Saturday, June 11, 2016

Five Fandom Friday on Saturday: 5 Fandoms I Couldn't Get Into

Image courtesy Katelyn Jade
5 Fandom Friday is a weekly meme hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week's prompt is 5 Fandoms I Couldn't Get Into.

The short answer is all of them. In following lots of lovely people from different "geek blogger" groups, I've learned that I'm just not that much of a geek these days, or at least what seems to be the Internet's idea of one. There are a lot of reasons at play in that, but the biggest one is: I have less than zero interest in fandom. Fandom as a concept bothers me and has bothered me for years. It's not because I'm on the geek hate train, either. There's something inherently consumer capitalist about fandom and about how it makes the core tenets of someone's identity based around consuming, whether in a literal sense (collecting ALL THE THINGS) or in a more metaphorical sense (i.e. media), that puts me off.

But I can give a long answer, too! Be prepared: I probably hate everything you love.

1. Harry Potter

The breathless claim that "Harry Potter is getting kids to read again!!!!" was never true for me because I already read a lot. I only picked up the series at age 14 to see what the fuss was about, and walked away very thoroughly unimpressed. (This was in 2000, so my entire Harry Potter experience ends at Goblet of Fire.) That was when I learned I was allergic to hype, and I've only become more cynical as I've aged.

I wouldn't have even minded the series so much if I didn't hear endless gushing praise over it. What started as a dispassionate indifference—"It's just not for me."—became a burning hot rage of righteous indignation—"There is so much better fantasy out there! Why this one?"

This is the point where I will probably lose a chunk of what few readers I have, but I'm standing by my unpopular opinion: even if J. K. Rowling is a really cool, progressive person, she's a mediocre writer at best and Harry Potter deserves maybe a fraction of its accolades.

2. The Hunger Games

I had a lot of thoughts on this one.

3. Literally any superhero you can name

There is a soft spot in my heart for Batman, especially 1960s campy Adam West Batman, but otherwise I'll take a hard pass on traditional superheros and traditional superhero stories. Exception granted for experimental work or clever reimaginings, a la Mark Millar's Red Son or Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol. Otherwise: not my bag.

The ensemble superhero titles like Justice League or Avengers are even worse. I can buy one superhero, if you play your cards right. An entire cast? No way. At least X-Men has the "superpowers come from random genetic mutations" conceit, which makes sense and explains why there are so many. Also, at least X-Men has a history of being a morality story about acceptance and tolerance. I'm never going to get into the series, but I'll give Stan Lee credit where credit's due.

4. George R. R. Martin

Other people have picked apart both the original novels and the show for its treatment of women, so I'm not going to add anything. But I will say that Martin is a boilerplate, pedestrian writer and I gave A Game of Thrones my best shot (at the recommendation of people whose taste I trusted) and could. not. do it. Even if he were the best, most unproblematic progressive-minded author in the world, he would still be a dull-as-dishwater writer.

5. Joss Whedon

Every heroine he writes reminds me of the legend of Pygmalion: these are characters crafted not to be interesting or well-rounded, but because Whedon can't stop compulsively creating his own perfect vision of womanhood. Since she happens to be a ~~~strong female character, he gets heaps of praise for it. The Mary Sue covered it better than I could, because I can't bring myself to watch that much of anything Whedon.

What fandoms do you just not get?


  1. OK I get what you're saying but I'm not sure your definition of fandom is entirely fair lol. IMO being a "part" of a fandom simply means you're really into something and like interacting with others that are into that same thing. For example even though I love X-Files, I don't actually own that many X-Files things; I own a handful of items I love, and on Thursdays I participate in an X-Files watch-along on Twitter bc it's fun interacting with other fans. But I have similar feels as you sometimes, when I'm reading about how someone NEEDS this exclusive Funko Pop to add to their collection of 10,000 Funko Pops. Because no one needs that many Funko Pops lol. Or people racking up their credit cards because they need the $200 Star Wars dress just because it's STAR WARS. You'll live without the dress. Also spending so much money for pictures with celebrities really confuses me too?? Maybe just because I'm poor lol.

    1. I think fandom is two parts: the consumption and the interaction. I don't have the resources for the consumption (beyond owning media that I enjoy) and I'm too cranky for the interaction, so it's like...fandom has nothing for me.

      There is thing I've observed with fandom is that it becomes an IDENTITY thing. And I get why it would, especially if you've met all of your best friends or love interests from this or that fandom, but I guess I find that kind of identity...boring? It's great to like things, and to like things enthusiastically, but if you introduce yourself on your Twitter page or your blog about me page with just a list of your favorite fandoms, that makes me said. You could have said ANYTHING and you just decided to let us know what you love Whedon, Dr. Who, and Star Wars? Kay...

      Tinfoil hattery time, but I feel like fandom might have become an alternative economic pacifier similar to the way that fast fashion and cheap technology have made entire underclasses of consumers ~~feel~~ wealthy despite growing income equality but I don't have the research to back that up. (Though soc majors out there, feel free to take that idea and run with it for your thesis. I'll give you that one for free!) And I'm, like, not going to be manipulated into complacency by the system, man!!!111!!one! wake up sheeple!!11!!

