“True” Fans – my Room 101 for Impact magazine

Recently, a lot of people seem to have developed a sense of elitism around their interests. It’s as if they’re part of some mystical, un-written but all-known competition to be the “truest” fan of whatever they happen to be interested in.

You know what I’m talking about: oh, so you like this band that I also like? Name all their members.

Fan of a TV show? That’s cool, but do you know the name of the executive producer’s second spouse and which episode they had a cameo role as the main character’s fleeting love interest turned international spy in? Thought not. I do.

Love Starry Night by Van Gogh? Well you’re not allowed to – unless you know which particular starry night he painted it on, and which stars are in the painting, and the name of at least 28 more Van Gogh paintings. Sorry, I don’t make the rules of the competition, that’s just how it is. Guess you’re not a true fan of his. Like me.

Well sorry, but you’re allowed to like something without knowing anything about it, or its background, or its creator…

Love Smells Like Teen Spirit but never listened to another Nirvana song? That’s totally fine. Who cares. Your liking of that song is made no less legitimate by the fact that you aren’t familiar with their back catalogue.

If you do happen to know loads about an artist or author or whatever it happens to be, then great! That’s cool. I’m happy for you to tell me more about it; enlighten me and educate me and interest me. But don’t make me feel inferior just because I have slightly different tastes to you.

And this type of thing seems to be especially prevalent amongst people who like “high” or “obscure” or “under-appreciated” areas.

So what if you’ve read all of Chaucer and can analyse the aspects of realism and relativism in The Canterbury Tales? My favourite book’s Winnie the Pooh but I’m still a fan of great literature.

So what if you’ve read the book? I’ve only seen the film. And guess what, I thought it was great in its own right.

It’s great that you’ve read Chaucer or you’ve listened to all their albums or you’ve considered the meaning of the art. Nice one, I’m pleased for you, I hope it was a great experience. But maybe I just want to appreciate it because it looks nice, or maybe I read five pages and hated it. Don’t try to tell me you’re better than me because of your particular interest.

I bet I could wipe the floor with you in a quiz on The Lion King. And even though it’s your favourite film, I’m not gunna look down on you because you didn’t know that Rafiki means friend in Swahili. That’s cool because it’s my favourite film too. Don’t you just love Timone and Pumba? Oh yeah, me too. And the part where they- so funny!