[Guest OpEd] A Boy’s Anachronism: The Best Fandom

Written by Evan Bourgault of B3

 

For the past couple years, I’ve seen a bad mentality take hold of certain groups of people. This state of mind leads these individuals to think they’re the cream of the crop, creating a circle of exclusivity that only those they deem “worthy” enough to be allowed in. Because of this way of thinking, many innocent people — who are out to have fun and do the things they love doing — become so scared of these folk, that they stop attending events, socializing, and even go so far as to admit the things they like.

These groups of people like to call themselves “fandoms.”

Yes, we all know that there are fandoms for everything. Video games. Anime. Music. Movies. Comic books. Theatre. You name it, there’s a fandom for it. For the most part, the majority of the people that are part of a certain fanbase are good people, and they encourage others to take part and have fun with it.

However, there’s been a rise of elitism in these fandoms, to the point where those who believe they’re the bee’s knees or something enjoy pushing people away from the things they love. Hell, it even reaches bullying levels that rise to the extremities of such an act. And these words hurt to the point of repercussions.

“You’re too fat to dress as Sailor Mercury.” “You’re too skinny to cosplay as Roadhog.” “Amethyst isn’t white!” “Mabel Pines isn’t Latino!” “Your costume’s terrible, and you should be ashamed of yourself!” “Your drawing sucks, and you should kill yourself because of it!”

I’ve heard a lot of bad shit happen in these fandoms. I even have friends who have gotten so fed up about them, that they’re thinking of no longer taking part in going to conventions or events or even dressing up. To see this occur in the realm of the things that I love, it’s sickening.

But it gets worse. These fandoms then have the audacity to start threatening the very people who create these worlds they claim they love. They start with empty whining, but in a couple occasions it gets to the point of saying things people get arrested for.

“Don’t ship Peridot and Lapis!” “Make Elsa a lesbian!” “How dare you write such an ending to the Kumamiko anime!” “Make it a dream where Captain America never joined HYDRA, or I’m gonna find out where you live and kill you!”

It gets to a point where these people in these fandoms reach psychotic levels, and it makes some folks who are fans of certain things be ashamed to admit their love. Fortunately, I’m not one of those people. I love Steven Universe. I love Sailor Moon. I love Wakfu. I love Love Live! And I encourage others to check these all out because they are great assortment of entertainment.

But still, even with this encouragement, it doesn’t make the poison within the fandom disappear. And it’s tough to admit, but you may find yourself either experiencing or witnessing this level of elitism. Odds are, it’ll be difficult to have to see such a thing, or even feel it. And to those who have, the only thing I can say is, “I’m sorry.”

SIGH.

Do you know where you’d never see such an attitude? Would you like to hear about a fandom that has yet to be affected by such a poison? Well, let me tell you:

YOU’LL FIND IT WITHIN THE DRESDEN DOLLS FANBASE.

For those unfamiliar of the Dresden Dolls, they’re a two-piece cabaret punk band with New England roots. There’s Amanda Palmer the keyboardist, and Brian Viglione the drummer. Together, they create such a unique sound filled with the most sensational energy around. And the lyrics are presented in such a way that’d make you laugh, cry, cheer, and — most importantly — make you feel better once it’s all over.

I’ve been to many events surrounding the Dresden Dolls. Concerts, solo shows, performances where one of the members is filling in for another band, plays, musicals, book tours, you name it! And everyone there is happy to see Amanda, Brian, or both onstage, and they’re there to have a good time.

This past Friday, I attended a Dresden Dolls concert at the Blue Hills Pavilion in Boston, MA, and you couldn’t find a bigger mix of individuals at an event. Kids, teens, college students, parents, senior citizens, straight, bisexual, gay, cisgendered, transgendered, cross-dressing, cosplaying, well-dressed, casual, topless with pasties covering their naughty bits, hairy, clean-shaven, skinny, well-fit, muscular, fat, pierced, tattooed, gothic, punk, white, black, Asian, Pakistani; you name it, you’d see it!

Actually, no, that’s not true. Do you wanna know what I didn’t see? Assholes. Douchebags. Elitists. Jerks, to put it bluntly.

Everywhere I turned, there were people who were complimenting one another. “Hey, I love your hair!” “That dress is amazing!” “Cool tattoos!” “Those drawn-on eyebrows are fantastic!” “Cool patches on your denim vest!” Heck, even I got into the game by complimenting a girl who had stockings with Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service on them. She smiled and nervously said, “Thank you!”, I gave her a thumb’s up for approval, and I went on my merry way.

Before, during, and after the Dresden Dolls hit the stage, the audience was unified. We cheered, laughed, sang, screamed, danced, banged the back of the seat in front of us to the drum beats, and had fun. Because that’s why we were there: to have fun with one of the great joys this life has given us.

Do you remember that, Crystal Gem wannabes? How about you, Frozen fans? Does the term, “having fun” ring a bell to you, lovers of μ’s? Because that’s why people go to conventions. That’s why fans dress up as their favorite characters. It’s why they wanna meet other people who share the same interests as they do. They want to have fun, plain and simple!

For those who have committed such atrocities, like bullying others in your favorite fanbase, or told people they should be ashamed of their outfit or drawing, there is still hope for changing your ways. All you have to do is take a cue from Amanda, Brian, and the fanbase that their music has sprung from their beautiful gardens.

It’s simple, really: Just stop being a dick.

Compliment someone on their costume, even if it doesn’t come out perfect. Praise an artist’s drawing, even if it’s in a different visual style. Welcome others into your bubble and make some new and interesting friends. Do one better: burst that bubble of yours, and let anyone who wants to have fun with you join in on the happy escapades.

Once you do that, do you know what will happen? You’ll feel good. People around you will feel good. The fanbase will feel good. You’ll get others interested in the things you love, thereby making future friends in the process. And maybe, just maybe, your actions will help make this world we live in just a tiny bit better to bear.

And if you’ve read this and think that all this is just stupid pep talk that won’t amount to anything, well, to quote The Dresden Dolls:

We don’t care what you say
We’re inviting you anyway
You motherfuckers, you’ll sing someday…

Be nice to one another, and I’m sure your own life will be for the better.

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