Game of Fans – Who’s Real and Who’s Fake?
By Sarah Zia
So Game of Thrones, let’s admit all of us reading this right now, do not belong to that, ‘1% population that doesn’t watch Game of Thrones’. If you do, well, I don’t see any reason to stop reading, there are no spoilers as such so you may rest easy.
What really fascinates me about this fandom is the diversity in its fans. You’re gonna see all types of people here, people who normally would NOT indulge in such a series, what with all the gore and nudity and violence! But this show has surprisingly still managed to garner the attention of all kinds of people, be it the kinda people who prefer shows like Grey’s Anatomy or The Walking Dead, or sitcom freaks like The Big Bang Theory or Friends, or chick flicks like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl (I really don’t know how I feel about that last one). GOT is one fandom that’s got them all. And how? Well, we shall never really know for sure.
I mean, is it the hype? The kind of traction the last two seasons have gotten was based purely on the hype created. Could it be the dragons and their mom? That was definitely my reason for getting hooked (oh my poor kids)! Maybe it’s that element of surprise of never really knowing or expecting what’s gonna happen or who’s gonna die (or who’s getting a liiittle too breezy on screen eh).
Whatever the reason, the fans that have been following the show since it aired back in 2011, have grown exceedingly annoyed about this very diversity. I myself could not have gotten a more hostile welcome from some friends who chastised me for starting the show when it was on its fifth season, as well as labelling me a fake fan for it. While I do admit I started the show, like many other shows, just to see what the hype was about, I can now say that I’m as passionate about it as any other long-term fan.
So I ask you this. What differentiates a fake fan from a real one? What is a fake fan or a pretentious fan exactly? Has anyone in this fandom faced bullying because of belonging to this “pretentious new fan” category? I posed these questions upon a number of people and the kind of variations in their answers left me more confused than what I started with.
The old fans (those who started watching the show before 2014) were all asked how they felt on seeing the huge number of fans joining the fandom in the past couple years and how they felt about it, along with their thoughts on what makes a pretentious fan. Most of them stated that while it was fun to see so many people joining this community, it was also very infuriating to see that these people didn’t care about the show with the same intensity the old fans did, they also didn’t care much about being factually correct as they did about being part of the discussions surrounding them and not feeling left out. While those don’t really count as valid reasons to dismiss someone as a pretentious fan, it’s the rest of their actions that smacks them with the funny label. Most of these people don’t remember major details and plot lines, get into absurd arguments, try to impose popular opinions and all in all, just be swept onto the bandwagon due to their FOMO.
I then turned to the recent fans (those who started the show after 2015) and asked them about whether they have faced any bullying or been shrugged off in show related discussions for being a fairly new fan. The amount of responses I got stating ugly fights they’ve gotten into, the kind of harassment they’ve been subjected to and how rudely dismissive the old fans have been of their opinions, simply because of their timing in watching the show. It was very disappointing to learn that many people in this fandom put themselves on a pedestal and look down on others that discover a legend a little later than usual. I have, myself, been subjected to this kind of behaviour despite having belong to this fandom for 3 years.
I’ll admit, there will always be those people that are scared of missing out on peer discussions and hence, use that as their only motivation to watch such a beautiful show. However, that doesn’t give anyone the right to pick on them. Our intensities regarding our love for the show may differ, but the end result is the love, which exists in all fans. And can’t that rule the behaviour of the people rather than bitterness against new fans and possessiveness for the show? In the end, it’s all but a fictional series about a throne made of iron swords.
Speaking of which, how disappointed has the season finale left you? I’m pretty sure that after that disastrous ending, the old gods—I mean fans—and the new, can join forces to express our mutual disagreement for this once awe-inspiring series that has now unravelled into a huge debacle.
Rest in peace, Game Of Thrones! I’m sure the first 6-7 seasons will forever remain etched in our hearts and souls.
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