In the world of fandoms there is one phrase that we have all heard at least one time: “If you’ve stopped enjoying it, then maybe you should stop watching“. And, for some reason, we never seem to like hearing that.
We are not going to be discussing the matter of falling out of love with a fandom, this has more to do with those times in which we suddenly realize that we are not happy with the direction our favorite show is going (and this applies to any other field: favorite band releasing a bad album, etc.). But sadly, when voicing our opinions on why we don’t like one aspect of the thing, there’s going to be problems because there are fans that won’t accept anything that isn’t utter devotion towards the thing. “You are not a real fan” (ugh), “you don’t understand it” or, once again, “why keep watching it if you don’t like it anymore?”. However, that one sentence doesn’t always apply. And, to be honest, I don’t think I could say I love a particular show if I could just drop it that easily.
This is not always the case, though. Little story time: I have a friend who considered himself a Whovian for a long time. He watched all of New Who, had a sonic screwdriver app that he would activate at the most random moments, and we even got him a Dalek tshirt for his birthday. However, he stopped enjoying the show halfway Series 8 because he didn’t like some of the changes Moffat had made. He didn’t bother checking out Series 9 either. When I asked him about this, it was hard for me to understand his position. “But it’s still Doctor Who!”, I said. “It’s the Doctor, the TARDIS, the Daleks…”. I couldn’t convince him: “I don’t like currrent Doctor Who“, he replied, “Why should I keep watching?” Fair enough.
In a way, I agree with him. I wish with all my heart that the Tennant days would come back, but I still watch and review Doctor Who every week because… it’s Doctor Who! I understand how what I just wrote could be seen as somewhat problematic because it seems to suggest that I actually enjoy Doctor Who more than my friend did. This is not necessarily true, but I believe we did have different ways of enjoying the series. We all know this by now: us fans seem to have a predisposition to becoming obsessed with things. My friend has never been a huge fan of anything. He didn’t read Doctor Who fanfiction at 3 A.M., nor did he make videos of his OTP. Again, that doesn’t mean he was less of a fan than I am. Doctor Who just meant different things to us.
This is a debate that is usually seen regarding long shows that have somewhat inevitably drifted and changed from what they originally were. To be honest, if I had a penny everytime I read this sentence in the Supernatural fandom I would now be rich. I know of people who don’t like the way the writers have treated certain characters or aspects of the story and have dropped the show. But I know others who have decided to stick around because they have too many good memories of the show. Again, it depends on the viewer. No, I don’t enjoy Doctor Who or Supernatural the way I used to in the past. But I still care a whole lot about those characters and their stories and I’m not going to stop watching until the final credits roll.
That doesn’t seem to sit well with some people, though. A few weeks back I wrote a Doctor Who review and, even though the review was positive, I still pointed out a few things that I didn’t like from the episode. Later on, I got an offensive comment basically telling me that I was criticizing the show because I was a new fan who had only watched New Who. Well, I have been watching this show for nearly 4 years now. And no, I haven’t watched Old Who. Mainly because I have been told that some episodes are missing and I honestly don’t have the time (being a TV reviewer, I often prioritize catching up with the shows that are currently on air). However, that is not relevant because I am as free to criticize Doctor Who as someone who has watched every single episode of Old Who. I have read and loved Harry Potter since the first book came out, but why would I get mad at someone who just recently got into it but didn’t like certain aspects of the story? Makes no sense to me. After all, all works of art are (or should be) subject to criticism by the viewer.
So why is it that other fans don’t like it when you criticize their favorite show?
Well, the first answer is pretty obvious: when you’re obsessed with something, it’s often compared to being in love… in a geeky way. And you don’t want anyone saying bad things about the
person thing you love, right? It’s only natural that fans are going to try to defend what they love. However, there’s a BIG difference between defending something, and straight up calling someone a bad fan and telling them what to do in their experience as a viewer.
There is another reason why some fans don’t like their show being criticized: there are some people who just enjoy posting hate on the show’s tag on social media. Not going to enter the discussion on whether you should tag hate on Tumblr here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is free to post whatever they want on their blog. BUT one thing is posting your negative thoughts on the show’s tag, and an entirely different thing is posting pure hate and being offensive just for the sake of creating wank in the fandom. Please, don’t be that person.
So yes, you can criticize your favorite show as much as you want. Feel free to point out its flaws, its weaknesses and things that you don’t like. But keep in mind that, just like with any other thing in life, constructive criticism is always preferred to destructive criticism so, if you’re going to criticize something, instead of doing it just to ruin other viewer’s experiences, do it in a friendly way and with the purpose to create healthy debate. And no, you don’t have to stop watching a show because someone else suggests that you can’t call yourself a fan. After all, if a show doesn’t make you want to talk about it (whether it be positively or negatively), that means that you are probably indifferent to it. And what’s the point of watching a show that leaves you indifferent?