The Fans Ruin Everything: Problems With Pop Culture


Batman’s even worse. Sure, his lifespan is a little shorter, but there’s been so many iterations of the character – films, TV shows, radio serials, comics, graphic novels – how do you know which through-line to follow? Is there even an ongoing, regularly published Batman comic? A quick Wikipedia search tells me that there’s currently 12 ongoing comic series’ in which Batman is a character.


How can I keep up with 12 comics? I’d have to dedicate my life to the study of Batman, much like Batman did to become Batman, to make myself into Batmanman. Keep in mind, that’s just Batman. That’s one single character. When there’s so many TV shows and films and books and radio shows and comics and graphic novels, how can you pick and choose? How can I go to my grave knowing that there’s 100 episodes of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour? That I still have 11 novels in the Wheel of Time series to go? There’s too much pop culture as it is without worrying about trying to impress losers with nothing else to do but criticise the TV version of Game of Thrones online, and don’t have any interest in anything else.

I try to be a rounded person. I feel like I can talk pretty authoritatively about a lot of subjects within pop culture. I can talk to you about wrestling, black metal, daytime television, and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky without batting an eyelid. But am I spreading myself too thin? Should I focus on one area? In the rare occasions I venture to play PS3 online, and fancy a deathmatch with some Texan on Borderlands, am I at a disadvantage because I have a life, and a job, and a girlfriend? Yes. He has the upper hand because he has nothing to do but eat, and play Borderlands. Which is fair enough.

Can’t there be an internet ghetto, a no-fly zone where the fans hang out and nitpick each other’s spellings of Targaryan? So us normal folks can trawl the internet and have a good time? We’re in the majority, after all. I blame infinite scrolling. That’s the root. There’s infinite disk space and, with it, an infinite margin of error. That white page needs to be filled and anonymous geniuses – of which I often pretend to be – think that by broadcasting their stupid views online then they have something worthwhile to say.

The best thing to do is to try and approach it from an existential point of view – it’s all meaningless, so just enjoy it while you have it, because in 100 years you’ll be dead. In 100 years, no-one will remember you, or your stupid TV show. Nobody will remember any of this, after the internet is swallowed by a giant space horse. Does that mean you shouldn’t obsess over things? No. Of course not. But try to do it in a good, productive way. Not at the expense of other people’s perceived naiveity; do it like a shepherd tending to his flock.

No-one likes a condescending shepherd.