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Fan Myopia

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"You're referencing literature I have no way to be familiar with!"

Fan myopia is when fans of a work project their opinion and viewpoint of that work onto the general populace. That might be accurate for their circle of fans, but it's very rarely applicable to the rest of the world. To put it another way, it's when a fan fails to understand that not everyone likes the work as much as they do.

It's usually a manifestation of embarrassing Fan Boy behaviour, where the fan cannot fathom that other people might not think of the work like they do. There's no room for differing opinions, no room for "casual fans", and certainly no room for non-fans. Sometimes, though, the opposite happens — the fans underestimate outside enthusiasm for the work, thinking that they're the only ones who have ever heard of it (and that makes them special). Either way, it's a self-serving way to think about it — they're part of the fandom, and thus they're cooler and better than everyone else.

It can even happen within a fandom, where a subset of the fandom projects their views on the work to the fandom as a whole. This often happens when the sub-fandom sees their own subtext in the work and insists on it. Given the things fandoms like to focus on, this usually leads to shipping wars. These kinds of fans cannot fathom the concept of a fan, even a die-hard one, not accepting the idea of Fanon (or indeed, of Shipping). It also creates issues where there is more than one version of the work — e.g. a film adaptation, or a foreign translation that's not exact — and a sub-fandom considers their version definitive and is unaware of (or disdainful of) the existence of any other version, even the "original".

Fan Myopia is exacerbated by the Internet, which is very good at connecting people with narrow fields of interest and creating an echo chamber — if you can spend all your time talking only to people who think the same way you do, it becomes natural to assume that anyone you might encounter elsewhere will also think this way. Without exposure to competing viewpoints, it becomes difficult to gain a handle on one's own opinions, even if you try. Age is also a factor — people tend to be unfamiliar with works that came before they were born, and they tend to think their favourite works are more groundbreaking and revolutionary than they really are.

Naturally, this is not limited to individual works; it can apply to whole genres and media as well. There are a lot of different ways to get your fill of tropes.

A Sub-Trope of Opinion Myopia, the more general phenomenon of a person believing that everyone else shares their opinion about something. See also Fan Dumb, the natural consequence of Fan Myopia, which usually comes from total loss of perspective about the importance (or, more commonly, the lack thereof) of one's favorite work. Can overlap with But for Me, It Was Tuesday, especially in those cases where the writer(s) and/or cast members aren't as invested in a given work or franchise as the fan(s) expect(s) them to be.

Fan Myopia can lead to behavior such as:

  • Believing that their favorite work invented or codified a trope that was already firmly established. If confronted with evidence of the earlier work, such fans might accuse the earlier work of being a ripoff of their favorite work.
  • Failing to realize that a joke or comment is actually a reference to something that was already famous, known here as Parody Displacement. It's usually a function of age — the fan is too young to be familiar with the older work — but still definitely a kind of myopia.
  • Misjudging the work's popularity and critical reception outside their fandom:
    • Assuming that the work is more popular than it really is — people familiar with it agree on the quality of the work, but it might still be a Cult Classic or Acclaimed Flop, even if later Vindicated by History. This can frequently result from the fact that once a work falls out of the public consciousness, typically the only people still talking about it are the people who always liked it—shifting the conversation to an unreservedly positive one, which gives the impression that the work was or is now universally well-liked when there's still a Silent Majority that remains indifferent or negative as much as ever.
    • Blaming cancellation, poor sales, or under-promotion of their favorite work on a conspiracy of haters, and failing to realise that maybe not everyone likes it as much as they do.
    • Assuming that the work is equally popular around the world. Different parts of the world like different things, and some things may be more popular or less popular outside their country of origin. Many other works are obscure outside certain countries — this is a particular problem for anime fans, who don't realize that only a few works are well-known outside Japan, and fewer of those are well-known outside the United States, if they are even available elsewhere.
    • Demanding that the work should be marketed internationally, whether or not it is. Fans often fail to understand that the international market is often a Periphery Demographic, especially where the tropes are very local and risk either flying over foreigners' heads or being misunderstood.
    • Assuming that works they don't like are much less popular and more hated than they really are. The more intense the fan's negative view of the work, the more they assume that everyone else shares their negative opinion of it.
  • Assuming the creators behind the work care as much as the fans do, which shakes out in several ways:
    • Assuming the creators are as knowledgeable about the work as they are — or, to put it another way, that they obsess over the details to the same degree. Think of the fans in the Saturday Night Live "Get a Life!" sketch, who are appalled that William Shatner doesn't remember the combination of a safe his character opened on Star Trek.
    • Refusing to accept the idea of Artist Disillusionment — that the fans' extreme enthusiasm for the work diminishes the creator's own enthusiasm for it and willingness to work on it.
    • Attacking any attempt to bring the work more mainstream as "selling out".
    • Failing to realise that they are part of a Periphery Demographic and that the work is aimed at someone other than them. It's most common with children's shows, many of which are actually pretty respectable and enjoyable for adults, too. Don't tell these fans that being part of a Periphery Demographic is proof that the work is good on a technical level — they don't like to acknowledge that it wasn't made for them specifically, or that they share an audience with little kids.
    • Insisting that creators "give to fans" by doing things like conventions, DVD commentaries, and other things that indicate that they like the work as much as the fans do. Such fans may even insist that those creators think of those works as the highlight of their careers. The worst cases will demand that the creators craft the work specifically to their tastes and claim a right to do so because "they wouldn't be where they are without the fans".
    • Insisting that creators tell the story that the fans want to hear. Or, to put it another way, failing to understand that most creators are successful by not giving fans what they ask for, but something they didn't even know they wanted. Usually, this comes from obsessing over minutiae in the work and demanding that creators show all of that minutiae, even if it wouldn't be very interesting, was better left a mystery, or would destroy a story ending on the right creative note. This actually shows less respect for the work than the creator has, because it treats the work like a product that has to keep coming rather than a real creative endeavour. On the other hand, sometimes the opposite problem occurs and the fandom demands that the creator stop because the extra stuff contradicts their fan-made minutiae (usually because it wrecks their ship).
    • Failing to understand that sometimes the creator is Misblamed and doesn't have the power to fix the problems with the work even if they wanted to — they might be under pressure from Executive Meddling or Moral Guardians.
    • Going from the opposite direction, assuming that any perceived problems with the series must be the result of outside interference besmirching the creator's perfect vision, ignoring that creators are very capable of screwing up on their own terms or having different beliefs on what makes the work good. Even in cases where there actually was a documented change in production, fans tend to inflate this into an imagined "good version" when they know nothing about how it would have actually turned out, particularly when the change amounts to a quickly-discarded idea that never came close to existing in any form.
    • Taking over for a long-running series' creator who Died During Production or otherwise stops working. This means that whoever is actually newly in charge must answer to the fans or else risk their wrath for ruining their late hero's creative vision. Conveniently, said hero is dead, so the fans can insert their own Fanon into his or her mouth.
  • Constantly making in-jokes and other references to the work on the assumption that people will understand them, and being totally unaware that the vast majority will not. Sometimes it's because the work is not as popular as they think (how many people will know who Shinji is?), but even when the work is that well known, they may reference such minutiae about the work that no one will get it (most people will know Darth Vader, but no one will know about the bald cyborg guy who sometimes hangs out with Landonote ).
  • Characterizing their favorite work as superior or revolutionary with little to no justification — they may like it more, but that doesn't mean it's really unique.
  • Constantly spouting spoilers without warning. This derives from some fans not understanding or caring that many audiences have responsibilities and other interests and won't consume the whole work as soon as it's out. They assume that everyone they talk to will know everything there is to know about the work, including the spoilers. The worst manifestation of this combines it with the constant references and in-jokes, meaning that they're making spoiler jokes that might leak out in the wild without the general public even knowing it's a spoiler — and thus harming their experience of the work if they do decide to consume it.

