The 100 Fandom Phenomenon

I’ve been a television fanatic since I was six years old, waking up early in the morning to watch things like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z when Cartoon Network used to be cool (and watchable). I grew up watching a ton of cartoons, loving animations, and getting sucked into these beautiful fictional worlds–which I’m sure many people can easily relate to.

Twenty years down the line, I’m still as obsessed with a plethora of tv shows (most of them live action) and the worlds these shows provide us with. The stories have become more elaborate, the worlds are more complex, and the characters have more interesting development. It’s been a natural evolution of television, giving us complexities in these fantastical worlds sucked from the minds of some pretty amazing writers, directors, producers, and showrunners.

I think the first show I started watching on a regular basis as I began to transition out of my anime obsessions was 7th Heaven. I loved the show and found ways to try to connect to it. Following 7th Heaven, I easily got into Smallville, Gilmore Girls, and a number of Disney and Nickelodeon shows (Lizzie McGuire, Drake and Josh, The Amanda Show, to name a few). At this time, I didn’t know fandoms existed. In fact, I don’t think they existed with the fierceness they do now.

I like to think that my first real introduction into fandom-hood was Harry Potter (it’s a right of passage and if you don’t agree I may fight you) and the forums on Neopets. But even then things weren’t as intense as they are now. Actually, I don’t think I really understood the true gravity of what it means to be a part of a fandom until The 100 came out. By the time the show came out, I was deep in a The Vampire Diaries and a Teen Wolf fugue; I really didn’t want to start a new show, but for some reason I started Star-Crossed on the CW, fell in love with it, and right when I thought it was getting better, it was cancelled. Of course, being the bitter and loyal viewer I am, I decided to not watch the show that had taken over in its place.

That decision didn’t last that long–a friend of mine had begun watching the show when it came out, and by the end of the first season she had me convinced about watching it. But before I did, I crawled into a corner of Tumblr that really changed this up for me incredibly.

Despite my deep, deep obsession with both TVD and TW, I had never really tried to interact with people online about the shows. I had friends ‘irl’ who shared my passion for both shows so I really saw no point. But for some odd reason, with The 100, I wanted to know more before I really got into it. And honestly, it was easy for me to fall in love with the show through gif sets and other people’s opinions.

And that was my biggest mistake.

With The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf I went in with no expectations. I hadn’t read the TVD series (a huge surprise, really, to those who know me), and I only decided to watch TW because Tyler Hoechlin was cast in it and I wanted to see him on my screen again after 7th Heaven. I fell in love with the shows because of the stories and the characters though–not from opinions I had formed from before.

I wasn’t affected by people who had opinions that differed from my own–I hadn’t interacted with people who put down my love for the show because it supported one ship and not another. In fact, I never saw that happening even after I got into the fandom-sphere. Negativity existed, of course, but never at the level I see it at now.

Or maybe I wore a pair of rose coloured glasses that became defective the moment I stepped into The 100 fandom.

Who really knows?

All I know is that I’ve never felt so overwhelmed or down about things I love and enjoy as I have since I came into this fandom.

Look, I get that we all have differing opinions and that’s fine. It’s healthy to have your own opinions about things–it’s human nature to connect to characters on deep and emotional levels. What’s not okay is taking those emotions and manifesting them into hatred against the actors who are playing a character, or a peer who is just trying to enjoy something you enjoy. The idea that these people are nothing more than ‘just another actor’ needs to be rid of now. They’re people who live in our world just like you and I–they’re artists who are paid to play characters; characters that inevitably grow to love (unless they’re Robert Pattinson) and share with us.

We don’t deserve these actors, yet there are people who feel like they’re entitled to the actors attentions and live or feel like they’re entitled to putting them down and dragging them through the mud. The only reason we’ve become like this is because of the internet.

When I finally started watching the show, I fell in love with the complexities of it. Bellamy Blake and Raven Reyes quickly became my two favorites thanks to the acting of Bob Morley and Lindsey Morgan. I had thought my attachment to TVD and TW was something else (I cried at the end of nearly every single episode of both shows), but my attachment to these two characters surpassed my overall love for the show. And I loved the show a lot.

I still do love it, just not as much as I once did. Why you ask?

Because sometimes the hatred that bubbles out of certain corners of the fandom make it hard to enjoy the show.

After I got into the fandom and found that discussing a show after each aired episode was liberating; I just couldn’t go back. I wanted to interact with people more. I wanted to understand everyone’s points of views better. I wanted to understand the inner workings of how the show was interpreted and understood. But it was difficult–there was so much negative discourse that only got worse as time passed by dividing the fandom into factions of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Look, in the fandom-sphere there is a gray area that a lot of people fall into. Ironically enough, I feel like these divisions amongst us reflect the show as well. In general, there aren’t any good guys in the show, but you can choose your own group of ‘Good’, ‘Bad’, and ‘Ugly’. All the characters fit into these categories and at times they fit into multiple at one time, which, you know, reflects the morally gray area of the show that everyone falls into. In that gray area, you can either make the decision to be the type of person who treats others with kindness, or the type who doesn’t.

A loud minority chooses the latter option.

Now my question is this: why are we like this?

PHENOMENON
phe·nom·e·non
fəˈnäməˌnän,fəˈnäməˌnən/
noun
noun: phenomenon; plural noun: phenomena

  1. a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.

How did we become such a broken form of people? Why is it easier to be harsh and negative than it is to be nice?

Ship wars were something I didn’t experience until this fandom as well. And honestly, they still blow my mind.

First off, my ship has always been Bellamy and Raven–the explanation for that is reserved for a whole other post–so I never really got involved in the wars, but I’ve witnessed them. And I wondered what the point was for them.

To me the show has never been about a romance–yes, I ship a ship that will never exist, but my reason to ship them was the unwavering respect they have for each other. They never hesitate to lift one another up and never hesitate to defend one another. I get it, a lot of people wanted to see the books come to life on the screen, but the books are nothing like the show. Jason Rothenberg took Kass Morgan’s basic idea and turned it into this complex and intense television series with the help of amazing writing creatives and crew. What I love about the show is how it shows that relationships grow, evolve, end, and change throughout the show. Nothing is linear; nothing feels like it’s the conventional type of ‘normal’ we happen to be familiar with. And that’s okay, because who the hell would expect a conventional normal in a setting where all one, as a human being, wants is to survive?

The characters are also so different from their novel counterparts that the romance you see happening there wouldn’t make any sense with the direction the show took.

But getting upset about certain aspects of the show is understandable, but taking those feelings out on the creators of the show as well as the writers and actors is entirely inappropriate. It becomes a hindrance to the creative process and it can make those creators enjoy the process less or not enjoy it at all.

And to top it all off, the thing that gets me the most is the ship wars that reflect into the actors’ real lives. I mention this as a separate concern from the hatred certain actors receive. These actors have personal lives and significant others–attacking them or even ‘shipping’ the actors isn’t appropriate unless they confirm relationships with each other. This is especially true when it comes to the two main actors. What’s worse is when people in the fandom decide to go after these actors’ significant others with unnecessary attacks that come in the form of somehow causing a breakup.

It’s sad that some people resort to these petty attacks and that the larger majority of the fandom gets folded into the blame as well.

I guess, it’ll always be something I never understand the ‘why’ of, unfortunately.

The 100 fandom is a powerful one, and an amazing one. A lot of responses that the show evokes come from a place of passion, and that I get so deeply. I just hope that we, as a community, can come together and understand that we can spread positivity faster than we put out our negative wildfires.

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