By a show of hands how many of you have heard some form of “im a real fan because…” or “You’re a fake fan because…”
What was your response? Were you shocked? Horrified? Defensive? “im a real fan, and here’s why…..”
Why is that a thing! Why are people in our own community accusing others of being ‘fake’ fans.
During the first month of Pokémon GO this was the main thing I noticed on social media. Not trainers helping other trainers, but people accusing others of being fake fans, or bandwagoners. This was infuriating! The first few times I was accused of being a fake fan actively defended myself, going full blown keyboard warrior on their ass!
But why? Why was someone’s opinion of me, who didn’t matter to me then and doesn’t matter to me now, so aggravating? Why do I put disclaimers on my reviews of Dubbed series and anticipate being hated for it? Why do we let nameless, faceless, unimportant people who have elevated themselves above us dictate how we feel about being fans?
Then again, outside of that moment do we care?
A fake fan, if they existed, would be labelled as someone who does something because its popular, but doesn’t ingrain themselves in the activity.
But that sounds like someone trying something out. You can watch a series for a season. You can binge a series in 2 days and then never pick it up again. There are a number of ways you can be a fan of something.
Im a fan of Poptarts, but im not engrained in Kellogg’s business, eagerly anticipating the next flavor. But I will try the new flavors, say they taste the same as the strawberry ones, and move on to something else. But im still a fan of Poptarts and I will participate in Poptarts when I feel like it. Am I a fake fan of Poptarts because I only like the popular flavors? Am I fake fan because I don’t know every factory workers deep backstory and have their work history memorized?
The same goes for anime. A fan is a fan, no matter their knowledge or participation.
When I started watching anime, I didn’t know Dubbed was a thing. 7 years in im still learning. I stared blankly at my friend the other day when she started talking about Seiyuu. Im still not 100% sure what that means. I think it’s the bands that play the OP/ED of an anime?
Because every fan is different. We are a community that has taken in another country’s culture, language, medium and context and altered it to our preferences. How much we alter it is an individuals choice. How we pronounce names, is up to the person.
Until I met other Otaku(yes I call community members Otaku. That’s how I identify my participation) I pronounced things wrong. Yaoi was Yay-oh. Uke was Yuki. Seme was seh-mee. My friend pronounces Asahi like A-SAW-hee, while I pronounce it asa-HEE. Does the difference in pronunciation promote or demote us to a real or fake fan?
Everyone enjoys this borrowed culture of ours their own way, be it on nightly binges, or weekly intervals. My anime watching has been reduced to my time on public transit. That’s about 2-3 episodes a day, if I forego human interaction and get a seat on the bus.
But I’ve made my own cosplay before. So what am I? Am I a real fan because I made my cosplay? Am I a fake fan because I’ve been on episode 25 of Katekyo Hitman Reborn for about 6 years? Why are labels on participation a thing?
Now im not saying bandwagoners don’t exist. People will watch something because its popular. Part of the way that a community grows is by producing something popular that appeals to the masses, its shared, and more people either like it and continue their participation, or they get bored and move on.
Or it seems the community insults them for not being an all knowing AI from the start and pushes them out.
But if someone likes something, then they are a fan of it.
For example, a youtuber, Jacksepticeye, Jack. He has watched One Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100. He’s spoken about it in videos in passing, but he’s not on forums talking and discussing the individual episodes. He’s busy, he has a life (Happy birthday btw Jack!) Is he a real or fake fan? No! he’s a fan! He enjoys an anime, making him an anime fan.
Avatar and Korra, those two shows are highly popular in the anime community, despite being western products. If you are just finding this out, then welcome to the club! I was shocked when I found out too. I just assumed it was an anime because it was circulating the community and it was under Anime on Netflix.
The first time I remember reading something so hateful in this community was in regards to Avatar. Someone had asked if there was a Japanese dub of the show. It was innocent, innocuous, it was a fine question. The only answer on the question was along the lines of ‘why, so you can watch it subbed like an elitist’ with some swears and insults mixed in. That was easily 5 years ago and it still bothers me.
I am not completely innocent either. For a while I had hang-ups about a lot of things, in and out of the anime community. I had an ‘anti-white girl Instagram” policy, where if a white girl would Instagram it, I wanted nothing to do with it, because I didn’t want to be ‘mainstream’. I didn’t want to only follow the popular items.
Yes, I was a little emo child, and my makeup hasn’t really changed. My wardrobe doesn’t have much color either.
I despised the word Weeaboo and the people I thought it applied to. My younger sister came home one day and came up and did a “kawaii desu” with peace sign at me. I was not a fan. It felt like the subculture I identified with was being mocked. I should have know, when my family insults my interests they do it more bluntly.
“Still watching those gay cartoons? Ooh an Oldish *swipe*”
So understanding the mentality behind someone who attacks ‘fake’ fans, or ‘bandwagonners’ or ‘weeaboos’ or whoever is important, because it may be a flash reaction, but just because someone is stupid right now, doesn’t mean they will be stupid forever (hopefully).
If we are to take anything from the series that we claim to love, then its to be the hero’s, not the villains, and to not vilify people who just don’t know things yet. But if someone calls KageHina a stupid ship then ill cut a bitch.
Everyone is interested in different aspects, and some people don’t care. I am not a fan of Gundam, like at all. But some people are all over it like molasses.
We all belong to the same community. There is no real or fake.
Fun fact, anime was brought to North America BY THE FANS. Japanese media companies didn’t think they could enter the western market and ignored the blatant copyright for years, because they did not want to come to North America. WE (or our senpais) established Funimation and Crunchyroll and others to drag the content across the ocean.
So that’s my rant for today. Sorry there was no post yesterday, but I wanted to work on this one. And life, life happens guys.
If you have stories, share them below.
Thanks for reading!