A Straw Fan is a character or plot meant as a not-so-thinly veiled attack on the fans for their complaints about the work. It can be either perfectly justified or the sign of an ego run rampant. Take your pick. Or maybe the creator has trouble telling the difference between legitimate criticism and Fan Dumb or Hate Dumb (or is just too lazy to tell the difference).
See also Loony Fan. Sometimes can cross into Affectionate Parody territory if the fans are good-humoured (and the Straw Fan similarly affectionate); likewise, an Affectionate Parody of one's fandom can drift here. Expect this person to say "I'm your biggest fan!" at least once. Also expect this person to embody at least one or more of the characteristics of Fan Dumb.
Compare with Take That, Audience! and Straw Critic.
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Although there is more to the character, Superboy-Prime from The DCU. Certain fans tend to focus on nothing but this one aspect of his character, largely because it sometimes reaches a very mean-spirited pitch.
The really amusing thing is that while DCU writers use Superboy Prime as a Straw Fan, they also use him as a crutch for their own Running the Asylum tendencies. Anything they didn't like as readers is often changed or undone as a result of his punching the reality wall... so it's sort of a case of "Well it's okay when we do it!"
Wonder Man has turned into Marvel's most explicit version of Superboy Prime.
When Peter Milligan relaunched X-Force as X-Statix following the death of fan favorite Edie Sawyer, the new book opened with an arc about a reality-altering fan boy who couldn't get over the fact that they'd "gotten rid of" Edie and was holding his town hostage. However, not only does he ultimately become a sympathetic character, he joins the team and in their desire to not let him down the group actually gels somewhat for the first time.
Peter David created a Straw Fan in Young Justice #13 to retaliate against a complaint he'd received about issue 7, only the fan was made into a cowardly bystander who made stupid speeches rather than a supervillain. Parts of the bystander's dialogue were taken from an online argument with the fan in question virtually word for word.
Jhonen Vasquez wrote a comic where he is confronted by five stereotypes of his weirdest, creepiest, or most annoying kinds of fans and must fight them all to the death when they merge into a bloated abomination.
The entire plot of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back involves the title characters trying to sabotage a movie based on them to stop a flood of half-wit internet criticism. Once they receive a large cash payout for the film, they literally track down every last internet troll and beat them up. This was in part based on a Flame War between creator Kevin Smith and fans over the movie Magnolia (referenced when a particularly inarticulate fan has the screenname "MagnoliaFan").
Misery, both the book and the film, took fan obsession to creepy scary heights in Annie Wilkes. Note, however, that King has referred to Annie as actually being a metaphor for his drug addiction. In the novel, Paul remembers a slightly more realistic fan of his work (who limited herself to re-furnishing her house to match the Chastain household from his novels, followed by a slightly disturbing barrage of fan mail), which helps him at least understand what kind of mindset he's dealing with.
The Plague Dogs contains a scene where a minor character criticizes Watership Down, the author's previous work, which seems to exist for just this reason.
In Baby Sitters ClubMallory Pike, #1 Fan, Mallory is this for her favorite YA author. First she sends her letter after letter after letter, growing angry when she doesn't respond to it personally, tracks her down to her home and makes herself the author's assistant...and then later gets angry at her because not all the events in her FICTION series actually happened to her in real life, and thought her a bad writer and a liar for it.
The Doctor Who serial "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" had a whiny, nerdy character named Whizzkid, who kept gushing about the eponymous circus, though he said he knew it wasn't as good as it used to be, before getting horribly murdered.
"Love and Monsters" also has elements of this, though more of the Affectionate Parody variety. Specifically, the human LINDA members were nice, friendly fans who hung out and had fun, while the Abzorbaloff was the Fan Dumb.
5th Doctor: "How did you get in here? You're not one of those LINDA people are you? I can't have them knowing where I live."
"Planet of the Dead" features Professor Malcolm Taylor, who is also firmly in the Affectionate Parody camp. One particularly nice moment features the Doctor and Malcolm reminiscing about their favourite adventure from the Doctor's old "UNIT files".
