I had a conversation a while back with a friend about if you could call yourself a fan of an artist if you like one song by the artist but don’t really know/like other songs. The argument is that other songs could be so different from what you like, you may really only like the one song rather than a fan of the artists work. This made me think about how it relates to other media. Can I be a Dr Who fan if I’ve only watched a few seasons? Can I be a kingdom hearts fan if I haven’t played all the games in the series? Can I say I am a fan of monster hunter if I never finished it? My argument was yes you can but I think that may be a reaction of wanting to be inclusive and not keeping out for not being “fan” enough. Just wondered if others had similar experiences or other thoughts.
I just made an episode of Headshots about this!
I noticed I’ve changed my mind about this over time. I’ve accepted that I’m a passionate yet casual fan of many things and I’d hate to be excluded from a celebration because I don’t get all the references or fail a test.
Gatekeeping is one of my least favorite things in geek culture. The way I see it is if you really connect with something on a deep level you are a fan.
- I consider myself a Star Trek Fan although Ive only watched a few next generation episodes and Im cought up on Discovery. Its nothing compared to how huge Star Trek is. But its sense of optimistic futurism is something that conmects with me on a deep level. I also love world building and Star Trek is basically a huge experiment in world building.
- Ive seen every episode of the newest Battlestar Galactica, and i loved the story and the characters and the plot twists. But I dont consider myself a fan. If I see Battlestar Galactica Merch somewhere, I dont get uber excited.
I think a fan is defined by their desire to engage and become part of a community that shares that desire. Wether you fell in love with something by the pilot episode or by watching everything and reading all the transmedia things, fans crave community and symbols that resonate with who they are and what they love. Watching a pilot might not make you into the biggest Steven Universe fan but you can be the biggest fan of a single episode in the series and that is the string that ties you to that community. When you talk about that episode there a spark of love an curiosity in your eyes and you have something to bring to the conversation.
This is what makes communities wonderful and why we should open up definitions of what it is to be a fan, a gamer, ect.
I too have struggled with this - in both respects being a gatekeeper, and being kept out.
I’ve learned that some groups can be more hostile. i.e. I joined a Kingdom Hearts Group on Facebook, and I have only played KH1, and am currently working my way through KH2. I had some people welcome me to the group, while others were gatekeepers. It was really awkward.
Personally, I’ve decided to celebrate fandom with others, regardless of how much trivia they know.