Fan Dumb

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"The public is a ferocious beast: one must chain him up or flee from him."

A good fandom is successful by having a diverse community of people who share a mutual interest in the shared object of the fandom, but nevertheless remain mature and sensible enough to tolerate and respect differences of opinion. Most people in fandoms actually are like this.

Then there's Fan Dumb. Fan Dumb is the underbelly, where Serious Business becomes obsession. They are the fans who claim to be the watchdogs of their fandom, but in reality, they're the rabid dogs that need putting down (it's tempting to say literally).

The key characteristics of a Fan Dumb tend to be someone with an over-developed sense of entitlement and/or victimization and (usually) an under-developed sense of humour or perspective about the subject of their fandom, coupled with an obsessive level of an interest and (frequently) some rather irrational views on the whole thing. They usually believe that the very fact that they are a fan of something either entitles them to special or exclusive treatment or that they are being persecuted by numerous different parties (the creator, the producers, other fans, the world at large, etc) because of their fandom.

They are nearly always someone who has completely lost perspective on exactly how important or special the show, the fandom and their views on same is in the scheme of things, and don't understand why others don't feel the same as they do. As a result of all of this, they tend to view even polite or minor disagreement with them and their views as a personal attack, which often leads to them adopting an irrationally combative, defensive tone towards others; in discussion, they will usually resort to unrelated ad hominem attacks on others and place value judgments on them, not their arguments—expect snide comments about race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc. ("Oh, you just think that because you're black/female/gay/old....!") And any jokes made about the subject of the fandom (or them) will be responded to either with out-of-proportion offence or a humourless deconstruction of why the joke is 'inaccurate'.

The end result of all this is someone who believes passionately that they're the champion elite of the fandom, guarding and preserving what makes it special, whilst ultimately contributing little of any actual value to the property or the fandom, even contributing to its ruining in the process. As a general rule of thumb, the phrase "True Fans" (or some variation thereof) being thrown around is an identifying signal that you're dealing with Fan Dumb, particularly if it's being self-applied; the subtext (or text), of course, is "I'm a True Fan, and you're not."

Although a Fan Dumb often holds idiosyncratic views about the show and demonstrates a passionate interest in it, it is important to note that neither controversial views or intense interest are themselves indication of Fan Dumb; differing viewpoints are inevitable in a large gathering of people (and knee-jerk objection to a differing opinion simply because it's a differing opinion is often a good sign that you belong in Fan Dumb yourself), and most people join fandoms in the first place because they're passionate about something and they want to celebrate it with other people who find it special. Many people manage to hold contrary or passionately enthusiastic viewpoints whilst still remaining civil and decent; similarly, many dismissed as Fan Dumb hold views that, on the surface, are actually quite reasonable. The problem with Fan Dumb is not the level of interest or the viewpoint, but the way it is expressed; even a reasonable argument will sound insane if it's being screamed in someone's face.

Taking these fans too seriously is usually a mistake. Although they tend to be louder than the rest of the fanbase combined, they are usually a decided minority in almost every fandom (though they often claim to be a majority). Fan Dumb also tends to suffer from an extreme case of Fan Myopia, regardless of what kind they are; in any variation, they are often intractably convinced that the views of "the fans" (or perhaps more accurately, their personal views, which they tend to confuse with the views of fandom as a whole) are both more widespread and more mainstream than in fact they are. If you're a producer, then pandering to them is usually a good way to make your show crash and burn. And to add insult to injury, they usually won't be very grateful that you were thinking about them, but will instead start whining about how you made the show crash and burn.

See also Single-Issue Wonk. A specific example is Die for Our Ship. Fan Dumb is a number one contributing factor to both Artist Disillusionment and Fan Disillusionment. Although often a minority, the shrill obnoxiousness of this kind of fan has nevertheless permeated enough people's impressions to construct the stereotype of the Straw Fan. Can be confused easily with a Troll, but, as a rule of thumb, bear in mind that a Fan Dumb is NOT a Troll. See also Unpleasable Fanbase and Broken Base for the massive versions of this.

Compare with Viewers are Morons. Contrast with Hate Dumb, although the two have been known to spawn one another.

