Friday, August 9, 2013

Keep Calm and Fangirl On!

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.”
                   - Tyrion Lannister, from A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

You know, I should be writing up my review of the “Remembrance of the Daleks” novelization for Librarian in the TARDIS. But because the world is populated with dimwits, I have to do this instead.

*slides wooden crate marked "SOAP" out from behind the desk, dusts it off, and steps up*

Earlier in the week, I was dismissing the whole “ooh - fangirls won’t like the new Doctor ‘cuz he’s not young and hot” crap as something entirely made-up because I identify as a young(ish) fangirl and I was over the moon about Peter Capaldi (still am, so there). But I was at work on Tuesday and the library branch I was working at that day has a few staff members who are Doctor Who fans and I wanted to hear their reactions. Both female - one around my age, one older - the one my age had that whole “he's old and not hot and I don't like that” attitude and that had me facepalming all day (which, I could argue Peter Capaldi's attractiveness all the live-long day, but I kind of like older guys anyway. To be fair - the other lady I was working with took more of the attitude of "I want to wait and see what he does because I’m not that familiar with him").

I share this only to illustrate that, yes, such shallow pettiness is alive and well in my neck of the woods. At the same time, there was plenty of shallow pettiness to go around within fandom - especially on Twitter. Today, a fairly well-known fansite sent out a tweet decrying the attitude that I have just described with the hashtag #WeHateFangirls (I’m not going to mention the fansite’s name here because mentions on my blog are for classy people. Like Jesus). And, boy howdy, did the excrement hit the rotating cooling device! Plenty of Tweeps went up in arms - particularly Deb Stanish of the Verity! podcast (among other things) leading the charge against such incendiary and narrow-minded comments (there were others, but Deb was the first person I saw tweeting about it). The fansite didn't back down from their stupidity, which only got more people upset and resulted in more calls for the fansite to apologize - or at least acknowledge the wrongness of what they said.

While I am glad that People of Actual Intelligence responded as they did - I have to wonder. Why did the nameless fansite think that those kinds of comments were okay in the first place?  And why am I seeing such pinheaded attitudes all over the place?  As much as the "OMG the new Doctor is old!" thing annoys me - I don't know that the "Get out of my fandom, you airheaded fangirl!" thing is any better.  Both are shallow and petty and both need a good kick in the shins (and both, very sadly, exist).

Look, I’m a fangirl. It even says so on my business cards (that I have designed, but haven’t printed up yet) - “The Fangirl Librarian.”  And since it seems that we have to hand out our fan credentials in order to prove our fan-worthiness, here are mine: I squee and yell and cry over movies and TV shows. I study and research canon and continuity (and oftentimes throw canon and continuity out the window because I like the story anyway). I write reviews on my blog - which aren't “reviews” as much as they are a chance for me to be happy and joyful over the things I liked in a particular story (I also point out flaws and failings, but I don’t dwell on them because there’s no fun in poking at warts). I've cosplayed and gone to conventions and bought autographs and gone totally tongue-tied at meeting people who've brought my favorite characters and stories to life because these things mean so much to me and I want to express that to the people responsible for all of this without making a total idiot of myself (and I do anyway, so never mind). I've camped out for midnight release parties and stayed up to all hours of the night reading a book or watching a movie in theaters just to say I did it (and to avoid spoilers). I've mainlined TV shows and made fan videos and I've been working on a cross-stitch Dalek for the better part of two years. I've spent money I didn't have on DVDs and books and action figures because I was having a bad day and that was the only thing that was going to cheer me up. I have a Twitter, a Tumblr, a LiveJournal and I annoy my Facebook friends with my fangirly ways (well, they annoy me with their wedding announcements and babies* and recipes and dieting and vacation-y stuff, so it goes both ways). And, yes, I have my 'ships and OTPs and I’m a sucker for fluffy romantic fanfic.

In short - I like being a fangirl. And I’m not the only one. The Verity! podcast is but one instance of female fans gathering together to be fans of something (you also have websites like The Mary Sue and Geeka Chicas and probably a host of others I’m not familiar with yet - if you, Dear Reader, know of others, please leave them in the comments section). Female fans also mix with male fans to discuss the things we love because fandom ought not to be divided by gender boundaries (I've never seen a reason for that to be the case). One of my favorite things about going to Gallifrey One was meeting my friends from Traveling the Vortex and being invited on the podcast to talk about the wonderful things we’d experienced at the convention.

Truly, fangirls are not the problem. Idiots are.

The thing is - what do we do about it? We can blog and vlog and podcast about it and try to appeal to people’s better natures - but some people just don’t have better natures. They aren't as interested in being nice to others as they are interested in being total assholes. That’s truly why I became a fangirl in the first place - because I was 100% done with those people (this happened clear back in kindergarten - ask me to tell you about it sometime. Suffice it to say that no one’s ever told me how to be a fan. Well, they may have told me, but all I ever heard was “meh-meh-meh-meh-meh”).

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Fanboys - do you like the stereotype of being an overweight Cheeto-eating loser still living in your mother’s basement and playing video games and can’t get a girlfriend? I guess the more pertinent question is does that image bother you? Or do you just let it fall by the wayside as a harmless-yet-stupid punchline on late-night TV? Because I’m more than willing to let the screaming-preteen-fangirl stereotype fall by the wayside and just chalk it up to the stupid things that jerks do because they’re jerks (and because there are some people who were the “popular kids” in high school and could never let go of that sense of power. And, really, who wants to live the rest of their life in high school? Not me, that’s for damn sure. I dealt with that crap in the Harry Potter fandom and I'll be damned if I'm going to put up with it in Doctor Who fandom).

I suppose it boils down to this: There will always be jerks who think they can stand above you and dictate how you should wear your fandom colors (or, indeed, if you should wear them at all). It doesn't matter if these come from your family, friends, the media, other fans or any other subgroup that has set itself up to be the Grand Master of the Fandom who sets up the rules and regulations which all other fans must abide (Praise Our Wondrous Overlords!) Just expect it to come your way. Those kinds of people didn't stop teasing you in ninth grade just because you asked nicely and they’re certainly not going to stop now. But you also don’t have to let them get under your skin.  Keep calm and fangirl (or fanboy) on!

And if you are one of those entitled jerks I've been describing? Well then...

**Malcolm Tucker lurks in your interwebs, judging you, you petty f***er.
Thank you for your consideration.

*steps off soapbox, slides it back under the desk and sits patiently for hate mail to come in*

*When I say “babies” in this list of things that annoy me on Facebook, I’m excluding my niece from that statement because she is the cutest damn thing in the world and if my sister ever stops posting photos of her, I will be extremely upset.

**I did consider putting one of those uber-sweary Malcolm Tucker gifs here (Tumblr was more than willing to oblige), but then I thought “What if my mother reads this?” But you can pretend he's silently swearing up a barrage of F-bombs in his head, if you like.

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