Monk had Sarah Silverman on as Marci Maven, an obsessed fan who freaked out because her favorite TV show had changed its theme song. This was a jab at the fandom complaining about how the show had switched from its first-season Instrumental Theme Tune to the Randy Newman composition "It's a Jungle Out There". She later showed up and kept referring to Monk's cases by the episode names, which confused Monk. She was also a jab at some Monk-slash-Natalie fanfiction, as well as a few other types of Monk fanfiction.
The Fanfiction jab happens when Monk and Marci are being held at gunpoint by John Ringel. She tells Monk to shoot Ringel, but Monk reminds her he doesn't carry a firearm. She says he did in one of her fanfiction stories. Then Monk promptly tosses nails in Ringel's face and they flee into the next room as Ringel fires his pistol at them.
Furthermore, Monk and Natalie are disturbed by how obsessed Marci is with him:
[Marci serves Monk square cookies and his brand of bottled water]
Adrian Monk: They're square!
Marci Maven:[laughing] I knew you would appreciate that! Yeah, I've been baking all day, and cleaning, I wanted everything to be perfect! [Monk examines his glass]
Adrian Monk: Marci, is this my glass?
Marci Maven: Not anymore, you threw it out, remember? And yes, this is your rug, and yes, that is your lamp, and yes, these are your pants.
[Monk and Natalie look at each other suspiciously]
Marci Maven: Don't worry, I'm not crazy, I'm just a fan. [in serious voice] You are amazing. But you knew that, didn't you.
In Season 8, after many years of saying "No, the Chlois Theory will NOT come true," the Smallville showrunners finally decided to have some fun spoofing this fan theory in the episode "Hex," to the annoyance of the Chlois theorists...but the utter delight of everyone else in the fan base, who were equally tired of the Chlois theory.
As odd as it sounds, The West Wing had an example of this. Following a semi-publicized incident where Aaron Sorkin got in a fight with his fans (and a fellow writer) on Television Without Pity, Sorkin wrote an episode called "The U.S. Poet Laureate", where Josh gets in a scuffle with a fan site devoted to him and the incident gets publicized. He refers to the site webmaster as "a dictatorial leader who [he's] sure wears a muu-muu and chain-smokes Parliaments." The episode got bonus ego points for having the U.S. Poet Laureate explain that her works meant to serve as a distraction, not to make any higher point. Of course, considering the real life site's policies about criticism on their forums, Sorkin's probably not all that wrong. It doesn't lessen how utterly petty the stunt was, but he's not wrong.
Possibly another example when an intern wears a Star Trek badge to work. Josh tells Donna to tell her to lose it. The intern says she's going to appeal to her boss and that there's nothing wrong with Star Trek. Josh says he's a fan, but then starts listing traits of Fan Dumb with no evidence and accuses her of having a fetish.
Even more annoying, Josh then tells the Star Trek fan "I'm a Mets fan, but you don't see me bringing my hobby to work"...which is nothing but Blatant Lies. We see Josh musing about the Mets and watching games in his office all. the. time. When he's supposed to be working. And yet, he freaks out just because in an intern in a back office wears a small, innocuous Star Trek pin that doesn't distract her from her work at all. Obviously, as great a writer as Aaron Sorkin is, it seems like Josh just became his mouthpiece to be a Fan Hater of any devoted fans of any franchise.
Those Two Guys on The Sean Cullen Show, who actually sat in the actual audience and complained about how improbable the plots were. Considering that one such episode featured a giant squid invading the basement while Sean took lessons in self-defense that involved avenging the death of his watermelon by beating up an ax-wielding "blue guy" and fighting off an entire band of ninjas, and then his evil Germanic Mad Scientist neighbour brainwashed William Shatner into attacking Sean before, but then Shatner got attacked by the squid and they both fell into a wormhole, and then Sean sang a song about it all while the blue guy danced... considering all that, complaining about the logic of the show was a fruitless pursuit.
