Rediscovering the Heart of Fandom
The last couple years have not been easy for a fan like me. Okay, truth be told, it has been a rough decade.
I know what you're thinking. This is not a valid problem. Fandom is not something any person is entitled to. I would have to disagree. Fandom is not about the media we watch or buy, and it is not about the merchandise aassociated with it. Fandom is about the connection we have with the the stories, worlds, and characters we love, and our connection with the other fans.
I'm an old man now.
I realized that I crossed the line into being an old man when my friends and I sat around talking about how new series had lost the heart and mind of the series I grew up with. I was reminded of people talking about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones compared to Nirvana and Pearl Jam when I was younger.
Since I like to over think everything, I asked myself, is that true? Have I just become old and cynical or has media actually dumbed down?
Every generation feels that they were at the apex of civilization, and the world has gone off a cliff since.
Is everything really the worse?
Yes and no. How is that for a safe answer?
Yes, things have gotten worse. When I was a kid, there wasn't the crazy pressure of a shrinking market to contend with. Babylon 5 was able to take the independent route and get its full story out, yet Firefly and Legend of the Seeker weren't.
The market isn't what it used to be. Star Trek was canceled for low ratings despite 8.3 million viewers, whereas Fringe averages 2-4 million viewers and went on for 5 seasons, while Dollhouse was canceled for 2-5 million viewers, as was Legend of the Seeker for 2-5 million viewers.
The market has changed. What used to be called low rating, is now dream ratings, and the shows that stay on TV are more up to them whims of industry than ever before.
What keeps a show around now? Ruby dust? Magic? Who the hell knows.
The industry seems to move more based on narrative and rumor than on any viable metric. Why? Advertising. If the story going around is that the show has bad ratings, it doesn't matter was the actual number are. Oh, that show is by J. J. Abrams, he makes blockbusters, I'll advertise there.
What is the effect of this? Mediocre content that has big names associated with it.
But it is not all bad. Once Upon A Time is transforming the folktales we all grew up with in a fun and imaginative way that brings these stories to a new generation.
Hush Puppies! How to silence Cynicism
So, how do we get beyond our own cynicism? Remember what you love, and fight off the voice of the hater within.
Remember the shows you used to love, and don't be a perfectionist. No, the Tom Baker Doctor Who's don't have slick computer generated special effects, but the stories and characters are worth watching.
Don't be a hipster! Nitpicking is a social disease that need to be killed off like polio. Nothing is perfect, and mocking sarcasm is a way to prevent you from having fun and enjoying life. Hipsters aren't cool. They are sad people who have forgotten how to enjoy their life.
You have a choice
Every moment, you have the choice to enjoy your life or not. As someone who suffers from depression, I know how easy it is to slip into the gray, desaturated world of ennui and despair. For me, a part of the solution was choosing to enjoy my life.
Have the fun. I say that a lot. Some people think it is a cute (or annoying) affectation I have adopted. It is my philosophy of life.
Life is short, and I want to enjoy it. No matter what I am going, I ask myself how to make it more enjoyable. If I have to do something that isn't fun that I cannot make fun, I set up a reward to look forward to so I have the thrill of anticipation to get me through.
I know some people think it is fun to tear things down, but I would rather build them up. Join me at the heart of Fandom, and learn to enjoy your life all over again.