No one is born a bully. Not everyone has the same upbringing where they’re showered in love and affection. Some lead terrible lives and take their misfortunes out on those who don’t deserve it.
Pop Culture is everywhere. From Andy Warhol’s paintings to every movie title you can think of, fans get swept away in the rhapsody of our favourite fandoms.
Fans need to stop criticising everything that’s new and/or different in their selected fandoms before it gets out of hand. No rule says you need to enjoy every part. That isn’t the way the pop culture works. Fan Communities should band together and celebrate being fans, not tearing each other apart because they carry a different opinion.
Social Media: A Scourge Or A Blessing?
Since social media surfaced, it’s become a fad. Designed for keeping in touch with others, Twitter and Facebook wiped MySpace and Bebo off the map.
Research published in 2014 by The Organic Agency, says nine in ten kids experience cyberbullying. The American Pew Research Centre and the American Life Project says 43% of children reported being the target of online trolls.
Despite all the negatives that come associated with social media, there are positives. Many platforms have helped the police find missing people and stopped criminals. Facebook has helped reunite families, friends, and lost pets.
When Celebrities Become Instant Targets
They may have lavish lifestyles, but celebrities have hard times on social media just like the rest of us. Many celebrities have spoken out about being trolled because people who didn’t enjoy their work.
The aftermath of rapper Mac Miller’s sudden death saw his ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande disable the comments on Instagram. Fans blamed her for Miller’s death of a drug overdose. Grande and Miller broke up weeks before she got engaged to Pete Davidson.
Our second example would be the way Priyanka Chopra got treated when she dated her now-husband, Nick Jonas. Social media went into meltdown when the actress announced she was dating a guy ten years younger. In relation to this, people forget Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was married to a woman a few decades younger than him. Is society telling us it’s okay for older men to marry younger women but not okay for older women to marry younger men?
All fandoms have a level of toxicity, though it often goes unnoticed. However, when it does rise to the surface, it’s like a full-out war. We hear little about the toxicity in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, though we hear about the backlash surrounding the films by DC Entertainment. From the backlash surrounding the Suicide Squad movie to the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the Worlds of DC have seen it all.
One fandom that takes a massive hit from toxic fans is Star Wars. Since the prequel films, so-called fans hated on the films and the recent sequel trilogy. In the eyes of many, the original trilogy; A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi only count. These thoughts come from older fans who saw the original films as kids while there are younger fans who think the same way.
For this blogger, I became a Star Wars fans when I was 11. This was around mid to late 2004. By May 2005, I became hooked after watching Episode II: Attack of the Clones on TV on a school night. The rest of my Star Wars journey is, as they say, history.
Since the release of the first two sequel films, a lot of the hate towards the prequels has shifted to the newer movies. A calm has risen whenever the prequels get talked about. It’s as though the films have gained new respect. Just ask my co-writers over at Dork Side of the Force.
You’re Not Warriors, You’re Cowards!
Toxic fans may be nothing new, but its not safe. For every troll, there’s always a sinister motive. The motive is always to torture. With a fandom, targeted celebrities are always high on a troll’s list.
Take actor Ahmed Best for example. The actor brought Gungan goofball Jar Jar Binks to life in the Star Wars Prequel era. He also provided voice work for the character in some episodes of the Clone Wars television series. The backlash towards the comedic character became so bad, he considered committing suicide. However, when his son was born, he knew his little boy needed him and he realised his true purpose in life was to be a father to his child.
Trolls have also made some of their victims kill themselves. New Zealand-born model Charlotte Dawson who suffered depression committed suicide because the trolls pushed her over the edge. Before she died, she comforted some of the trolls who tortmented her.
One of the trolls she confronted as seen in a 2012 Seven News Report, said he said Twitter wasn’t real life. Bull crap, you moron! You might not think they’re offensive, but others don’t view the world in the same way you do. Because of people like you, Charlotte is dead! You people should be held accountable!
Another troll (seen in the same video) said his words didn’t come from any place in particular, but felt because Charlotte was in the public eye, she would get abused anyway. FYI, Mate, she did not deserve to be tormented and if someone said that you, you wouldn’t like it, would you?
A third troll who wasn’t a serial offender stated in the same footage as the previous two said he found confidence online. He targeted Charlotte because she was out in public.
The first troll argued because he was part of Generation Y, he was desensitised to a “full sense of humor”. He also pulled the entirety of Gen Y into the argument. Dude, we aren’t all like you. There’s a load of Gen Y people who would find Trolling offensive.
Charlotte’s death left her fans, friends, and family devastated. Her friends spoke about what a kind person she was and how she had suffered so much because of the trolling and her mental health issues. Despite her demons, Charlotte was a hard nut to crack. She was brave to find some of her trolls and confront them over what they did.
How To Support Victims And Targeted Fandoms
We sensible people need to band together. We need to stamp out trolling of victims and fandoms. If you see people getting bullied online, step in! Give them a shoutout and show them they’re worthy! Trolls want to bring people and fandoms down to make themselves feel better. These trolls feel insecure about their lives. We cannot become a society who belittle those who are a little different.
Fandoms need support too and yes, every fandom in the world has gone through major changes. The writers and the showrunners are the ones who come up with the on-screen content. Not the fans. If fans claim to like the franchise, they should expect changes and they don’t need to enjoy every installment.
Without all our favorite franchises, we’d get bored. Sure, it’s easy to outgrow something, but the fandom will always be there for others to enjoy.
Tips For Avoiding Toxic Fans
If you’re ever online and encounter toxic fans, there’s many things you can do. Here’s just a few of them:
Ignore the comments
Don’t get involved with arguments
Block anyone who is attacking you
Don’t add fuel to the fire
Report the toxic fans if it gets out of hand
These are all the common sense factors when it comes to navigating the online realms of fan communities. The best thing to do when you’re looking through the community, be sure to follow your instincts. If you get a feeling something isn’t quite right, don’t even try to engage in any kind of confrontation with a troll.
Where To Turn When You Need Help
If you feel like you cannot handle the bullying any longer, contact a health professional ASAP. You can even ring a helpline if you need someone to talk to. Consellors are trained to help people in tight situations and most are available 24/7.
If you’re under 25 and live in Australia, ring the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
If you need to Google helplines be sure to narrow down your search by using your home country as a keyword.
No fandom should come under threat of trolls. It’s never easy to see those mean comments or mean tweets. However, by coming together, we stand a greater chance of fighting the trolls and protecting our beloved fandoms from so-called fans and trolls.
Remember this one critical rule: true fans NEVER complain and accepts that not all parts of a fandom they have to like. For instance, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you might love anything to do with the Rebellion but not like the media surrounding the Clone Wars. We’re big Star Wars fans here on Project: Fangirl. The exmple we gave is NOT a dig at the franchise. It’s just an example.
Begin a movement on social media. Create a hashtag tht sparks a movement. Make trolls and so-called fans see that you’re a force to be reckoned with. Fandoms wouldn’t be what they are today without the fans. Anyone who doesn’t trust the studio heads or whoever else is in charge of the franchise, aren’t fans. They’ll never understand the true meaning of being a fan.