2017 is finally rolling to a close. I can’t recall making any resolutions at the time, though frankly just surviving the year was a feat in and of itself. Remember the Hollywood sign edits and Winona Ryder gifs from the SAGs? Yeah, those were both this year. Heck, “Right in front of my salad?” isn’t even five months old.
However, 2018 seems like the perfect time for renewed optimism and at least a vague attempt at self-betterment. The most popular resolutions are about saving money and getting regular exercise. But for those of us around here, much of our time is spent online, engaging with media and fandoms. So why not strive to be the best versions of ourselves we can be in this space?
Below are the 10 fandom resolutions for the coming year. Nothing is a requirement at all, of course, and this is not meant to be taken as an “all or nothing” list. Even within each point, there’s shades of grey. After all, fandom is a fun space first and foremost.
1. “I resolve to have my mind changed about a piece of media.”
On the surface, this may be a strange resolution to make. First of all, our opinions are our opinions, and our reactions to media are our reactions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with making up our minds about something.
Secondly, not everyone’s argument is going to be compelling. I’ve read essays pontificating on the massive intellect of Game of Thrones’s scripts, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be wooed. So resolving to have your mind changed by someone else’s writing, which likely doesn’t even exist yet, does sound like setting yourself up for failure.
Except…we all have to admit that we don’t have perfect opinions on things, right? That our reads of situations are heavily a result of our own unique backgrounds, and interacting with competing interpretations challenges ourselves to look outside that frame of reference? I’m not saying that in 2018 we have to start loving a piece of media we formerly hated, or vice versa. But at least once, maybe we can see an aspect in a different light. Maybe one of our judgements we made about a “useless” character will fall flat after reading someone’s case for why they were so compelled.
Heck, just the comment section alone on my last piece changed my mind about the possibility of a Kylo Ren redemption arc in Episode IX working out. Even if my underlying penchant is the same, I can at least see a path where the other direction could work.
We know and feel what we know and feel. But that’s true for everyone we interact with as well. Let’s try and listen to each other more in 2018.
2. “I resolve to read books—at least one, but more would be nifty—written by someone other than a white cishet man.”
A variation of this could also be, “I resolve to read books starring nonwhite/cishet male characters.”
This…shouldn’t be a challenge. However, I am personally an abysmal reader when it comes to fictional books, so if I’m going to resolve to read something, it might as well be by an author whose voice would not naturally be leveraged.
Gretchen is actually the reason this resolution exists, since her 2017 resolution was not just to read a book by a non-white-cishet man, but to only read books filling that criteria. (If I commit to this, Winds of Winter will have to be an exception. Resolutions need to be feasible, after all.) She was quite successful in this endeavor, and even compiled a list of Sci Fi and fantasy books by women and POC that had been recommended to her, so that we can all use it. Thanks, buddy!
3. “I resolve to differentiate between actors and characters.”
Part of the reason fandom is fun is because of the passion we feel when we’re really invested in a piece of media. However, this passion can often…get the better of us.
Championing a character can often lead to championing an actor portraying them, though it’s important to remember that the latter is a human doing their job. Likewise, the actor is not responsible for what happens to their character. Also, actors are fallible—very fallible. They have a very public platform and inherently are in an advantaged position, but to expect perfect commentary that’s completely keyed into current fandom dialogues isn’t realistic.
Hopefully, this is a no-brainer resolution. But if there’s something actionable you want to do to drive it home, I recommend some kind of positivity post about an actor. Bonus points if it’s for an actor of a character you don’t like! Just something that says, “Hey. This is a good job portraying this character that makes me feel emotions, and I appreciate having that.”
4. “I resolve to engage with a new piece of media.”
I feel like a lot of people will laugh at this one, because there’s always new media. There’s always game releases, and movies in theaters, and comic books coming out. But then at the same time, there’s pieces of media you’ve likely held off on watching, despite hearty recommendations. Even in the case of something you pick up, have you checked out its fandom at all?
Maybe you’ll hate it. Maybe you’ll hate what The Discourse™ surrounding it is. However at the end of the day, we’ll never lose out by trying to broaden our horizons.
So yes, I’ll finally check out The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in 2018, okay? Okay.
5. “I resolve to make a purchase at my local comic book shop or small-scale bookshop, if available.”
This is a very region-dependent one. I understand that there’s some places where local comic book shops simply don’t exist. Yet if you live near one, try to check it out. I know that as a woman who is new to reading comics, I was overwhelmed by the idea, especially given the gatekeepery reputation I had heard about. This was not made better by the fact that my first interaction was calling to reserve North and South Part 3, a comic for ages 8+.
