The Ragamuffin Speaks: The Foetid Boil of Fan Entitlement

When the revolution comes entitled fanboys will be first against the wall, but not before complaining that the revolution contradicts an established part of continuity and questioning why a limited series hasn’t been produced to explain the discrepancy.

Fan entitlement has become a foetid, pus-filled boil on the back of wider fandom, and it desperately needs popping. Now that I’ve filled your heads with that mental image, perhaps I should explain what I actually mean by fan entitlement. Basically, fan entitlement refers to the belief of a certain section of any given fandom that the media that they consume should be perfectly tailored for their specific needs. It’s generally coupled with the delusion that the entitled fan’s opinions are shared by all within that specific fandom. Those of you who’ve followed this column over from its previous home will be familiar with my issues with “received wisdom” within fandom, which is essentially the same thing, the concept that there are certain opinions that are universally held. For example, that Moffat’s run as showrunner on Doctor Who is awful, that Rose is the Doctor’s one true love, that the Star Wars prequels are terrible, that JK Rowling is an excellent writer, that Chuck Austen’s X-Men run was the worst thing ever, that Alan Moore is an undisputed genius, etc, etc, etc. I could probably go on forever listing opinions held by certain sections of certain fandoms that they believe to be universal.

I’ve recently become fascinated by one particular outlet for entitled fans that really showcases this kind of fan at their worst, and that’s Tom Brevoort’s tumblr. For those of you who don’t know, Tom Brevoort is an American comic book editor, known for his work for Marvel Comics, where he has overseen titles such as New Avengers, Civil War, and Fantastic Four. He became Executive Editor in 2007, and in January 2011 was promoted to Senior Vice President of Publishing. He holds both titles as of 2011. Brevoort’s tumblr consists entirely of him answering questions about Marvel comics that people have submitted. He has the anonymous option switched on. You can only imagine the kinds of things he gets asked. Wait, no, you don’t have to imagine, here’s a selection of the most recent questions he’s been anonymously asked (and I should add that I’m leaving the spelling and grammar as they were submitted):

“I’m so sick of all these girl pandering comics. No one wants to be men anymore. Dc I are last hope”

“So I’m a bit confused … does Remender not know that Cap had the super soldier serum removed way back in Captain America #378 … but it turned out a few issues later that it didn’t matter because his body was permanently affected by it? I mean, even CBR mentioned it in a recent column last week. Sounds to me like it’s no-prize time, or Remender needs to do better research.”

“That little Deathlok on the cover is a really poor design choice. Please get rid of it or fire whoever thought it should be there.”

“Doesn’t X-Men Days of Future Past Movie prove that Professor-X still has value as a character alive? He’s basically the main character. Just because modern writers wanted to focus on Cyclops and Wolverine doesn’t mean he can’t be used. Prof-X has more value alive than as an excuse for people to get angry at Cyclops and the Red Skull to steal his brain.”

“I just want to say when you answer “wait and see” to someone you must say and how long he must wait and see!one day,one week, one month,one year,sorry but most of us(fans) we don’t have patience at all!Thanks man!! ;-)”

“You will often defend series that are unpopular online but still sell by saying that people are buying the series because they like it and not because of habit or being tricked into it. What then do you say about Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run? Not only is it reviled online, many Marvel creators openly dislike it, and Chuck Austen has been blacklisted from Marvel. Clearly people were only buying his run because it was Uncanny X-Men, habit not quality.”

“In Dark Reign The list Avengers, Bucky said that he killed Hitler. This is obviously a mistake since in Marvel Canon the Original Human Torch killed Hitler (Bucky was in a Russian medical center at the time anyway). I expect Bendis to make continuity goofs, but I expect the editor to correct them. Bucky killing Hitler was not a vital part of the narrative, and the Torch killing Hitler is a big part of Marvel canon, so why did you let such a mistake go through?”

“If Superman had lost to Thor the whole comic book medium would have collapsed on itself! With Thor Losing you just sell a far greater number of Copies to those fans who are interested in such things and Superman claims the Title of Mightiest hero, because he had already beat Hulk! You guys sold far more copies by having Thor lose, I mean a draw would of been meh and you would have sold what you expected, a big loss and it sky rockets! You only care about money not the enjoyment of fans! Pathetic”

I feel I should point out that the last question concerns a comic book that came out over ten years ago.

The main thrust of many of these questions is simply – I do not like this, therefore it should not exist and whoever is responsible for it should be fired. The underlying theme is simply – you should create comics purely for me, with no other considerations. Most of the other questions people submit to Brevoort tend to involve people wanting to know what’s going to happen in stories that have only just been initially solicited. What all of this displays is a fundamental lack of respect for the creators involved. There’s no willingness to let experienced, professional writers and artists, who’ve spent decades honing their craft, tell the stories that they wish to tell. Instead, this entitled section of fandom insists that creators service their needs and theirs alone, never able to see beyond themselves, to a diverse fandom with varied needs.

It’s time to let it go, guys. If a comic, a TV show, a movie, or whatever, isn’t for you…then it isn’t for you. Move on, find something that is. Don’t insist that it be changed to suit you. Understand that different people have different tastes and different needs. You hate a certain writer or artist? I can guarantee you that there are people out there who love them. “But I’ve been reading the adventures of the Green Sneeze-Warbler for thirty years, why should I have to stop reading it just because I hate everything about it now?” I think, maybe, the answer is in the question there.

I do get it, though, I understand being a collector and wanting to have a complete run of a particular comic. I understand slogging through a run by a creative team that you just don’t like. But the point is that you need to understand and accept that for some people that’s the high point. That’s the defining arc. That’s the greatest damn creative team that ever did create. Those people are having the moment you maybe had a decade earlier, when you fell in love with that character…and who the hell are you to take that away from them?

Anyway, just some food for thought there. I’d highly recommend keeping up with Tom Brevoort’s tumblr, and if you start to recognise yourself in the frothing lunacy of some of his anons…maybe it’s time to think long and hard about your own attitudes.

All that’s left for me to say is that I’ll be in Glasgow in two weeks time for the Glasgow Comic Con – if you’re in the Glasgow area do come along and say hello, and maybe buy some of my books too!

Ian D Sharman

Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fandom Wanderers.

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