We’re back after a very eventful week. We actually had a normal schedule and everything. It’s crazy times when that is the big news of the week. August really messed me up. But we’re back and the website is getting a ton of traction. September has started really strong and I think it might be the biggest month yet here on my website. So thank you to all the viewers, new and old, that has made the past few weeks a godsend for me. I really appreciate it. If you’re new here and don’t know what I’m talking about, August was a dark time full of chaos and uncertainty as my laptop decided to die on me and I eventually had to buy a new one. Now we’re back on track and we had a Weekly Blog about College last Sunday, A New Chapter of Pokémon on Wednesday (which hasn’t happened since July), a continuation of Miranda and Jake’s romance in Friday’s Writing Prompt piece, more Haikus on Saturday, and now a new Weekly Blog today. So yeah you can see that I’ve been busy writing! Honestly, it’s all worth it when I see your views, likes, and comments. They mean so much to me!
So this week’s Weekly Blog is all about the concept of Gatekeeping. If you aren’t versed in Internet Culture and Terminology, you may be unfamiliar with the term, so let me fill you in. According to Urban Dictionary, Gatekeeping is defined as “When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.” Basically it can boiled down into people taking it upon themselves to guard and protect some kind of group or community from “posers” or “fake fans.” This happens a lot in nerdy communities or “Fandoms” as they’re called. People want to prove that they are better fans of the television show/movie/book/comic/etc. by spitting out trivia and background information while also proving that some other person isn’t a real fan of the thing they like because they don’t know the thing. Maybe they haven’t watched the director’s cut or know some obscure background character. Whatever it is, the Gatekeeper is superior because they have this information and the outsider doesn’t. This becomes a problem that there is actually some backlash against. It kind of boils down to whether or not there should be requirements you have to meet before you can officially like some thing.
The idea of Gatekeeping is often associated with passionate nerds fighting over who knows all the facts, but that’s not always the case. Gatekeeping can also be applied to sports, music, a skill, a hobby, or anything where a community has risen around a thing. I know for me I have been on the receiving end of Gatekeeping when it comes to sports. Now I’m not a very passionate sports fan, but I do enjoy sports in general. I support my College Alma Mater whenever they are competing in a sport. The big focus is usually Basketball and Football. Well I watch College Football and love watching my Alma Mater play, but I honestly don’t know that many players. I can probably name three or five if I really think hard. To me, it’s not a big deal if you don’t know players or coaches or whoever. That’s not important to me. But for some sports fans that is a huge deal. They know every player, every coach, and every stat. When they look at someone like me who doesn’t know those things and doesn’t really care about those things, I look like someone who is “not a real fan.”
I’ve also seen Gatekeeping when it comes to more of the nerdier things I enjoy. For example, I am very reluctant to call myself a Lord of the Rings fan. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit. I liked the movies and I read the books of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and I thought that the Hobbit movies were a bit of a left down. (Three parts? Really?). So even though I like Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, there are people out there that like a lot more. There’s people who know every character, can speak Elvish, and even know every single type of plant that Tolkien wrote about in his books (which is a lot). That’s way too much for me and the fact that I don’t know all of those things, makes me feel like an outsider to the core of the Lord of the Rings Fandom. This gatekeeping is a little inherent and not completely the fault of the Fandom, but I have met people who wear their Lord of the Rings knowledge like a badge of honor and looks down on others who can’t name all the Dwarves that went with Bilbo on his journey in the Hobbit.
Another big area where I see Gatekeeping is all the misogyny surrounding male nerds who don’t think girls can also be nerds and like the things they like. All the fake gamer girl memes and images and the fact that some males force girls to meet their standards before they can be considered real gamers. All of that is Gatekeeping. And to be fair, these people also apply these forced standards to other guys who play videogames, but altogether it is worse for women who play videogames. This kind of came to a head when Gamergate happened which was a controversy around women characters in videogames, women videogame developers, and women videogame players. I don’t want to get into it too much because I’m not an expert and that’s not the purpose of this week’s blog, but the whole thing was full of Gatekeeping and Misogyny among other bad things like death threats.
So what was my point with all of this? Why am I talking about this? Well the main message I want you to take away from this is that Gatekeeping is bad and unnecessary. I understand that if you like something whether that be a movie, TV show, videogame, book series, hobby, sport, whatever, you probably need a basic understanding of that thing. If you consider yourself a fan of Harry Potter, you probably need to know things like the names of the four Houses of Hogwarts and a good majority of the main characters (like Harry, Ron, and Hermione.) Or if you are a fan of Basketball, you probably need a basic understanding of the rules and maybe the team names. That’s just simple stuff that will help you enjoy the stuff better and let you converse with others about the thing you love. However, beyond that, I don’t believe there should be any requirements for liking a thing. You can just like it. There’s not some 100 question test that you have to take before you can share a Doctor Who Meme on your Facebook wall. You can just like something without being obsessed with it or knowing everything about it. To the Gatekeepers who thinks there is something wrong with casual fans, get a life, ok? Just because you know every little tidbit and piece of trivia about your favorite thing, does not mean you get to hoard being a fan of that thing. It’s ok that casual fans also like the thing that you like. Letting the casual fans into your clubhouse isn’t going to dilute the Fandom or ruin your nerd status. So just take a deep breath. It’s going to be alright. Let’s just all agree to let people like the things they like without us throwing our arbitrary requirements at them.
I guess that’s all I wanted to say about that. If you liked this piece, feel free to give it a like and maybe a leave a comment down below about Gatekeeping or any other thing I talked about in the blog. If you really liked it feel free to share it or maybe just spend some time on the website. There’s plenty to read so I’m sure you’ll find something you like to read. If you have any suggestions on how to make this piece better or improve the website, feel free to leave those suggestions in the comments below.
Thank you all for your support and I hope you have a spectacular week!
Header Photo Credit to Gate Designs: Designs of Gates and Grills