Fandom or Fanaticism
I don't have a name for these writing sections yet, so if any of you have a catchy name for whatever this is that I'm doing then let me know!
I used to not be a fan of Superman, like, I watched the cartoons but that was about it because the “Rogues Gallery” (the villains) were pretty unique and interesting. Superman is a giant of superheroes and his weaknesses are: magic, no sunlight (there’s a joke here), and pieces of his destroyed planet. That last one is most definitely not because of the Krypton, it has to be trauma inducing right? Anyway, it wasn’t until reading Red Son that I completely changed my mentality on what makes Superman so giant. If he wanted to he could easily take over everything, but he believes in the people helping themselves. He will “save” them, sure… but ultimately he’s not gonna like, do your mundane tasks. He’s not gonna live your life basically. It wasn’t until Superman: Up in the Sky that I truly appreciated what he meant. In this story he went across the galaxy to find one, ONE(!) kidnapped child and the ending is absolutely beautiful. I won’t spoil it, but the story is worth it. Anyway, it took a long time for me to understand and become a fan of just Superman, most likely because of him kinda being shoved down our throats for years. Conversations about “who would win”, which we’ve all taken part in, Superman I’d bash constantly. It wasn’t even really necessary to do, it was believing I knew what I was talking about in a hypothetical, fictional rant on nothing.
Having that kind of attitude made the conversations less enjoyable and more hostile or toxic because why would it be necessary to überfan fun and different ideas. It’s hard to see the enjoyment of having a conversation about possibility for fictional characters when you can’t even take yourself away from your own bias. Which is all it is, “this means this to me, anything else is foolish” attitude. You’ve probably seen some of the rumors about making a Black Superman movie and MANY people saying either:
1. Superman isn’t Black
2. We don’t need a Black Superman, we already have Black heroes
So for 1 there’s a very simple answer: Earth-23, everybody Black and Superman is the President. So...yea. With 2 see above sentence, but also support indie creators? Support stories with Black characters woven into the story like Excellence, Bitter Root, Skyward. They aren’t necessarily superheroes, but we have a lot of superhero stories and to break ground in comics… with dedicated fans for Black superhero stories is extremely difficult. Mainly because when we ask for more stories they aren’t fully supported because people believe it is for “social justice” as if we aren’t meant to exist fictionally beside white characters or every minute detail is over-analyzed and harangued due to imperfection. There isn’t room to push through fanaticism. The core of a character created is what is needed to be withheld, white was just the template everyone used because how many people of color were even allowed to be in the industry? How many people of color were even considered? There were characters added to comics to “represent” us based on what they believed our responses to injustice would be, I guess. Not to mention there was (is?) Milestone comics that brought us Static Shock which I will say was insane to see as a kid. I’m just rambling about comics right now, but man if every form of entertainment doesn’t have its toxicity when it comes to characters.
The amount of created content for Black anime cosplayers (Black women especially) is usually met with vitriol, harassment, threats, and racist tirades. All because they put on a costume and the character “isn’t Black”. Who is giving non-Black people permission to speak on Japanese characters? Not to mention who the hell is gatekeeping artistic expression?! There are people who like anime and then there are people who think that it BELONGS to them. Characters they fawn over specifically and I can only blame this on a lack of social skills, awareness, or just flat out youth. If it’s an adult, honestly, what can be done? They’re off the deep end. I’ve seen many Black creators on TikTok and Instagram repeatedly harassed simply for dressing up as a character someone is overly obsessed with. That’s not their problem and they don’t have to explain their dressing up as a fictional character they enjoy too. I’m not gonna get into the disaster that is having a con for Blerds and the costume competition being won by a white person. A space created for Black nerds to be themselves and see the scope of how not alone they are in their geekiness. A way of seeing the potential and work from Black creators, and uplifting that was essentially overlooked because the responsibility of inclusion always has to fall on minorities, but never the opposite because “that’s just SJW stuff”. It’s mind boggling, but this ain’t the post for that.
Too many people are gatekeeping ideas, artistry and expression that they have a visceral reaction to and that’s all it is. A reaction and not a thought. There is an impulse in fanatics to hate the thing that isn’t something they can’t see as not necessarily for them. It either is for them or someone is pushing into their space that “doesn’t belong”. A fan sees potential, a fanatic sees transgression. Now the important thing you should ask yourself after this is: which one have I been perpetrating? You can not like the direction of something, but remain hopeful without being impertinent. If you see something and feel your body immediately react to it, you need to listen to your body and ask what is making you react… chances are it has nothing to do with the direction, you may just be lost in your own escapism.
*Cover photo from: https://www.dccomics.com/reader/#/comics/446473