Official Logo 2I love Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, particularly if the main characters are of Afrikan descent. However, I must confess that I have been perplexed by the craziness zeal of some fans.

I have often pondered what, if any, rational sense does it make to engage in a heated argument over whether Batman would defeat Black Panther in a fight?

These fans aren’t Bruce Wayne or T’Challa. They don’t own Marvel or DC. At best, they own stock in one or both comic book companies. Most likely, they don’t even own a subscription to either title.

They, it appears, contributed nothing to the creation of these comic books, so how can you get angry? How can you feel proud if one hero wins? Why such vitriol toward someone rooting for the other team? In fact, how could they rationally care at all?

Official Logo 1The same goes for people who cry when one of their characters in a role playing game dies…or worse. I once lost a friend who physically attacked me after his character died in my Dungeons and Dragons campaign and I refused to bring the character back even after he offered my $100.00 to do so. I whooped his ass and sent him and his dead 9th level Paladin limping on home.

Recently, someone criticized the character Finn from Star Wars in our State of Black Science Fiction Group and he was cussed out viciously. I, an Admin, was even dared to kick a person out who said we were oppressive to Star Wars fans in our group. I don’t take many dares, but I took that one and gave that nut the boot.

As a student of neuroscience and psychology, I know that rooting for our heroes is part of our primal instincts. We were happy when our warriors won battles, and we are happy when our favorite basketball team wins the championship, or when our 9th level Paladin completes his quest. But I am looking for a rational justification for fandom, which is inherently irrational.

So, is there a rational reason for such behavior?

A little self-analysis provided the answer:

While I deserve most of the credit for my success as an author and screenwriter, I did not educate myself in the craft of writing; I did not invent Createspace and Amazon.com, within which I sell my books; I am not my sole customer – when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. Others had a hand in our accomplishments, or in the accomplishments of Marvel, or DC, or Star Wars, or Dungeons and Dragons, so they have a right to cheer these things on; to take a stake in them.

Furthermore, it is well established that people derive self-esteem from associations with successful others. Research shows that people are more likely to wear sports-related apparel following team victories than following losses, and they are more likely to use first-person pronouns to describe victories – our offense was great today—and third-person pronouns to describe losses—they couldn’t score a run if their lives depended on it.

Our need to increase our sense of self-worth leads us to seek broad connections, and this not only plays out in terms of sports team identification, but in our sense of connection to various phenomena, ranging from our favorite author (Balogun Ojetade, of course) to the best television show (Sleepy Hollow, of course) to the city with the best pizza (Chicago, of course).

Now, before you get defensive, let me say that my observations are not intended to say that anyone’s strongly-held beliefs – ranging from Finn was a great hero and not just a Janitor in the future to Jim Butcher isn’t a racist – have less meaning or validity. Indeed, having self-worth, a sense of greater social connectedness and beliefs that we are passionate about represent some of the most meaningful aspects of life.

It still doesn’t explain the three-piece suit, top-hat and monacle at breakfast, though, but eventually, I will find the answer to that, too.

And by the way…

Black Panther would kick Batman’s ass!

 

If you agree or disagree with anything I say, let your voices be heard at SOBSF Con (pronounced “SOBSFic Con”). Hell, if you don’t care about what I say, come anyway and tell me so. Whatever the reason, make it to SOBSF Con. Blerd Heaven awaits!

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About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

3 responses »

  1. Fujimoto says:

    Ugh, fandom wars. Truly one of the worst elements of being a fan. I particularly hate who-would-win debates, as if strength is the only factor of a cool character. Nice to know you like Sleepy Hollow though; Abby’s now one of my favorite heroines.

    I wanted to ask you, have you heard of Nisi Shawl? Her upcoming novel, Everfair, sounds very steamfunky with the Congo gaining independence to become a steam-powered enemy of colonialism.

  2. Lynn Emery says:

    That old cliche, “Get a life!” explains it. People who identify that strongly need that character to fill some void in them (or that they think is in them). So in effect in their minds they (not the fictional character) are being attacked. Their lives are replaced with a fantasy of being that character. I’ve gotten letters saying a reader felt better because of the heroine in my book. One lady kept writing to me asking for more details on this person’s “life”, when did she get married, how many children, did her best friend get married, etc. Mostly it’s harmless. But then there are the people who take up residence in Crazy Town. By the way Finn was nothing but a sidekick that the SW producers, writers, spin folks marketed as the “hero”. I was pretty disgusted with the way they wrote him. Though I enjoyed the action and visuals at the time.

  3. […] State of Black Science Fiction Convention, or SOBSF Con (“SOBSFic Con”) began with a telephone conversation between authors, event collaborators and […]

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