A lot of us are part of fandoms, whether you know it or not. If you don’t know, fandoms are a collection of people who are particularly into and enjoy making content for a certain form of media. If you do things like discuss theories, gawk at fan art or even just discuss what you like about the series, you’re part of a fandom. This can be a fandom for several things. Cartoons, books, anime, even sports (tell me you haven’t heard people discussing which sports team is going to win the season), qualify as a fandom.
This means that a lot of us have, unfortunately, seen the darkest sides of fandoms as well.
Some of you might be confused, but other people reading this know what I’m talking about. Whether it be death threats from drawing a character “the wrong way,” harassment that leads people to quit social media, or even suicide attempts brought on by terrible pieces of trash in fandoms. This has become particularly bad in the modern age of online communities.
This is why it’s astonishing that a film that predates the internet, 1990’s Misery, is almost hauntingly accurate to how it is nowadays.
For those who don’t know, Misery is a book and movie about an author named Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who writes an incredibly successful series about the character Misery Chastain. While driving home, Paul wrecks his car and is ‘rescued’ by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a devout Christian who’s a massive fan of the Misery novels. So she waits on Paul hand and foot while he rests and heals up.
It seems like a set up for a different kind of story, doesn’t it? Like, in the hands of a different author, this probably would’ve been a burgeoning romance tale that you’d find in a grocery store checkout aisle. But this is Stephen King we’re talking about, so we know that’s not the route we’re going.
Instead, Annie reads Paul’s latest book, where he kills off Misery Chastain in childbirth. Enraged by this “betrayal” by her “love”, Annie keeps Paul hostage for months and forces him to write a new novel about Misery’s resurrection. This is the Stephen King we all know.
Now the film itself is phenomenal, with excellent suspense and great acting. Even Suzy Allbright, a massive Stephen King fan, claims that the film “shows a dark side of human nature and visits a fear most of us have on torture and obsession.” But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about how this film is absurdly relevant to how fans seem to act nowadays.
Fandoms have become a lot darker since the internet exploded into popularity, to the point where some of the things that Annie says in this movie practically predicted the future. For example, a lot of Annie’s dialogue revolves around how she “earned” a better ending than Misery gets, and how she “deserves” better, rather then being a fan who should’ve been happy to get something they loved at all, even if it did disappoint them eventually.
This is similar to a case revolving around the new Voltron show, where several fans who wanted two characters to get together (aka shipping them as it’s called) leaked storyboard art for the series and demanded that the ship be made canon, saying they deserved it. Again, very similar entitlement to Annie Wilkes.
You might be thinking, but there’s no way fandoms are psychotic enough to actually cause physical harm? Well sadly, you’d be wrong. On October 27th, 2015, a fandom nearly took a life.
A show called Steven Universe had premiered three years earlier and had grown quite the fandom. People of all shapes and sizes love this show, but not all shapes and sizes were… accepted by fans, as it were. An artist by the name of Zamii070 posted fan art of the main character, Steven, in a loving embrace with his father and mother. This caused quite the controversy. Why?
Because apparently his mother, Rose Quartz, was deemed “too skinny” in the drawing. Yes, seriously.
The harassment came hard and fast, with several people calling her fat-phobic and telling her to kill herself. Eventually, it got to be too much, and she attempted to take her own life. She was saved, thankfully, but even then the fans called the hospital she was staying at, and STILL continued their assault. Yes, they wanted blood for a fictional character.
Fandoms have grown more and more toxic over the years. For something as simple as children’s television shows. While Misery is declared as fiction, it seems less and less fake every day.