The Defining Attribute of a Fan

Eoghann Irving has posted an interesting rebuttal to my post, Fandom v The Scifi Channel, where he tackles the question What makes a fan? The critique of my position is an interesting one, and I have to say, I agree with his assertion that it sounds like I am trying to say that a fans define themselves by their interest in SF.

While there are some who have adopted the fan culture for themselves, cultural adoption is not a requirement to be a fan.

There is one hard and fast rule that separates Fans from Enthusiasts:

Fans Know Stuff

That is it.  Fans know things about the things they love and enthusiasts don’t.

Anyone can quote Star Trek or Star Wars because many of the aphorisms have gone mainstream, but a Star Wars Fan knows who Ulic Qel-Droma and Exar Kun are.  They have become such an important part of the Saga.  They recognized Asajj Ventris when she first came on the screen in the new Clone Wars film.

I am not saying that fandom is defined by obscure knowledge, but rather, a fan remembers the details and more often than not knows the minutia.

A good analogy is to look at music fandom.  Many people may like that one song, but a fan knows the lyrics, the band members, and the albums by that artist.

A fan is someone who has fallen in love with a piece of art, and seeks out more on that subject.  What I was trying to say in my last post is that a fan not only craves more, but seeks it out.

Who is a fan?


In the end then this definition works to the extent that it refutes the notion of a splintering fandom by simply stating that they were never really part of fandom in the first place. It’s a reductionist argument which simply eliminates that which doesn’t fit instead of seeking a way to acknowledge it.

And there’s something very defensive about that approach that I don’t like. It almost has the smell of “but we’re better than them” and oh I do so detest cliques (Solar Flare).

What I am talking about is not about cliques or any sense of superiority, I believe many people consider themselves fans when they truly are not.

Eoghann Irving is a fan because, like me he cares enough about this topic to post about it and event to rebut my challenge of his original premise.  That is a clear demonstration of the passion I talked about in my last post.

Since he mentioned Cliques, I have to say, every culture and subculture has its own cliques, that is as true of fandom as it is with the mainstream culture.  These do exist within fandom, but I don’t believe that they define it.

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