I came across this gem of a story via Twitter yesterday, right after I learned Disney ordered a reshoot of the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue Nation.
I consider myself a nerd–not nearly cool enough to be a geek–but I operate on a rather narrow slice of nerd-dom. I like some science fiction, a handful of popular television shows and movies. I’ve never been to a con. For the most part*, I don’t even visit websites for shows or look for spoilers because I genuinely want to be surprised.
(*The exception is the X-Files, because it peaked during the early days of the Internet and I had unlimited access to the Internet at college. I eventually disliked the way the show was going so I read more than my share of fan fiction that was devoted to Mulder and Scully NOT having a relationship.)
The article really made me think about what it means to be a fan and what I should expect as a fan.
Annie Wilkes is a character in Misery, a Stephen King novel. Kathy Bates went on to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Wilkes in the film adaptation. In the story, a writer gets into a car crash and is kept captive by a nurse who is his biggest fan. During his rehabilitation, she forces him to resurrect a character he killed off and write a new novel dedicated to her.
Over the years and with the advent of social media, fans have more access to their favorite shows. People who like The Magicians can explore a website dedicated to Brakebills, the fictional school that the characters attend. Casts of Orphan Black, Shadowhunters and the Magicians all tweet and interact with fans while episodes air. Like Breaking Bad, Orphan Black has a behind-the-scenes show following every episode with cast members, writers, extra footage and more. That’s not including Comicon and other appearances, plus promotion tours and the like.
So with all the fan outreach to promote and encourage viewership of shows, fans can end up feeling as though they should be able to dictate plot development, casting decisions and more. When he was playing Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton was excoriated at public appearances by fans of the show who were annoyed by the character. To put it another way, people lashed out at a real, live actor because they didn’t like the pretend person he portrayed.
I’m not going to lie: If George R.R. Martin were to get in an accident near my house and I had to shelter him during a storm, I’d at least ask him about Winds of Winter. My daughter, who just finished the fifth Harry Potter book, has said on more than one occasion that if she ever met J.K. Rowling, she’d ask for a novel (or series) about Severus Snape, easily the most misunderstood character in the series.
But people tend to flock to the Internet, like newspapers before it, only if they really hate or really love something. That’s what I love about the article: exploring the good and bad sides of extreme fandom.