The Fandom's Report Card
It's been five years since I wrote a short editorial here, called “State of the Fandom”, and to my suprise it's still in the top 10 of most read articles here. So I felt it was time to give you all an overdue follow up, and grade the fandom on it's progress. So I submit to you, the Fandom's Report Card.
Back in 2002 I came up with three steps the fandom really needed to take to stop alienating people. They were behaviour alterations, that would hopefully lead to a healthier fandom. Let's see how everyone did...
You do not squick the mundanes. In fact, you don't even call them mundanes, they're people who may or may not be into the same things as we are.
This was what I felt was the most important step. Back in 2002, people were still 'squicking the mundanes' by emailing them twisted porn, or acting like immature frat boys during conventions.
Grade : B+
Well done! It's been quite some time since I've met someone who felt it was acceptable behaviour. Perhaps the people who used to do this have all ended up heading off to the SA Forums to be amongst their brain-damaged kind. But there's still a little progress to be made, and Warren Ellis's report about the fursuiter and the air gun made the difference between B+ and A.
Consider that as time goes on, much of the potential fandom will have such things as Jobs and Families, and even things such as being Active in their chosen Church, or taking part in local Politics. Do not do things that are designed to alienate these activities or make it hard on them to remain in the fandom.
The Fandom was quickly alienating people who were professionals, and faced real risk of breaking apart as people disappeared into 'Real Lives'. Worse was that the Fandom was also alienating the people who produced things for them to be fans of.
In terms of demographics, this problem was almost self correcting. As time went on, important members of the fandom found themselves with Jobs and Families of their own. A little extra maturity in the fandom put more pressure on the fandom being friendly towards Family and Work. But there's still some intolerance towards people active in their chosen church, and this is related to issues about tolerance I'll discuss next.
There are still some problems with alienating the producers. While the fandom has gained a few new big-name producers from outside the fandom, the fandom has not been good at developing and retaining it's 'home grown' talent. I'm personal friends with an Artist who has decided to quit producing any 'furry art'. She felt isolated and was getting very little out of producing art for the fandom. This is a pretty common complaint from the smaller artists. So the mark on this is only a C.
Tolerance is a two edged sword. You can expect tolerance of some of the things you do. But you do not have the right to foster your ideals or practices onto others, nor to claim them as more important than others.
This was a big issue in the fandom and...
... it still is.
Sorry, but I've seen little to no improvement on this issue at all since 2002. It may even have worsened. There still seems to be too much demanding of tolerance, and little giving it out. Recently I heard about a policy on a well known muck that said any negative statement about someone's fetish was 'fetishbashing' and would be punished. I've personally seen an emergency worker being berated and kicked out of an on-line hangout for saying someone's real-life 'Tornado Fetish' might put others at risk. Tolerance does not equate to complete acceptance, and we still need to learn to cope with people who might disagree. Fandom fails in this section, and generally needs to stop being so self focused.
In general, the fandom has improved, but work still needs to be done.