I don’t understand “fans” sometimes…

I’m not a big social media person. In fact, I don’t have any social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) linked to this site. I like the pieces I write here to speak for themselves. But I follow some social media accounts of franchises I support, such as Star Trek and Star Wars. It seems with almost every update and every announcement posted, people will complain – even about shows that haven’t been broadcast yet!

Here on this website you’ll find criticism of entertainment companies and their films, shows, and games. That’s what I do here; I’m a critic, not a cheerleader for any franchise or company. But my criticism is reserved for things that I’ve seen and played for myself, and is directed at titles that I enjoyed or hoped to enjoy. I don’t seek out things to dislike on purpose, and when it comes to my favourite franchises I always start out hopeful and wanting to have a positive experience. Yet on social media I see so many negative and hateful comments directed at shows like Star Trek: Lower Decks – which hasn’t even aired a single episode yet.

Star Trek: Lower Decks has been criticised by people who haven’t even watched it yet.

There are reasons to criticise ViacomCBS. When thinking about Lower Decks, the fact that the show doesn’t seem like it’s coming overseas any time soon is an issue I’ve been vocal about. But the reason for that is that I want to see Lower Decks – I’m excited for it and not thrilled at the prospect of missing out. I guess I just don’t understand why someone who clearly hates Star Trek would bother to follow Star Trek’s official social media pages only to comment about how much they hate it. It just seems like such a waste of time, and why would anyone choose to live their life in such a negative way?

This extends to the so-called “fans” who set up groups and YouTube channels that deal wholly in negativity. You know the ones I mean – where The Last Jedi is an “objectively bad” film and where any Star Trek production post-Enterprise is automatically hated without even being watched. Passion in a fanbase is all well and good, but why channel it in such a negative way?

The Last Jedi prompted some “fans” to start a campaign of hate against everything to do with Star Wars.

I didn’t enjoy The Rise of Skywalker, the most recent film in the Star Wars franchise. And I was up front about the reasons why when I reviewed it. But that dislike of one film doesn’t mean I’m now a Star Wars hater who’s going to spend a lot of time talking about all the things I didn’t like about the whole franchise, and I’m certainly not going to be jumping on any new announcement to tell you why I think it’s going to be crap. There are films, shows, and games within Star Wars that I like and a few that I dislike. I’ve just finished playing Jedi: Fallen Order, for example, and had a great time with it. In the case of The Rise of Skywalker or The Mandalorian, unless I have something worth saying I’m not just going to keep harping on about how much I didn’t like them. There are so many other things to watch that I don’t have time to waste.

Many of the comments that I see when a show like Lower Decks is being shown off are just one-line things saying something like “this is gonna be shit”. What was the point of saying that? It added absolutely nothing to the discussion, and if someone really believed a new show was going to be that bad, the simple answer is: “don’t watch it then”. As Dr Tolian Soran said in Star Trek: Generations:

“Haven’t you got anything better to do?”

As with the Star Wars “fans” who have decided they hate anything other than the old expanded universe and the first few films, some Star Trek fans aren’t interested in the franchise’s more recent offerings. And that’s fine. Nobody is being forced to watch any show or film that they aren’t interested in or don’t think they’re going to enjoy. I just don’t understand all of the negativity and aggression that seems to plague fan communities.

If it were coming from a place of love, if it was constructive criticism or designed to make a positive change then that would be okay. I write about things I’m passionate about here, and sometimes that means speaking critically about a film or series that I wanted to enjoy but found disappointing. But these people seem to have already decided to hate something without watching it or knowing anything about it, and then take that negativity and toxicity and smear it all over social media. I truly don’t understand that side of “fandom”, nor how someone who behaves that way can consider themselves a “fan” of Star Trek, Star Wars, or anything else.

Representation of a “fan” screeching about a show or film that they’ve decided to hate.

Star Trek in particular has always tried to be a franchise with a positive outlook. Even its darkest stories all took place against the backdrop of an evolved, enlightened humanity, and the battles our heroes fought were against opponents who sought to tear down the bright future humanity had built for itself. That’s the foundation of Star Trek, and while there are definitely points to criticise in Discovery, Picard, and perhaps in Lower Decks too – though we won’t know for sure until we get to see it – blindly hating on something doesn’t seem like something the crew of the Enterprise would do.

As I’ve discussed before, many of these people aren’t interested in even having a conversation about Star Trek or whatever franchise they’ve decided to hate. Their whole identity is tied up in hating a franchise, and nothing will ever convince them to change. Though I find that sad and will always prefer to judge a series or film on its own merits, as I’ve made the mistake in the past of rushing to judgement, I’m fine with someone disliking something I enjoy or not being excited for something I’m looking forward to. We are all different and we all enjoy different things in life. What I don’t understand is the negativity, choosing to spend hours and hours on social media following a franchise just for the sake of being negative about it.

A short selection of negative comments taken from two recent Facebook posts from Star Trek about Lower Decks. Names redacted.

When I write critically about a work of entertainment, I take the time to watch it and I’ll often do other research looking into things like its production history, other works by the actors and director, etc. When I come to the conclusion that a story was unenjoyable for me, I put that into words and try my best to explain what I didn’t like specifically and why I didn’t like it. I didn’t just say “The Rise of Skywalker was crap” and leave it at that. I broke down the specific moments in the film and its story and tried to properly detail why I thought it was crap. These social media comments are often one or two sentences at most, and don’t even bother to explain what the person is taking issue with.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But social media has made it not only easier for everyone to express those opinions about every tiny little thing, but also to form communities in which only one opinion is acceptable. That side of things in particular has not been positive, and we’re seeing the consequences now when new announcements in practically every franchise are met with hundreds of negative comments that are often rude or even toxic in nature. I’m disappointed that so many people choose to engage in such toxic and negative behaviour, but it’s unlikely to change any time soon.

This post was, somewhat ironically, a way to vent my own frustrations at some of the comments I see plastered across social media. Just like the “fans” who need to spend less time following franchises they hate, I clearly need to spend less time reading the comments – it seems like that’s the way to avoid getting so worked up about it.

All shows, films, and games mentioned above are the copyright of their respective company and/or owner. Header image and other stock photos courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.