” when they don’t like something many other fans do, don’t know all the names of every Star Trek captain, or haven’t played Settlers of Catan. People shouldn’t feel bad that they aren’t walking wikipedias of fandom. It’s not what level of fan you are but that you are a fan that matters. Whatever that means to you or however you choose to express it.
“Are You a Real Fan?” Quiz
Do you like something?
– Yes
– No
(If you answered yes, you are a real fan)
I do also want to add that knowing a lot about a topic isn’t a bad thing either. If you can recite the entire script from Ghostbusters from memory, good on ya! Being obsessive or curious enough about a topic to go deep down that rabbit hole is great. It’s when this is used as an apple crate to stand over other people who also are fans of the same thing that this becomes a bad thing.
Do not fret though, there is still hope. For both those that don’t know it all and for those who do (or at least think they do). Here are a few ways I think we can all make things better for everyone.
5 ways to help fandom be more inclusive
1. Share your knowledge and excitement on a subject instead of belittling others knowledge and excitement on a subject.
If you know all the Dune books by heart and love the franchise above all others why not bring more people along on your sand worm ride. If you find some one willing to listen, be it not knowing about your fandom at all or just a little, open up to them on the topic. Guide them into this world you so love. Excitement is contagious, and the spice must flow.
2. Don’t acknowledge or engage in conversations that seem more like a rap battle than a sharing of passions on a topic.
Be it with your friends, at a convention, or for gods sake online – do not engage! Just like dealing with an internet troll our a bug bite, the more you itch at it the worse it will get. If someone wrenches their way into your discussion about 80’s anime demanding everyone now talk about of who is the most obscure Macross character with clear want it their eyes to tell you that you are wrong; just shake of their comment with your own ‘cool story bro’ look and get back to what you were originally talking about.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask about a fandom you don’t know about, or don’t be a dick when someone asks you about about your fandom.
You will run into the person from time to time who might want to make you feel small for not playing the original Pokemon. Overall though most people will more than likely embrace your honesty and curiosity on the thing that they love. Rewarding you with a wealth of information on the topic, an offer of invitation to learn more about it, and engage deeper with other fans just as excited to bring you into the fold.
4. Give back to your fandom by spreading the good word to all who will listen, but do not preach.
Yes, I should watch the remake of Battlestar Galactica, but if I don’t you should also be okay with that. There could be a million reasons for not getting involved with a fandom. Time constraints, limited access to the material, spent all your money buying power converters at Toshi Station. The point here is that if you are sharing your excitement of your fandom is great. Pushing your fandom on someone well after they are asking you to is not.
5. Do not hate the hater. It is better to gain perspective on where they are coming from than fuel their fire.
Some people will just not be the ones to step up and be the better person, don’t let them ruin things for you. Some times people who act surprior over other people’s knowledge or love of a fandom might have some strange reason for doing so. This might be the one thing they think they are good at and hold it too close to their chest or they might be going through some tough things in their personal life and this is how they deal with things. This isn’t an excuse for their bad behavior but looking at the possible big picture of this person should help lessen some of the anger or animosity you might have for them.
Overall being a fan of something doesn’t mean you have to love something to a certain level. Just loving it is enough. Let’s grow the nerd herd. No one should feel like a ‘bad fan’ for not being into something or not liking something extra hard. Let’s keep sharing the love of fandom and all the rich experiences that come with it together!