Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Dark Side of Fandom

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 30, 2016

We geeks are passionate about things. That defines us, really. Games. Fictional characters. Star Trek. Star Wars. You name it. That’s why these conventions are attended in overwhelming numbers. For all our reputation for being introverts, we really do love to get together and find other people who share our same love of geeky things. Finding someone else out there who is just as passionate about those strange, often fictional things that we are is a wonderful thing. And being able to share common experiences with other people makes it real.

This is why, in and of itself, I don’t consider “nerd rage” to be a bad thing. Look, we’re folks who are passionate about a subject. Yeah, someone screws with it, people are bound to get annoyed, or downright pissed. Maybe with reason, maybe with just distrust. The latest announcement that Nick Spencer, with Marvel’s permission, has decided to retcon Captain America’s backstory and make him a Nazi and secretly in league with Hydra has me pretty well infuriated. About as infuriated as I and many other Star Wars fans get when I hear the word, “Midi-Chlorian”. At best, it shows a complete disregard for the source material and the fans on the part of the people now charged with producing the new material for the property, even if said people are the original creators. At worst, it shows contempt. At least that’s the reasonable perception on the part of the fans.

Of course, there are other triggers for “nerd rage” that are, IMO, far less valid. Minor screw-ups. Accidents. Missing a deadline. Nerfing an overpowered character class. I can understand fans getting upset. I expect most to be reasonable, and most are. I understand that a certain tiny but significant portion of the world of fandom lacks the intelligence and emotional stability to be rational about it. For these few people who need a remedial class in being a human being, I direct the following:

Death Threats are NEVER OKAY. Never. I don’t care how badly someone slandered your favorite game in an YouTube video, how how much you were waiting for a game’s release which was just delayed. Or how much time you invested in a particular MMO only to get it nerfed or changed. Or that the CEO of a major publisher decided to cancel a series only because few people besides you were buying it anymore. Yes, even if it’s your favorite game, or your absolutely favorite superhero in the whole world.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about “SWATting.” This is, in my opinion, making good on a death threat. False 911 calls have gotten people killed. So far, nobody to my knowledge has been charged with attempted murder through the false 911 calls. I think they should. Still, it’s a serious crime, and those who are caught and indicted face real jail time. For all the complaints leveled at trigger-happy cops (sometimes by me), I think the fact that so few of these calls have ended in death or serious speaks volumes about the discipline of the police and the care with which they analyze the calls to distinguish the disgusting “pranks” from legitimate alarms.

It’s fine to be filled with the righteous fire of nerd rage, and hey… I’m all for a well-written (and hopefully entertaining) rant on the Internet. But these sort of things cross the line, and are serious problems. It’s the dark side of fandom and must not be tolerated. It’s not acceptable, and shouldn’t be treated with amusement.

Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Modran said,

    Darn it ! I have to be honest: whn I read the line about Cap, my blood boiled (and it’s a character I dislike…). Then I read this excellent piece to get some context (warning: French): http://www.comicsblog.fr/24940-edito_75__le_point_sur_le_Captain_america_Gate .
    Which can be boiled down (again with boiling?) to this “it’s the cliffhanger of a mini-serie, it won’t stay canon, it’s not the first time they tried that, it’s not the last either.
    As a friend put it: “with the movies’ fame, there’s a trove of new readers who do NOT have the 75-year comic history, so the trick can still work”
    I… Didn’t have the heart to tell him that some of the most virulent must be age-old comic-readers :).

    And yeah:
    1/ Death Threats are never ok
    2/ Get some context before reacting

  • Mr Horse said,

    Is it the dark side of fandom, or the dark side of humanity?