Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm a fanboy, he's a fanboy, she's a fanboy, we're a fanboy, wouldn't you like to be a fanboy too.

On Friday, the ever brilliant Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre created the nucleus of a great idea for a post. He wondered what constitutes being a Fanboy. It's a great question and to date, I don't know that anyone has explored what it is to be a Fanboy (and if they have don't spoil it for me). Piper himself wondered if he was a Fanboy because he was excited about the bootleg trailer to Tron 2. Wait. Hold up. Stop. I can't write in the third person, I'm confusing myself. For those of you paying attention, I'm calling myself brilliant because I'm inspired by one of my previous posts. Who needs other bloggers when I can masturbate to myself.

The Fanboy label is often thrown about the blogging world as if it were a Scarlet Letter. Movie critics say that film bloggers are nothing but a bunch of Fanboys, not really interested in serious criticism, but instead coveting and dissecting every morsel of information about movies like Cloverfield, Iron Man and Dark Knight. Even bloggers themselves use the word as an insult. One blogger commented that last year's Online Film Communities Top 100 Movies looked like "a list made up of a group of white Fanboys under the age of 30." I myself took offense to that comment because to me being called a Fanboy is like nails on the chalkboard. Plus I'm not 30. But I am white. Fish-belly white.

I took offense to it because it IS an insult or at least was meant to be. No one really walks around and proudly states that they are a Fanboy. Why? Because the word Fanboy is limiting. It says that you have no history. No context. It says that you don't really love film. You just love new. It says that you chew up the latest and greatest and then spit it out when there's something even more late and great. And say what you want about my taste in film or what I get excited about, but I'm not a Fanboy. Or at least I don't think so. But here I am getting all uppity about this word, this label, and I don't even know its formal definition. Is there even a formal definition for a word like Fanboy? Well, shows how much you guys know. There is. Mirriam-Webster has a definition and it goes like this:

a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee (as of comics or movies). It says that the first use of the word was in 1919.

Wikipedia has one as well and it goes like this:

Fanboy (sometimes spelled fanboi) is a term used to describe an individual who is devoted to a single subject in an emotional or fanatical manner, or to a single point of view within that subject, often to the point where it is considered an obsession.

In 1982, the term "Fanboy" became more mainstream when the word was featured on the cover of the "Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide". On the cover were some slovenly comic book geeks wearing t-shirts that read "Fanboys of America."

In 1990, the word caught fire even more as it was being used in popular music and science fiction circles as electronic entertainment became more popular. The term became used more in reference to computers and video game consoles.

Now the term is used to cover all sorts of obsessions from TV Shows to cars to even politics.

So now that I know the formal definition, I can once and for all decide if it applies to me. If I look specifically at Webster's definition, it only half applies. I am an enthusiastic devotee of movies, but I'm not a boy. But wait, I am somewhat immature at times. It's true that I am 37 years old, married with children and wear grown-up clothes sometimes with a tie. But I pride myself on being childlike with most everything.

If I look specifically at Wikipedia's definition, its even more confusing to me. It says that I can be "an individual who is devoted to a single subject in an emotional or fanatical manner." There is no reference to age and the emotional or fanatical manner is not limited just to movies. So under that definition, if I'm somewhat moved by certain things, that means I'm a Fanboy. I could be a Fanboy of classic movies. Or of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn movies. Or movies made before 1998 but after 1953 that begin with the letters A, R, Q or Z. Suddenly the word Fanboy doesn't conjure up all these horrible images. Suddenly, Fanboy seems to apply to a lot of people, including me. Afterall, I'm a John Carpenter Fanboy. A Martin Scorsese Fanboy. A Brian DePalma Fanboy. A Frank Capra Fanboy. A pre-war Jean Renoir Fanboy. A Wes Anderson Fanboy. A horror Fanboy. A James Bond Fanboy. A Venture Brothers Fanboy. And while we're at it. I'm a soccer Fanboy. A baseball Fanboy. A Disney Fanboy. And the list goes on and on.

So there you have it. This should be the definitive post on what it takes to be a Fanboy. If you're wondering or not if you are a Fanboy, if you want to be a Fanboy, if you should be Fanboy, or what to do if you're approached by a group of Fanboys in a dark alley, then you've come to the right post. This should put any and all myths and theories comfortably in their beds for a good nights rest. I don't know about you, but I feel a little enlightened. So from here on out instead of saying "Screw Off, I'm No Fanboy" I'll be saying "Hellz Yeah, Where's The Next Fanboy Party Cuz I'm There And I'm Bringing Some Really Cool Appetizer That Everyone Will Be A Fanboy Of" or maybe something like that, but not as cumbersome, and with a tad more wit.

For the record, I wrote Fanboy 37 times. I guess I'm also a Fanboy of the word "Fanboy."


Fox said...

Yeah, "boy" is more condescending. Maybe we should reclaim the phrase and change it to Fan MAN. That sounds much brawnier.

Jonathan Lapper said...

The second picture is acceptable. The first and the third are not. So I guess I'm a "Leia as Jabba's slave" fanboy. But then who isn't?

Jonathan Lapper said...

Actually, being such a fan of Fox I have begun to call myself a Foxboy. It's got a better ring than Piperboy, sorry.

Piper said...


I think you're right. It's the "boy" part that's insulting. FanMan is good. FanStud. FanManly. FanMannish. I think we're getting somewhere.


I too am a Foxboy and Fox has told me he's printing up T-shirts. They may be going fast, so you should snag one.

I'm going to court today to legally change my name to something that sounds better with boy. Not sure what that's going to be right now, but I'm taking requests.

Emily Blake said...

I think "fanboy" also implies that you have no creative abilities of your own so you have to obsess over someone else's.

Fox said...

What about Lapperboy?

Eeek... that just sounds kind of naughty... right? I typed Piperboy into an image search, and this came up.

P.S. The Foxboy t-shirts are muscle shirts, so I hope you guys are ripped.

Piper said...


That's a great point. It says that you're a follower.


Would you believe me if I said that I was a model for that little figurine?

elgringo said...

"Or movies made before 1998 but after 1953 that begin with the letters A, R, Q or Z."

*jaw drops* Someone else finally understands!


Burbanked said...

I humbly submit:


Which carries with it all of the cool of a hip California lifestyle, yet jettisons all of that age-specific "boy" crap that most of us have been saddled with since we never stopped being boys. FanDude also includes one of those neato capital letters in the middle where the made-up, mashed-up words come together as we marketing types like to do with such reckless abandon.

But for the record, I'd certainly go with Piperboy because I TOTALLY want a shirt with that freaky figurine on it. Piperboy rulez!

Joseph B. said...

Piper, you look great in that Apple swim suit. I applaud you for having the courage to shed aesthetic worries and post it!

And I think you're only a fanboy when you've got one of those Lara Croft blow up dol.... wait is that just me?

Piper said...

Thanks Joseph,

I mean seriously am I a hung Fanboy or what?

MovieMan0283 said...

"Fanboy" may be one of the most popular putdowns of our time, but it's got nothing on "hipster" (though curiously the people who most despise and denigrate hipsters, look themselves a lot like...well, hipsters).

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