On Lexx, the Flanderization of 790 into an epic Yandere who threw himself relentlessly at a disinterested Kai and was completely Ax-Crazy toward anyone else who showed Kai any attention was an obvious (and perhaps over-the-top) Take That to Kai/Michael McManus's more, ahem, overwroughtfans.
Done REALLY blatantly in the Supernatural season four episode "The Monster at the End of This Book," where the Winchester brothers discover that a series of pulp novels (titled, you guessed it, Supernatural) has been chronicling their adventures; Sam goes on the internet and discovers their fandom. In addition to Sam's pointed comment that "For fans, they sure do complain a lot," the boys are horrified to learn about all the Shipping the series has apparently spawned.
Don't forget Chuck's dialog at the end of season 5:
"Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass."
The WWE pulled this with The Miz, who was used as a Take That against fans who hated John Cena. He would mercilessly abuse Cena and the fans week after week, trying to goad the fan favorite into a match, and when Cena finally did take notice when they had been booked for a match Mix nearly wet himself, before being completely dominated. This would occur several more times before Miz's push.
Done in the Sherlock episode "The Empty Hearse". The episode begins with with a somewhat ludicrous explanation of how Sherlock survived the previous season's Cliffhanger... before it is revealed the story was created by Anderson, who has set up a club for fans of Sherlock Holmes who believe he is still alive. Later we see a fairly creepy Foe Yay moment between Sherlock and Moriarty that turns out to be a member's Slash Fic. When Sherlock finally does explain to Anderson how he did it, Anderson complains, "Not how I would have done it", listing all the internal inconsistencies in the explanation and refusing to believe him.
Cracker's hit "Get Off This" was basically one long Take That from lead singer David Lowery to the fans of his old group, Camper Van Beethoven, who accused him of selling out. It characterizes said fans as "petty little ayatollahs" with "dirty hair and tittie-rings."
Parodied with Dethklok's "Fan Song", which spends three minutes informing their fans how much they suck.
Pet Shop Boys's single "Yesterday, When I was Mad" is a deadpan snark to fans who proclaim they understand the band's message more than any other people. The band is driven to such desperation as to:
Admitting, I don't believe
In anyone's sincerity, and that's what's really got to me
Mansun's 'hidden track' on their Attack of the Grey Lantern album, called "An Open-Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter" was a piss-take of the sort of fans who would analyse their lyrics looking for meaning. Ironically, this was a song where the lyrics had a definite meaning and message:
"They lyrics aren't supposed to mean that much/They're just a vehicle for a lovely voice"
Tool's "Hooker With A Penis" mocks fans for claiming that they have "sold out to the Man".
Eminem's "Stan" features an obsessive fan who takes Eminem's songs way, way, too seriously.
Nirvana's "In Bloom" is about... people who don't realize that "In Bloom" is about them.
Marilyn Manson covered the unsavory (er, more unsavory) side of their fanbase in "This is the New Shit," as quoted on this wiki under Rated M for Money. In brief, it's about the fans who don't even try to understand what the songs are about, just cheering the "sex sex sex," violence, and rebellion.
Pink Floyd explored this in The Wall during Pink's "Dark Lord" phase. "...And we're gonna find out where you fans really stand!"
Ween has a song they only perform live called "Leave Deaner Alone" (warning: lyrics very NSFW), a song in which Dean Ween sings about his disdain for Ween's more obnoxious fans. Despite this, however, Deaner does seem to have an appreciation for most of his other fans because he keeps in touch with them on his blog when he's not touring and even favorited a couple Ween fan covers and fan-shot live bootleg videos on his Youtube channel.
In Assassins, Sam Byck rants into a tape recorder on how desperately the world needs Silly Love Songs, and that he's going to fly a plane into the White House to show how much he cares. The message is ostensibly directed at Leonard Bernstein, but the lyrics he quotes are by Stephen Sondheim, composer of Assassins...
