Sunday, December 8, 2013

Discussion: What Is It That Makes A Person A 'True Fan'?

We all have things we love and gush about. Books, movies, actors, singers… whatever. We’re crazy about them. People we know may even call us obsessed at times. We are fans.

But what is it that puts someone under the label of a ‘true fan’? Is it the amount of time a person has been part of it? The knowledge they possess? Or when talking about book-movie adaptations, would you slap this label on anyone that read the book first… but snub your nose at those who read it after watching by saying they’re bandwagon-ing?

I’m prepared to fully admit I’ve been a bit of a snob in my past with book-movie adaptations. I was agitated for the most part when people would watch the film and become obsessed, think they’d try to outsmart me only to be wrong because films change details in most cases anyway, and then read the books later. Now I’m not as bothered by it because HEY, whatever… it gets a person to pick up the book still, right?? I just can’t argue this logic. (Also, thank you Hunger Games for getting my oldest girl to read last year *fist pump*)

But recently, I’ve been seeing a larger problem. Statements made by fans in various fandoms, and more recently even a producer of an upcoming film of a book I’ve been waiting for as a movie for over three years, and they’re not setting well with me. Example:
"Furthermore, having now shown this film to over 1000 fans, the results are in. They LOVE IT! and I promise you, if you are a true fan of the series, you will too!” --Mike Preger, Producer (Vampire Academy)




The first time I read VA was when I was around twenty-two I believe if I’m not mistaken (22-23 was a good year for books for me--VA, Hunger Games, The Book Thief, Wintergirls). It wasn’t heard of much at the time. Blood Promise wasn’t even out yet. The first three were only available on paperback. But this doesn’t matter. Couldn’t someone that’d just read and loved the series in the last month be as much of a fan as I am? I would think so, right?

The other issue to address here is that not every fan is going to like a movie adaptation. No matter how well done it may be. To make a statement that basically puts any person in a position of feeling as if they’re not contributing to the community or not a true fan if they don’t like it is not right. I personally think Mr. Preger didn’t mean anything harmful by his comment and he likely didn’t realize how it sounded perhaps, but things should’ve been worded differently for sure. At least it made me think, which led me to this discussion post.


We have to remember what’s important as fans though: the connection. Not just a connection with a book/series or authors we eventually become fans of, but the characters, their world, and other fans. There shouldn’t be any concern over who’s a true fan due to X reason. If you’re a fan, you’re a fan! How hard is that, really? And if you don’t like a movie adaptation of a book you love, it doesn’t make you any less of a fan. Nor does reading a book after seeing the movie (though us book-nerds do prefer you try to read before because the books are always better anyway, just saying). ;)

So, how about it… Be just a fan with me? Or do you use the ‘true fan’ label (if so, please let me know how you work it out?)?



  1. I feel that the idea that there are "true" (and therefore also "false") fans is actually something that works against whatever an individual is a fan of. By suggesting that there is some form of "truth" in something, that means there is one correct way to do or be it, that it is something that can be proven as a fact, and that, by its very nature, there are ways to handle the situation / idea / topic that are wrong.

    But who gets to decide that right or wrong, and why? And when we are talking about art fandom (of any medium--music, tv, visual art, whatever) what does anyone gain by trying to form some kind of exclusivity that lets some people "in" and others "out". How does that actually help the intellectual property that the "true" fan likes?

    Art only breathes when it is being enjoyed. Characters in a book, for instance, only live while we are turning the pages. So if someone were to want to be a "true" fan, to do what is best for whatever fandom they care about as opposed to trying to set definitions within that fandom that match their own ideals ("If you didn't read the books first you're fake"; "If you don't ship x and y characters you're not really a fan", etc.), why on earth are they trying to create barriers between themself and other fans? Why are they trying to put their ideals and opinions on a pedestal? They did not write / draw / perform the thing, and therefore their insight is no more superior to anyone else's.

    The beauty of art, and this goes even more so when we are discussing fiction, is that it is open for each person who experiences it to have their own impressions of what they have read. The "true" fan idealism stands in stark contrast to that. As far as I'm concerned, calling oneself a "true" fan says more about a person's need to have their opinion validated and echoed than it does about any genuine loyalty, committment or passion toward the fandom, its author, etc. that they are a "true" fan of.

    Just my two cents.

    1. A great two cents it is. I agree! Though, I might have to disagree with your small point of characters only living while we are turning the pages. Or maybe I am misunderstanding, not sure. And I don't know about everyone else, but with me if I become a fan I can be finished with the book(s) (or whichever) for an extended time without having to pick up the work again because I still have them in memory. For example: And since I continue to pick on Vampire Academy I guess, the last book of the VA (not Bloodlines) series I wasn't even impressed much with... and probably would take me another couple of years to get the desire to re-read. But do I still love Dimitri and Rose and Christian? Absolutely! I love telling people about the characters and recommending, and I'm not turning the pages. For me, they're still very much alive ever since I opened the book. I don't believe any character is ever gone when a book is closed.
      I'm sure some would agree with you on your point though, and that's understandable. Everyone has a different idea when it comes to their definition of fan, too. :)

      "The beauty of art, and this goes even more so when we are discussing fiction, is that it is open for each person who experiences it to have their own impressions of what they have read."

      Exactly this. ^

      Thank you so much for your input! So sorry it has taken me so long to reply back. I've been sick for a while now.

      Have a great weekend! :)

  2. For me, being a "true fan" of something means loving it, or being excited or passionate about it. And that's it.

    Whether that love includes acknowledging its flaws (like negative aspects of a review); or unconditional love for literally every aspect; or a love of the movie without reading the book; or participating in fanfic/fanart; or only sticking to the canon; or participating in novel-length Tumblr discussions; or not wanting to discuss anything but rather just bask in the awesome; or loving the first two seasons but hating the last four; etc etc.

