Fandom As a Conflicting Place

This is an article I’ve hesitated on writing for many an issue now. I’m not really sure as to why I’ve hesitated on writing it, but there always have been a sense of ‘be cautious’ when the topic comes up in mind for an article for whatever issue we’re working on. However, it was just recently that I came to the (obvious) realisation that people are not complete idiots. Bear with me, I have a lot of moments of despairing in humanity that lead me to think otherwise. What I mean is, I feel like I can write this article, and have you fantastic Wanderers understand the feeling in which it is written. Which is mostly confusion and irritation, if I’m honest. Now, how to best pose this question to you…

Why is it that only select female driven media is often hailed as being absolutely fantastic, while others seem to generate a ‘meh’ response? Or, to use fandoms to help describe; why is Frozen‘s story hailed as being all new and awesome, when other films in the same company have done aspects of it before, and often with greater time devoted to them?

First of all, no, I am not saying I hate Frozen, I actually really like it. In terms of animated Disney musicals, it’s certainly one of the best since the early days of the Renaissance, in the early 90s. I’m just… a little sick of it being praised to the hilt, and other films which have similar aspects and done just as well, are kind of … dropped to the wayside. But it’s not just Frozen that has this effect; it’s out there, scattered throughout all types of media. And it’s not always justified; either the praise or the censure. (I will state now; if anyone brings up Twilight and its sequels, I will feel compelled to point you in the direction of one of the many posts that give a step by step breakdown of how the main relationship portrayed in those novels is completely unhealthy. Same goes for Fifty Shades.)

Is this picky nature just a by-product of the nature of the society we live in? Many well educated people will likely tell you yes, and I would be highly inclined to agree with them, if I’m being honest. You’ll have noticed over the past year or so, a sort of taking back of fandom. Posts that try to show female characters, and all characters really, in more well-rounded lights, regardless of how little the canon may give for them. We want to celebrate the characters in our fandoms, giving them all equal light, not just have the same type paraded at us over and over again – commonly seen in White Male Lead syndrome, but other tropes can show their faces as well. (Example: lead character has a dark and mysterious past, and one person could threaten the life they’ve made now. Name everything you’ve seen or read with that premise.)

I don’t think I’m besmirching anything sacred when I say that we need more variety. We need more female driven media, and by that I do indeed mean all types of females. In fact, more diversity and representation in all kinds of media would be fantastic. It’s 2014, we should not be starved for certain types of characters on our screens or in our reading materials. You may complain that fan-fiction can completely change a character, but that’s because fan-fiction can allow for deeper introspection, and gives room to have this representation that is lacking in the canon, and that fans are getting desperate for.

So why is it some stuff is overly praised while other similar material isn’t? Personally, I think it’s something to do with the safety factor, but I do not have professional training in that area, so my opinion can never be taken as fact. That being said, I really hope that I’m not alone in having notice this, and not alone in wondering exactly why it is that seems to be the case.

Maybe it will change. We can certainly hope so. Or we can all try to take over the media and produce stuff that gives the representation and diversity that people are craving, but sad fact is that only certain stuff makes it to screen or print and companies in charge can be notoriously picky. It’s them we need to change. And our outlooks, a bit.

Z McAspurren.

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