Sadly, every fandom has to and/or has had to deal with this and all of its variations...no matter how much they deny it and how much they wish this problem didn't exist. Trust us, these people even annoy the makers of the shows that you like as much as they annoy the rest of us. Don't worry, Fan Dumb are usually just a Vocal Minority. Keep that in mind if you decide to put this as an example to any media or see this in any media here. Most of them, including yourself (unless you actually do fit this and you know if you are) are not complete and utter morons and just want to enjoy it like everyone else.

As a footnote, to a devoted member of the Hatedom, any form of Fandom appears like Fan Dumb. Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb are light and darkness in these regards in that one cannot exist without the other (and that in this case they're usually as equally bad as each other).

Do not list or pothole to this on a work's main page. Put it on the work's YMMV page. If the work doesn't have YMMV page yet, make it.


Common Fan Dumb variants include:[1][edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Monomaniac This is, although not the only type of Fan Dumb by any means, probably the most classic example of it. S/he is Serious Business taken to the extreme. Nothing outside of the object of the fandom exists for this person, except perhaps the fandom itself. This means that they will attempt to discuss the object of their adoration every single chance they get, often attempting to twist or divert other discussions to this end, regardless of how awkward or nakedly inappropriate this is ("Yeah, it sucks that your father died; I felt exactly the same way when Captain Magnatron failed to defeat the Zargons in Episode 19"). This often leads them to grossly blow the actual significance of the work in a general context quite out of proportion... and, naturally, leads to nothing but contempt for those who aren't quite as committed to the show as they are, or who (gasp) aren't part of the fandom at all—don't they realise how important it is? Naturally, any of the other listed types of Fan Dumb may find themselves ending up here. Unfortunately, this is the way the vast majority of fandom is portrayed in the media, which is why we have a trope specifically for that.[2]
  • The Purist: A fan who has an idealised vision of what the show should be and isn't going to let anything or anyone affect or change that vision... not even the show itself. They tend to react to any changes made in the show's format with hostility and suspicion. Although often a fan who's been burned by Adaptation Decay, Seasonal Rot, or obvious merchandise pandering gone wrong, some just simply don't like change and respond to it with pram-shaking tantrums. They usually also hate non-canon entries in a work simply for...well, not being canon.[3]
  • The Theocrat: A fan who takes Word of God to its logical extreme. While some fans take the Death of the Author and Fanon Discontinuity concepts too far and call out the creator for things in canon they don't like, some fans simply like to dabble in the occasional bit of Fanon Discontinuity or perhaps pen an Alternate Universe Fic. This is something which does not sit well with the Theocrat, who will demand that each and every "true fan" adhere to Word of God completely. Things such as expressing support for a non-canon couple or casually stating that you don't consider a statement a creator made at a convention about a plot point in the series finale to be part of your personal canon will get you stoned or burned at the stake by these fans, and if you dare write a fanfic that deviates from canon even a tiny bit, expect this fan to bombard you with flames in your review section, even if the fic itself is well-written and compelling. They might even go so far as to flame you for speculation on the series that later gets Jossed, demanding that you go back and delete your own posts if later story revelations contradict what you wrote.[4]
  • The Elitist: These fans tend to spring up when the show goes from being a cult favourite to the mainstream. They are often prone to "I judge you if you like..." or "I judge people based on whether they have seen..." They tend to resent the influx of new fans as 'plebs' and 'Johnny-come-latelys' who are infiltrating and bringing down the tone of their previously exclusive, niche little club. As an ego-stroking exercise, they might actually try to set themselves up as an elite and attract any Lickspittles and mimics they can find; alternatively, expect to hear a lot of whining about how the show has 'Sold Out' or 'Gone Commercial', fairly or not.[5]
  • The Culture Alien: This fan often seems to have no Willing Suspension of Disbelief, often leading him to criticize or refuse to accept plots, characters and themes that might be necessary or even essential for that show or genre to function. He often appears to be a member of a Periphery Demographic who cannot or does not wish to accept that the show is not actually aimed directly at him (if at all), and yet resents the fact that it is not actually aimed at him. Therefore, any complaints about how it's not aimed at him are legitimate complaints and considered "Weaknesses." If the work in question is aimed specifically at children, expect this kind of fan to pick out dubious evidence from the work as "proof" that it is actually for adults.[6]