    Love of books/music/tv/movies/etc comes in all different manifestations. I think any sort of "level" of fan-ness is totally irrelevant. You can be a fan and disagree with other fans - as long as you acknowledge the love all "fans" have in common.

    I think this also relates to the idea that's often talked about in relation to book reviews: All opinions are relevant, including the different ones, including the negative ones. Every person experiences a thing differently - which means everyone who considers themselves "fans" are fans for different reasons. Some people's reasons for being a fan will be similar, maybe often indistinguishable, while others will be totally different. But they are all VALID, just like everyone's opinions (including the negative ones) are valid. It all has to do with our life experience, and how we've experienced the fan-object in question.

    That being said... I am definitely a fan of this post. ;)

  3. Pixie, I agree with you. I'm not a fan of VA (yet) because I haven't read it (though I will, at some point). He should NOT have said that. I hate that term "true fan." Who is he to say who is a real fan and who isn't? You are right, he probably didn't mean it that way, but... To me it basically looks like they turned books that are serious dramas into Mean Girls' episodes. If I was ANY fan, I wouldn't be happy. I think the movie is going to get panned, honestly.

    1. I hope you like it when you do read! It's so so so good. I'm quick to admit the first book was kind of cheesy at times, but the series as a whole was great. :D Now I'm just gushing. LOL. I saw the full-length trailer finally and I think it looked much better than the little teaser they had initially. There is humor sprinkled throughout the books, witty and sarcastic-type. So I'm still waiting until the movie to see how well that is done, or if it's overdone. Trailers can be...deceiving.. So I'm trying to hold back a lot of my reactions to it. Haha. But I do hate the teeth which are wrong wrong wrong.

      I also worry about it not being successful, but hope it will be. I'd rather see it have more success than TMI at least. >.> *cough*

      The link to the letter with the quote of him saying that was supposed to go in the post for anyone to go see/respond if they wanted, but I missed it somehow and only realized a few days ago. But it is on FB, on Mead's page under notes. So it's not hard to find to confirm that he did say that (along with comments from quite a few who weren't too happy about the remark either).

      So sorry I'm just now replying, too! Holidays made home life a bit hectic. Blegh. Sick for the past week. Double blegh.


  4. I get nervous when people go crazy for a book (or TV series or movie). Art and entertainment are such subjective and personal things, it's natural people should be divided over them. I always wonder if a book (or series) really deserves such adoration or if it's just people jumping on a trend like lemmings -- or your term "bandwagon-ing." Awesome word, btw, and I loved the gif's! :-)

  5. I think you're a true fan when you accept the good with the bad. Nothing is perfect, like there are some Buffy episodes that are kind of horrendous, but I love that series so much that they're part of the package deal for me and I wouldn't change them. This is probably a stupid analogy but I think it's kind of like a healthy human relationship: you love a person for their faults too, you can't expect them to be perfect. When you love a thing like that I think you're a true fan :)

  6. I hate fandom snobbery and you can find it anywhere. It's like people don't remember when they FIRST heard of something and knew nothing about it. We are all at different stages of liking something, but we all start at the same place - the very first introduction, the wonder and awe of this new world. To shun or turn your nose up at someone because they're new is shameful and awful behavior.

    None of it makes sense to me, because if you're a fan of something, you love it and want great things for it. So it stands to reason that you should be welcoming to all new fans, too. More recognition for your favorite thing should always be a positive thing!

    1. EXACTLY THIS TIMES INFINITY, BEKKA. All of it. Agreed. ^_^

      I mean, I never would've picked up and become a fan myself of some books, or started some television shows, if it hadn't been for another fan! :P

  7. I feel that I am constantly grappling with this term. I feel that it hinders and helps me sometimes. I feel that I am a Star Trek fan, but that does not give all things Star Trek a pass. As you know, I highly dislike the new series (they fucking MURDERED the mythology with Into Darkness). Most people roll their eyes at me and state that I was destined to never like the reboot. I disagree. I really like the casting, and I like the new Kirk more than the old Kirk. Karl Urban captures the heart of McCoy, and I like that Chekov is what he was intended to be - the Boy Wonder of the ST series. But I feel that it is now a space soap opera, and the woman playing Uhura is a joke and Sulu is so bland.
    Now I'll look at Lord of the Rings. I let a lot slide in The Hobbit because I am a fan. I don't care that they are bringing in all of the old characters and tearing apart the book. Tolkien actually isn't my favorite writer (not enough character development, but a wonderful story teller and world builder). I like seeing the old characters come back. I am seriously sexcited that the middle movie brings back Legolas. I love it. I freely admit it. So, as a fan, I am a little more liberal and my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.

  8. I love geekdom, but I hate how certain sections try to label everyone and everything. It's not enough to like something, you have to PROVE that you're a fan. (Bekka's term "fandom snobbery" is perfect.) This happens a lot to girls in male-dominated areas -- like sports, or gaming. Or when a studio is apparently trying to ensure their new YA movie won't bomb based on horrific trailers.

    So the whole "true fan" label, to me, is derived from insecure asshats who try to exclude others from fandoms or to try and cover over mistakes. "Don't worry that everything is different! True fans will understand why we did this...." It seems like the producer is trying to convince fans that the changes they make are not to be judged. Huh. Anyway, as for the term itself, I don't use it, and I don't like it. If you like something, that should be enough. Stop trying to quanitfy fandom!


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