Fan Meet

Dear J-

Two fans meet and establish their bona-fides, whether it be by flashing home-made IDs proving membership in some obscure club, showing off expensive or high-effort hand-crafted artifacts (here, think of folks who used the patterns out of the Star Fleet Technical Manual to sew uniforms), or swapping esoteric trivia (Harcourt Fenton Mudd!  HA!) with no real application.  Here I’m picking on my poor peer Trek fans, but the scene repeats itself amongst every group you could care to think of, whether sports fans wearing jerseys and spouting career statistics like some sort of dementd athletic actuary, or numismatists peering through the change they just received.

Fans are a tricky  base to please; when we’ve invested sufficient personal time (if not money) in following something, we feel an unearned sense of entitlement and ownership:  surely, I think, because I’ve spent the last twenty years following the space program in gory detail, surely I have the greatest ideas and I don’t understand why my thoughts get sidelined.  Or it’s used to whip up rivalries and feuds where none would naturally exist (here I’m thinking of the big rivalry college football games that have taken place the last couple of weeks, fans taunting each other for feats they didn’t accomplish.  For our efforts, we’re rewarded with misplaced pride and fruitless accomplishment.

Oh, that comes off bitter; the danger is in the nationalism that seems a natural extension of fandom — not the oddly amazing yet relatively benign Sports Franchise Nations whose main offense is to recast your team logo and colors in pinks and other pastels, but the fervent my-country-is-infalliable that pollutes our political discussions and makes it impossible to disagree without being branded unpatriotic.  Yet the same people who have no trouble leaving the Spock ears at home can’t seem to separate unquestioning allegiance from every day life.



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