Almost all aspects of geek culture are thriving. Sci-fi, fantasy, video games, and even fan-based geekdom (such as fan-fiction and fan-art) are popular and profitable. There are new people being introduced to geek properties everyday. The community is growing which leads to more new content and more new creators. Everybody wins, right?
Of course not. Don’t you realize that if you haven’t been into X for Y amount of time you’re not a real fan? If you’re not a fan the same way someone else is a fan, you’re not a real fan.
There are certain fans (I believe I’ve referred to them as fan good ol’ boys before) that believe in qualifying fandom as only the way they practice it and for at least as long as they have been a fan. You know them, you’ve probably talked to them (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, well you know that joke about how everyone has the asshole friend and if you don’t have an asshole friend you are the asshole friend? Yes, I’m calling you an asshole).
These are the people who complain about the “new” fans or quiz everyone on obscure details to prove their fandom. Nothing you can do will prove that you are a fan. You definitely aren’t as big a fan as they are. New fans can be scared and intimidated. Some new fans are even driven out of the fandom. Others quickly become disillusioned with all older fans by these so-called experts. These self-appointed stewards of fandom hurt the properties they claim to love. They have forgotten that they were once new fans too.
I’ve seen this in lots of different fandoms I’ve been involved in. Doctor Who, Rocky Horror, comics; the arguments are the same, only the details vary. You’re not a real fan unless you know this, or read that, or did this other thing at this time at that place.
I’ve fallen into the trap of being intimidated by these so-called experts, trying to prove to them that I’m a real fan. Or keeping my mouth shut out of fear of embarrassing myself. The fear is the worst part of being a new fan. Being afraid that you won’t be accepted and then having those fears realized by those thinking they are protecting their fandom is the worst part of being a new fan. No one should have to prove themselves to self-appointed fandom judges.
New fans are enthusiastic. They’re creative. They see things through a different lens than those who have been trained to know what to expect. They remind us of why we got into these properties in the first place.
We were all new fans once, even if you have forgotten when or why you started loving a property. New fans are important. The more fans a property has, the more viable the property. Stop trying to drive them away or you won’t have any fandom left to enjoy.