A Million Generations of Fans

Being late to the party in terms of fandoms can be a tricky thing. What if your favourite (possible) ship has already gone out in a blaze of glory? What if the tumblr side of things has already steered into the acid lakes of hate, flame and basic human indecency? Why would you even dare visiting an ocean of original content only to discover there’s no way for you to see it with eyes as fresh as those lucky enough to stumble upon it years (or even decades) back?

Sometimes, though, a fandom arises that is so vast, so overwhelmingly diverse, and so welcoming to different generations of fans (both in terms of life on this planet and the exact date of joining the fandom) that you really don’t feel left out – one that makes you grateful for the sheer possibility of joining on the outskirts or right in the middle of events, encouraging you to step up for yourself, raise your arm as far as it can go and proudly say whisper – I’m a fan, too

In the recent years we’ve been both privileged and scared shitless to witness the retelling of many a beloved story from the days of yore, and many brand new stories published, set into even more beloved (if that’s even a thing) settings created well back in the previous century. And this isn’t a new phenomenon, too – stories have a quirky ability to resurface every year or decade (or millenium) or so, just to attract new fans, those who can proudly (and ignorantly) say – I’ve discovered This Story first! (Oh, boy.) New stories are few and far apart, and the only thing the creators can hope to accomplish is fuse enough of themselves and their audience into the stories they tell for those on the receiving end to be able to say “yeah, this shit is kinda awesome” or “wow, I’ve never seen werewolves portrayed in this manner, let me take a closer look”.

A thing that happens, though, is that every new generation craves different things – via different upbringing, different cultural mindsets and different marketing strategies shoved into their laps from the day they first open their eyes and scream their hearts out for air. We the creators (oooh, scary) can only do so much to attract as wide an audience as we possibly can, but there will always be those whose brains are just not wired for the stories we’re telling and the things that makes us cry or laugh out of sheer joy. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I, for example, take great pride in being a member of the second visible (and millionth true) generation of Star Wars fans. It was my great honour to see VI, V and VI on the big screen (one of the biggest in this part of Europe) in 1997 at the gentle age of ten, just before CGI took over our minds and our dreams (as early as the very same year, if you’re a die-hard T5E fan like some, the next year, if you recall Leaving Southampton, or two years later, if Naboo’s more your thing). What happened when Episode VII (and, subsequently, Rogue One) came out, was that I couldn’t for the life of me resonate with the stories as much as those whose first ever Star Wars came out in 2015. It took some getting used to, and it wasn’t until later, when JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (and, most recently, Bryan Fuller’s Discovery) clicked into place as a whole, when I realized that is perfectly okay.

When you’re a part of a fandom – especially the enormous fandoms as Star Wars, Star Trek, Tolkien, DCU and similar – the point isn’t in being the fan. The point is being a fan. And, as much as it still confounds me to see all those logos and names and colours and costumes and story snippets and archetypes flaunted around, I couldn’t be happier that the ‘verses go on. I’m happy as a clam for my friends (and countless others on the planet that I won’t ever be able to meet) whose brains subconsciously claim a new(-er or -est) story set in a beloved universe as the first one – or, even more important, theirs. Some things are not meant to end, and angrily clinging to your first story in a ‘verse (and thus saying “my story is the only one that matter because it’s mine“) is not only childish, but unnecessary and, sorry to tell you that, completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

There will always be old fans, new fans, fans. The least we can do is wave to each other – and the best we can do is be happy.

Because, as long as there are fans in a fandom, the story will go on – yeah, even into Season Fourteen, if you ask me. Because there will be someone whose first ever episode of the Winchester bros will be S14 E01 (if it ever comes to pass, fingers crossed) – just as I’d started watching when Season 8 was almost over, even though I’d  been more than aware of the show’s existence from the get go, just not diving in earlier due to reasons too many (and too obsolete) to mention.

There will always be someone – maybe even a very special someone – whose Star Trek crew is the USS Discovery’s crew, not unlike how Janeway will always be my captain (and a role model whose influence I’ve just recently started recognizing, coming closer to her age and accepting more responsibilities in life, something I couldn’t quite appreciate when I was nine).

And there will always be new fandoms, fledgling fandoms, fandoms whose true potential not even the dreamiest of creators can envision in the here and now, when struggling to get funding their stories out. Fandoms and fans that will, one day, shape the reality of this world we all live in.

So, let me know – what is your next fandom going to be?

 

Photo by Marin Rukavina, Rikon 2016.

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