If you ask Google for a definition (and isn’t that how we all get our definitions?) of “true fan” a handy little box pops up at the top of the results, and what it says is this: A true fan is somebody who agrees completely and rigidly with the viewpoint of the person using the term.
Not content with that definition, the little box even provides an example: “My point of view is the correct one, and if you disagree with me you’re not a true fan, and thus not worthy of my time.”
So, basically, even Google knows the term means nothing. It has no real definition after all, no accepted rules to separate the yes from the no. And yet, the internet continues to use it. Whether you’re a TV fan, a sports fan, a book lover or even a movie geek, most of us have had to deal with the dreaded “you’re not a true fan” accusation, especially if you happen to be a woman.
Fangirling while female seems to be the #1 thing on the list of reasons to discount someone as “not a true fan” (boobs apparently make rational thinking complicated) – and yet, that’s not the only one. There are other absurd reasons for the term to be applied to you, like not having read comics, having read the wrong comics, having the wrong opinion on the comics you read; not thinking Joe Montana is the best QB who ever lived, liking the ending of Return of the King, and so on. It is, after all, not about common sense.
It never was.
When it comes to TV, daring to enjoy a romance is, for these “true fans,” the ultimate test of people who are just not part of their ranks.
You can’t appreciate a romance, you have to put up with it, at best, and even then, only if it’s the romance decried in the comics. Not so with books. Everyone knows books are only there as means of inspiration. Those can be changed. Adaptation, after all, is the name of the game.
Sometimes. When certain people say it is. People other than you, of course.
Yes, these are actual arguments I’ve seen used. If they sound ridiculous to you, it’s because they are.
Sports fans, particularly female ones, don’t you dare suggest that your favorite Quarterback, Third Baseman or Goalie is handsome. That’s enough to be discounted as a “shallow” fan who only watches for “the looks.” It doesn’t matter that you can name all 53 guys on your football team and most guys can’t, you clearly only know this because you like them all – or because you wanted to impress another guy.
You’re just not a “true” fan.
Book lovers, only people who read mystery novels or hardcore sci-fi deserve the “true” fans label. Romance novels are not even books. This is known. And Young Adult is just another way to say romance triangles and bad plots. Don’t you even try with us. We can see right through you.
And you…you like movies? You better enjoy Star Wars. But only the original trilogy, no one with a brain likes the prequels. Also, be a Trekkie or be nothing. Finally, Harrison Ford is your Lord and Savior. Accept him or perish.
Your opinion doesn’t matter. These are the rules of a “true” fan.
The absurd thing is: most of the people being discounted as not “true” fans are the ones out there, being vocal, talking about what they like, buying merchandise, and actually watching TV/reading books/watching sports. “True” fans, apparently, don’t feel the need to prove anything. They’ve already got their approval sticker or something.
All this just brings us back to the beginning – being a “true” fan of something means zero, zilch, nada. There are no “true” fans and “false” fans. There are no competitions about how good you are at liking something or not. No one is going to measure your level of involvement and/or your level of amusement, and if someone tries to, they’re the crazy ones, not you.
You can get really, really involved. You can vote in every poll, RT every tweet, make gifsets, write fanfiction and devour the source material. Or you can just turn on the TV on the correct day at the correct time and watch a show. Both are perfectly acceptable.
Simply put, despite what some people would like to claim, there is no right or wrong way to be a fan.
There’s just being a fan.
So, you want to know how to be a “true” fan of something? Be a person, like a thing. That’s it. There’s nothing else you should do, not predetermined rules you should follow.
Be a person, like a thing.
And don’t tell other people how to do either of those.