But, you know. It’s a shop. The guy who worked there was really knowledgeable and actually seemed excited when I explained why it was that I was buying this volume and how I had really disliked the one that came before it. I tend towards small-talk when I feel awkward, but even this hadn’t been necessary at all. Then I got an iced coffee and called it a day.
Go. Browse. There’s sure to be something of interest there, and sometimes nothing can beat holding that physical copy. Also, if you choose a tiny bookstore, the finds are sure to be amazing.
6. “I resolve to participate in one new area of transformative fandom that I never have before.”
Transformative fandom is large and encompassing. Fic! Fanart! Cosplay! It’s admittedly daunting to wade into this if you’re new to it, but once you try, it’s surprisingly easy. For one, all you have to do is try something new. You don’t have to be good at it. It could be as minimal as relettering a panel of a comic with a silly quote, if that’s something you’ve never tried before.
Just try to make it something. For me, I know that while I’ve been writing fic for a bit, I’ve never tried AU or crossover premises. Even canon-divergence makes me break out in a mild rash. But in 2018, I’m challenging myself to at least do a one-off that fits this criteria. Unless, of course, my Legend of Korra political cartoonist career really takes off.
7. “I resolve to go to the movie theater alone at least once (if financially/physically feasible).”
I saw The Last Jedi alone. I mentioned this to someone, who gasped and said, “I could never do that.” Taking yourself out to a restaurant alone, I somewhat understand. Going to a movie? It never even occurred to me that this could be a challenge.
So go! Try it out! Hell, bring a notepad and scribble things down in the dark. You think I was able to memorize the bathroom break scenes or something? I promise that it’s actually a pretty fun experience. You don’t have to justify your movie snacks to anyone but yourself, and afterwards you have time to sit and be with your own thoughts. You can also select the viewing time that works the best for you. I personally love 9 AM showings, since that’s when I’m awake and feeling best.
It’s a completely judgement-free way to enjoy a film, and getting lost in it becomes easier when you’re not worrying about anyone else. Don’t get me wrong: going with friends is really fun. But to me, going to the movies alone is kind of like taking yourself out to dinner, only without any social stigmatization. Because it’s dark in there, so who cares.
8. “I resolve to leave a comment on the fics I read—ideally every single one.”
I know this is an ambitious one, especially since it’s so easy to consume so many fics. Also, there are times when you start a fic (or even finish it), and…boy, it was just not good. There are also times you read a fic in an incognito tab, and perhaps would rather not advertise this as your choice in material.
However, fic writers work very hard. And from what I’ve personally experienced, as well as heard from others, any comment is appreciated. So if it’s within reason for you to comment on a fic, try to. You can always offer constructive criticism if you weren’t super sweet on it, or just leave it with something shorter and more specific. “I liked the way you described X’s hair in Chapter Y.” There’s usually some aspect that would have worked for you.
My own challenge is to say something on every chapter I read, since I know when I post mine, I check my inbox with baited breath. We write fics to be read. Give a little something in 2018 towards that.
9. “I resolve to check out one new fandom podcast.”
This is a resolution that can be knocked out January 2nd, likely in under an hour.
There are no shortages of fandom podcasts. None. Is there a show or movie where you think hearing people talk about it might make a commute or workout go faster? Good. Search for that in your podcast app, and pick the one with the logo you like the best. There’s even a search engine for it if you’d rather, which can be sorted by date and by episode or podcast.
Finding a podcast that’s right for you is a very personal thing. But when you hit it, it can really make you look forward to normal drudgery. Just put one on for 20 minutes; worst thing is, you’re back to not listening to it.
10. “I resolve to walk away from at least one fandom fight.”
I don’t know if this is a resolution you need. I also think there’s a fine line between ‘fandom disagreement’ and ‘fandom fight.’ However, at least once this year, I am resolving to not engage in a situation where things are, or might get, acrimonious. It could be not answering an ask on my Tumblr, or just letting someone get the last word in a forum thread rather than crafting another response.
The real trick is to get it out of your mind. But once you realize that your input is just…not required in any way, shape, or form, it allows for online debate to feel less exhausting.
There’s the list. Now truly, the only real fandom resolution anyone needs is to listen. There’s a person behind every great—and terrible—opinion you read, and it’s important to stay mindful of that. So let’s do what we can to make our 2018 fandom participation as fun and fresh as possible.