Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fanboys: My Definition

Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre wrote a piece about Fanboys and self-identifying as one. I would never identify myself as one. Now I admit that I do call some people Fanboys, but to me the term is reserved for a very specific group of people.

Fanboys(and the occasional fangirl) are the pop cultural equivalent of a militant fundamentalist religious follower. I am not talking about just fervent belief here... I am talking about those people who say that if you don't accept their gospel, you will burn in hell and that you are a dirty stinking heathen sinner if you don't see that, and they have no reservations about telling you such in the most vile language imaginable.

In short, they are the Fred Phelps of pop culture... and I think most of you agree that is the sort of thing that most people don't want to be because they engage in the sort of rhetoric other people in the same general group try desperately to distance themselves from since this most extreme group makes everyone else look bad.

Now there is nothing wrong with being passionately devoted to pop cultural ephemera, and while it is occasionally annoying to be proselytized at by a true believer in a franchise, character or company, it isn't really crossing a line. However, it is the methods that fanboys employ that make them one of the most hated segments of our community, because like that hateful minority of fundamentalists, either you agree with them and their love/hate relationship with the thing that defines their life or else you should die or be stricken by some extreme hardship because your beliefs conflict with theirs. Also both groups have a tendency to throw out the words "fag" and "queer" as insults a lot.

I am a passionate fan of many things... but I've never told someone to I hope they get AIDS because they didn't like a particular movie or game as much as I did. And I've never been so incensed by images and footage being released from an upcoming adaptation of comic/novel that I loved that the subject of rape ever came up. I have gnashed my teeth about remakes in general, but I've never wished cancer on anyone involved in their making. I've never foamed at the mouth when a game in a series that I enjoy fanatically didn't get a 10... especially when I hadn't played it yet. I get mad at people online because our opinions differ, but I don't take it personally and I certainly don't make it my crusade to personally battle those people who disagree with me.

It is pop culture... it is supposed to be fun, not some self-righteous display of one's supposed love for a tiny segment of that vast tapestry.

Samuraifrog made a particular observation that I think is worth noting: "Fanboys are so dick-brained these days that they’ve actually become a parody of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. Remember when that guy was a parody of fanboys? Now he looks tame and well-adjusted." Yes, I remember those days indeed. I mean when did acting like a total ass about someone else's creation become a good thing, and who encouraged this type of behavior in the first place.

So really, if someone called me a fanboy and I was acting like I described, I would be utterly ashamed of myself.


Semaj said...

Couldn’t agree with you more. I’d never call you a fanboy. You are more like an anti-fanboy.

I’d put myself into the fanboy group, but in a limited state. However, some of them make even me shake my head in disgust. (Such as the one that attacked you on that Star Wars post.)

There’s also the extreme view they have that makes them not give credit to anything is better or matching the quality their (fill in the blank) show/game that they support.

Side note: It seems there is a growing number of Fangirls out there now. Mainly, thanks to that Twilight series. Have you noticed this too?

Probably the worst fanboys/girls are the gamer fanboys. They’ve pretty much ruined gaming for me. Can’t a guy give a fair review to a Zelda game without being attacked for it?

Arjan said...

fanboys just make me laugh, they're taking themselves fár to serious. They should be remembered that there's a real life out doors.

Megan said...

Your definition is much narrower than Piper's, but I totally agree that whether you call them Fanboys or whatever, this type of behavior is not pretty.

Piper said...

Jeez, what kind of fanboys are you hangin with?

By definition, Fanboy is not limited to pop culture, which is why I no longer have a problem with the word. Whether you define it differently is up to you, but that's not the true definition.

There are stupid fanatics out there, just as there are stupid Christians out there. And those select few do not define the many.

In advertising I run into "fanboys" who covet movies, or anime or comic books, video games or figures from comic books that were made into movies and I've never known any of them to wish harm to me if I didn't agree with their fanaticism. Quite the opposite. They usually apologize for having it as bad as they do.

There may not be a bigger Disney fanatic than myself, and I openly admit it upfront so it puts everything I say into context. If someone doesn't love Disney as much as I do, I understand because I know that my level of fanaticism is reserved for the very, very sick.

Fanboy is just a word. Nothing more. We decide to give it meaning or not. The label used to bug me because I let it. But no longer. Now the whole thing is kind of funny to me.

MC said...

Semaj: Yes, gamer fanboys/girls are the worst indeed, as there is a lot of interconsole assaults going on there. I mean, I love Grand Theft Auto, but I am willing to admit there are problems, and if another game came along that did things better, I'd fully support it.

I haven't noticed the Twilight-based fan girls yet. Perhaps I will in the coming weeks. I did notice a lot of Supernatural fans really pumping that series when I first started at Hey Nielsen!

Arjan: Exactly... they do take themselves WAY too seriously.

Megan: Those are the ONLY individuals I call Fanboys, so if I call someone such, I am referring to that subculture.

Piper: Fanboys by the definition I use and the majority of the ones posted at the Urban Dictionary are usually also very vocal forumites, so I encounter them a lot of places.

Piper said...

I am not that Fanboy.

And I'm pleased to say that I have yet to run into one such as that.

I will say there's this video store clerk who thought I was an idiot because I didn't think Equilibrium was better than The Matrix. He then proceeded to quiz me on my movie knowledge and taste. He sounds like he qualifies.

MC said...

That sounds like someone who may have some of those genes yes.

And I know that Samuraifrog is more than familiar with these same types of individuals, as he has just mentioned quite a few of his encounters with these types of people in one of the posts he made today.

Micgar said...

You're not a fan boy or boi! Yes you are a fan, but not with the added junk!I mean those guys get fanatical to the point where your comparison to Fred Phelps is very apt!

MC said...

I love things yes, but I know my limits and I tend to try to see where other people are coming from.