      I do not get Funkos. Holy SHIT do I not get Funkos. I simply do not love enough shows to justify having a collection anywhere upwards of, like...12? The triple digit Funko collections blow my mind.

    2. That's an interesting theory on economics, but I think it's less of a pacifier and more of just another road to consumption. Fandoms allow identity, the same way religion does, belonging to an academic group does, having a cultural identity does, etc. Any identity that can be exploited for cash is basically the same consumerism juggernaut that drives this country. Companies seek to make a profit, therefore working toward that end (including hyping things to create a community where one might otherwise not exist, or at least be much smaller) is in their best interest. But there were fandoms before the advent of the internet, or even computers.

    3. Oh, fandom predates our current economy, for sure. So does fashion. But I think both of them have become (by accident or intention is hard to say) a means by which consumers feel like they're wealthier and better off (relatively speaking) than they actually are.

  2. You're right- you dislike all the things I enjoy. But I think it's important to ignore the hype around anything, because it's NEVER as good as the marketing would have you believe. Hype just leads to bitter disappointment. I'm curious, given this line up is dislikes, who your favorite writers are? Sounds like you set a very high bar.

    1. My list of favorite authors is eternally undecided, but all of the top spots would go to authors who don't write in genres comparable to what I've listed here. So I'll try to keep this an apples to apples comparison.

      1. YA fantasy. There are two categories here: what I first read as a young person and what I read as an adult.

      The first category is endless so I'll try to keep it brief. I loved The Chronicles of Narnia (and completely missed the boat on C. S. Lewis's theology until years later) and The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. They've held up on grown-up re-reads, but that might be due to nostalgia. I really liked Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon but I haven't read it again since I was in middle school so who knows what I'd think today. I also loved Tamora Pierce (Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small) and a standalone mystery called A Plague of Sorcerers by Mary Frances Zambreno. And, finally, Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, which definitely holds up to re-reads!

      Straddling the line is Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. I read Sabriel as a senior in high school and finished the trilogy while I was in college, so I was *mostly* an adult by that point. I haven't had the chance to catch up on the newest stories, so I don't know what to say about them. I know that I didn't like his earlier SF book, Shade's Children, but I haven't re-read it since I was 11 so....

      In the second category is Leah R. Cutter's Paper Mage (I wish it had a sequel!). And while I thought it was a little cheesy, I also enjoyed The Lightning Thief. I'm always game for reimagining classical myths and I mostly enjoyed Riordian's take on the Olympians, even if I wasn't blown away by the writing.

      2. YA dystopian SF: This is a genre that is not normally my bag, but I did enjoy Karin Boye's Kallocain. I don't think it would be qualified as YA, exactly, but still.

      3. Superhero comics: Aside from the aforementioned Doom Patrol and Red Son, I also like Alan Moore's Promethea (though I admit it takes a weird left turn down Ceremonial Magick Alley, it has a great cast of diverse heroines) and Ex Machina. And like everyone else, I loved Arkham Asylum.

      4. Gritty adult fantasy: I don't know if I can think of a George R. R. Martin analogue that I enjoy. I haven't exactly gone looking. Maybe Marion Zimmer Bradley should fall under this category instead of YA?

      5. Joss Whedon: This one might suffer from the same problem as GRRM. If I had to pick a screenwriter with the same TV/movie breadth it would probably be Richard Matheson but I haven't seen every single thing he's written, and I don't think his style is really comparable to Whedon's. And not everything holds up: The Comedy of Terrors will always be one of my favorite movies, but The Enemy Within episode of Star Trek TOS doesn't bear up under repeat viewings.

  3. Whoa. I am very surprised at these picks. But there seems to be a theme, all these fandoms are very popular. But I can see that you have read/seen these things before deciding they're not for you and kudos for that. I almost picked Harry Potter too but I actually enjoyed the studio tour in Leavesden. I went with Potter fans which made the experience better but I really went because I admired the 'making of' aspect. I also only read the first 4 books, they just got too long. You're right about the books being mediocre but so are quite a lot of popular books, I think its the ideas that grab people.

    Interesting what you say about Weadon (I'm a fan - apart from Buffy/Angel)I'll read that blog you suggested.

    I'd like to know what are your favourite fandoms?

    1. I guess the question is whether you consider fandom a part of, or separate from, *actually really liking The Thing*? If we take a narrow version of fandom that involves socializing and buying stuff and generally actively signaling to others that you are a fan of The Thing, then the answer is probably not really any fandom. Like I implied in my response to Natalie, I'm too broke and introverted to really get into buying things, going to conventions, meeting/talking with people, etc. The closest would I guess be MST3K and Invader Zim, since I participated in (small) online fan communities for both of them. MST3K the show remains as funny and excellent as ever, while Invader Zim has not aged well at all (but I was 16, so what do you expect?).

      If just liking The Thing, or liking The Thing a LOT, is enough for fandom then the list gets quite long. I'm a curmudgeon but I like things, too!