Toxic Fandom

Yesterday, I was talking to a writer who had done something incredibly unpopular with the fans of his work and it got me thinking about the sense of ownership some fans have of the thing they are fans of and the right they think they have to dictate what happens to/in it.

And I was thinking about how, like, 80% of having fans is super awesome. You make a thing. Someone you don’t know feels this intense connection to the thing and they are deeply engaged with it. It’s really, really neat. And I don’t think anyone wants that part to go away.

But then there’s some small percentage of stuff that is just like “what the fuck is this nonsense?!” Like when people threaten to kill authors for not putting two characters together, or finding out where they live and coming by the house in the middle of the night or… I mean, we all know what it looks like.

But I realized, this is kind of what I mean when I talk about the fucked up relationship some people have to women. Toxic fandom happens because the audience member believes that the fact that the art has caught her attention means that the creator of the art owes her for that attention. That the artist now has an obligation to please the audience.

And isn’t this part of being a woman? The woman causes her “audience” to pay attention to her and thus she owes them.

I could see it as a thing before, but I couldn’t really make sense of it, because it didn’t seem to have any other cultural antecedents. But of course it does. Hmm.