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Are Fans Ruining the Franchises They Love?

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Moses Ingram Third Sister Reva

John Lennon was killed giving an autograph. Remember that.

The mononymous singer Selena, who’s sold 18 million albums, was only 23 when she was shot and killed by the founder and president of her fan club. Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed at the age of 38 by a fan who accused him of breaking up the band. The up-and-coming singer Christina Grimmie, a contestant on The Voice who hit four million subscribers on YouTube, was shot and killed by an infatuated fan obsessed with the young artist. On dark days, it seems like every vocal online ‘fan’ is auditioning f or the part of Mark David Chapman.

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Has the internet ushered in a new age of democracy, or toxic fandom? The question almost seems too obvious to ask

one need only look at the countless artists and celebrities who’ve had to delete their social media to avoid the onslaught of harassment targeted their way; one need only take a stroll down the hate-spewed hallways of Twitter or the chaotic corridors of comment sections for misanthropy to swell, victorious yet again over any seemingly antiquated ‘faith in the human race.’ But what does this say about art? What does this say about democracy itself? And what does it actually mean to be a fan?

“Why is it that when people talk about me, they have to go crazy? What the f*ck is the matter with them?” Bob Dylan asked rhetorically in an interview with Rolling Stone, discussing the nature of fans. He continues:

Before dissecting the nature of fandom today, it might be helpful to understand what exactly a fan is; or, perhaps more importantly, why someone is a fan. There’s a spectrum of fandom, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of substance use disorder. Just as there are people who can drink socially or use recreational drugs in a way which does not destroy their lives, there are individuals who look forward to upcoming Star Wars movies or shows, but their involvement in the franchise doesn’t interrupt their daily lives; these are functioning fans.

Related: Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Was Warned By Lucasfilm To Expect Racist Backlash

Alternatively, there are individuals who watch a Star Wars series like Obi-Wan Kenobi and then go out of their way to spew insults and hatred toward actor Moses Ingram, someone whom they have never met in their life but are now suddenly attacking as if she poisoned their pet; these are toxic fans, the equivalent to someone robbing a pharmacy for their opiate addiction. In short, as Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon said when expressing his shame at the fans of his show, “These knobs that want to protect the content they think they own […] I’ve made no bones about the fact that I loathe these people. It fu*king sucks.”

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