My fandom started at a very young age. Pokemon, Transformers, X-Men; you name it, I had it. It didn't help that my mom was one of those obsessive parents who bought me not only the Star War toys, but the towels, the spinning Darth Maul toothbrush, the school folders, the posters and god knows what else. I've been groomed to express my love of things freely, and for that I'll always love my mother.
You'd think the geek sphere (pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe), having seen its fair share of bashings and ridicule from outsiders, would be kinder to one another, but lately, it's been the total opposite. We default to trolling the moment we disagree on something as childish as Marvel vs. DC debates. Even tho, that's not a debate... #imjustsayin.
Fandom has always been very simple to me. I can only speak from my experience, but I was an effeminate black kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago. And one Saturday morning, I sat in front of the TV, watching my usual line-up ,when the X-Men animated series came on. Talk about love at first sight. I was five, and vividly remembered how exciting it all was. Laser beams, acrobatics, kooky costumes and lastly, a white-haired goddess by the name of Storm. She looked liked me, with the exception of cosmic-sized boobs and Lady Gaga-like shoulder pads. She was epic, beautiful, powerful and a fierce leader. So naturally the following week of recess, I took up to the skies as the weather controlling femme fatale.
Sure, I got shit for it. I was already used to being teased for posing as a T-Rex from time-to-time, but I soared as Storm. The boys wanted to be Wolverine, and I let them. Why have claws when you can be a sickening goddess with the best monologues on TV? In one of my favorite episodes of X-Men, Storm reveals to the team her anxiety inducing claustrophobia - and while it terrified her, over the course of the season, she dealt with. Faced it head on, with or without a bolt of lightning. And all I could remember thinking, "If she can deal, so can I." And I did. Storm has been my patron goddess ever since.
For me she represents not merely a character, but a medium - a medium of black power, of woman power. A force of advocacy, free-spiritedness and independence. So I could never entertain a Twitter debate arguing Storm's strengths versus Jean Grey's. To some Jean Grey is an overly complicated character who's over stayed her welcome in the X-books, for others, she's a beacon of hope. These women are invaluable. Why pit them together in a fanboy pissing match to prove their worth, when their worths are contingent on the individual lives they've touched?
I don't feel the need to argue, protect nor defend who and what I love. I shared a remarkable journey with these books and characters, and I'm sure you've had wonderful experiences of your own. That said, it doesn't give anyone (including myself), the right to bash a character they don't like or admire, for the sake of winning a troll debate. Who am I to say Storm's better than Superman, when there's a kid out there who's Superman obsession kept him off the streets?
I guess all I'm saying is that we're a thriving community of freaks and geeks, but all we can seem to do is belittle each other. It breaks my heart. It doesn't matter who's superior. What matters is that our lives has been made all the better for having them. And we should be so fortunate to live in an age where heroes are around every corner.
So for Gotham's sake, hug a fellow geek today!