Saturday, 4 February 2012

Special Lanyards & Snobs

Fandom is a funny old thing. At its best, it brings like-minded people together to share in their love of something, meet up, have a laugh, swap stories, maybe even go beyond friendship and form relationships, get married etc, etc. On the flip side, it brings out the worst in people: the arse-licking, piggy-backing, opinionated, creepy two-facedness.

As a lot of you will know, I am a fan of many things. A lot Most of them are TV-related, so you might be thinking that I'm just talking about fandom related to TV programmes, but under the surface, all fandom is exactly the same when it comes to the light and dark sides.

I have met so many lovely people over the years through being a fan of various things. There are loads of people I talk to online and many I have gone on to meet several times, all because we found we shared a love of a certain programme or suchlike. I think it's pretty amazing that what may be seen to many as "just a cult TV show", for example, can be the starting point for so many friendships all over the world. I'm aware I am sounding borderline cheesy here, but just think about it.

For example, way, way back in 2001, I joined the official forum for The Bill. I was fairly new to the internet then, but I soon made friends with lots of people on there. One person on there - Jamie -  had an intriguing profile picture showing a Cyberman standing at a bus stop. Intrigued, I asked him if he was a Doctor Who fan and what the picture was about. After saying he was one of many DW fans on the forum, he told me that the picture in question related to a bit of an in-joke relating to both shows (Graham Cole, who was PC Stamp in The Bill, had previously been a Cyberman in a few Doctor Who stories and was also in a certain Kenny Everett sketch, fact fans...) and we just kept talking, really. The forum has long closed, but we are still in touch and are good mates. That is just one story of many, but it proves that there can be a really good side to fandom.

On the other hand, there is a twatty, wanky side to it. It usually starts (in my experience) with the bullshitters who claim to know more than anybody else in that particular fan group, making all sorts of boasts, from the small and ridiculous, to the downright creepy and injunction-flirting. Your basic bullshitter can easily be dealt with (in all walks of life as well as in the awkward bastard world of fandom), but those that are a few steps up from that can be a little more... persistent, shall we say. Sometimes, you can tell they are just over-passionate about that subject of fandom, but in other circumstances, they're pure cock-waving bin shits of the highest order, intent on causing no-end of trouble, just for some attention.

To a degree, that's one area of fandom that most people tend to get used to, or have ways of dealing with/ignoring it. For me, I often find keeping clear of forums is the best way if it's purely online shite such people are dealing out, as these people tend to keep away from offline meetings, as they only feel comfortable and cocky when hiding behind a computer screen. It's when you get to know people away from the internet, that you truly encounter the worst side of fandom: The snobs.

With the snobs of fandom, I often find that they are the ones who get lucky and love rubbing it in people's faces. Either via constant arse-licking and favours, or just by being in the right place at the right time, these people manage to obtain some sort of serious "clout" within fandom and love making the most of every opportunity to let everyone know about it. They get given a special lanyard or pass, which of course rightfully allows them privileges such as backstage access, front-row priority seating or something similar, but for the snobs, it changes them. They're now in the special club and they are suddenly better than all the other  fans... or so they think.

Just think about it, anyone who indulges in the fandom element of something will know what I mean. The power - or rather the special lanyard - changes them. They suddenly have no time for fellow fans who they have known for some time, because they suddenly think they have the right to get all starry and only talk to the subjects of their fandom.

I would just like to point out that not everyone in that sort of situation becomes a snob. There are those out there who may well get excited at having that extra bit of involvement, but it doesn't change them. You still want to talk to them, rather than use their faces to store things like broken glass, concrete and fire. For instance, I have helped out at a fair few events centred around film and TV fandom that give people the chance to meet the stars of their favourite films and TV shows. As a result, I get to spend entire weekends sat next to people I have admired on TV and the big screen since I was little and talk to them about all sorts of things, hear stories and just have a good time.

At the end of the day, these people are just like us. If you have a long enough to chat to them (and you don't have to be in the same situation), you'll find that most famous people are no different to us. Of course, you get the wanky ones who make a name for themselves through being twat-shitting tit bombs, but they fall soon enough and that is my point. In the world of fandom, it is only enjoyable if everyone behaves as an equal.

Like life in general, it starts to turn to shit when people stick their heads up their own, or other people's arses.

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