WHAT IS A FANTARD?
“Fantard” comes from the combination of “fan” and “retard”. It is often used to describe a fan that seems to find difficulty in accepting rational criticism towards one’s idol or fandom. The type of fan that feels one’s idol can do no wrong and will fight anyone that’ll speak, let alone imply, any negative thing towards one’s idol. Think of Dwight Schrute from The Office and Gary Walsh from Veep had a baby.
Dwight’s stubborn discipline and Gary’s nurturing side will actually make them dope parents
Arguing with a Fantard on the internet’s probably one of the most frustrating things to do along with getting stuck in Manila traffic or explaining to your parents why Marlou of Hasht5 is a thing. Seriously, dealing with trolls is less frustrating compared to arguing with Fantards. Trolls at least would adapt their tactics to your argument. Fantards, on the other hand, more often than not, will just put up a dense wall of stubbornness to deflect your rational arguments. Unless, of course the troll’s pretending to be a fantard to piss you off.
HOW ARE FANTARDS CREATED?
I hypothesize that the origin of a Fantard follows the same process as a Super Fan but with a certain differentiating variable:
THE FOUR-STEP PROCESS OF BEING A FAN:
- ATTENTION: A person, group or form of media catches your eye for being or doing something that appeals to you.
- E.g. You like JaDine because they’re kilig when you watch them on-screen. You like Game of Thrones because it has tits AND dragons.
- EFFORT: You try to look for and consume all the other related information that you can get on your new object of attention. It can be as shallow as just searching their wikipedia page, following them on social media or as deep as already spending money on merch and setting Google Alerts for each mention of your new idol.
- E.g. After liking JaDine on OTWOL, you watch their movies and listen to their songs. You start reading the Game of Thrones books and watch its after-show talkshow
- IDENTIFICATION: After going through the rabbit hole of your new idol, you realize that it speaks to you more than just being entertainment. You realize that there are similarities and parallelisms of your idol with your real life. Usually this is the point wherein you seek people that share your same love for your idol (the fandom).
- E.g. You can relate to Clark and Leah’s journey as a couple in OTWOL. You realize the parallelisms of Game of Thrones with real life politics.
- OWNERSHIP: At this stage, you identify yourself so much with your idol that you’ve become possessive of it. This is the stage wherein you try to contribute to your perceived benefit of your idol (i.e. making an effort to make them trend on social media). In marketing, some people call it being an apostle of the brand. You start evangelizing the greatness of the brand/idol. Some fans even become more protective of their idol.
- E.g. Starting your own JaDine fans club or writing thinkpieces to share the greatness of OTWOL. Pushing your friends to watch Game of Thrones or by making a podcast about it.
THE FORK IN THE ROAD: LEVEL OF EMPATHY
Not everyone will love your idol as much as you do. And probably they’ll also be vocal with what they dislike about your idol, well that’s how free speech works. But when you’ve reached that level of ownership, it’s hard not to feel slighted. How dare a heathen call out thy idol? This is where a Super Fan and a Fantard splits paths. A Super Fan would still have a hold of his/her mental facilities to evaluate the call out before reacting while a Fantard would go into beastmode.
And this all boils down to one’s level of empathy: one’s ability to see something from another person’s perspective. In some way, you can still set aside your love for your idol. It does become more difficult to do the longer you feel ownership of your idol. Hence, some super fans are often mistaken to be fantards. Still having empathy helps you understand where a person’s comment is coming from. Is it meant to be a critique or just hating? Fantards, blinded by their affection towards their idol, would just attack each and every outsider stimuli that come their way. Any argument is already invalid because it came from a person who doesn’t share the same affection towards the idol.
But being a fantard isn’t just reserved to those deep in the fan process, it’s also apparent in people in the early stages of fan development. Level of empathy isn’t derived from one’s knowledge of the idol, much of it comes from a person’s background or context. Now here’s where it gets a bit more difficult to explain because one’s context doesn’t just come from one factor. It is affected by multiple factors like values, upbringing and culture. So it is difficult to screen out if a person’s a fantard or not because you have to take a person’s totality into consideration.
WHAT ARE THE TELLTALE SIGNS OF A FANTARD?
So if Fantards are difficult to screen, how can we then identify one? Here are a few tell-tale signs to evaluate whether the person you’re talking to is a fantard or not:
- Unlike Pabebe Girls that stalk around SM Dasmarinas, Fantards are more often found online. Their roundabout reasoning doesn’t translate well in face-to-face conversation.
- They think everything on the internet is about their idol. Any comment can be considered throwing shade against their idol
- Fantards rarely argue alone. They’d often call on a fellow fantard to help them defend against rational arguments (i.e. “gusto ata nitong sumikat eh“).
- When they’re cornered in an argument, they will resort to using ad hominem arguments
- When they can’t argue anymore they’ll resort to using “this is my opinion and you should respect it!”
- They’ll find a way to rationalize each and every mistake or misstep their idol takes
(special thanks to my Streamline Podcast co-host, Mon, for helping out with the fan framework)