Similarly, there's the host of art critics in Sunday In The Park With George who complain that artist George's work is growing stale and repetitive. Note that Sunday ... was the first show Sondheim wrote after the original production of Merrily We Roll Along was derided by critics who said that Sondheim's long-term partnership with Hal Prince had outstayed its welcome. Both the Sunday ... and Merrily ... examples are more Straw Critics.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim all have M'aiqnote (pronounced my-eek) the Liar who makes jokes about, rebuts, and insults fan complaints about elements which were not included in the game, some of which are in past installments.
Oblivion also has the devoted fanboy you pick up when you become grand champion of the arena battles, who is essentially a strawman for every overenthusiastic fan who won't take the hint to go away and die somewhere. If the idea was to drive home how annoying such a person can be, it worked... fans of the game have a long and noble history of finding horrible things to do to him.
The Puyo Puyo series had Choppun, an Affectionate Parody of the more diehard fans of the series. Choppun, is a guy who Cosplays as Arle Nadja, except Choppun has a paper bag over his head. He's also crossdressing, since Arle Nadja is the female main character of the series.
Fallout 2 had the "Unwashed Villagers fighting a spammer" rare encounter, where the aforementioned Villagers beat up an annoying spammer, Grim, who keeps whining and making absurd suggestions for the game. ("I want a tank!") Both the Villagers and the spammer are based on real-life forum members from back in the day, and the Unwashed Villagers were known for their positive contributions, while Grim was... not.
Pokémon has been doing this since the Gold/Silver days. The Pokemaniac and Pokefan trainer types (among others) are usually given dialogue that cements them as parodies of some of the franchise's more unhinged fans. The most recent games took this a step further by including a class of young trainers who all cosplay as Pikachu, and claim that their lifelong dream is to grow up to become one.
Francis from Super Paper Mario. In one of his private rooms, you can find and read this "Geeklog" entry:
Geeklog Date: 11.26 Mood: Ranty
The sun is bright outside so I'm going to stay in and watch "The Blubbening". Season One has better writing and voice acting than the later seasons. I mean, COME ON. Everything went totally downhill after the big dream sequence. Still, the animation in the scenes where Tubba Blubba battles robots is schweet. Season Three was obviously just a vehicle for selling action figures and vehicles! I never understood why they changed the sound effect when the princess appears. It was "Deet-dinga-deet-ling!" then suddenly it was "dinga-deet-dinga-ling!" As if no one would notice! Pffft! True fans care about important stuff about that. They should totally run the show without commercials and let fans suggest story lines! That's what fans want, and we're the only ones that matter. I guess I'll still buy "The Blubbening" box set. The preorder bonus is a costume! While I wait for it to come, I'll go online and tell everyone it's stupid.
Many players of the Team Fortress 2 fanbase were very vocal about just how awful it was that the developers were putting all their effort into releasing totally useless cosmetic items in lieu of actual content. Valve released a blog post which allowed the fanbase to understand what really goes on behind the scenes. This quickly turns into more of a shot at themselves though, with the poor fanboy being Only Sane Man in an office filled with cosmetic-obsessed, hat-loving lunatics.
Doubles as a Hilarious in Hindsight since hats are now insanely popular to the point where they are a meme generator.
World of Warcraft includes a quest in the revamped, post-Cataclysm Azeroth in the undead area where the PC takes on the role of a questgiver and hands out three quests to various computer-programmed NPC players. All three are digs at various groups of fans: the "Kingslayer" (character who killed the Lich King) who can't play, the total noob and "Johnny Awesome", decked out in full heirloom equipment (items which can only be bought by people who had a max-level character in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion) and riding Sparklepony. All three then make an appearance in the Hillsbrad area of the game as mercenary computer-controlled aides - or rescue objects - to the PC.
