Science Fiction Repair Shop: Fan Smart, Fan Dumb Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014-05-02 14:00:00 No comments

Slightly older, but still worth commenting on:

Please Jesus Don’t Let Roberto Orci Direct STAR TREK 3 | Badass Digest

... there's a dark lining to this silver cloud - Orci is sticking with Star Trek. The guy is a big Trekkie, despite his personal philosophies being an absolute affront to the memory of Gene Roddenberry, and he's still working on the third film. But worse, he's pushing hard to direct the movie.

Emphasis mine, because it illustrates something I always find fascinating about fandom: what to think when someone is a fan of a piece of material, the philosophy of which could not be more dissimilar to the fan's own thoughts or behavior.

Purchase on Amazon

I never used to give such cognitive dissonance much thought — do I contradict myself? very well, I contradict myself, and all that — but I grow less comfortable with it as time goes on. The idea that self-identifying "fans" have the moral obligation to be intelligent -- both for their own sake and the sakes of others — seems all the more valuable as fandom and mainstream popular culture become more like each other.

If someone really likes something that stands in stark contrast to their own actual worldview, that tells me the reasons they like it have nothing to do with the material itself. They don't like the thing because it shows them something to aspire to or something new, but because they can pick and choose from it the things that confirm their existing prejudices, and dump the rest. I'm reminded once again of the neo-Nazi website with a glowing review of The Seven Samurai: there's nothing out there that can't be twisted in the service of some agenda.

From what I've seen, a good deal of that appropriation (a word I'm not keen on using, loaded as it is, but it seems fitting here) takes place unconsciously, without most of us ever knowing said gears are turning. I am not immune to this, either; part of the reason I am setting this down as a matter of public record is to give myself something to look back on later lest I bite my own tail, and remember: See? Even in you there is this. Especially in you.

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to recognize that a lot of why we like things is because they tell us what we want to believe about our world and ourselves. We look into them for flattery, not truth, because on some level we all seek flattery of some kind; it's as human as bleeding. Fandom and geekdom are no different, but at least there within the scene lie the seeds of the right kind of enthusiasm: one that's analytical without being snobby, and one that also wakes us up to what our relationships are with the things we claim to love so much. If we really do love those things, don't we owe them — and ourselves — as unprejudiced an understanding of our own affection for them? Anything less than that is just flag-waving.

Tags: fandom