You Can Go Too Far

Fandom is a term used to refer to a group of fans who share a common interest, typically a television show, book, movie, celebrity, etc. With sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, it’s much easier to share your love for a fandom with other people with similar interests. Typically this is done through fanart, cosplays, conventions, fanfiction, fansites, fan run groups, fan pages…the list goes on and on. You can have some people who sparsely participate in the fandom, aside from the occasional fanfic or drawing, or you can have people who dedicate their lives to that one fandom. It seems that there’s no such thing as being “too involved” in a fandom or “going too far”. 

That’s a big, fat lie. I am here to tell you there is such a thing as too much. And there is such a thing as going too far. Sadly, I am seeing it more and more each day.  

It’s a no-brainer to state that people like to take things and make them their own. With fandoms, this is no different. A popular practice in fandoms is writing fanfiction. Fanfiction is one of the many ways for creative writers to create their own stories with their favorite characters and worlds. However, there are many instances where fanfiction can go too far. Aside from the obvious sick and twisted things people put some characters through, there seems to be an increasing number of fanfictions that remove themselves so far from the fandom, that they no longer can be considered fanfics.  

As a personal preference I have never been a fan of stories that take fantasy/sci-fi characters and drop them into a modern, alternate universe. So, naturally I avoided those stories since they weren’t to my particular tastes. However, while spending way too much time on Tumblr the other day, as I tend to do, I scrolled past a post that made me do a double-take. It was a Frozen fanfic, which was completely fine by me, but the description included the following notes: Modern AU, Elsa/Anna, but they aren’t sisters, Anna is a guy and Elsa doesn’t have ice powers.  

I had to read it several more times just to let it sink in. How on in the world is that particular story still considered a Frozen fanfic? Isn’t it just about a girl who just happens to be named Elsa? I want to say that I am not putting down fanfiction in any way. When it’s done right, I love fanfiction. Fanfiction is where I got my writing start and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But when you are so far removed from the source material that the fandom can’t even be identified, you’ve gone too far.

With the evolution of fandoms, inevitably there will be shipping. “Shipping” is when some has the belief or desire for two people to be in a romantic relationship. And if you think that two characters being related is taboo with shipping, it definitely is not. It seems like lately, no characters can be close without a large group of people shipping them. Be it best friends, brothers, sisters, cousins, whatever. To those in the fandom, it’s fair game. However, shipping has slowly started to creep out of fantasy and into reality. Shipping is starting to target real-life people and couples, and of course is starting to get out of control.  

An example of this can be found in one of my personal favorite fandoms, the Achievement Hunter fandom. Achievement Hunter is a group of nine individuals who get together and play video games. They are a fun and entertaining bunch who I love to pieces. Two of the Achievement Hunters are best friends Michael Jones and Gavin Free. Or, as shippers like to call them, Mavin. Both Michael and Gavin are straight. Michael just married fellow Achievement Hunter and voice actress, Lindsay Tuggey. Gavin is dating another talented and lovely woman named Meg Turney. Both Gavin and Michael are well aware of their Mavin fans and for the most part are good sports about their shipper name. 

I cannot tell you the awful things I have seen people post about Lindsay and Meg, simply because they are quote, “preventing Michael and Gavin from being together.” Everything from insults to their looks and intelligence, to actual threats. This is not a joke. These beautiful, smart, talented women are being targeted by fans simply because of their relationships. These are not fictional characters. They are real-life people.  

There is nothing that can be done about shipping. It’s going to happen. But when you are purposely hurting others because they aren’t “fitting in” to your ship, or because they disagree, you are going too far.  

The bottom line to all of this and that when you are so involved in a fandom that you are harassing those who disagree with you, enough is enough. You get harassed for being a part of a certain fandom, then you get harassed within the fandom because you disagree with someone else? It’s insane! It doesn’t make any sense! Isn’t there enough harassment in our lives?

I was recently shown an article that demonstrates just how bad this harassment is extending. In July 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, the highly anticipated third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, was released. When a negative review of the film was posted on Rotten Tomatoes by Marshal Fine, people went crazy. And by going crazy, I mean going as far as to issue death threats. Fine is a seasoned film critic and hosts the blog Hollywood and Fine. He posted his honest thoughts about the movie, as he had done countless times in the past. He was doing his job, but because these fans didn’t agree with him, they attacked.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, gives you the right to threaten someone’s life. Period. End of story. 

People aren’t going to agree with you. Get the hell over it and grow up. As I said before, fandoms give people the chance to express themselves and to celebrate what they like. You have no right to threaten, harass, insult or attack someone for disagreeing with you. The second you’ve crossed that line, you’re not only embarrassing yourself, but you’re projecting this negative image onto others in the fandom. If you want to express yourself without being attacked and shunned, extend others the same courtesy. 

It’s called being a decent, human being. You might want to try it some time.