Thoughts from the ledge: How fandom is ruining popular culture


Fandom used to be a haven for people to come together from all walks of life because of a shared love of a particular movie or television show or celebrity. Instead it is becoming a forum for bullying and hatred. How did this happen?

“Like all fans we are by necessity irrational creatures.” – Ted Scheinman

State of Popular Culture

I used to love popular culture and everything about it from movies to books to music. Honestly, I can say my career choice is because of the influence of such scribes as Stephen King, Richard Matheson, D.C. Fontana and Harlan Ellison. However, while I was inspired by those individuals I wasn’t inclined to become immersed in their personal lives or anything of the sort.

I guess the point I am getting at is since we had no way of interacting with these types of people when I was in my formative years, there was a certain respect level. They weren’t our friends, they weren’t a part of our lives, they were in a movie you went to over the weekend or a favorite tv show that you never missed or they wrote a book that you couldn’t put down.

While technology is a wonderful thing to have it is also a curse. We are plugged in 24-7 to our devices and if you want to succeed in any kind of creative endeavor you must be on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It is the way of the world.

However, now we can interact with those celebrities and unfortunately there becomes a comfort level in which people can hide behind the safety of the internet. This gives them a false sense of entitlement that is frankly downright irritating.

The Silent Minority

It is no longer pleasant to be involved in groups with people who share your love of whatever popular culture topic or genre interests you. There are factions within factions and fans pitted against fans, it is unbelievable. It can truly be like a war zone especially if one side happens to like something that the other side doesn’t. The fun is getting sucked right out of liking a movie or a music group or a television show.

Unfortunately, the people who get hurt in this type of dissention are the true fans. These are the people who have followed a celebrity’s career or a particular movie franchise or television show for years.

They are the silent minority. The ones that treat everyone with respect and tolerance. Their voices are being drowned out by those people who think they are entitled to certain things.

For example, when Gillian Anderson announced that she would no longer be playing Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files, some fans were outraged. They demanded that she continue her role.

What blew everything out of proportion was the way the media handled the announcement. They jumped on her decision and during the Television Critics Association panel she was asked several times and in various ways if she would rejoin the show down the line.

Ms. Anderson was very poised and gracious and said no with class and even with explanations!

Of course, the fans that were fine with her leaving, they weren’t the ones you heard from. Has it become that difficult to just accept decisions?

You Are Not Owed Anything

The bottom line is this. An actor or actress’ obligation ends when they complete their role in a film or a television show. Once you pay for your movie ticket or watch the series the transaction is complete and paid in full.

That is how business works. If they choose to not reprise a role that is their prerogative. Screaming at them on Facebook and ranting at them on Twitter doesn’t accomplish anything.

All it does is drive a wedge and make the celebrity retreat and shut down their social media accounts. Then the ones that suffer are those fans who didn’t feel a sense of entitlement. The ones that enjoyed being entertained and accepted that an actor or actress is a human being just like them.

Do I think popular culture will ever make a comeback from the point of no return? Can it bounce back from the slew of vitriol and hate that is pervading it? I would like to think so.

Because in the end wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy watching movies or television shows again without fear of backlash or criticism? I miss that.

Next: The X-Files: It’s time to let go of Gillian Anderson and Dana Scully

What do you think of the constant fighting in fandoms? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.