Some elements of fandom need to get a grip

I don’t pretend to know an awful lot about the activities of fandom – and by this I am referring  to the social media savvy fans whose Sherlockian interest largely revolves around BBC Sherlock – but as a body it can be awfully touchy and has a tendency to the very intolerance it seems to identify and abhor in others.

There have been a number of cases but, recently, Amanda Abbington professed that she was not overly fond of the relationship scenarios constructed around the characters of Sherlock and John (or Ben and Martin if you prefer). The article can be read here.

Now, I did not read responses personally but my Twitter account was alive not long afterwards with some attacking her for her views and others defending her. It then turned out that she had issued some kind of apology and this, in turn, seemed to stoke the fire with some thinking it was due and others saying that she had no need to apologise.

I hate to break it to you but it was not due. Some elements of fandom need to learn the basic lesson of treat others as you would have them treat you. If you expect (quite reasonably) to be able to create scenarios of any configuration around the characters from the show and have people accept that it is what you like and what interests you, you have to be equally accepting of the fact that others (be they cast members or not) will not necessarily be all that fond of what you conceive. They are then more than entitled to voice their, shall we say, lack of fondness for it without being attacked by the fandom police. You cannot expect people to accept what you like and be tolerant of it if you won't accept their point of view and be equally tolerant.

For the time being fandom's police force needs to be looking internally and weeding out the more touchy members before it considers attempting to police externally again and any reasonable member of fandom will see that.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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  1. I'm not quite with you here, Alistair. You have to pay attention to the power dynamics. What somebody belonging to cast and crew says in an interview is read more widely and therefore bears more weight. Reporters don't usually go around asking fandom members for their opinion. So, AA is of course entitled to her opinion of not liking Johnlock fanart. What she is not entitled to is publicly insulting the fans.

    No one is hurt by fans making explicit art and showing it to other like minded people on the net. I don't see much of it, because I don't go looking for it. So, why does she? Or, if she has only seen what TV show hosts keep pushing into the actors' faces, why does she blame the fans for it? They don't do it for the actors, they don't do it to get a reaction out of them, they do it for themselves. If you stumble over it by accident, just leave it where you found it, if you don't like it.

    I have to admit I have seen things that made me blush, but there's a back button on my laptop and it's there for a reason.

    1. I don't recall her insulting anyone and I've just reread the article to double-check and she doesn't. She simply states (if I'm reading it right) that if you put it out there in public you are inviting opinion on it and that opinion may not be in favour. She did not say anything insulting just that she doesn't like it which she is entitled to say. For this she was pounced on and that's the bit where Fandom is amiss.

  2. She has nothing to apologise about in my opinion. It is like you said.

  3. The terms 'rabid' and 'crazy' were mentioned and most people prefer not to be called either. Then, when she noticed fans weren't happy, she confirmed everything again with calling fans crazy. Overnight she probably decided it hadn't been a wise move and apologised. Why would she, if she hadn't come to the conclusion that she had done something hurtful?

  4. Within the article I linked to the word rabid exists but in the article text and not in any quote by AA therefore that is down to the article author. I cannot see the other things you refer to unless you are looking at some other article. If so do email me the link.

  5. I'm talking about her twitter account where she at first confirmed and later apologised.

  6. Also, what she said in that article - and what really incensed the fans - was that it's not being about the characters, but about the actors. There *is* fanart of Brett, Rathbone, Downey etc. I've seen it. Of course you won't find it if you google just for Sherlock!BBC.

    And someone on AA's twitter account very understandably asked why she deems fanart problematic, when MF literally had sex on screen with a man in Ali G. and sent her a link to that specific scene. Have to say, the fanart was actually more aesthetically pleasing....

  7. Okay, be this as it may it doesn't change the overall point even if my chosen example was not ideal. You had the insults at Mark Gatiss which led to Ian Hallard requesting on twitter that it stop. The insults that AA got just for daring to be on the show. Some elements of fandom are very quick to take offence and be offensive. Not all by any means but more than is healthy.

  8. I think certain elements of fandom, especially in modern times but this kind of thing goes back long before the Internet was around, exist in a kind of echo chamber and become very defensive when others don't see their favorite show in the same light. This isn't unique to Sherlock, similar things have been happening with Star Trek for 40+ years as one example.

  9. That we can agree upon. This kind of behaviour is absolutely not okay. There is much to be said for a solid fourth wall, imo.

    Otoh why does everyone involved with the show does not field questions about fandom in a diplomatic manner? Reporters will soon tire of asking, if all they get is, "We are grateful for our loyal fans and their efforts to support our show."


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