Let's start with the Sherlock fandom, because that's one I've been seeing a lot of dislike for this fandom online this month. It more or less started with this post coming across my dash:
Having had mostly positive experiences with the Sherlock fandom, I was interested by this. Sure, the fandom can be kind of strange at times, with their perchance for photoshopping things, creating bizarre gifs, and just the general take-over of text posts, but I can't say I'd really felt ashamed of the fandom overall.
Then, coinciding the news that the U.K. was working to legalize gay marriage, a whole flood of posts about Johnlock shipping appeared. Some fans, perhaps jesting, perhaps being serious, started talking about how when gay marriage was legalized, Johnlock could be canon. This led to a huge rise out of people, stating that the Sherlock fandom was making light of a serious issue and just using it to their fandom's advantage. And that's when I started seeing a lot more posts like this:
Keep in mind that I am a Johnlock shipper (I like both the platonic and romantic way of shipping it) but... this does make me ashamed. How does just wanting Sherlock and John to be friends make you make you a cis straight homophobic jerk? Why does not agreeing with someone's ship suddenly make you a terrible person who deserves to have their character attacked? Besides, people who don't support GLBT rights at all have plenty of interest in getting turned on by homosexual activity (I'm thinking of people who like watching women make out but utterly cannot fathom the idea of lesbian relationships). And I went to high school with a girl who loved reading Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy fanfics but who, based on her political views, probably didn't support gay marriage. Just because you find a ship enticing or interesting doesn't mean you support that sort of relationship generally. And just because you don't support a ship doesn't mean you condemn that relationship generally.
For a fandom that can be so infinitely clever and ingenious, it confuses me the way Sherlockians sometimes respond. I'm fine just reading fics and having a separate area for those stories to take place away from the show. But I can also understand the deep need to have these ships exist in the storyline, especially with main characters like Sherlock and John. However, the idea that not supporting these ships makes you a bigot or an asshole really has me lost. And it's really alienating as a fan to have this occur. I admit, I'm less on the shipping side of things; I'm not a super active participant in fandom culture other than this strange sort of meta-blogging thing and the limited fanfiction writing I do. I like to talk about the shows but I guess I'm more interested in the cultural impact than in the creating aspects of it. I won't be fighting any ship wars; I'll be the one watching from the sidelines as people go down with their ships. (That sounds incredibly creepy when worded like that...)
Despite all this shipping stuff and strangeness abounding in the fandom, I still consider myself a fan of Sherlock. Why? Because I enjoy it. It's that simple. Yes, there are going to be people who do things that I don't like; such is life. I learned to live and let live. It's all about personal identification. Some people will stick with it despite the parts they don't like; others will drop out and just appreciate the show without considering themselves a member of the fandom. It's all good.
(Okay, hold on, tangent time: this was the first image to come up when I Google searched "fandom elitism" -
I... I... I got nothin'. If you can explain what photoshopping Tom Hiddleston's face on the Gene Wilder meme from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is expressing, I would be really grateful. The whole "You must be new" meme I'm familiar with but I'm unable to process this. Partly because I'm utterly at a loss to what it's trying to state and also because I recently realized that Gene Wilder and Tom Hiddleston look vaguely similar and I can't get past this (I was a major Gene Wilder fangirl as a kid, by the way... what the hell, I'm still a major Gene Wilder fangirl) and this photo just makes me kind of uncomfortable and I don't know why... Anyway, these are the fun happenings of Google image searching and getting strange results.)
(Okay, I get the song "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua" from the musical Kiss Me, Kate when I see this and I can't explain why.) Anyway, currently overlooking the strange mix of Jane Austen "single man in want of a wife" meets Panam dystopian politics, I hate the fact that I can't easily find humor in this but instead take the post seriously and get stuck in a judgmental, stereotyping position I'd like to think I've left behind me. But the stigma is hard to shake off. Perhaps because of the second reason I have trouble identifying with these sort of fandoms - in these groups, there's a chance of being seen acknowledged, recognized, and it terrifies me. In fandoms surrounding texts, for example, there is no risk of being found out by the characters because... well, they're fictional. Yes, the creators could know but meeting an author or creator of a text you fan over is different, I think, from meeting a creator or an actor that you fan over. But we've been here before, in my discussion of wanting to meet celebrities but totally being terrified to do so. Same basic territory, same rules seem to apply.
This issue with fandom and identity can get pretty complicated, especially for someone like me who likes lots of random things and is engaged in overcritical self-analysis a lot more than she probably should be. Again, these are only my experiences. But it's all about choice and labeling yourself, whether you choose to identify with a fandom or not, and it comes down to your own perception, though it can certainly be influenced by people. It can be messy or it can be neat and finite. It depends on the person and it can certainly change, all time. Just remember: I once shipped Bella and Edward.
I've realized that I really need to do a post about shipping as that rather took over this whole post and I just saw a whole connection with Jane Austen's Emma to it... yeah, more on that at a later date. For now, I shall leave you with a splendid rendering of the closest thing I have to an OTP.
Yeah, I just really like Sigyn and Loki... Pretty much my feels can be summed up in this image from Finding Nemo: