February 21, 2017

A Few Words on Fan Entitlement

Right now, I'm feeling like the stereotypical old man who stands on his porch and yells, "Hey, you kids, get the hell off my lawn!"

In recent weeks, I've encountered several incidents of fans basically acting...well, fannish. Mostly on Facebook. People sharing videos with titles like "Marvel Gives Up Social Justice Storylines" or "Axanar Lawsuit Settlement: Star Trek Belongs To The Fans". In fact, after making a joke about Tom Baker, I was accused of being an "ageist, sexist pipsqueak".

(I apologized, then screen captured and deleted that post...but now I'm getting complaints about why I'm scheduling events when they can't make it).

So right now, I'm very cranky and frustrated because...well, fan entitlement makes it harder for people like me to enjoy popular culture. So in an effort to regain my blogging mojo, here are some thoughts about why fans make it tougher for the rest of us.

First, here's the deal - you don't own the franchise you love. You own your feelings about it, your reactions to it, your love/hate of certain tropes within it, but no franchise belongs to the fans. Legally, any pop culture franchise is the intellectual property of someone else. You don't even "own" public domain characters...because they legally belong to everyone and are open for their use.

(The last sentence was written for the "Sherlock-Holmes-Belongs-In-The-Victorian-Era crowd).

But fair use, Gordon! Fair use allows us to use characters in fan films! Well...yes and no. For more details, check out the Fair Use Project. In short, you really need to know what you're talking about....

But most importantly, remember - you don't own these properties. You own your feelings about them, your passion about them, your enthusiasm about new entries...but you don't get to make creative choices.

Many creators - and I'm one of them - take a very calculated risk. We're taking a risk that the story we tell won't matter to anyone. It won't be entertaining, it won't be worth reading/viewing/hearing, and most importantly, it won't be worth the time, effort and creativity we put into it.

However, as a fan, you share in that risk - you don't automatically get the opportunity to influence our creative choices. (That's what fan fiction is for). You don't get to claim that you receive special privilege because you're a fan. What you do get, however, is the opportunity to share in fandom.

Because fandom is, at best, a shared experience. It means that one person's loathed character is another's beloved character. It is perfectly OK to like something someone else hates.

Wow, that was fun. Looks like I'm regaining my blogging mojo.

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