For some people engaging with art is a private experience, something done through headphones, in a dark corner of a basement, or in the seclusion of their own mind. They engage with the work itself, and have little need to share that experience or to have their tastes validated by the larger public. For others, art is entirely a public experience. It’s a signifier of their personality or politics. It provides rough fodder and a loose framework for fans to build their own more interesting art on top of. Or it’s just a thing to gather around, like a bar or a bowling alley. An ice breaker, or a few discussion prompts, but not important in its particulars.
The internet has indulged both these groups. While our solitary thinkers are now able to extend past the dusty corners of their local libraries into the deep cavernous expanse of the World Library, fandoms likewise have stretched themselves into global monoliths. But, for the most part, these dispositions are able to coexist fairly peacefully. Fandom’s preference for quantity over quality keeps them mostly sequestered to various cultural ghettos, and our lonely wander’s disinterest in popularity and his ability to keep his opinions to himself usually prevents him from treading on any sacred ground.
But sometimes fandoms spring up around a work that has actual artistic merit, and people who just wanted to watch a nice show or listen to some nice music find themselves in the midst of a movement. All of a sudden liking Rick And Morty is not at all like liking Futurama, sharing any opinion of Star Wars will find you entrenched deep within an incomprehensible culture war, and a Punisher logo on t-shirt might as well be a swastika. The casual fan in these instances will find themselves doing a lot of hedging and blubbering whenever their would-be favorite topics come up. Sure, I like some anime but not like the porn stuff and Harry Potter is a good kids book but not the basis of my whole understanding of politics and I own a couple of her albums but I don’t think she’s a literal god or anything like that and I uh, I have no opinions of Star Wars whatsoever…
So how do you all feel about fandoms? Have the fans of a work of art ever soured your enthusiasm for it or made you reconsider your relationship with it? Or are you able to completely ignore the uncivilized hordes? Is there anything you’re a fan of that you’re embarrassed to admit to liking, because you don’t want to be associated with the fanbase? Or have you ever had the opposite reaction, and found a fan community that you enjoy hanging out with even if you’re less enthusiastic about whatever art you’ve all gathered to discuss? How much do you value the private experience of engaging with art, and how much do you value the communal experience of sharing your enthusiasm or disdain?