Various types of art, usually books, films and video games, are heavily influential in the lives of those they touch. They can inspire hope and change, offer new outlooks on the journey of life, and offer comfort or contemplation whenever called upon. That being said, nobody likes an extreme fan, save those in the same clan. Having a conversation with an overly devoted fan is an exercise in monotony, for a very ironic reason. Taking a fandom too far doesn’t elevate the object of their love, but sows the seeds of its destruction.
One of the earliest examples I can think of is the Star Wars vs. Star Trek Argument, one of the longest running, most hotly debated topic in Geekdom. As a modest fan of both franchises, it’s difficult for me to understand just why as the two couldn’t be more different.
Star Trek is an optimistic view of humanity’s future, discussing issues of race, economic inequality, technological responsibility, even the very definition of what life is. Star Wars is about a conflict between tradition and taking risks, focusing less on more personal stories of family, spirituality, and finding one’s purpose.
Apart from both having two word titles starting with Star, taking place in space, boasting a wide variety of cultures and creatures, and having ships that possess warp capabilities, there is not enough to justify a comparison between the two. So why is there this conflict? The only reason I can think of is both have had a large impact on culture, and each side insists they take the throne. This has had the unfortunate effect of turning many on the opposite spectrum off to the other.
In the most extreme cases of Trekkies and Warsies, many refuse to give the other property a chance on the simple basis of its title. This is done for no other reason than to spite the opposite fanbase. Not only is this childish, but its in effect robbing themselves of an opportunity to expand their own horizons. Extreme fandom in this and many other cases, has driven away some of its audience, killing whatever discussion and fellowship may have been.
This is just one way extreme fandom can hurt art. The worst comes when it actively influences it.
Predator is one of my favorite movies, because it’s a lot smarter than many give it credit for. Predator showcases 7 hyper macho movie stars, and destroys the 80s action hero myth by showing just how vulnerable they would be against a physically stronger and intellectually superior enemy. His weapons and physical prowess useless, the hero must rely on his wits and cunning to defeat the monster, only destroying the creature when he’s at his most vulnerable. Predator shows just how little the genre tropes really mattered, and using arguably the most recognizable action star of all time to do that was a stroke of creative genius.
This was unfortunately misunderstood by many fans, a few of whom took the Predator and destroyed it.
The Alien vs. Predator crossover franchise was for a time a pillar of science fiction, in part because it treated both its title characters with love. A screen adaptation of the property was one of the most anticipated films of its day. When it finally came, it they made the crossover series into a punchline. Amongst its crimes was the treatment of the Predator, heavily favorited by the filmmakers. Favored far too much.
In both cases, the Predator seldom faces a genuine threat, even from the Aliens it plays opposite. This is a massive contradiction as the Predator’s culture is shown to be one of challenges, and anything that doesn’t run a risk of death is not worth pursuing. It’s this risk that compels them to hunt humans and Aliens both, and it is their respect and understanding of their enemy that grants them victory. Underestimating its enemy, as in the case of Predator, is what eventually gets it killed.
But that’s not the creature we see in the AvP films. The Predator shows little caution or tact, shows no respect for its enemies, runs into situations with minimal forethought or planning, but still comes out of every tumble with only the most trivial of wounds. Sound familiar? The Predator has been changed into one of the very invincible, hyper macho action heroes it was made to critique in the first place. It is as much a contradiction as To Kill a Mockingbird endorsing racism.
In the case of Predator, it was the fault of fans who got behind the camera. Fans who were too enamored with how cool their favorite monster was to understand what made the original film, and even its underrated sequel, so special. This lack of understanding took what could have been two great movies and turned them both into nothing more than shameless fan service, and it has honestly affected my enjoyment of it. When I was younger, I couldn’t decide which species I wanted to win in a fight due to my unending affection for both. Now, I always find myself rooting for the Alien, if only to see the Predator broken down back to what it was always meant to be.
If you get too close to something, you’ll drive it mad and strip away the very things that captured your imagination in the first place. You can drive other people away from it so it can’t be shared or worse still, bury it. My advice to all of you fans out there is don’t get too close. As Predator shows, the damage can be most severe.