As someone who reads comics, watches art film and listens to metal, I’m in a unique position to be driven totally insane by neophytes dipping their toes into the things I’m into and having the nerve-the gall!-to call themselves “fans.” I spend a significant amount of time researching the things I’m into and going on excavation digs to find hidden gems in the various forms of art that I love, and so when someone says they’re a huge Batman fan after only having seen the Nolan movies, or when someone says they’re really into “indie” movies when the only non-blockbusters they’ve ever seen are a smattering of Wes Anderson films and Juno, or when somebody tries to claim membership to the Metal Club by holding up a Disturbed album as identification, my gut reaction is to get a little irritated, maybe even to retort with a catty putdown. After all, I’m the one who’s spent hours, years, of my life plunging the depths of the things I’ve loved. I’ve earned the right to call myself a “fan”-how dare you exercise the same privilege after such nominal involvement in that which you purport to love?
And then, once that initial wash of indignation has subsided, I climb down off my high horse. I keep in mind that there are people out there who can name every title that the Buscema brothers have ever worked on, down to the issue numbers; I remember that there are film buffs out there that would laugh in my face if I told them that I had never seen a film by Bela Tarr; I consider all the black metal kids with their fathomless collections of demo tapes culled from all over the world and reflect that I will never in my life match their dedication. Fandom is a curious thing: You can’t seem to claim membership if you don’t try to kick someone else off the docket, and a lot of the time, if you’re to believe your peers, your credentials don’t seem to be as sound as you think they are, especially if you’re a woman or a teenager. Everyone is going to have to take part in a Beta-Male Headbutting Championship over the things they love at some point, but for those two groups it can practically be a given before entering a conversation.
I wrote this article for Comics Bulletin.
Like everyone else in the world I was inspired to write something about Tony Harris’ absurd outburst on Facebook. I do think that elitism has a tendency to be kind of inherent in any subculture but you fight against that,
for God’s sake, you don’t revel in it.