What does it mean to be a fan?

What does it mean to be a fan?
24: 24 had arguably one of the best first seasons of all time. And FOX and the producers should’ve been brave and left it at that. Though Seasons 2-4 were pretty decent at times (though also mostly crazy ridiculous, vis a vis the cougar); if 24 would’ve just left it at Season 1 and called it a day, people would be singing its praises. As it stands now, the show has become a punch line and a cautionary tale. Holster your weapon, Jack Bauer. Holster your weapon.

fanatic, noun. A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.

A commenter on my post about seven TV shows that went down in flames suggested that because I had problems with 24's final seasons, it meant I wasn't a fan of the show.

I took issue with that (in my head, not with the commenter). I consider myself a fan of 24. But then I got to thinking. If the definition of "fan," which is short for "fanatic," describes someone with unyielding passion and enthusiasm for something, then, no, I guess I'm not a "fan" of 24. My passion and enthusiasm both yield when it comes to Jack Bauer and his terrorist fighting friends. Especially in the later seasons.

When I really stop and think about it, I guess I'm not a "fan" of most things.

I'm a critic. It's hard for me to turn that off while watching a show or a movie or reading a book. When I am able to turn it off, when I'm completely transported to a new world via somebody else's words or images, it's a pretty special and rare thing.

Most of the time, though, I'll find something to complain about.

It's not that I don't like what I'm watching or reading. It's not that I'm not enjoying myself. In fact, my need to pick stuff apart is just another form of entertainment for me. When I'm calling The Walking Dead on all it's character bullshit, that's fun for me. That's a party. It doesn't mean I think the show is bad, overall, it's just that I see places where it could be better...and I desperately want it to be better.

Also, as I suggested in my previous post, there are many shows that get off to a great start, but can't sustain the magic. The fact that the final two seasons of Alias are awful doesn't detract from the first three, which are pretty great. Would I consider myself a fan of Alias? Yes. Well, I would have before.

I think fandom is a lot more cut and dried in the sports world. I'm a Bulls fan. I've always been a Bulls fan. I'll probably always be a Bulls fan, unless something crazy happens like they all band together and murder a bunch of small children or they, heaven forbid, bring in a long lost sister to spice things up.

But of course there are sports critics all over the place who devour every bit of information about their favorite teams yet still find tons of things to complain about. I don't think that means they're not fans. It just means they have high expectations. They don't want to be let down.

Same thing goes with me and television. I want to watch good shows that are entertaining and important. I hold all of the shows I watch to a high standard. When it comes to television, it's about putting a million things together (writing and acting and directing and editing and music and blah blah blah) to create a project that is hopefully mostly pretty great. No show is perfect and I like to armchair quarterback in the tenth inning (while mixing metaphors) to try and figure out what the show could've done to make itself better. It's like putting together a puzzle.

So, maybe I'm not a fanatic about individual shows, at least not most of them. But I am a fan of television. I have an extreme enthusiasm for the medium and I will always root for it to succeed.

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Tags: 24

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