I recently left two fandoms. These were internet groups that I have been involved with for long periods of time and through which I had made many good friends. I had major conflicted emotions about cutting the ties, but in both cases it had to be done.
The hardest split was with the first “online fan group” that I ever joined over 20 years ago. It was for the author Diana Gabaldon and her “Outlander” series. It was a very new experience for me, but I jumped right in. I traveled to meet up with other fans from the “Ladies of Lallybroch” group. It ended up being a wonderful introduction to the whole “organized fandom” thing which has ballooned with the advent of the internet.
This fandom had a wide variety of members, with different personalities, but for the most part we were connected by our love for “The Books”. I had problems with some of the people who dissed any “historical romances” all because Diana Gabaldon made it a big issue to say that her books were NOT “romance”. (Even though she accepted a Romance Writers of America award for the first book in the series!) Some of her fans took that as an excuse to diss all romance novels, even though they admitted that they didn’t read them. Being a huge historical romance fan, that bothered me a great deal and it was the beginning of my disillusionment with the fandom.
Over the years, I became less active with the group, mostly because there were 4-5 years between book releases. I’d stop in on the website when a new book was coming out. In the last two years they had started a Facebook group that I joined. I was happy to reconnect with the fandom again. The catch was that while social media has helped fans connect with each other and Diana, it also led to some major problems. First of all, there was a rule in the Ladies of Lallybroch group that you could not say anything negative about Diana. And I mean ANY thing negative. I had not enjoyed her last few books in the series and I worried about how she might end the series. I wrote about how I didn’t want to actually read about Jamie and Claire’s deaths. Well, I got slammed on the Facebook group for daring to not “trust” Diana. That was a very insulting and ugly interaction. At this same time, as the TV show based on the books was being filmed, Diana was on social media as people were discussing the casting. Diana was extremely rude to any fan who had a problem with any aspect of the casting. I lost a lot of respect for her at that point. She may have been frustrated, and didn’t care what some fans felt, however, I thought that she should be “above” that and just not reply, rather than saying rude comments or telling other, “kiss ass”, fans how she was constantly rolling her eyes at people who questioned any aspect of the TV show.
Then the final death knell for my relationship with the group came with the premiere of the TV series. I had always been vocal about not being crazy about a series being made since the characters were so vivid in my mind. I was willing to give the show a chance. I paid for Starz and watched the first half of the first season. No matter how I tried, the actor playing “Jamie” just turned me off. He not only didn’t look anything like the Jamie in my mind, but I didn’t find him attractive at all. I had hoped that I could separate the show from the books, but it was very hard to do.
At this point, I had met a lot of new friends who had started watching the show BEFORE reading the books. For them, the actor WAS “Jamie”. They never had a pre-concieved vision of the character. These “Show fans” also didn’t care about the changes in the show vs the books that some of us had known as fact for 20+ years. Some small changes I didn’t care about, but others really bothered me. (The ring!!). There were too many people in the group who felt that in order to be considered a true fan.. you must LOVE the show and the books. They constantly argued that “If Diana is ok with it, we must be ok with it”. Seriously? Last time I looked, I had a mind of my own. It was a daily struggle to interact with people who I could not have an intelligent conversation with.
I began to realize that the TV show had taken over the fandom. It was no longer mainly a “books” oriented group. It was all about drooling over an actor that I didn’t find attractive and discussing a show that I didn’t enjoy. Since I didn’t bother paying for Starz for the rest of season one, I saw no point in belonging to a group that I no longer could relate to.
The other fandom that I left was for actor, Alex O’Loughlin. I had become his fan over 8 years ago when he starred in a vampire series called “Moonlight”. For many years I was very active in his fandom. I watched all of his movies and subsequent TV shows. 5 seasons ago he got the lead in “Hawaii Five-0”. It wasn’t a show I’d normally watch, but enjoyed the first season. As each season went on, there was not only things that I didn’t like about the show’s story lines, but the fandom became very split. There was a group who pictured that Alex’s character, Steve, and his partner, Danny (Scott Caan) were a romantic couple. It would be one thing if they just “shipped” this relationship on their own, but they became openly hostile to anyone who didn’t go along with this scenario and they were worse towards any actress who might come between these two men. It was one of the ugliest and most juvenile things I’ve ever witnessed. To make matters worse, the producer of the show would play the two parts of the fandom against each other. He also made some questionable comments on social media that I felt were not appropriate for a man of his status. When he and the show broke up a romantic relationship between Steve and “Catherine”, after leading us to believe that they would be engaged, I totally quit watching the show.
In both of these instances, Outlander and Alex /H50, I remained friends with a handful of friends who could intelligently discuss the good and bad points of our shared interests. I will miss getting together with other fans for special events, but I won’t miss the ugliness that seems to arise from certain factions of both fandom thinking they are the “better” fans. Life is too short for that kind of crap. That’s why I knew it was time to move on.