The dark side of fandom

Story by Olivia Corbett, staff writer

While strolling through the booths of any comic convention, one is always inevitably met with things even more bizarre than the all too voluptuous catwoman who thought that spandex would make for good costume material. Outfits that are unrecognizable, references that no one understands, and symbols that baffle the mind. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    With the quick rise of fandom based subcultures, the bizarre have been given countless damp corners to grow in, unseen and spreading like a fungus. We all know the fans who go too far, and believe it or not, it gets much deeper than the Assassin’s Creed tattoo on ‘that weird guy’s’ forearm, or the countless Bellatrix Lestrange pictures that may or may not litter a certain writer’s headboard.

    Try as some of us might, who can forget Stephanie Meyers’ kind gift to society, the Twilight Saga? Not many people seem to know that it sparked a new “love-biting” trend, in which teens were biting each other on the neck hard enough to make Dracula turn in his grave.

Pao Hernandez, a sophomore in high school at the time, reportedly told CBS news that, “It’s a way to belong to somebody, and mark their territory.” Some fans would go so far as to draw and exchange blood, a practice that’s as medically dangerous as it is just plain disgusting.

According to an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The rate of infection secondary to human bites is estimated to be about 10 percent.” However, this number accounts for the average human mouth and it’s bacteria; think also of variations in overall dental hygiene and immune systems.

Let’s not leave out the Beliebers, who have been pranked by 4Chan not once, but twice. The first time, 4Chan users went so far as to photoshop false tweets from ET and Bieber himself, claiming that he had been diagnosed with cancer. They also created fake news stories and posted them in various places around the internet. Using the hashtag “BaldForBieber,” they convinced more than a few unsuspecting young girls to shave their heads in support of their favorite pop star. The second time, the prank was taken much too far, eliciting sick responses from fans. TMZ had posted legitimate pictures of Bieber smoking what looked to be a little more than an everyday cigarette at a party, and 4Chan users, not being ones to pass up an opportunity for mischief, created fake Twitter accounts and posted tweets with the hashtag “Cut4Bieber,” complete with photoshopped images of self-inflicted injuries in supposed protest of the teen idol’s transgression. All of which was being viewed by impressionable teens and preteens, who claimed to simply be ‘true fans.’

    And then there are the Harry Potter geeks. Teen heartthrob Tom Felton, the actor behind loveable slimeball Draco Malfoy, once had a fan from the good ole USA offer to adopt him. Felton told Attitude Magazine that the man, who had his name legally changed to Lucius Malfoy, sent him the proper legal documents necessary to disown his parents and invited him to come live with him at his home which he had deemed Malfoy Manor.

    Some of these backalley fandom faux-pas are amusing, but some prove to be truly disturbing. The increasing number of fandoms blossoming in the geekverse seems to be providing more than just a distraction from teenage angst, instead offering a shady spot to cultivate obsessive and often destructive behaviors. Or, as we in the nerd herd like to call it… Fangirling.