“Stark Raving Fan” is a column about one man’s love for all things involving popular culture – television, movies, and all facets of pop culture from here to there. Of course, it’s not the kind of love that unites a group of people like a bunch of hippies. More like the kind of love someone has when they’ve blown a gasket and have something to say. After all, aren’t we all just driven mad by fanaticism sometimes?
I never thought that I would ever say the following. Ever. But trying to just enjoy my favorite movies and television shows anymore has become more of a chore than anything. I used to be able to unplug the daily grind to spend time with projects that brought joy to my heart and filled me with emotion. But now, on this day? I’m quick losing that sense of delight I get watching what brings me joy. I almost hate being a nerd anymore.
And who do I blame? I blame fanboys. Hardnosed critics. Obsessive stans (who’re the worst parts of any fandom anymore). And, in general, anyone who wags a finger in my direction, their noses pointed in the air like they’re some sort of hoity-toity aristocrat, thrusting a spotlight onto my person like I’m on trial for committing some sort of fandom sin. Not like I shit on a bed or anything.
“God, Moses Ingram is such a drag in Kenobi, how can you stand her? Her acting is atrocious.”
“Moon Knight was so great, you hated it? Dummy, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Ms. Marvel was a bad show all around, you couldn’t have enjoyed yourself watching that!” (Writer’s note – oh, but I did. And the latest was what Tom Holland’s Spider-Man movies should have been. I said what I said.)
“Why on earth are you excited to see Jurassic World but not Top Gun, huh? What’s wrong with you, you don’t like Top Gun?”
First of all, I hate Top Gun for my own personal reasons, and I still have zero excitement to sit and watch that sequel. I can spend my time on something more useful. What’s that, what can I spend my time on you ask? Oh, that’s easy. Drinking beer. Or bourbon. Or more beer. Ooh, or more bourbon. (To help me forget some of the loathsome conversations I have about what movies bring me bliss in the first damn place.)
But two, let me be very clear here. Turn up the volume louder. Nope, louder than that. There, now listen good. Stop. Telling. Me. What. To. LIKE!
People just fluster this old nerd anymore. I used to think, oh, people are just passionate about their favorite franchises. That’s all. Then I wondered if the alignment of the stars, coupled with Mercury retrograde, turned people into ravenous dark spirits of the night. But now, I look over the desolate social media landscape and realize, the problem is people, some of whom are aging narcissistic dinosaurs of a bygone era who are quick to point out others’ fallacies before their freaking own. Everyone’s a critic these days and, if you don’t agree with his/her opinion, prepare for a crucifixion for all of social media to bear witness to from their perches.
There is absolutely nothing wrong for appreciating televisions shows and films that the majority do not. There’s no scarlet A pinned to your chest. Your hands aren’t in handcuffs behind your back. No gag is rammed inside of your mouth. No, you are free to watch what you like, revel in whatever tickles your jubilation, and just feel comfort in those projects. No one can tell any of us what we’re allowed to like, or belittle us for not falling in with the herd. Individuality is amazing when you stick to your guns and don’t fall in line. George Carlin once said – “I do this real moron thing, and it’s called thinking. And apparently, I’m not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.”
And I’m with him, God rest his soul. Carlin’s above looking down on us poor dolts going, I warned those idiots but no one ever listened to me. I’d rather be a moron than fall in with the crowd anyway. I can be the Crown Prince of the Nerd Free-Thinkers.
Here, I can play a fun little game to see who gets triggered easily. Okay kiddies, get out your scorecards. Here we go. Yes, I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi – in fact, I’d say the Rian Johnson-directed entry is a top-three film in the franchise personally. I’ve only ever seen one installment of the Harry Potter franchise – the stories aren’t for me, and I can’t stand the mythology. (Blasphemous No-More-Us and, zap.) And, nope, I’m not down with Lord of the Rings. Nope, never watched any of those stodgy films whatsoever, I’ve got better things to do with my time. (Randall’s rant in Clerks II best describes how I feel about The Shire.) Oh, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up is cheeky and biting satire and was among one of last year’s best movies – and was grossly overlooked by the Academy.
Okay, check your scores. What’s that? You are offended? Welp, then you’re a winner! And here, you may claim your prize. A single tissue. Boo-frickity-hoo.
That’s what used to be great about the various fandoms out there. We all have different opinions, and we found ways to have discussion to see each other’s varying point of views. But somewhere along the line, volatility grew much like the markings of the Sith. Fear and anger drove some fans onto a whole other level. Star Wars is dogged by the Fandom Menace, a bunch of crybabies feigning over a time long forgotten and loathe the direction the franchise has taken. (Aw, you’re butthurt about Third Sister? Take a seat and drink your tears.) DCEU, MCU, they’re not spared at all. Older white males fuming about supposed “wokeness” when, really, the projects are reflecting the characters being introduced. The only fandom right now that’s actually been tolerable is Star Trek. (Oh, but we’ve had our days. Yes, we have. Shudder.)
Look – if a friend of yours finds joy in something they’re watching, leave ’em be. There’s going to be people who love Jurassic World: Dominion this summer. If someone you love adores the shit out of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? That doesn’t make them any different from those who prefer other Marvel projects. People are allowed to think Moon Knight was drivel, while Ms. Marvel was everything that Marvel’s sorely needed. We’re all allowed to like different things in this world. That’s what makes us all unique. But the darker side of fandom is making that sense of bliss wane and leave us feeling empty on the inside. So, if I may offer a piece of advice?
Grow up and, oh yeah – ENOUGH ALREADY.