From Wayne: Last week actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, deleted her Instagram account because of the constant abuse she was receiving from people who consider themselves “fans” of the Star War franchise. She was ridiculed for her race, her body, her performance, and basically took the brunt of anger from those who did like the movie.
This is an all too common occurrence online. Fans of a thing take umbrage at anything that violates their personal head canon of that thing. Behavior that would have been unthinkable in the past takes place on a grand scale every day. Participants in an entertainment product, whether actors, or writers, or artists, or editors, find themselves the target of threats of death and rape and bodily harm. There is a segment of fandom that seems to think this behavior is okay. The anonymity of the internet allows them to lash out in ways that they would never do in a real life face-to-face situation. Or would they? There have been instances where fans have crossed this line in real life.
What causes this sort of behavior among those who profess to love something? There is a long held stereotype of the comic book fan, applicable to other fandoms as well, as the lonely geek bereft of social skills living in their parents basement. There is this one thing that they love and feel a need to protect it. It is the one thing that makes them feel special and sharing it with others feels threatening to their identity. Like the troll in the classic fairy tale of Three Billy Goats Gruff, they don’t want to allow anyone new into their pasture and set themselves up as the gatekeepers to their fandom. This stereotype is obviously not true for the vast majority of fandom. But the behavior persists.
On this episode we plan on discussing this phenomenon. Toxic Fandom is a serious issue that not only undermines the enjoyment of a thing, it can turn criminal and deadly. The idea that it is okay to threaten a real person over a difference of opinions over fictional persons is kind of fucked up.
We will be joined on this episode by Abigail Palbus, who last appeared here on our Violence in Video Games episode. Also joining us will be actor and writer David Fielding who originated the role of Zordon on the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, David has been appearing at conventions the last couple of years and has experienced some of what we’re talking about first hand.
Let us know your thoughts and experiences, or anything else about this topic you would like us to talk about.