Why is it that fans feel that the only place to demonstrate their adoration for their chosen fandom is at their bedroom keyboard at godforsaken hours of the night? Should anyone happen upon them click clacking away at their fanfictions, they feel a rush of shame and abort their mission, quickly tabbing to another window (usually google or something with kittens). Fans are innately shameful about what they do and it's because we're demonized in society as pariahs with no social skills and obsessive hobbies. Thing is, fans may not be doing themselves any favors. Networking sites like Tumblr have shown to be huge communities where fans may congregate and not worry about judgment, but should a casual onlooker browse for only a short time, it's far too easy to pull up fanart bordering on porn as well as hysteric and somewhat illiterate posts which may solidify that person's misconception that fans are sex-crazed lunatics. It's a bit more difficult to have the patience to scroll through posts and find essays of intellectually stimulating commentary on favorite shows and literature -- even though we all know it's there, that there's pages and pages of it. It doesn't necessarily help when show creators become privy to their fans, and, in effort to please and nurture the fans, they comment back -- often in ways that don't help our cause.



One example of such a fan related arc is Supernatural's spin on its own fandom. Meet Becky. She is a real live rendering of how fandom is seen through the lens of the creative minds behind Supernatural. She writes fanfiction, creates fan hosted events, and even has a tattoo devoted to the books based on the show. This was done by the creators as a direct commentary of it's own fans. Becky, pseudo parody that she is, thus portrays perhaps the best and worst of what fandom has to offer. She's hysterical, obsessive, and our first introduction to her prattling away at her porn-riddled fanfiction does not shine the best light on fans. On the flip side, through events and things she does introduce the audience to the idea of people getting together through LARPING (live action role playing) and being a community - "Saving people, hunting things, the family business." No, Becky and Chuck's series within the show did not usurp the whole plot of Supernatural, but for several episodes it did turn the drama into a serialized mockumentary. Fandom loves crack, but in a way this sort of thing may cheapen, and possibly damage the already shaky standing fans have within society. According to another page here on this wikispace, shows like Supernatural are said to be heeding their fans wishes, but may actually be hurting the image of their fans and, subsequently, odds of being renewed -- though we are all aware that the only way genre shows are renewed is through the resilience of said fandom .


Then there's Abed Nadir of Community. He's the fan's fan. As a pop culture zealot, he knows everything there is to know about everything within pop culture. While he's a terrific character and great fun, he's also socially inept and does not understand emotion outside of television. Take a look at this clip, where he finds out his favorite show Cougar Town has been moved to midseason. The rest of the episode has Troy, his best friend, comforting the hyperventilating fan while his other friend, Britta, quickly finds him a new show to fanboy over during the show's absence. It's hard to say whether this helps or hurts society's view of fans, though fans themselves are huge fans of Abed, perhaps confirming society's suspicions that we are all neurotic, inept fanboys incapable of offscreen emotion.

Fortunately there are some show producers that have faith in their fans and choose to portray them in a more conscientious light. Stargate SG-1 did their 200th episode as a parody of the fiction genre in general where they discuss various plot points for a movie based on the show within the show. The producer/writer simply wants action/explosions to get viewers, meanwhile Colonel Cameron Mitchell (played by Ben Browder) argues to "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment," thus acknowledging and appreciating the fandom. Similarly to Stargate's more gracious portrayal of its fans, Parks and Recreation has its own fanboy in the form of Ben Wyatt, a self proclaimed nerd as well as an intelligent, competent member of society. Ben Wyatt has a job, girlfriend, and is largely considered both "white bread" and "mainstream" by the standards of his coworkers. He also just so happens to own an extremely authentic and expensive Batman costume.

No one likes a stereotype, they don't help anyone, so there's no reason that fans should give the stamp of approval to characters like Abed or Becky as our poster children. Pointing these slip ups by no means makes either of these shows, or other shows that portray fans in a negative light bad. It's just that these portrayals don't do anything to help uplift fans out from the recesses of their dark bedrooms into the light of day and fan approval for these characters, whether they like them or not, isn't going to help their case when dealing with more ignorant victims of society. Fans and fandom should certainly be used within tv shows as a postmodern tip of the hat to the people who are the reason that a show is on the air, but they should aim to incorporate fandom in such a way that does not perpetuate the stereotype.

Works Cited

"Becky Rosen of Supernatural." Online image. Wordpress.com. March 19. <http://mralphafreak.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/supernatural-509-1.jpg>.
"Abed Nadir as Batman in Community." Online image. Splashpage.mtv.com. March 19. <http://splashpage.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/abed_batman.jpg>.
"Ben Wyatt and GOT in Parks and Rec gifs." Online image. Tumblr.com. March 19. <http://igron.tumblr.com/post/21273234620>.
Community - Cougar Town moved to midseason [Video]. 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLLmMDbpUjs>.