This year was a rollercoaster, but it had many triumphs. From bringing back cancelled shows, to revoking bad casting decisions, fans rallied to fix the failings of what they love, and succeeded.
After this year, many misconceptions about what fandom is will have been cleared up. There is no longer such a perceived gap between the creators of a thing and its fandom, and now fans know that they have a say in the future of the thing they love.
This article is part of Hypable’s 12 Days of Fandom, a celebration of 2017 and a preview of 2018. See new content every day from December 14 through Christmas!
The buildup to movies like Wonder Woman or Get Out has been a long one, but 2017 finally delivered. Years of clamoring for better treatment of female characters and the Black Widow movie that never came, and better treatment of people of color in horror films, paid off when studios finally made way for directors that could speak to audiences in a way those before them couldn’t. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman received overwhelming approval, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out might have opened an entirely new genre of horror — one that accurately reflects the kind of things that are most frightening to us today.
Looking toward 2018, with Black Panther, Ocean’s 8, Love, Simon and A Wrinkle in Time coming up, we cannot overstate the role of fans in shifting the tides in their favor. There’s a reason films like these didn’t happen before now, and it’s not that audiences for them didn’t exist, or that studios became magically interested in new material. These films are happening because fandoms across many genres raised their voices and demanded that studios do better, that they do whatever it takes to change for the better.
And sometimes, that meant radical decisions. When it came to casting, especially, mounting frustration became impossible to hold back. Daniel Dae Kim’s exit from Hawaii Five-O because of discrimination brought to the surface a conversation about discrimination and whitewashing so public, that Ed Skrein stepped down after being cast as Major Ben Daimio in the Hellboy reboot.
The disappointment of thousands of fans at the whitewashed Death Note and Ghost in the Shell adaptations also definitely contributed to the careful casting that’s happening with Disney’s live-action Mulan, and even Aladdin (although a lot more than just casting will have to go into making those movies inclusive and respectful).
On an even more public scale, Hollywood’s purge of rapists and abusers has marked 2017 and set a precedent for years to come. While the conversation continues with films like Fantastic Beasts 2, studios’ swift reactions to sexual abuse allegations have shown that they do care about the response of their audiences, and proved just how important it is to make our voices heard. Had people not reacted as swiftly and crushingly as they did to allegations against Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., the movement may have ended at Harvey Weinstein.
But aside from criminal activity or whitewashing, fandoms still made radical changes to the future of the stories they loved. Sense8’s cancellation was met with such shock and rage that Netflix actually relented and offered up a two-hour finale special to compensate. The X-Files’ revival was received so well that it prompted a whole new season of the show.
DC scrambled to change its angle on Justice League as its audience carefully pinpointed everything they wanted to change from Batman v Superman (although the jury is still out on whether they really succeeded). Our tweets, blog posts, and articles were read. Fandoms shaped the destiny of their characters in ways we could never have expected.
Supercorp fans from Supergirl demanded better treatment from the cast of the show when disrespectful statements were made by the cast about their ship, and the YA book community got together to take down a supposed NYT bestseller that had scammed its way to the top, and give The Hate U Give its rightful place.
Even My Immortal got a chance to shine this year, with its author revealed and later taken down by the internet (although we’re still wondering about what that was all about).
Fan art is also on the rise as a method of expression — or even protest. From clever cosplays or memes in social movements, to a new openness to fan-made films, there’s more space for our voices in mainstream spaces, and fandom can be ingeniously harnessed to articulate social messages more clearly.
While this doesn’t mean that everything we want to happen in our fandoms will happen, it’s never been a better time to be a fan. The entire experience of consuming a show, movie or book is greatly shaped by its cultural impact. Even with movies that have sharply divided perceptions (such as The Last Jedi), reading others’ experience when watching them can greatly help us see the value in them. Or, conversely, help us see how they are problematic, and enlist us in a mission to improve them.
Best of all, we know that we can improve them. We can boost the creators that we love to success, and demand better treatment from those that have turned a blind eye to injustice. Our art also matters. And as 2017 comes to an end, we have a lot to be proud of.