I don’t consider myself a fan of anything. Bear with me a moment.
The word “Fan” is a shortened version of “Fanatic.” Fanatic behavior is obsessive, defensive, and singleminded. It’s often associated with religious or political extremism. And while faith and civic matters are important to be mindful of, the fanatics of both subjects ruin them for anyone else.
Not all people who call themselves fans are like that. Most fans are pleasant enough, just happy to share their love of entertainment with others and revel in it together. There are those, however, that call themselves “true fans.” They are exactly that, fanatics in the truest sense of the word. They make their favored subjects the centerpiece of their lives, get personally offended when their subjects receive any kind of scrutiny, and bludgeon others over the head with their ideals. They needlessly curate the content they supposedly love, and berate anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Artists both love and hate their fans. They are people who can be a positive force for spreading and enhancing the art, and they often add to the artists work in some way. The bad fans push others away, get greedily attached, and sometimes demand things of the artist that will satisfy no one, including themselves. In small fandoms, only one of those bad fans can spell doom for the entire community, and by extension the artist.
There needs to be a better word for someone who enjoys particular content or activities. Fanatic is a bad word, and has too many negative connotations. Enthusiast? What could we shorten that to? Enth? Thoosie? Either way, fanaticism is dangerous. People who enjoy art and shows and stories should not have to bear the same moniker as the rabid consumers that drain the fun out of the community just by being there.
Diamond: … So you’re trying to tell people that you’re not a dragon fan?
… ENTHUSIAST. HOBBYIST. COLLECTOR. ADMIRER. ANYTHING but FAN. PLEASE.
Nerimay: I’m a fan of people who don’t fucking nitpick about common terms. Do you think you can meet those standards?
… I’M AN ENGLISH NERD ITS ALL I HAVE.