  • The Highbrow: A fan who is convinced that he is so much more sophisticated and intelligent than those around him. Tends to come in three varieties:
    • The Toxic Genius: A fan who seems to believe that the fact that people are disagreeing with his strongly held opinions is not because they have different but equally strongly-held opinions, but because he's just so much smarter than they are that they can't see that he's correct. The operative term is usually "you just don't get it" (i.e. "you're much stupider than I am and thus can't see why this show is amazing / dreadful"), couched in as patronising and condescending a fashion as possible. This variant can also be found engaging in slightly pretentious (and often wildly off-mark) analysis of the show. Many times the Toxic Genius is often shown as being a single-character-interpreter blind to Alternate Character Interpretation, believing that only their interpretation of the character is correct. (Seen especially in character-heavy works like books, film, and some video games) They will also not allow anyone to view the character any differently.[7]
    • The Toxic Visionary: Like the Genius, the Toxic Visionary uses his perceived intelligence as a weapon... except he thinks that he's smarter than the creators. A self-proclaimed (if falsely-humble) expert on everything, the Visionary is given to long discussions about how the creators clearly don't understand their own show as much as he does, often peppered with phrases such as "I don't like the direction <the creator> is taking <insert series here>," "I may not be an expert on _____, but..." and even, in sufficiently bare-faced examples, outright coming out and saying "I could've written it better," said completely without irony. They can usually be found picking over the work for Subtext that doesn't exist, earnestly trying to settle questions the creators would rather leave unanswered and overestimating the significance of 'hard' fandom as a whole.[8]
    • The Toxic Missionary This one has an idea of True Art as a method of education, and not necessarily an entertaining one. The Toxic Missionary may criticize the frothier parts of the show for detracting from the all-important message. Their version of Complaining About People Not Liking the Show is that their show ought to make people feel uncomfortable, at least on first impression; it's a pill they ought to be taking along with the mindless entertainment they seem to prefer. Admittedly, many an Author Tract is trying to produce missionaries to spread its message, but Toxic Missionaries can be seen even in fanbases of shows with no apparent Writer on Board. Like the Toxic Visionary, these latter cases are all-too-often guilty of seeing things which aren't there, and are often guilty of over-subscribing to the idea that they should stick it to the man. As such, they hate the Rule-Abiding Rebel with a passion and live in constant terror of their favourite show being perceived as one, fairly or otherwise.[9]
  • The Strawstuffer: This fan might express what is a healthy amount of criticism... but ignores the chain of decay, middle management and all those who contribute to decision-making as an explanation to why things go poorly, instead preferring to focus their ire on an easily-named and recognized target regardless of what their involvement in this might have actually been. This target then becomes the subject of blame for all of the things that go wrong with the show, regardless of whether they can reasonably be blamed for it or not. Furthermore, any failings or missteps are subsequently treated not as human error or the kind of slip-ups that any creative may encounter from time to time, but evidence that their target is out to spite them personally (which can lead to some overlap with the Tinfoiler below).[10]
    • The Tinfoiler: A more paranoid and tragic version of the Strawstuffer, the Tinfoiler ignores Creative Differences or apathy to figure out why things occur. However, they instead believe that everything they don't like is evidence that the creators are out to intentionally and personally attack them. Reasonably or not, they see slights and attacks everywhere, and blame everything on a vitriolic creator out to attack them personally. This extends to intentional deconstructions of their favourite plots and characters, Creator Breakdowns and characters (especially those the fan identifies with) presented as less than ideal or in an unconventional way. Tinfoilers are usually involved in Periphery Demographics and, more tellingly, Misaimed Fandoms.[11]
