Identity and Fandom

I was pointed to an interesting article by Jonathan Gray about why people hate things.

So why do I dislike Celine Dion? I usually say it’s because she perpetuates and sells a culture of junk romance that belittles women in the guise of “honoring” their feelings. But mantra aside, and truth be told, there are many singers who do this, so why dislike her in particular? A more honest answer would probably state that my anti-fandom works as a marker of national identity.

Nick Marx, in the comments section, wrote:

Parody as anti-fandom?

A provocative piece, Jonathan. I might suggest parody as an interesting case of anti-fandom, though I’m not quite thinking of affectionate, Mel Brooks-ian genre mash-ups. Rather, the venomous Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide examples of anti-fans that actively and consciously skirt issues of self-psychoanalysis in an attempt to reach the anti-fan in all of us (see recent “South Park” episodes “Cartoon Wars,” for example).

I don’t know that parody is necessarily anti-fandom: as Marx admits, the line between it and homage can be blurry at times.

In any case, I agree that identity has much to do with fandom – whether national identity, as in Mr. Gray’s case, or something less clearly defined. For instance, we might presently say the conventional wisdom is that Twilight is written for immature audiences, which implies that immature people like it. Thus people who identify themselves as “sophisticated” must either profess dislike for it or somehow otherwise rationalize it (perhaps as a “guilty pleasure,” as many articles have claimed.) This entire rationale is not about the actual merits of Twilight, but rather about what Twilight stands for.

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Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 6:21 PM  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interestingly enough, despite the slew of bad supernatural romance fiction out there, most people call Twillight the worst book ever without reading it.

    Though you’ve pointed out the reason why, there’s a stigma associated with the book even though, it’s an okay book. Pretty boring actually.

  2. Good. When we bring in the idea of rationalization it makes a clear connection to identity, imo. I would also say go beyond rationalizing for a case when the identity should be against, but instead, rationalizing all cases, “I like this because…”

    Most of the time I think it’s going to come back to either personal experience or “image.”

  3. I try my best to not judge things unless I’ve actually seen/read/understood them at least a little. For example, I’ve never read Twilight, but from what I’ve heard about it, I probably wouldn’t like it. But if someone asked me, I’d simply say “I’ve never read it so I don’t know.”

    I’m not really an “anti-fan” of anything specific but there are a few things I strongly dislike that a lot of people like, such as sports and American pop culture.

  4. a fandom forms around the image associated with an idol (whatever form that idol may take). should that image fall apart or not go in the direction a fan identifies a particular idol with, a deep investment by a fan can be shattered and can turn a fan into an anti.

    so yeah… totally agree that a fandom/anti fandom’s identity has a lot to do about what an idol stands for.


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