Friday, June 27, 2014

Dispatches from the Lake: We’re All Fans Here, Folks

Why is it so hard to believe a woman like this could be as true a fan as the men around her?
Photo Credit:
Last Friday, I walked into the Squared Circle after work. The Hubs was on his way to meet me, so I took my typical place at the bar to wait for him. There were a few other guys sitting there, drinking beer and chatting about wrestling. I love diving into these conversations. Often, you’ll get a guy who gives you this look like, what, you’re into wrestling? Damn straight I’m into wrestling. I had Daniel Bryan and CM Punk standees in the photo booth at my wedding. (Pro tip: DO THIS. The people at my nuptials were ALL ABOUT THE STANDEES.)

But back to the bar. I’m enjoying my Supper Club (TRY THIS BEER) and taking in the seminal classic New Year’s Revolution 2007 (Note: not actually a seminal classic), while chatting with a few of my fellow patrons. As per usual, at least one of them will ask some question to gauge if I’m what they consider a real fan or not.

First of all, the notion of a ‘real fan’ is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. If you enjoy something, you’re a fan. No caveats. No hundred question quiz about the complete history of media, person, or thing people are calling you into question about. If you do this to someone, you’re an idiot.

Once I’ve passed the rite of initiation, the guy goes into this story about an ex-girlfriend who said she was a fan of wrestling. He proceeded to tell us how he told her she wasn’t a real fan because it was the mid-2000s and she didn’t know much about the Attitude Era.

I, for one, am shocked to hear it didn't work out.

Who gives a shit if she just got into it and isn’t fully aware of the rich history of pro-wrestling? Wouldn’t it be fun to revisit all the things you remember loving while showing them to her for the first time? Why would you lord it over someone who just got into wrestling that they didn’t know about the past? What the hell?

While I listened to him prattle on, one question popped into my head. Would he be doing that to her if she was a guy? No one’s ever played the twenty questions game with my guy friends who watch wrestling. I love when guys find out the Hubs and I are into wrestling, and they direct all their questions to him. He just kind of stares at them for a moment before looking over at me for the answer the question. Then we just laugh. The Hubs only watches because I watch. He thinks it’s all a delightful kind of ridiculous.

I wanted to write something about the disappointing fan reactions to wrestling events this week, but this is what came out instead. It’s more of a call for general decency. Can’t we have discussions without questioning people’s true fandom? Can’t we critique wrestling for the lows and celebrate it for the highs without resorting to name calling and over-defensiveness? Can’t we all just acknowledge how fucking cool it was that I had wrestling standees at my wedding?