Fan Service: Controversial Fandom Topics 101

A quick look at some of the generalized topics that have fandoms all in a tizzy.

By Mel Turnquist. Posted 08/21/2012 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Fan Service Masthead Column 2 Pokémon

Hey there, boys and girls, and welcome to yet another edition of Fan Service, where the best of fandom gets its props and the worst of fandom gets its knocks.

Today’s topic is not meant to be biased in any which way. This is actually something that extends beyond the fandoms that pertain to video games. We’re talking about those sore subjects that act as the thorn in the side of fandoms. The divisive concepts that can drive a fandom apart at the seams by the sheer mention of it. Yes, this is about those controversial topics. This is a generalization of these such topics, since being specific could dedicate article after article about it. So sit back, relax, and pass the popcorn for a not so complete list of controversial fandom topics.

The first topic that tends to always bring out the controversial is quite simple.

What exactly makes a fan?

Everybody expresses their fandom in different ways. Some may keep it on the down low but will end up becoming an unexpected wealth of knowledge upon the mention of it. Others buy every single related product they can and dedicate countless hours to it. And some just enjoy the games and make a point of it to play as many games as they can. Just as everybody’s opinions of fandom expression varies, so do everybody’s opinions of what exactly makes a fan. To insult one’s fandom is like telling them that they’re a terrible person and reverting to mean girl mentality that plagues middle schools and some high schools. How to deal with this topic is to be as openminded as possible and walk away if anybody tries to question anything. It’s not your place to determine who’s more diehard than the other.

Which instalment/season/episode was the best?

While this one is more applicable to TV shows and video games, it can also apply to some movies. Everybody has an opinion and not everybody is going to agree (…well, except for Episodes IV-VI of Star Wars being far better than Episodes I-III– I think we can all agree on that!). Anyway, this is where the most ruthless of inner-fandom arguments can come out of. Just ask any Smash Brothers fan which is their favorite game and see the friendships and alliances fall apart as they argue. While some fandoms aren’t so rough about this, others are ruthless. The key to dealing with this fandom is to point out the positive attributes of both games and admit that the version you prefer does have some negative attributes.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl box art
Don’t make us choose!

Fandom X vs. Fandom Y

Yes, boys and girls, it’s time for that ever popular topic that plagues fandoms in general. The most controversial of wars can come from this, and it can apply to anything that has some semblance of similarity. It could be console wars (XBox360 vs. PS3 vs. Wii), franchise character wars (Mario vs. Sonic), genre wars (Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter)… the list goes on. These can get pretty rough sometimes where some folks may even swear off a console completely because of how the fandom treated them.

The worst of it is that if you’re an in-betweener who likes both. If you end up inadvertently uniting the two of them for one moment, you’re instantly insulted for being too wishy-washy (or whatever insult they decide to throw in your direction). The best way to deal with this topic is just to be as respectful as you can, if you choose to participate. My biggest recommendation, however, is to just stay the hell away. Don’t get yourself wrapped up in this topic.

Fun vs. Serious Business

Before I get to what I find to be the biggest and most controversial of fandom topics, I thought I’d at least spotlight on one more topic. This is another biggie, but this one is mostly pertaining to the styles of different fans. This differs from what makes a fan as the fandom is already established, but the styling of fandom may be different: do they enjoy the game and play for fun, or do they take it way too seriously and begin to overly obsess about everything?

This can get particularly frustrating for the serious business guy if the fun guy is kicking their ass six ways to Sunday or is more skilled at platformers or whatever, but we all play differently. I personally play because I like to destress or I’m challenging myself. Also, it worked wonders with my motor skills in elementary school (I have really terrible motor skills to begin with, but video games have helped a lot with them). Dealing with this topic involves a huge helping of chill pills for all involved. Just because someone takes it too seriously doesn’t mean that they’re a jerk. While they need to get their priorities straight, don’t fault them for their passion. And just because someone prefers having fun with their gaming style doesn’t mean that they aren’t being a fan correctly. Staying out of this topic would be advisable but it can be pretty tough when some idiot is screaming in your face for whatever reason.


And now, the final controversial topic I want to bring up. You know what it is. It’s the topic that has been known to cause even famous authors to facepalm and roll their eyes. Yes, I’m talking about shipping. Shipping, in case you’ve been living under a rock or are completely new to fandom, is when you pair off two characters romantically (i.e.: you create a relation”ship”). And despite what you may think, video games are not exempt from this. At all.

Mario was overwhelmed by Snake’s love for his box.

Everybody has at least one or two ships in their lifetime. I know I’ve had my fair share, even with video games. Sometimes I ship to troll others/for the lulz (Snake/Cardboard Box OTP!); sometimes I unintentionally ship (damn you Fox/Falco!!! STOP MAKING ME UNINTENTIONALLY SHIP YOU GUYS!); and others I just really like the pairing (shut up, I like Luigi/Daisy. So what?!). But that doesn’t make me get all crankypants just because someone ships something else that I don’t agree with (well, except for Fox/Krystal but that’s because I hate her character and has NOTHING to do with my unintentional shipping…Yes…exactly…).

However, you try to talk sense into some of these fandoms and it’s like talking to a brick wall. Canon, fanon, trying to pass off a simple “Oh hey” into a declaration of love from one character to another… It’s all just so headache-inducing, and when these shipping fans attack, it’s bloody. It’s not fun trying to make sense of anything when the shippers go all crazy. I wish I could give you some logic to help you deal with these situations, but unfortunately, I can’t. I think it’s a rule of the internet that every fandom discussion eventually evolves into shipping wars… Actually someone should amend the rules of the internet for that. Make it Rule 61 or something. Or maybe I can’t read and it’s there already. Ultimately, the best you can do is strap yourselves in and try to enjoy the madness without losing your sanity. It’s tough, but you can do it!

And that has been at least five of the most controversial of fandom topics. You’d be surprised at how angry people can get over this stuff, really. Just try to be the exception to the rule to the best of your ability and you’ll be just fine. Until next time, though, this has been another edition of Fan Service. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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