  • King (or Queen) Customer: This fan thinks that money equals control; having pumped a crapload of money into merchandise related to the fandom, they believe that they now own the fandom and that all creative and executive decisions must be run through them first. This tends to translate to an insanely overdeveloped sense of entitlement; the producers must bow to his every wish, regardless of how impractical or impossible this would be. He is prone to gloating over / complaining about the amount of money he has invested the fandom, with the idea that no one has forced him or continues to force him to buy every single piece of merchandise apparently not occurring to him. Whenever exclusive sweepstakes or promotional events happen, you can bet your bottom that King Customer may be the first one complaining how it should be available to everyone, which may be justified in certain cases, but not for stuff like Collectors Editions or tours. This is the same type of person who will attempt to fight a speeding ticket with the line "My taxes pay your salary!" [12]
  • The Old Timer: (Also known as "Methuselah") The Old Timer's been around since the beginning (or a very long time, anyway), and isn't going to let you forget it. They too have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, but this time it's based on how much time they've invested rather than money, or devotion. Because they've stuck with it over the years, they believe that they're far more important to the franchise than these kids and 'Johnny-come-latelys' who have only just arrived, and resent the show changing in any way to include them. They view the franchise through a sharp Nostalgia Filter; the show is never as good as How It Used To Be, and any criticisms raised of the show at / before this point will be viciously rebuffed. Especially long-running properties will attract Old Timers who will resent and attempt to get rid of younger fans who had the misfortune of being born after the property (and they) were. It can also happen to works that are no longer in production (classics) -- but still manages to attract younger fans. Essentially, they're the grumpy old men of the fandom constantly complaining about the good old days and shouting at the "young whippersnappers" to "get off their lawn", saying that they're too young to deserve it. Very commonly they may be found complaining about something that back in their day was a problem...yet they complain at the lack of it now, acting like those adults who make better lives for their children yet say "back in my day we....and we liked it."[13]
  • The Willfully Blind: This fan refuses to see any faults in the object of his love at all, even if they're staring him right in the face. Tends to go beyond merely liking something to an irrational state of mind where, because he likes something, that means that it cannot possibly have any faults at all. They also will not realize how other people could possibly not like it, and will likewise tell them they're worthless for not finding it the best thing since sliced bread despite that this mentality can lead to massive Hype Backlash. The Willfully Blind is fond of the Quality by Popular Vote and Reviews Are the Gospel lines of argument, often insistently referring to reviews, ratings or sales figures to support this assertion. If they encounter evidence of a flaw that even they cannot ignore, they are then prone to rationalize it away with the excuse that "it's still better than everything else" or "The rest will make up for it".[14]
  • The Vocal Loyalist: A fan who appears to have nothing in his heart but loathing towards the show... and yet still keeps coming back, often insisting on how loyal they are in the process. Often a fan who's been burned in the past, he nevertheless keeps hanging around purely to complain about how he's been burned. The Vocal Loyalist is very fond of announcing that he has been burned once too often by the show and will be leaving the fandom, and yet he never actually seems to leave. Despite the fact that he does nothing but complain about it, should anything threaten the show's existence (such as a cancellation threat), his will be among the loudest voice raised in protest of the cancellation. Basically, for those of you who have worked in a business or public service job, the Vocal Loyalist is, in summary, the type of customer who says they will not be coming back to do business with you, but comes back again and again.[15]
  • The Character: A fan whose mania revolves around a character or a few specific characters more than the work as a whole.
    • The Mad Bride/Groom: This fan is more a fan of a specific character than the show, with the series largely being a vehicle to enjoy them. The lack of this character's involvement in the series or characterization going off in another direction than expected often turns this fan into a more personalized version of the Tinfoiler. Tellingly, the fan often has a rather idealized, if not distorted, view of the character. Shippers are heavily associated with these sorts of fans; this can become doubly worrisome if the character they like is involved with another character the fan actually identifies directly with, or if they become involved in a Love Triangle. Contrast with (and sometimes rivals to) The Hate Monger.[16]