Bob and George author Dave Anez used an obscure minor character for this purpose in this strip and the next, in order to hang a lampshade on a small plothole he didn't care about. (One of the comic's running jokes was Dave's insistence that there were no plotholes; if you thought you saw one, you'd find out sooner or later why it made sense. And indeed, he always went to great lengths to close the big ones. This wasn't a big one.)
At least half of the humor in Shortpacked! comes from various Straw Fans of the various franchises and hobbies he follows. Some are recurring characters, some only show up once, but it's clear that Willis has an axe to grind with certain sections of fandoms in general. Sometimes certain fans in particular. When someone's been annoying Willis on his toy message boards, he's not very subtle about doing a comic about them. (The "I knew about that!" guy strip being the best example.) Some of the strips are near-verbatim from discussions at the Allspark (Transformers) message boards or similar. Willis even occasionally parodies his own fan madness.
Likewise, the Insecticomics often uses interactions between the Transformers and either a fanboy or a fangirl (or occasionally both) to deliver a Take That to the more irritating ideologies of the Transformers fandom.
Broken Plot Device has the "Idea Man", an obese penguin wearing kitty ears and a matching tail who, as the name implies, is the sole source of weird, offensive, and downright perverted ideas for the character's in Lizardbeth's in-comic comic.
The Nostalgia Critic's "most obnoxious fan", Douchey McNitpick, in his "Top 11 F*ck Ups" video. The Critic has stated that he doesn't mind fans sending him criticism and complaints, just that they shouldn't be obnoxious about it. As such, Douchey is still a Straw Fan, but rather nicer than some examples. Douchey gets his revenge in the "Willy Wonka vs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" video. It's not many creators who'd give their Straw Fans that kind of satisfaction.
In "Next Top 11 F*ck Ups", he was less obnoxious, shutting up whenever the Critic yelled at him, and more pathetic, being shown to live with his mother, is hinted at being a crossdresser, and has masturbated to pictures of the Green M&M.
He plays the same when appearing The Nostalgia Chick's review of The Fifth Element, giving obnoxious voice to fans saying she should stick to reviewing girly stuff and complaining over her definition of a MacGuffin, before telling her "I'm still going to mastubate to your picture tonight!"
Douchey has shown up twice on Atop the Fourth Wall. Once to deride Linkara for mistakes he's made (Linkara later used magic to teleport to his house and beat him) and again for calling him a rip-off for doing an episode on comic book advertisements.
As of The Review Must Go On, they had to find a person with no life who would not be missed, and who will obsess over every mistake and continuity error they see, to keep the Plot Hole stable. Two guesses who gets the job.
Due to Matt Wilson's Creator Backlash, Bonus Stage had moments where he really hated his fans, especially the wiki. The greatest example is probably in episode 80, "The Terror From Beyond Imageshack", in which a wide variety of actual art from fans were made into characters and mocked for their inability to make sense or original content. They were eventually all removed, except for "the Bonus Stage Wiki Guy" (who was admittedly a comedically accurate portrayal).
Bonus Stage Wiki Guy: "And here Phil is referring to the Bonus Stage wiki. Or he may be referring to the Korean MMORPG "Wiki", which was canned because its graphics were eerily similar to Zelda. Happy birthday, Phil!"
To explain the above quote, the Bonus Stage Wiki was filled with random speculation. With a show like Bonus Stage that frequently makes pop culture references, a wiki would seem like a good idea... unfortunately, many of its contributors just couldn't come to a general consensus as to what Matt was referencing, so comments along the lines of "X is a reference to Y. Or, it could be a reference to Z." were fairly common. It's not surprising that he didn't think too highly of the site.
In The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Atari 2600 game The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a character shows up who starts harassing the Nerd with "did you know" questions that he's heard before, questions about when stuff is coming out, and requests for advice on how to create a ripoff series.
This character is in fact based on Chop-Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - who harassed a radio DJ with much of the same act.
