Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Adventure of the Janeist Horror

Warning: this post might alienate some of you gender-neutral nouns.

I have a friend who recently discovered Jane Austen. I respect this friend very much, so when she began to express her heartfelt adoration for Ms. Austen's works, I grimaced mentally. I was hearing Janeist words coming out of her mouth. I don't like Janeism one bit. To my mind, my friend's enthusiasm for Ms. Austen's works was hurting her credibility.

(We talked it out. She's not a Janeist. Our friendship is intact.)

For some reason, I really don't like Fans as a demographic subset. You know--the ones who find a way to turn every literary conversation back to the Brontë sisters. The ones who can recite Timon of Athens in Klingon. The ones who can and do fill you in on the socio-evolutionary history of the Tusken Raiders. The ones who can tell you the batting average of the Mets' third baseman in 1977. The ones who hotly debate the quality of David Bowie's later material compared to his earlier years.

I have friends who are Fans. Some of my closest friends are Fans, in fact. Just because I hate Fandom doesn't mean I hate individual fans. I dislike the adjective, not the noun.

Maybe it's the Fan's narrowness of focus. I used to be a Lord of the Rings Fan. I could sort of write Khuzdul. I had firm and well-developed opinions on the spiritual-symbolic nature of the mallyrn trees in Laurelindórenan. I could recite most of the Hobbitic poetry from Fellowship.

Somewhere along the line, that went away, and I began to see myself as having more eclectic tastes. Maybe I got lazy (because being a Fan does require quite a bit of hard work and dedication), or maybe I actually did find out that there's a lot of cool stuff out there. My point is this: I began to see myself as the anti-Fan. Someone with opinions on everything, rather than on only one thing. Broad-minded, that's what I was. A man of the world. Conversant in many different arenas.

Truth is, though, I'm not. I'm still a Fan. Want proof? Look here. If that's not a Fan's post, I'll eat my hat. That's not the post of a Cinema Fan, or an Avengers Fan, or a Criticism Fan. It's...

Well, first, another example. A shorter one, this time. Again: that's not a Bond Fan talking, or a History Fan's something else.

Oh, wait, I already blogged about this. I am a Words Fan. I like them broken into codey little shards. I like them re-assembled from those shards, humming with latent potency. I like them swimming into schools of organized poetic flash. I like them making worlds and galaxies and universes and gods and sins and death, and I like them making me cry.

So I guess I can't really look down on the Janeists. I can't despise the Trekkies or the Browncoats or the Ringers, because even though their Fandom is more focused, more limited, they're still the same as me. We're all Fans. Somewhere deep in every human heart there is a spark. Something that, given the right fuel, will kindle such a blaze of devotion and dedication and Fandom that other people stop to say, "Look at that weird dude who grew his mustache specifically to look like Rollie Fingers'!"

I'm a Fan. And I'm sorry, my gender-neutral nouns, if I ever ridiculed your Fandom.

(Except for Nickelback Fans. I am entirely prepared to burn them with flamethrowers next time I see them.)

Long live restitution.

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