I’m a fan of quite a few things and involved in the associated online communities with a couple as well. There’s an unfortunate pattern I always seem to see in these groups though and that’s an excessively negative attitude towards later installments in bodies of work which have been going on for a long time.
On some level, I can understand this. Continuations of things we loved as children aren’t likely to feel quite as special to us, because they won’t have that added nostalgic factor. There also won’t be that long term comfort and familiarity… Not that newer things can’t outdo older things some times, as has certainly been the case with one or two things that I enjoy.
But the amount of venom and bitterness that some people hold towards the very body of work that they’re supposed to love is quite shocking. And, when I think about it, I think I might know why they behave in this way. The things which seem to attract fans like this seem to be somewhat niche or not quite mainstream. I imagine that the reason people respond so negatively to these things is because they probably don’t have much else in their life and they consider their appreciation of theses books/films/games etc. to be a part of their identity – which they feel like their losing, if the body of work changes. Their sense of self is so poorly defined that if more people start to like their favourite thing after the latest instalment, they’ll genuinely feel that they’ve lost part of themselves – or even that it has been stolen. It leads to a kind of elitism which reflects a kind of selfish fandom – most people would be happy if a work they like reaches a broader audience, while others prefer being one of a few.
That’s the only way I can make sense of it, anyway. Otherwise, it seems completely illogical for somebody to completely despise a work of fiction or, even worse, to despise the fans of a work of fiction. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be critical of the things you like, because constructive criticism will always help to make things grow and improve and I honestly enjoy discussing the quality of work I like with fellow fans. But there’s a very big difference between healthy discussion and an irrational hatred of a work of fiction.
What’s especially sad about this is that I am sure that it’s a minority. Most people don’t develop such extreme feelings about their favourite pieces of fiction, because that’s not normal behaviour, but because the ones who do are so vocal about it, they can make entire communities look bad to the average internet user. But don’t let the negativity get you down: focus on the positivity within fandoms and remember the only thing that truly matters is how much you enjoy something – even if a hundred people are saying it’s awful and terrible, this has no bearing at all on your appreciation.