We are all a fan of something. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. Maybe it’s Doctor Who or Sherlock. Maybe you like video games or anime, you probably have a favourite band or musician. Fandom can be something wonderful. You can meet like-minded people and make new friends. But something caught my attention lately. Something that irks me. Because I’ve come across people that seem to think that there is a very important difference between ‘fake’ fans and ‘real’ fans. And I hate that idea. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about it, but also the subject became more complicated and more elaborate. That’s why I’m splitting this up in 4 parts, with this post as the first.
Fan entitlement, or fantitlement as I like to call it, is something I’ve come across many times. I’ll be writing this mostly from my perspective as a gamer, but it happens in other media too. Let me first define ‘fantitlement’: The idea that you have to meet certain requirements to call yourself a true fan. It happened many times to me, online as well as in real life, that when I introduce myself as a gamer, people start asking me about what games I play, how many consoles I have, if I play games on PC too, if I have finished all the games, etc., which could be out of genuine interest, but often it’s something else. They’re interrogating me. Testing if I’m a ‘real gamer’, or just pretending to be. Funny thing is, that the requirements that I have to meet are always arbitrarily set by my conversation partner. Some of you may have seen my Zelda collection, still someone managed to tell me that I’m not a real Zelda fan because I’ve never finished the first 2 games (which came out in 1986 and 1987). Some might not call me a real gamer because I mainly play on consoles. Some might call me casual gamer because I like Nintendo a lot.
Like I said, this happens in other media too. I’m sure there are a lot of people who will say that you’re not a real Doctor Who fan if you’ve never watched to original series or if you don’t particularly hate Stephen Moffat. Or are telling you that you can’t be a Marvel fan if you’ve only seen the movies but never read a comic. That you can’t say you love anime when you’ve only seen Spirited Away and Death Note.
Well people, I call bullshit. Maybe someone didn’t put as much dedication in his or her fandom as you, but that doesn’t mean they can’t call themselves a fan. You’re not entitled to the title of fan either. ‘Fan’ isn’t a badge of honour that you have to deserve. Maybe someone just has different priorities money-wise. Maybe someone was born in the wrong era, maybe someone doesn’t have as much free time as you. Maybe they are uninformed and they just don’t know about the other cool stuff that’s available. Or maybe, Gods forbid, they don’t exactly like the same things you do.
I once came across a girl who said to me that she was a huge Zelda fan. After a short conversation I found out the she thought that Twilight Princess was the only Zelda game that existed. There are 2 things I could do at that point: Laugh in her face, brag about my impeccable Zelda knowledge, and make her cry. 2) Tell her that there are more games like that, share my fondness of the franchise with her, and make her happy. The choice it not that hard right? Be happy that there are more people that enjoy the things you love, and share that joy! Don’t make fandom a competition!