The New Kids on the Block cartoon, of all shows, had a character named Fanny. She and her friends were the very personification of NKOTB Fan Dumb of the time. Mind you, the only audience for this program were those very same obsessed New Kids fangirls, so we challenge our readers to find a more oddly-placed Take That. The various series and movies starring and Not Quite StarringThe Beatles also had mobs of screaming, insane fangirls - the thing is, none of them were established recurring characters. Most famously, A Hard Day's Night opens with the Beatles in full flight from a mob of their fans. The scene in A Hard Day's Night is actually a combination of Truth in Television and a subversion of this, as most of that scene was an actual stampede of fangirls which the quick-thinking Richard Lester told his crew to film.
The Simpsons's Comic Book Guy: Worst. Example. Ever. Though he was originally just the standard nerd, when the show crossed into Long Runner territory, he would often mock the large section of the fanbase that think the show isn't good anymore, but still watch it religiously anyway. CBG's catch phrase actually originated from a usenet post which complained about an episode from Season Four. To put things in perspective, Season 4 of the Simpsons is now generally considered to be nearly, if not completely, flawless.
Freakazoid! had Fanboy, who could only be escaped by directing him to a different franchise to obsess over.
Animaniacs had the "Please, Please, Please Get a Life Foundation", a support group for overly-obsessed fans, particularly of the Internet variety. What makes it even more disturbing is that it was largely based on a real guy, one Dennis Falk, the production team had encountered while working on Tiny Toon Adventures. Not only that, it was significantly toned down from the real thing. Tress MacNeille, Babs' voice actress had to cancel several convention appearances near his hometown because he had sent several very creepy fanletters that gave them reason to believe he would try to rape her.
The Fillmore! episode "The Unseen Reflection" featured some fans of a young-adult sci-fi fantasy book series who took it far, far too seriously. This particular episode is a good skewering of fans and fandoms in general, complete with Fandom Rivalry and the MST3K Mantra.
However, the episode also took the time to skewer the author as well. It was justified in that she legitimately did not care about her fans or the books, stating she wrote the latest one, which turned out to be horrible plot-wise and grammatically, on a plane to Milan.
An episode of Robot Chicken featured a fat nerd complaining about inaccuracies in the show.
Kelsey, a fangirl from the 2nd aftermath show of Action, who has a Trent doll was actually inspired by a real life fangirl who had a doll of Cody (which Sierra coincidentally has a obsessive stalker crush on).
In an episode of The Simpsons, JK Rowling expresses her annoyance of fans asking about the ending to the Harry Potter seriesnote This was before Half-Blood Prince was published:
Rowling:(rolls eyes) He grows up and marries you! Is that what you want to hear?
Lisa: (dreamy) Yes.
In The Incredibles, the origin story of the villain Syndrome is that as a boy he was a big fan of Mr Incredible, however his over-enthusiasm got in the way of his hero's crime-fighting activities and was angrily told off. As an adult, he seeks revenge on Mr Incredible and by extension all the other supers as a tech genius supervillain.
On Adventure Time,the Ice King turns out to be one at the end of "Fionna and Cake," which is actually just a Rule 63Fan Fic he wrote. Finn also takes a turn as one during "All the Little People," an episode-long critique of the excesses of Shipping.
Bat-Mite turns into this at the end of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, sadly tossing aside his previous characterization (and development) in the process.
Ben 10: Omniverse: Collectimus, very much Collectimus. An alien who looks and sounds like a stereotypical nerd, and claims to be the biggest Ben 10 fan that ever existed. He says the likes the old Mr. Smoothie sign better, and that he wishes the world was Darker And Grittier.
During Nintendo's E3 2014 Digital Direct, Nintendo had a scene done by the Robot Chicken crew. Someone sitting in the audience complains of Nintendo announcing another Super Mario Bros. game and that Nintendo should give them Mother Three . Instead, Reggie Fils-Aime eats a fire flower and shoots a fireball at the obnoxious fan. Later on, the fan shows up again complaining about a Star Fox game, and Reggie gives a Death Glare to him.