Accepting All Paths to Fandom
It’s interesting that people judge your level of interest based on when and how you first discovered said interest. This feels like it’s been around forever and pertains to any kind of fan. I remember in middle school “true” Nirvana fans looked down their noses at the ones who just liked Nevermind. It was the “pop” album. The “sellout” album. And a great album. Instead of sharing the interest with the newcomers and welcoming them, they were thought of as “posers” and not really into the grunge scene.
Recently I’ve seen it occur with other things. I’ll give some examples of a few that I’ve found through other means, and I believe it doesn’t make me any less of a fan than those who have been with it from first release, day one:
Warhammer/Warhammer 40k: I admit freely that the Space Marine PS3 game got me into it. From there, I played the Dawn of War games, started reading the books, collecting miniatures (I have four 40k armies and two fantasy armies) and playing practice games. It doesn’t make me any less of a fan that I found it through the video game, and since discovering the world and hobby, I’ve done my best to learn all about it. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m still a fan of it and love every aspect of the world and gameplay.
The Dresden Files: A friend at my previous job recommended the TV show to me based on our similar interests. I thought the show was a great, fun, and an innovative take on fantasy and magic + detective story. So I picked up the first book and was hooked. I’ve read all of them but the last one (I’m in the midst of another reading marathon right now…). They’re obviously different from the show, but like Jim Butcher himself said, the show is the show, the books are the books, they aren’t the same thing and are to be appreciated differently. Just because I found the books due to the show, doesn’t mean I appreciate the books any less than someone who found the books first.
Frank Sinatra and The Ink Spots: I first heard lots of Frank Sinatra music in the mediocre rom/com What Women Want. I loved what I heard and got a box set right after I saw the film, and I still periodically listen to it as great background music that is also a blast to sing along to. The Ink Spots I first heard in Fallout 3. Loved the tenor and melodies and they introduced me to the world of 30s and 40s jazz. I actually remember listening to a new Ink Spots song on YouTube and seeing a comment “God I’m so sick of people who found them because of Fallout showing up here…” Even then, all I could think is “Why? Can’t anyone appreciate good music?”
It’s this last judgment I see constantly. I’ve even seen a meme “I liked the book before it had the movie poster as a cover.” Reading that one I think the same thing, “So? Does that somehow make you better or a bigger fan, who for some reason appreciates the book more? We’ve both read and enjoy them.” I go back to something James Rolfe said when discussing MonsterVision, “to be a fan of anything, you have to be exposed to it first.” Maybe some fans don’t spend as much time in used bookstores, or scrounging through old records, or browsing the Web, or didn’t grow up in a house where reading, playing games, or listening music was something they “did.” It DOES happen after all.
So why, because I found out about something via adjunct media, does it make me less of a fan? I’d like to think that people who share common interests, who reach the same destination, can be more open and accepting rather than exclusionary no matter how they got there. We don’t need to take the hipster route of fandom! If someone says to me, “Oh I love Lord of the Rings I read them all right after I saw the movies!” I don’t roll my eyes and judge them because they saw the movies first. My first thought is, “How did you like them in comparison? What do you wish they should have included/left out of the film? Read anything else or seen any other films in the genre, maybe I’d like what you’ve found!”
Thinking on those terms expands the culture instead of limiting it. And the more we expand it, the more there is for all of us to enjoy!