Fandom Life

The Fandom Menace: How Toxicity Dissuades Newcomers

There is a big problem in every fandom that has come to pass, whether it is a small and unknown fandom, a new franchise fandom still in its infancy, or a mainstream fandom such as Marvel or Star Wars. What is that problem, you may ask?

Newcomer fans are being scared away by the veteran or long-time fans of fandoms or fans that gate-keep their community.

I’m not saying “All veteran fans are like this” in any way, shape, or form. I have met many older and welcoming fans in many fandoms. However, this is a problem that is predominant in a majority of fandoms, including the ones that are incredibly welcoming. From video game fans criticizing newer and older fans for not liking or liking a certain video game entry to comic book fans quizzing anyone they deem as a “fake fan” because new people are getting deep into their fandom. This is a problem that has been around for a long while. I remember way back when the Steven Universe was still in its infancy. Artists would come under fire for drawing different body types of characters, and the fans who would bully them would take it too far. Not only this, but if social media stories have anything to say about fandoms, there are good in people, and there are people who like to treat others as an outcast. Unfortunately, this is a problem that has been going on for a long time and seems to be growing.

Unfortunately, there is no way to truly dissolve and make these problems come to a complete end. Division amongst fans though is nothing new, but it always seems to grow the worst when people come up with their own fan works or representations of different fandoms. From LGBTQ+ theories and fanart being made fun of or causing controversy to community projects being given a cease and desist from original creators, this problem seems to be on the rise and almost never stopping. However, there is a way to avoid such dangerous and unwelcoming behaviors in fandoms. The first step that has to be taken in any toxic fandom is for the majority to realize that the fandom a person is a part of is not perfect in any way, shape, or form. When this is realized by a majority of fans, then the self-awareness of their fandom comes to light. Another step that can be taken is thinking back to when they were in the early stage of a fandom. Was it welcoming to them as well, or did they also try to gatekeep and push away the members? In thinking back on this question, perhaps a realization can be made and draw thought-provoking topics with said realization.

However, the problem does not end with just the fans. Corporations that push out these fandoms should be made aware of the actions their fans have. Unfortunately, it will not make them take action. Still, if the problem becomes too well known among the majority of people who were involved in the creation of the fandom’s base (voice actors, artists, writers, storyboard members, etc.), maybe they will speak up even if the direct source will not.

At the time of writing this, the incident with Moses Ingram and Star Wars fans sending racist comments to her has made its way into circulation, which has further added to this article. It came to my attention as added to it was the side of the cast and crew defending her, which does further help in fandoms, not gatekeeping. From what I have seen, a good amount of fans have said that the behavior of these select individuals is completely unacceptable. If more of these types of fans can stand up to the actions of the fans who push toxicity in the fandom, then maybe we can lessen the negative stereotypes of fandoms being toxic or dangerous to newcomers.

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