Religion without organisation

One wouldn’t doubt that animism and shamanism predated organised religion. There are some cases where organised religion itself incorporates folk beliefs, animism and philosophy to form an interesting ideology.

 

Folk beliefs can be part of cultural nationalism in a way, preserving and practising such customs onto the present day despite a myriad scientific advancements. Likewise you have religions that blur the line between ideology and faith.

 

Buddhism does that but so did Christianity when it incorporated Greek cynicism onto Jewish monotheism. So does Taoism with surprisingly scientific insight applied to shamanism.

 

Note that these are organised religions so it’s inevitable that they’ll have a stronger ideological, shamanic and philosophical bent than fandoms do. But it’s coincidental that the rise in fandom and celebrity worship coincided with the decline in organised religion.

 

Not that there’s anything wrong with those. But realistically you’ll find more meaning in an organised religion than with cartoons and musicians. At least that usually gives you a stronger conscience.

 

Organised religion has its problems but so do fandom and celebrity worship syndrome. There’s instant gratification, which the latter two thrive on. Not to mention less meaningful in the long run.

Is it an end of an era?

The Brony fandom is an infamous case of a male fandom for a girls’ programme but never the first. Their predecessors include Minky Momo fans, Kim Possible fans and Totally Spies fans. The latter in which involves strange obsessions, eerily predating what will become of the Brony fandom.

 

Likewise an earlier Pony fandom probably also did their own romantic fan fictions before Rule 34 was coined, held fansites and made pony versions of other, non-pony characters. Their idiocy was recorded early on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a few years before Friendship is Magic.

 

MLP had several animated productions before, especially in the 80s and early 1990s. The latter production had a cast that acted like the Mane Six in a way along with a de-emphasis on humans and an all-pony setting.

 

There were male fans before though many of them could’ve outgrown it for various reasons and watched those cartoons out of boredom. The contemporary Brony fandom peaked in the early 2010s, roughly 2012-2013 when it was picking up steam.

 

Of course, such mockery existed before but the current Brony fandom has become an easy laughingstock next to furries. In time, many might outgrow it but by then, it has little staying power.

Timing for anime communities

Another reason why so many other anime fan communities are slow to accept database consumption the way their East Asian counterparts did is because they’re relatively younger and farther from the source.

 

That’s especially the case with European and American communities where a good number of them have a preference for clear storylines and worldbuilding over categorising and popularising appealing traits.

 

There are websites that show database consumption in practise like Danbooru, Zerochan, Tumblr, DeviantART, 4Chan and Sankaku Complex but there’s bound to be several others that emphasise plot, ideology and worldbuilding.

 

A number of western nerd communities like worldbuilding, which is an aspect I don’t get myself but worldbuilding is closer to what others call a grand narrative. The idea of immersing yourself in an ideology based around a story instead of extracting data from it to produce your own.

 

Database consumption would be closer to remixing and copypasting certain appealing things. You build up a catalogue of what you like and remix them in whatever manner. It’s already happening with 4Chan thread archives and the like but it has yet to become common like in Japan.

A fight over moe

Moe is the feeling of being strongly attached to certain traits and preferences. This leads to categorising characters with such traits, which is what the writer Hiroki Azuma had in mind. Someone who’s moe for muscular male characters will not only fetishise but also categorise them.

 

Same thing goes for any other preference to put it kindly. But database consumption, while becoming influential, isn’t so well-received in other circles not just elsewhere but also in Japan to some extent.

 

You have people sneering at others for making lovers and spouses out of fictional characters, as if they continue their obsessions to startling levels. Not to mention associated merchandise.

 

Database consumption might be enjoyed by overseas anime fans. But the only regional fanbases that wholly embraced these are in China and Korea, given their proximity to Japan as well as sharing similar traditions and mindsets to an extent.

 

Others might catch up soon enough though there’d still be a fight over what’s moe or not.

Insular imaginations

It’s safe to say that a lot of nerds, from experience, have certain foreign countries to idolise. It’s almost always either Britain or Japan. Ireland and Korea aren’t that far behind but not to the same extent as they’d be regarded as lesser copies of the former two.

 

Nerdy Hibernophiles, Teutonophiles and Francophiles do exist but not to the same extent for similar reasons. They have pop culture that gets exported but not so visibly. It could be said of any other country.

 

For Britain, it’s the lure of being not too foreign. Ireland’s not that far behind but not enough to exert a substantial influence despite or rather because of being close to Britain. Inevitably it’ll play second fiddle to its coloniser.

 

Similar things can be said of Japan and Korea. Korea’s quickly catching up but isn’t as vocal as the fandom for Japan. Ditto the other countries that helped influence them like Norway, France, China and India.

