Lately I have been wondering a rather bizarre question. What ever happened to the fanboy?
What ever happened to people who actually knew about the comicbook hero that they are wearing the t-shirt of? On any given day, you can probably walk past a rather large number of people both male and female wearing some sort of super hero paraphernalia. I often wonder how many of these people have actually read the primary source of information concerning the hero they are wearing? This might not seem weird at all, but let’s look at this differently. When I was in undergrad, a student was wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt, and my professor stopped class to ask him about it. The conversation went something like this (I will even include my remarks to my neighbor from the back of the class):
Professor: Zeppelin. Who’s the guitarist?
Student: I know his name, I’m just blanking at the moment.
Brian (to my neighbor): Really dude? Jimmy Page.
Someone else in the class: It’s Jimmy Page.
Professor: Okay, well what about the singer?
Brian (again to my neighbor): Robert Plant – and the bassist is John Paul Jones, and the Drummer Jon Bonham.
This demonstrates two things:
- I was a nuisance. (I censored this word for my seminary friends.)
- What you wear makes a statement about yourself.
If I see someone wearing a Spider-man shirt, I know that I can probably not expect to have a conversations with him about the differences between Steve Ditko’s art and John Romita Sr.; nor can I ask him about how important of a role Todd McFarlane played in changing the art style of Spider-man – from the intricacies of his redesign of Spider-man’s webbing to the design of the character Venom – and how that has changed how we view the character today. It’s very possible that I probably cannot even discuss with him our feelings on Dan Slott’s recent fate for Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man 700.
The true fan seems to have more or less died. It has become cool to wear a band’s t-shirt without knowledge of their line up or discography, it has become acceptable to wear clothing with a comicbook hero on it without having the slightest clue who the hero is outside of the few hours you have spent watching TV or movies. It seems that there is a strange dichotomy here if you wear an Iron Man shirt and have seen the movies it’s cool, if you actually read comics you’re a nerd.
It seems to me that to say that you are a fan of Superman when you have only seen Superman Returns would be similar to saying that you are a Christian when you have only ever seen Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. You probably think that this is a ridiculous comparison, but it’s remarkable the number of people who claim to hold to a religion without understanding the entirety of what they believe. In the same sense can you really be a fan of a comicbook character if you have never read the central text concerning the character?
I once heard a Christian friend poke fun at a pastor because he believed that “we will all one day raise from the dead.” Let’s just say it was an oddly awkward moment when another friend of mine and I looked at each other before we explained to him that the pastor believes that because it is indeed what the Bible teaches (1 Thess 4). I’m not saying that to be a Christian you need to be a master theologian, or have everything figured out. However, it seems that there is a great deal of significance to knowing basic Christian doctrines. There is a great importance in knowing what it is that you claim to believe by extension with what belief system you identify yourself with.
I’m not saying to throw away your Green Lantern t-shirts, or your Spider-man iPhone case. I’m just giving you something to think about. You might think that my claims are a bit too strong or that my expectations are too high. It’s possible, but it’s really just something to consider. How much do you know about the things that you claim to identify yourself with? The superheroes? The religion? The musical acts? The people you follow? etc.