The Dark Side of Fandom

Years ago, I was sucked into the dark side of fandom, not by choice. I enjoyed Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Phantom of the Opera” immensely, and started to visit fan forums, websites, and even started my own blog (this sounds familiar) to support the show and a podcast about it. I had great fun with it until Andrew Lloyd Weber decided to write a sequel to the stage play entitled, “Love Never Dies.” Suddenly the sky turned dark, the clouds swirled, and an angry howl came from the twister that split the fan base in two, leaving destruction and injury in its wake.

I learned a valuable lesson during that time, having welcomed the sequel with open arms, that fans can turn down-right crazy when you tinker with something they are obsessed over. I’m not using the word love here, because that’s too rational. It’s an obsession that is irrational. What happened, in that case, was that the disgruntled fans felt no one had the right to continue the tale, including Andrew who created the stage version. On the other side of the camp were those fans that welcomed the continuation, wondering what happened to the Phantom after he disappeared into the night.

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The disgruntled put up websites against the sequel, entitled, “Love Should Die,” and actively campaigned for its demise. They cursed Weber. They hounded social media. They cut off fans who disagreed and attacked them personally. I know, having been one of them because by that time I was podcasting with the cast from Vegas Phantom, flying to London to see the sequel, and reporting my favorable comments on the storyline. I got blocked. I had to block others. People cursed me in social media outlets behind my back that I was doing “great harm to the fan base.” I began looking for car bombs before I started the ignition (just kidding of course).

Here we are again in another fandom storm. The twister is ravaging the landscape. Why this time? Because some fans who campaigned for the show to come back are not happy. They are not getting what they wanted – Theo James as Sidney Parker. He’s become the “last Austen hero,” the only man for Charlotte, a #Sidlotte hashtag crowding social media. Storm debris is flying around, and anyone is target of their discontent – the producers, the directors, the writers, the actors, the crew, PBS Masterpiece, BritBoxUK, Red Planet Pictures, and any other fan that disagrees. It’s like a repeat nightmare, and I sit here typing this blog wondering what has happened to us as human beings that such disgruntled immature individuals think they have the right to bash those who resurrected the show because they didn’t get what they wanted.

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What I really don’t understand, is why they don’t understand or accept the fact that Theo James DOESN’T WANT TO REPRISE HIS ROLE AS SIDNEY PARKER. That means no amount of $$$, and no amount of begging by the disgruntled will bring him back. It’s time to move on. Season 2 and 3 are filmed. However, those still writhing in despair are now attacking the seasons to come. “I refuse to watch it.” “I will tell others not to watch it.” “These men do nothing for me.” And on, and on, and on like a broken record tagging and posting their discontent on PBS and everywhere else they can. To top it off, they throw crude comments at the actors who are starring in the male roles and wreak havoc in an attempt to destroy what many of us anxiously wait to see.

I’m not saying people cannot be disappointed. After all, probably 80% of us shed a tear during the cliff-side goodbye between Charlotte and Sidney; 15% tweeted their anger at his decision on Twitter that evening when it aired (I know, I read the comments), and probably 5% said they were team Stringer and Sidney didn’t deserve Charlotte. Afterward, look at what happened! Fans rose up crying, “This cannot be the end,” when ITV said they were not renewing. The campaign began, and it was renewed. Yes, Theo isn’t coming back. He’s not upset. He’s not caring what we think or whether we approve or disapprove. Frankly, he’s probably oblivious to all the hullabaloo about the entire matter. The time for grieving has ended. We should work through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and move on toward acceptance.

I know that writing this blog post isn’t going to attract naysayers or change their behavior. They aren’t going to find my website and suddenly realize their insensitivity. I’m here just stating an opinion and wanting to shake my finger at the bad kids on the block and say:

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Now it’s time for me to forget about them. God give me the grace not to engage. I have to realize that I’m not going to change their mind. There is too much to enjoy in the months ahead. Interviews, pictures, trailers, and finally the show! And frankly, I don’t give a hoot if they watch it or not. It will save us all from them picking it apart scene by scene.

Now onto the good stuff! That’s a wrap.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with what you said. And And I well remember the noise and the aversion to “Love Never Dies”. But again and again he is surprised from the lack of respect for the creative freedom of authors and actors on the part of “fans”!

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