Hitting the fandom doldrums (and how to find your spark again!)

As geeks, one of the things we do best is, well, “geeking out” – when we see a new trailer for a film we’ve been eagerly anticipating, or buy a merch item that’s been on our wish list for years, we feel that familiar burst of giddy excitement. We want to celebrate this thing that’s brought us joy, and we can’t wait to talk to other geeks about it. 

However, there can be a flip side to this, and I’ll call it “fandom funk.” Maybe your favorite franchises haven’t been appealing to you as much lately. Maybe the heated discourse online surrounding pop culture topics has burned you out. Maybe it’s been a while since a story really excited you, and you’ve been missing that giddy feeling you used to have. 

Being a geek is a huge part of how I define myself, so it threw me off more than just a little when I realized that I had become mired in a “fandom funk” of my own. For whatever reason, several of my primary franchise fandoms haven’t been sparking my imagination as much as they used to. I found I wasn’t as excited about upcoming projects as I used to be. The last time I went to the theater and saw a bunch of trailers, I spotted some that looked fun enough, but not as many that made me perch on the edge of my seat in excitement. 

For a time, I panicked – was the problem the material itself that was coming out? Were other fans feeling a similar way? I wasn’t sure because I haven’t been able to be as involved in online fandom spaces recently. Or, was the problem more about me?

If you’ve ever found yourself in the fandom doldrums, you know it’s a tough spot to be stuck in. And there’s a strong temptation to get grumpy, and start venting that frustration in online fandom spaces. While I will always defend the importance of respectful negative reviews and the critical evaluation of media, I felt like my grumpiness about my fandoms wasn’t doing me any favors. It was time to try a different tactic!

I’ve been going through a lot of challenges recently in my personal life, and that’s been distracting me from my favorite hobbies and interests. We all go through seasons like this, and when we do, it’s important to give yourself grace. I realized that I was burning out trying to keep up with all the new movies and TV shows, especially ones that weren’t bringing me joy, and so I gave myself permission to step back and try something new. 

Last year I went on a deep dive through Paramount+ and watched a LOT of Star Trek content. Although a lot of it wasn’t necessarily new or currently generating buzz, I really, really enjoyed exploring this franchise. And this taught me that if your favorite franchises aren’t speaking to you, it’s OK to take a break and try something different for a while. 

I can’t remember how many headache-inducing interactions I’ve had with Star Wars fans following the release of the sequel trilogies. I love those movies – primarily because of the character Rey and her importance to me – and while I don’t mind a back and forth discussion and hearing other people’s opinions, I grew quite weary of hearing angry fans ranting to me and raining on my parade. I decided I didn’t want to be a parade-rainer myself. I needed to take a little time away from Star Wars and the MCU; they’d be there waiting for me when I returned, hopefully with a freshened perspective. 

And I often need to remind myself that even if a film or TV show isn’t currently trending or generating discussion, it can still be worth a watch. If some of the new stuff you’re watching isn’t hitting the mark, head for the classics. Or search for contemporary hidden gems that maybe aren’t getting the buzz they deserve. 

I feel like I don’t hear people talking about Apple TV+ as much, but man, there is some amazing content on there. I geeked out so hard over the first three seasons of For All Mankind, the alternate history sci-fi show about the U.S. vs. Soviet space race (the fourth season wasn’t as good, I thought, but was still worthy of discussion). I couldn’t stop watching, and I was so intrigued by the characters. I had to know where it was all going next. 

And of course, everyone who knows me knows how hyped I was for Dune: Part Two, and I absolutely adored that film. I’ve seen it five times in IMAX so far, and I’ve got Dune on the brain most of the time these days. Once again, I find myself excited about characters and fictional universes, and it’s made me feel that wonderfully geeky giddiness again. My Dune excitement even inspired me to crochet my own little sandworm. 

I guess what I’m taking away from this whole experience is, like life itself, fandom is a series of highs and lows. If you’re going through a low, that’s OK. Just don’t take that negativity and weaponize it against other fans. I’ll never forget how a fellow fan was so rude to me when I was cosplaying as Rey at a children’s charity event that it almost drove me to tears. If a franchise has made you that bitter and angry, you need to take a break. 

It can also be refreshing to dive off the beaten path. Everyone knows me as the Star Wars queen, but I’ve really enjoyed delving into other sci-fi stories during this time. And the Star Wars stories I love – like the sequel trilogy and the other films – are still there. Maybe Acolyte will return that old spark to my fandom, but even if it doesn’t I’ll be OK. Not every project has to speak to me personally. If something doesn’t click for me, it should inspire me to keep searching for new stories, or even revisiting old favorites. And if that means going back to see Dune: Part Two for the sixth time, well, that’s what my AMC movie pass is for! 😉

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