 

Again it boils down to a lot of soft power whilst not being too foreign or more idealised in other regards.

She’s not the only one

In fairness, there’s the meme that holds Lady Gaga on a pedestal despite that she might not be the only pop star who either composes her own music or sings well. It’s like as if Norah Jones, Mariah Carey, Michelle Branch, Marianne Faithfull, Carole King, Alicia Keys, Tracey Chapman, Toni Braxton and Karen Carpenter never existed.

 

Saying that Lady Gaga’s the best out of a bad bunch is telling. She might be better than her peers but wouldn’t rank as the absolute best. She’s far from the absolute worst though. But it suggests the possibility that they haven’t listened to a lot more singers to know better.

 

It’s also likely that most of them are just used to poor singers so they hold Gaga on a pedestal. You don’t see that from people listening to folk and classical music act like that often at least from experience.

 

She’s neither the worst nor best but same things can be said of her influences and peers.

Goths in pop culture

Exempting Dave the Barbarian (which uses Goth to mean invading Germanic tribes), Goths in popular culture are bound to be as gloomy as the clothes they wear. From my experience hanging out at Goth blogs as well as having interacted with one online before, a huge number of them are nerdy.

 

How much more nerdy can one get with its love of all things esoteric, distrust of anything mainstream, being marginalised at one point (though even pop stars do get this treatment too) and intense enthusiasm for something?

 

There are probably a few instances where this was portrayed in fiction. There aren’t that many Goths in pop culture who aren’t gloomy, morbid, spooky or troublesome. The only one I can think of who isn’t any of these, despite her smoking habit, would be Gen13’s Freefall.

 

There’s also a trend of making Goths supernatural and magical. Some of them are like that in reality. But sometimes someone who dresses morbidly might be more into heavy metal. Likewise a normal looking person might be a fan of The Cure.

 

That’s something a few works take note and advantage of. Looks are deceiving but in a way that can’t be cliched.

Curt Sibling

A Scottish cartoonist who does comics but online he has made a name for himself from mocking Bronies. Bronies are one of the most despised and sneered online communities, possibly next to Furries and anime fans if it weren’t for bizarre fanfiction and even stranger online behaviour and drama.

 

This is worsened by news reports about Bronies (and anime fans) getting into trouble with the law like vandalism. Not all of them are like this but such reports worsen an already dire reputation for those communities.

 

Several people find his works satirical though some might find the same to be insulting, disgusting and mean-spirited. It’s not hard to understand what the latter feel about his works though I don’t want to divulge any further.

 

To appreciate his works would take a stronger constitution to understand his point (and humour). His works aren’t for everybody so take precaution.

Hardly ever superfans

There was some attention over prose writer Margaret Atwood writing superhero comics. I find it strange myself though she might’ve read comics before though she has written for many other media before.

 

So did the likes of Jodi Picoult, Majorie Liu, Harlan Ellison, Max Allan Collins and even Stan Lee, Otto Binder and Jack Kirby. The latter three were from another era. They were fans but not fans of superheroes especially in their time.

 

However Picoult, Liu and Collins might’ve grown up reading superhero comics but have written elsewhere in other media and genres, giving someone the impression of having more experiences and interests especially outside of comics and superheroes.

 

They’re not rare but not particularly common either. Especially as the superhero market began catering a lot to lifelong fans. It’s not that they can’t get new fans but the stories began pandering a lot to them with easter eggs and esoteric references.

 

It feels like you have to be in the know to get it or you get lost.

Jem and the Holograms

I haven’t watched it but the premise is about women in rock bands, complete with big hair and stuff. There’s a comic book reboot with more body diversity and multiculturalism. No doubt it would unsettle some people but when handled carefully with sincerity and talent, it’ll get away with those.

 

There’s an online thread called SJW Art and Extremes which mocks politically correct fanart of various franchises though that’s attributable to poor draftsmanship. Sophie Campbell does racebent versions of those characters, in addition to giving them unique body types but because of better draftsmanship it doesn’t look awful.

 

Not that there’s anything wrong with racebending or making characters fat/thin/whatever though there’s got to be some respect to the original description and intent. It has to be done without becoming unintentionally offensive or condescending.

 

Too often, ‘PC’ takes on familiar characters (canonical or otherwise) end up as either fetishistic, condescending or offensive. Not just to the original writers but also to the groups they’re targeting to.

 

When handled carelessly, you get stuff like Flash (incest), Supergirl (Uncle Tom syndrome) and the like. When handled right, it wouldn’t be offensive but that’s something most people can’t pull off.