I’ve always hated being a fan. Being called a fan. Calling myself a fan. I’ve always despised what that means, because what does it mean?
It’s easy enough to say that it’s a good thing to embrace being a fan of something or someone, because it opens you up to sharing in those interests with a community of like-minded people. Only they’re not like-minded. That’s the problem.
The assumption that people who like what you like are like you is wrong, but you get lumped in with them anyway, don’t you? Your individuality is absorbed by the essence of that group and what others make of it – how others perceive it. The world binds you to their thoughts and behaviors as if you’re a hive mind, not a like mind, and I hate that.
I value my uniqueness.
In a world full of people who’d rather be anyone but themselves, I cherish all the little bits and pieces that make me who I am – a person no person can ever be except me. And I cringe at anything that reduces my complex simplicity and simple complexities down to what music I like or which actors I follow.
I reject that box. Fuck that box.
So I don’t like being labeled a fan and have never been able to identify myself to others as a fan without recoiling, because it doesn’t feel right. Something is left behind. I can say I love that thing and I can talk about how much I love that thing, but I cannot say that I’m a fan.
But for a writer, semantics aren’t petty. That word means something, and I don’t like what it means. That’s just the way I am. And I don’t seek to change it nor do I have to defend it, but I do need to understand it. It’s important to know your own “why”.
So why does it bother me?
I was thinking about this one day when I was reading the comments on a YouTube video, which is rare (see; total eclipse). There was some kerfuffle in the comments that ended in one user saying to another that this particular YouTuber (Markiplier) said he’d never date a fan.
It brought me back to the question of what being a fan means, not only to the fans themselves, but to others – including the people they’re a fan of.
Social and romantic rules always rear their heads once people gain a bit of prominence on my side of the entertainment pond as well. Some actors say they’ll never date a fan. Some say they’ll never date a fellow actor. Some say they’ll never date another celebrity.
And they aren’t typically expected to qualify that preference. We just accept that they deem something about entering into a relationship with a person who falls under that umbrella to be problematic or less than ideal.
We can guess at the many reasons why a celebrity wouldn’t want to date someone in the same profession or with the same level of fame, but for now, let’s focus on fans, because that’s at the core of this post.
What does someone really mean when they say they’d never date a fan? If you took it at face value, it’d be the equivalent of saying I’d never date someone who likes me, and that obviously makes no sense. So there has to be more to it than that. There has to be something more to how this person defines a fan – what it means.
Moreover, it probably isn’t good if it’s enough to spur a blanket preference not to date one, and that blanket is at the root of what bugs me.
It isn’t the thought of losing myself to a numberless mass, becoming another face in a crowd so dense, you can scarcely make it out. And it isn’t the thought of who I am being summed up by what others seem to be by virtue of one shared interest.
It’s the thought of who I am being reduced to a negative. Worse, because of something I happen to love that there’s nothing wrong with loving. It’s the feeling that because I’m a fan of this thing, a wall is placed around me and assumptions are used to pin me down.
Looking back, I realize that what I thought was the case isn’t true. I don’t hate being called a fan. I hate being treated like one. And I can call myself a fan just fine if I don’t feel like it limits me or says something about me that isn’t me.
I guess what I hate most is the irony – how some things are only out of reach because you reached for them. Sometimes, it’s like you’re punished for liking the things that want you to like them, and the more you do, the more separation it creates.
Strange, isn’t it?
But what do I know. I’m just a fan of rambling.