Silvia Tilly may have released espresso but I never will. If there is one thing in life you should be able to count on, it’s espresso, or even just coffee in general.
But she probably had a point about expecting nothing.
One of the most difficult things in fandom is the disconnect between what we hope and dream about for a series, and the reality of what we are given on screen. Everyone has an idea, or “head canon” as we sometimes call it. Some are great ideas, well-crafted story telling, some are just fun, half-baked whimsy, but in the end we all get the same product. A story that came from the professionals who are entrusted with the franchise we love.
Theories are fun to discuss and debate, but at what point do they become harmful? Is it possible to become so attached to a theory that we’re unable to enjoy a story that doesn’t fulfil that dream? But on the flip side of that same coin, aren’t theories the very thing that makes serialized story telling fun? Exchanging theories with fellow fans is one of the staples of fandom as we know it.
But that leads to another question. Is the internet polarizing fandoms the same way it seems to polarize every aspect of our lives? This tool that allows us to connect with so many like-minded fans is double edged sword. After years of enjoying science fiction in a solitary way, finding online fandom has been a very joyful and engaging experience for me. But it’s not without its frustration.
There is pressure to fit in and align with others. Even a pressure toward consistency. It can be difficult to offer even minor criticism about a franchise that you actively support or even defend in a public space. There is a fear, I feel at times, that anything but unquestioning loyalty and support may be labeled as “anti” or “negative.”
Places like Twitter are not known for the ability to parse nuance. It’s easier just to ignore things you may not like and focus on the positive. But again, that may be due to the polarization effect and the fear of being perceived, albeit incorrectly, as a member of the opposition group.
The ability to share our theories with the world, get backed up by fellow fans and form an echo chamber around ourselves can be deceptive and might set us up for disappointment when our dreams don’t become reality.
Technology shapes our experiences in multiple ways.
Is our ability to engage with media changing in an environment where we are able to consume entire multi-year series in a matter of weeks? In times past, people waited years for sequels and followed television series with thirty episodes per season without any discernable arc. And they were happy about. Dare I say, grateful even.
In a world where we are surrounded by instant gratification, the temptation to produce a theory ourselves to answer the questions and mysteries a story presents is very strong. We aren’t used to having to wait for answers.
Which brings us back to Tilly.
Can we release our beloved franchise from the expectations of canon, tradition, and our own theories and just let it be what it is, and even love it for it?
I hope I can. If I’m disappointed I’ll grab an espresso, it will never let me down.