We’re all familiar with gatekeeping: when members of a fandom (or geekishness in general) try to exclude others for not being true fans or real geeks because they haven’t seen/read/played every obscure iteration of the franchise or don’t know every minute detail of the lore. “Oh, you haven’t seen the Holiday Special?” they sniff. “Well, you’re not really a Star Wars fan, then.” “You don’t know how many buttons were on the second Doctor’s costume? Begone, fake Whovian!”
If you’re fortunate enough to have never witnessed or experienced gatekeeping, here’s a few discussions (picked more or less at random) to give you an idea of what it is and why it sucks:
No One Can Deny You Entry to Geekdom, But Some Can Make It Really Hard to Get Through the Door First by Michi Trota on Geek Melange
The Psychology of the Fake Geek Girl: Why We’re Threatened by Falsified Fandom by Dr. Andrea Letamendi on The Mary Sue
A Creator’s Note to “Gatekeepers” by John Scalzi on Whatever
You see what I mean? Gatekeeping is wrong, hurtful, and no fun. And while it’s true that it can be done by anybody to anybody (I’m a straight man and I’ve had my fandom cred challenged by queer women half my age), it is a weapon frequently deployed by the privileged against the un-privileged, in whatever terms those categories may be defined.
Gatekeeping needs to stop. It’s time we all acknowledge that none of us has seen everything and none of us knows everything, even about the things we love the most. No one is any less of a geek or a fan because of the things they don’t know. All it means is there are still things for us to watch and read and play and find out about, and that’s awesome. Seriously, I feel so sorry for anyone who has nothing new left to learn or experience.
And so, I propose a new pastime: gatesmashing! Instead of obsessing over the things we have seen and read and played, let’s proclaim the things we haven’t. Tell us what you’ve never experienced, and tell us proudly. Not a comprehensive list, of course, but the first few things that come to mind.
I’ll go first.
I have never seen:
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Starship Troopers
- The Dark Crystal
- Any Doctor Who starring the first or fifth-through-eighth Doctors
I have never read anything by:
- Neil Gaiman
- Terry Pratchett
- Ursula K. Le Guin
I have never played:
- Dragon Age
And the fact that I haven’t doesn’t make me any less of a geek than anyone who has.
Here there be opinions!