    • The Insane Avatar: This fan will idolize, nay, see themselves as a character from something they love. Everything associated with said character is something they'd do or should be doing. Everyone who has a slightly different opinion other than that the character in question is "awesome" is wrong. "Those people cannot understand why 'Character X' does those things! How could they?! Only I understand them!" is a common mantra for this fan, who will also reduce all sorts of questions to "What Would X Do??" This fan will also fight tooth and nail when defending any ships this character is in.[17]
    • The Mad Matchmaker: This fan is marked by an obsession with romantic relationships in a work that was never intended to be a romance. Related to the Culture Alien, they're the kind of person who, instead of criticizing the tacked-on romantic subplot, criticize the alien invasion for getting in the way of the sideplot, and when called on it they refuse to take "It's not a soap opera" for an answer. They will pitch a fit - possibly even flounce from fandom - if their One True Pairing is jossed. They may be a fanatical fan of one character or one pairing, or they may just have an uncontrollable desire to Pair the Spares - or just the entire goddamn cast with little logical reason. They take crack pairings seriously and will never shut up about it. Either way, there is no situation where romance is too frivolous, inappropriate, or downright creepy for them.[18]
  • The Perfectionist: Like the Purist, the Perfectionist believes there is only one way to do things. However, whereas the Purist is hung up on a particular period, the Perfectionist is consumed with a particular way of enjoying the product; there is only one correct way to play this game, or listen to this music, or watch this film, and that's his way. Many times, the Perfectionist will claim an update makes a product inferior because it deviates from their accepted Metagame, bonus points for products when the Metagame tended to be based around exploitation of glitches, shortcomings in the game engine, or exploiting loopholes in the rules. Very commonly they scorn newcomers and try to chase them out.[19]
  • The Misplaced Champion: "Fandom -- love it or leave it!" Usually a supportive variant, this fan gets a bit too confrontational when it comes to criticism of the object of their fandom. Regardless of how mild or gentle the criticism. Regardless of how valid or reasonable the criticism. Regardless, in some cases, of how even the Word of God may agree with the criticism. They feel that anyone who considers a work flawed is nothing more than a Troll or a misguided fanboy and they need to be set straight and see the work is perfectly fine. The minute someone doesn't like something in a work or finds something in the work that bugs them, you can bet that the Misplaced Champion will show up like lightning and try their hardest to squash these criticisms simply because (in their mind) the work is just so good that there cannot be any legitimate criticism for it. The number one culprits of Complaining About People Not Liking the Show, tied with the Willfully Blind; a common line of argument is something along the lines of "why don't you go and watch something else if you hate [the show] so much?", even if the critic has made perfectly clear that they don't hate the show at all.[20]
  • The Litter-Bearer: Sometimes a fan's frustration towards the Fan Dumb goes full circle and creates its own Fan Dumb. A Litter-Bearer seems to hate his fellow fans to the extent that even valid criticism can be dismissed simply because it's coming from a fan and not an 'approved' source like an outside critic. Convinced of the stupidity and utter worthlessness of their fellow fans, they begin to see things from such a skewed perspective that in their eyes, any disapproval from the fanbase just proves that the creator is right and the show is good. They tend to leap upon all complaints in the same fashion as the Misplaced Champion, only replacing the aggression with sneering condescension. In extreme cases, this can extend to the Litter-Bearer himself, who believes that if he, or any other fan, doesn't like the product, "it's fine the way it is and if we don't like it that's our problem". Litter-Bearers can often be identified by their liberal use of the word "we" in complaining about the fandom.[21]
  • Chicken Little: Chicken Little sees doom in every raindrop, and lives in perpetual terror that the sky is about to come crashing down on top of him. Whilst no show can claim to be entirely perfect and flawless, the Chicken Little is terrified that any misstep on the part of the producers will result in cancellation. While it is, in fact, possible for shows to get worse, Chicken Little responds to every proposed change, every teaser, every trailer and every bit of Kudzu Plot with paranoia. Chicken Little also has almost no hope for any spinoffs. Expect these guys to be screaming "This game/show/book is going to SUUUUUUCK!" or "This will single-handedly ruin the franchise forever!!!" Often combined with The Methuselah.[22]
