best summary of fanboys i have read

In his review of the movie Fanboys, Roger Ebert has the best summary of the nerdcore sub-culture:

A lot of fans are basically fans of fandom itself. It’s all about them. They have mastered the “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” universes or whatever, but their objects of veneration are useful mainly as a backdrop to their own devotion. Anyone who would camp out in a tent on the sidewalk for weeks in order to be first in line for a movie is more into camping on the sidewalk than movies.

Extreme fandom may serve as a security blanket for the socially inept, who use its extreme structure as a substitute for social skills. If you are Luke Skywalker and she is Princess Leia, you already know what to say to each other, which is so much safer than having to ad-lib it. Your fannish obsession is your beard. If you know absolutely all the trivia about your cubbyhole of pop culture, it saves you from having to know anything about anything else. That’s why it’s excruciatingly boring to talk to such people: They’re always asking you questions they know the answer to.

Fanboys = a bizarre form of cultural capital? Perhaps…


Written by fabiorojas

February 9, 2009 at 3:35 am

6 Responses

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  1. I really like the last line of your snippet: “That’s why it’s excruciatingly boring to talk to such people: They’re always asking you questions they know the answer to.” On the one hand, this statement perfectly captures so many of my interactions at various nerd events (mostly gaming conveniton). On the other, I think it misses some of the creativity and novelty in each interaction.

    For example, I think ‘fans’ are continually re-enacting debates that cannot be ended, e.g. “The Empire Strikes Back” vs. “A New Hope”, Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings (see “Clerks 2” for an exemplar fo this), etc. The point, however, isn’t to ‘win’ the debate but rather to re-enact it. It’s a kind of ritual. For someone else in the right fandom, enacting the ritual isn’t painful at all, it’s a kind of recognition, and a chance to show off any particular insights, metaphors, etc. that you have developed (for example, the “R2-DS masterminded everything” theory I heard awhile back).

    But… I also bet if you observed sports fans talking about some of the intricacies of rules in football, the AFC vs. the NFC, the role of expansion in the decline of pitching in the majors, whatnot (I haven’t paid enough attention in awhile to know what the right debates are now), the setup would be very similar (although the larger cultural connotations would not be). I wonder how different fanboys really are (except in that they have set themselves apart, and been set apart)?


    Dan Hirschman

    February 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

  2. Or, say the distinction between structure and agency or nature and nurture…



    February 9, 2009 at 5:56 pm

  3. Trey’s got it right – all communities have a fanboy dimension. Dan’s also hit it as well – fanboydom, for some, is a crutch, but merely a loose script for others. Arguing over ESB v. SW:ANH isn’t much different, with the right people, than jazz musicians outplaying each other over the same changes.



    February 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm

  4. Doesnt org theory has its own set of fan clubs and pet debates, eg., adaptation vs. inertia; exploration vs. explotation; opportunism vs. trust; closure vs. structural holes; While, there are umpteen studies that have addressed these debates, we still have these debates going… Why? Because, the fans need it to keep their fandom alive… Debates of this sort never get sorted once and for all… Its bread n butter for many…


    Rajiv Krishnan Kozhikode

    February 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

  5. Nerdcore refers more to a style of music that is a subgenre of hiphop (type nerdcore into google) that has been flourishing over the last few years (including two documentaries with nerdcore in the title).

    Here, at the conventions described, we just have nerd culture as practiced by nerds via nerdy rituals.



    February 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm

  6. 3N: You are the Michel de Nerdau of this thread.



    February 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm

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