Bad troping:

Here at TV Tropes, we're not immune to Fan Myopia, nor do we claim to be. Indeed, much of this wiki could not have come about if it weren't for zealous fans of television and non-television media. However, generalizing from your own experience is usually a bad idea. We ask that Tropers still keep a check on their own biases, as extreme forms of Fan Myopia can lead to bad troping practices that we want to avoid, like:

  • Citing examples of characters or episodes without naming the work, assuming that people will know the work you're referencing. Even if you Pot Hole the reference to the work's page (e.g. "Vegeta does this"), that's considered poor form. Always write out the work's name; otherwise, it's Not Self-Explanatory. You might be able to get away with it where the work is named after the character, but you should be clear about that and italicise the title (e.g. instead of "Akagi does this", write "Akagi does this").
  • Conversely, citing an example from a long work without naming the installment or episode in which it appeared, leaving readers with no idea where to find the example for themselves.
  • Leaving an example with little or no context on the assumption that everyone will know said context (e.g. "Cheetahmen II. 'Nuff said.").
  • Adding a comparison to your favorite work on an example from a different work, again with no context, assuming everyone will get it.
  • Adding images from your favorite work that are Just a Face and a Caption for the pages where they're added.
  • Using jargon from a work that makes it impossible for anyone to understand the example if they're not already familiar with the work. Don't assume that, for example, "Use Pudge's hook from the jungle at a top-lane carry using his ult for an epic gank" makes sense to everyone (or for that matter, anyone).
  • Creating particularly annoying Word Cruft, including the infamous "How could this trope go so long without mentioning this work?" To the above point, a particularly common one is "For those of you who haven't seen the show" or "If you don't get the joke" — the wiki is designed to be written for people who haven't seen the show, but some Tropers treat it as if it's a place for fans who know all the minutiae to spout it at each other, and by writing this cruft they indicate that even when they do explain things, they're doing it as a favour to the rest of the world. Certainly, you're welcome to use the wiki as a shared directory of fannish tropes, but not to write it that way.
  • Failing to understand how to use spoilers. This leads to people claiming that It Was His Sled when it very much wasn't — to a super-fan it might be, but not to the world at large, and again, we're writing for the world at large.
  • Trope-Namer Syndrome, or attempts to name a trope after a work associated with it on the assumption that everyone will get it. There are few works — and fewer characters — who are so associated with a trope that they can be a Trope Namer. It's admittedly gotten a lot better compared to the site's early days, where Tropers treated the trope directory like a measure of the greatness of their favorite work based on how many tropes it named. Nowadays, thanks to the Trope Launch Pad, names like this will usually be shot down.
  • Using phrases like "in a recent episode", which is useless to anyone who doesn't know what the episode is, and dates quickly. It's a clear sign of Fan Myopia because it reads as though some fanboy consumed the work as soon as possible and rushed to TV Tropes to add the example and score points for it. Instead, specify the episode's title or number (if you know it), or just say "in an episode" (if you don't).
  • Adding references to or quotes from a work with no context, on a page with nothing to do with the work, on the assumption that everyone will get the reference.
  • Failing to understand that Tropes Are Tools. Fan Myopia leads to people ranking their favorite work based on how many "good tropes" and "bad tropes" it uses, when we're very clear that Tropes Are Not Bad and Tropes Are Not Good. Fans who don't understand this tend to shoehorn "good tropes" into their work and go to great lengths to justify why the work used a "bad trope" so it's not as "bad" as other works, or even deleting "bad" tropes. There's a certain paranoia that describing their favourite work accurately will turn readers off from it (not that hyping it up will avoid that reaction).
  • Misusing Playing with a Trope to make their favorite work look "deeper" and justify the use of "bad" tropes. A particular favourite is the Subversion and the Deconstruction, which are considered hallmarks of a clever and well-made work — but these fans don't particularly understand what those are, and thus we get examples that are Not a Subversion and Not a Deconstruction. Ur-Example, Trope Maker and Trope Codifier are also popular, as these fans like to think that their favorite work has the most important examples of tropes they like.
  • Listing the name of a Fan Fic in an example without identifying the fic's parent work (if it's not obvious from the fic's title itself), or, if Fan Works have their own page for a given trope, listing the work in the “Unsorted” section instead of under its parent work (even if they have to make a new one).
  • Finding Shout-Outs to your favorite work when they don't exist, and it's probably just coincidence or shoehorning. It's not very likely that every creator on Earth is as familiar with the work as you are. Literary characters are almost never Expies of your favorite anime protagonists, video game characters, or movie villains, no matter how much the description fits.
  • And finally, adopting TV Tropes itself as your "favorite work" and using Troping terms in the world at large. Unfortunately, no one will understand what you're saying. Sometimes our unique terminology leaks out into the general public, and that's cool and all, but we refuse to inflate our own importance to the Internet and popular culture.

Alternative Title(s): Fan Myopic