    • Bizarro Chicken Little: Like Chicken Little above, Bizarro Chicken sees the doom of cancellation in every raindrop. However, he operates under the belief that even the tiniest voice of criticism will reach the ears of the Powers That Be, who will immediately cancel the show in the belief that nobody likes it anymore. Ergo, all voices of criticism must be silenced without prejudice in order to keep the show on the air.[23]
  • The Protectionist: This fan has an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, believing that certain works are aimed only towards members of his demographic. While it is true that certain works are, in fact, marketed towards specific demographics, the Protectionist will insist that this means members of other demographics are not allowed to enjoy those works. He'll typically act is if those fans who fall outside the target demographic somehow "cheapen" his own enjoyment of those works. He will make it known loud and clear that such fans are undeserving, and will attempt to run them out of the fandom. Often Suffers Newbies Poorly.[26]
  • The Fandom Moral Guardian: This kind of fan is very concerned with the morality of their chosen series. While they may be part of the target audience themselves, the Fandom Moral Guardian focuses their attention on criticising adult- or teen-oriented books or programmes for being inappropriate for children, even though younger audiences clearly aren't what the creators had in mind. The Fandom Moral Guardian sees a lot of fiction in terms of black and white; there are "dark" works which can only be enjoyed by adults and there are "light" works which are only appropriate for children. However, if the creators of the latter category decide that they'd like to make their work even a little bit darker - maybe they want the work to age alongside its original audience or hope they'll have greater story opportunities - the Fandom Moral Guardian is convinced that the work is irretrievably shifted into the "dark" category, so they'll be there to complain about the creator "betraying" them and berate other fans for continuing to enjoy such immoral material. Accordingly, expect this type of fan to be a little bit oversensitive about tropes like What Do You Mean It's for Kids?/Not For Kids and the Animation Age Ghetto.[27]
  1. Press the "Normal version" if you have a lot of time on your hands; press the "Abridged version" labels to see the TL;DR versions.
  2. A fan whose life revolves around the show, and nothing else. The classic Fan Dumb variant.
  3. A fan who has a strict and unchangeable vision of the show and will react badly to any changes outside of this vision.
  4. A fan who expects everyone to adhere to Word of God faithfully and never deviate from it.
  5. Cliche hipsters of the fandom.
  6. A fan outside of the show's demographic who complains because the show isn't being directed at him.
  7. A fan who believes those who disagree with his / her opinions to be of lower intellect because they disagree with his/her opinions.
  8. As above, but with the added factor of thinking that he's smarter than the creator(s) and better than everyone else.
  9. Same as above, but as a "Stop Having Fun!" Guys.
  10. A fan who hates someone/something for ruining the show, despite that someone/something not being responsible.
  11. Same as above, but instead of only thinking that "They Just Didn't Care", thinks that disappointing aspects of the show are intentional.
  12. A fan who thinks that because he owns lots of merchandise from the show he is entitled to special treatment and priority.
  13. Similar to the above, but substitute "owns merchandise" for "I was here first!". Frequently suffers from Nostalgia Filter and They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
  14. A fan who insists his favored [thing] is flawless and perfect and anyone else who says otherwise is WRONG WRONG WRONG.
  15. A fan who claims to be a loyal fan despite having nothing good to say about it.
  16. A fan of a character who refuses to follow the show when its favourite character/feature is being left out of it.
  17. A Fan Boy of a character who sees himself incarnated as it and hates those who criticizes said character.
  18. A fan of romance to the exclusion of all else in non-romantic works.
  19. A ""Stop Having Fun!" Guys" fan in the fandom.
  20. A self-appointed Fan Boy who will defend their precious fandom from any criticism and any haters.
  21. A fan who thinks that fans are wrong because they aren't a valid source of opinion.
  22. A fan who's paranoid about his favorite show being Ruined FOREVER and sees evidence that it is in everything.
  23. A fan who believes that if the Powers That Be see anyone complaining about a show, they'll assume nobody likes it at all and cancel it.
  24. A fan who always finds something to complain about, and is rarely content with anything
  25. Someone who likes something, but only because it's cool, not because he actually likes it.
  26. A fan who sees himself (and those who are like him) as the only members of the demographic of the show, and think that the "outsiders" and "new fans" are not allowed to like the show.
  27. A self-appointed Moral Guardians who will scream about any sign of "dark" or mature themes in works, fanmade or otherwise, especially those for children.