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OPINION: "A Letter For Fanboy"
Author: Sean Gerber
November 30, 2010
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Let me preface by saying the following doesn’t apply to many -- and probably most -- comic book and genre film fans. There are some really good folks in fandom, no doubt about it. To those people, simply ignore what I am going to say and keep on keeping on!

However, there's a small majority of fandom that sadly give all of us a bad name. It's to those individuals that this letter is addressed...

Dear Fanboy,

Please forgive me if any of the following sounds a little harsh. I would hope that my status as a former friend and someone who previously held the same title you still hold will grant me permission to speak frankly. This may sting a little bit, but hey, the truth hurts.

The turn of the millennium was a wonderful time for you, old chum. After ignoring you for years and producing sub par comic book films, movie studios began listening to what you had to say. Studios stopped looking at you as the child who refused to grow up and instead sought your input for why the superheroes you loved so dearly remained relevant even into your adulthood. In their wisdom, movie studios realized that you could help flesh out ways for the characters you loved to appeal to mainstream, cinematic audiences while also providing the studios with free word-of-mouth marketing for their comic book films.

Boy, that sure was fun, wasn’t it!

Finally, you were validated and rewarded for your comic book patronage with superhero films of a quality that was once believed unattainable within your lifetime. Franchises like X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN, and IRON MAN became massive success stories while the BATMAN franchise returned to prominence and even became a pop culture phenomenon in 2008 thanks to THE DARK KNIGHT. The day was yours, Fanboy, as you got to tell the world “I told you so,” and the world agreed.

As fun as it is to reminisce about all of those fond memories, it’s time for your reality check. Simply put, you’ve really stepped in it, Fanboy.

You’ve taken what little power and influence Hollywood gave you and proceeded to abuse it. Somehow, you’ve developed the idea that because movie studios respect and even seek your input, they owe you something in return beyond good films about the characters you love.

You’re on a power trip, Fanboy, and to figure out how this happened, look no further than your favorite tool, the internet. Yes, the same internet that allowed you to find friends who shared your interests and wanted to talk about superhero films just as much as you did. It was the same internet that allowed you to place your opinions on message boards and comment threads, hoping that someone in charge of superhero filmmaking might actually see your ideas and incorporate them into a future film.

Somewhere along the line, you lost sight of the internet being a place for respectful, intelligent conversation between people with common interests and instead took full advantage of the anonymity the web afforded you. Like your favorite superheroes, your true identity was kept a secret, allowing you to be whoever you wanted to be and say whatever you wanted to say without consequence. Unlike your favorite superheroes, however, you abused that anonymity and used it to behave like an obnoxious jerk.

Running your mouth is dangerous in person, but no one can punch you in the teeth when you troll or start flame wars on a message board. A sense of entitlement to your own opinion is a favorite excuse of yours for not having manners, or for mindless bashing of this or that aspect of a film. Intelligent discourse is no longer your cup of tea. After all, who has time to string together actual sentences when one is so desperate to be “FIRST!” on a comment thread for a new article?

I have to ask, Fanboy, do the films really even matter to you anymore? You seem far more interested in being perceived as clever by your peers than in actually watching the films. For the first time in your life, you actually believe you’re “too cool” for something. You’ll bash a film over a 30-second clip with no context and unfinished special effects. You’ll bash a film over an outdated rivalry between comic book publishers.

What’s even more baffling is your insatiable desire for “news” about superhero films and how you really don’t care whether or not the “news” you read online is actually true! A sense of entitlement has washed over you. You believe movie studios and the creative teams behind these films owe you constant updates as quickly as you want them. Following comic book films has transformed into a delusional belief that you are now an insider in the industry and that you should be treated as such. Any former sense of movie magic is lost on you in the age of information.

As unappealing as all of this behavior has been, it was relatively benign until you expanded into online publishing, or at least rewarded online publishers who pandered to your relentless desire for information regardless of its authenticity. Websites that make up news out of mere speculation, or completely fabricate interviews and other articles have risen in popularity over night all thanks to you, Fanboy. Never mind the fact that some of these sites are run by individuals of a rather dubious nature who show no respect for things like copyrights and trademarks. Instant gratification is far more important to you.

The good thing is that sites such as these stick out like a sore thumb and get every bit of the respect that they deserve: NONE.

OK. I think I’ve made my point, so I’ll stop beating up on you, Fanboy. If you’re still reading, I want you to know that I only wish to shake you out of this awful funk that you’re in and make you aware of the problems you are creating for yourself. After all, the aforementioned behaviors are going to hurt you more than anyone else, as movie studios naturally lose interest in your input when there appears to be no intelligent thought behind it. If you act like a child, studios will give you movies for children.

Yes, you’ll always want more information, but for various reasons, move studios won’t always make the information you seek readily available. Guess what? That’s OK! Sometimes it’s for your own good, so that a surprise can be employed to heighten your enjoyment of a film. It’s perfectly fine for your love of these characters to leave you wanting as much information and exposure to the films about them as possible, but don’t mistake that for entitlement. More importantly, have some standards and don’t use outlandish rumors to get a quick fix.

Please continue to be a FAN, but be an adult (unless of course you actually are a young child, in which case, play on). Use tools like the internet to offer intelligent ideas and participate in respectful discussions with your peers. Reverse the de-evolutionary pattern you’ve fallen into and go back to the mature individual you once were and can still be. Be someone who’s actually worthy of having his or her input sought out or at least looked at and respected by filmmakers.

It’s time to grow up, Fanboy.

Senior BOF contributor Sean Gerber is a
life-long Batman from Orange County, California.
He also serves as host of the BOF PODCAST.
You can reach him via email at SEAN.M.GERBER@GMAIL.COM

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