They’re just bad fans – inclusive and misogynistic fandoms

Kevin Sayre

It’s fun to be a fan of something. It’s fun to feel included, it’s fun to have friends that are a part of the same group you are, it’s fun to be social, and it’s fun to meet new people. Fandom (short for fan kingdom) is an all-encompassing name for an active fan of one type of property (i.e. Doctor Who fandoms, Harry Potter fandoms, etc.) Fandoms can be enormous, like for Harry Potter or Doctor Who, or they can be fairly small and not-noticeable. They are fun – I’ve been a part of many-a video game or television show fandom. However, they are also extremely self-serving, often can be very misogynistic, tend to be very inclusive, and can also be very defensive. These bits, which are in almost every fandom, are one of the reasons fandoms can often be counter-productive or detrimental as a community, instead of just being fun places to hang out.

A group that is, unbeknownst to many, very misogynistic and, beknowst to many, very self-serving and often annoying are the fans of the British sci-fi extravaganza Doctor Who. While they mostly and usually are very harmless, DW fans had a particularly nasty streak of misogyny and perpetuation of the hegemony several months ago while everyone was speculating over the next actor to play the title character of ‘The Doctor’. There are the people who say big names like Hugh Laurie (House), Idris Elba (Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Thor), and there are the people who say small names that do not need to be listed here. Other than Idris Elba, who is only an example because he’s a really popular British actor at the moment, everyone almost exclusively lists white, Anglo-Saxon males to fill the role of The Doctor. Some people were alright with actors like Idris Elba, but mostly only because of the roles he’s played. What almost no one was okay with, however, was a female Doctor.

In fact, when certain groups wrote articles about why there needed to be a female Doctor, they were met with severe misogynistic backlash.  Not by the commenters – thankfully the Jezebel commenters are (mostly) better than that, but on places like Facebook or io9 (a sister publication to Jezebel), when these same ideas were also posted, there were cries of Tradition! and Dirty Feminists Trying To Put Policy Into Things Where It Doesn’t Belong! and But It Just Wouldn’t Work From a Story Perspective! (for the record, canonically the character himself has mentioned that he just gets lucky to keep regenerating as a humanoid). If you were to bring the idea up to male fans (and often female fans as well), the conversation would be closed down immediately. Thanks for not being cool, Doctor Who fandom. I love the show but I don’t love you.

Another group that loves its inclusivity and misogyny is the video gaming fandom, and specifically those that play first person shooters on the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 has, from a design perspective, a very well done online system of connecting players to other players for online matchups. It does not, however, have a good community of fans. To play in a game with a headset on is to subject you to homophobia and misogyny rampantly. Players adore yelling toxic things at other players, and for some reason this is only really prevalent on the Xbox 360. A satirical video done by the comedy group CollegeHumor showcases this problem, (and what you can do to stop it!)

 

Video gaming fans also can get extremely angry and defensive when their properties are attacked or they perpetuate silly ideas in regards to other gaming properties they feel aren’t very high quality. For instance, right now in the Reddit community /r/gaming, there is a fervor of posts about how much the new Xbox One sucks and how great the new Playstation 4 is. Posts like this have been going on for literal months, ever since the consoles were given official specs. Back and forth we see memes about the prices versus one another, the power specifications, the games available at launch, etc. I watched the press conferences for Microsoft and Sony at the Electronics Entertainment Expo over the summer, and it’s true that Sony delivered a much better performance than Microsoft. It’s also true that, something Reddit doesn’t seem to understand, those performances happened months ago and Microsoft has changed certain policies in regards to its new console, but the satire and mean treatment of the Xbox One continues to this day.

We have theorized the hater, or the anti-fan. These people, in the Doctor Who fandom or fans of video games, are neither haters nor anti-fans; they are just people that are bad at being fans. If you ever experience someone being rude on Xbox Live, something stupid on /r/gaming (and there is a lot of it!), or Doctor Who fans perpetuating the naturalistic fallacy, just remember that they are bad people, and they do not reflect upon the properties which they worship.

Works Cited
Beck, Laura. “Should the Next Dr. Who Be a Woman? (Yes, Duh).” Jezebel. Gawker Media, 3 June 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <http://jezebel.com/should-the-next-dr-who-be-a-woman-yes-duh-511157539&gt;.
CollegeHumor. “Xbox Girls Strike Back.” CollegeHumor. N.p., 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6433683/xbox-girls-strike-back&gt;.
Gentry-Birnbaum, Trevor. “Doctor Who: 3 Reasons Why 12th Doctor Should Be Female.” WhatCulture RSS. What Culture LTD, 30 May 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <http://whatculture.com/tv/doctor-who-3-reasons-why-12th-doctor-should-be-female.php&gt;
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One comment

  1. I really enjoyed your critique which focused specifically the anti fan, I think you might be the only one to have done it out of our group. My critique was about just one fandom and it’s fans and anti fans, but I think your critique about one type of fan gave everyone a better perspective of them. Never have I once thought that video gaming consoles could generate such harsh anti fans! Considering most people think of writing about movies or celebrities for this type of critique, that was very creative of you to incorporate that into yours along with Reddit.
    Your article about making Dr. Whoa women was interesting too, it seemed from the comments that most people were on board with it, but how would affect the die hard fans of the show? I know if something changes in a franchise with such a large following, the fans tend to get angry. It’s like when Iron Man 3 tried to pull off that twist when they made the Mandarin a big joke a lot of Iron Man fans were completely enraged because the Mandarin is Iron Man’s main enemy, who they turned into a man acting as The Mandarin. I would think it would have slightly the same effect, but then again I have never really gotten in to Doctor Who so I am not sure if it would or not. Great critique though!

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