And I started thinking about the time I spent in Monkees fandom, and as I continued across the yard, I remembered how much it was like every other fandom I've ever been a part of -- you know, you start out with a group of people who all like the same things, and everything's pretty awesome, and it's cool to talk about the things you all like and do fun things based on that, or listen to the music or watch the shows or write stories or whatever; and I realized suddenly that no matter the fandom I've been involved it, doesn't matter -- the Monkees, Elfquest, Star Trek, Buffy, Dwight Yoakam, all the way back to hanging out at the alt.net boards for Mandy Patinkin, that fandoms are Homeowners Associations.
Sure, you get together for a common good and everything STARTS out nice and peachy and all's well, but then you realize that one or two people (or small groups of people) want to control everything and make sure all the grass is the same height and no one paints their house an unauthorized color or plants trees in the wrong place or has Tiki Bars that show over the fence, and the next thing you know all the fun has been sucked out of it and while you still cling to your beige house and perfect manicured lawn, you're really not enjoying yourself any longer.
Fortunately, it's easier to move to another part of a fandom than it is to sell a house.
I loved being a part of Monkees fandom -- I organized and ran a branch of the "Monkees Connection," and did a lot of artwork for them. I met some people, had a lot of fun. I did the same again with Dwight Yoakam fandom; the former I simply faded away from -- the latter I left in a white-hot rage, reminding myself endlessly that the actions of some of his fans DID NOT reflect on Dwight. Star Trek fandom I was only on the edges of, and I lived Elfquest for a long time. Now I tend to stay in my own worlds and simply orbit around things I'm a fan of, rather than getting involved in "Fandom."
I do sometimes get a little rankled when I hear people making rude comments about television, which is my preferred cultural touchstone; yes, I'm a reader, but I have always been visually motivated, and I always have the television on if I'm in a room with a television (like right now). I love television, and I do see it as part of our culture, popular or otherwise. Every time I hear someone put down television I think of an old Dilbert cartoon, where Dilbert was preaching on the evils of television instead of reading, then he asked Dogbert about his day in front of the tube -- to which Dogbert responded he'd learned to build a cabinet, watched a documentary on Africa, and an historical drama on World War I. "So what are you reading?" he asked Dilbert, who answered, "The Poodle Who Killed."
I'm certainly not saying I watch strictly to learn, but then, I definitely don't read strictly to learn, either. Reading can be just as empty-headed an activity as watching television (witness the phenomenon that is Twilight), so yeah, it bugs me when I hear things like "Oh, I don't watch television" in the same tone as "Oh, I don't torture kittens."