I want to make a quick post about “true fans”, the people who insist they’re the real fans of a franchise or character to the point where they will smear and abuse anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Most of us already know how awful this is. The people who do it are trying to become the ones who have total control over fandom. They want everyone to adhere to whatever they decide is best, and they want everyone to admire them.
It doesn’t work that way, of course. Toxic fandom is toxic not only because it hurts people, but because it hurts the very things people insist they’re fans of. With every person that gets driven out of the fandom because they don’t want to deal with abuse, the object of fandom has fewer people to support it. The object of fandom gets fewer pieces of fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, and fewer reasons for the company that actually owns the rights to care. Once the fandom has lost so many fans that hardly anyone’s talking about it, the fandom becomes much much less than it can be. It’s a direct attack on a much loved dream.
There’s another element, though, that’s extremely important to bear in mind.
“True fans” don’t flock to things that are worthless. They don’t abuse people over things that have no value. Abusive fans are horrible to have and everyone would be better off if they stopped being abusive… but they also demonstrate that what they’re being abusive around is meaningful in its own right, and that a LOT of other people can see its worth too.
No matter what happens, how horrible it gets, it’s important to remember that. Past the vile behavior, there’s a wonderful franchise or character that has so much to offer. If that was not the case, abusive types would focus on a different franchise or character with a much bigger following.
This is what really keeps me going in spite of smears and attacks: knowing that the thing I’m getting abused for supporting has a lot to offer.