I 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?
The 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!