The DS Fandom Chronologues
I’ve been in DS fandom since I was a teenager. That means I’ve been in it twice as long as any other. In that time, I’ve been a fairly quiet little creature who never said a lot beyond the pages of a zine. I made a lot of friends in that time. I also, somehow, made enemies. DS, Bonanza and Beatles fandoms have had some of the oddest trolls I’ve ever known. When you run anything — a forum, a publishing company, a zine or anything — you tend to be the target of these people. Let me tell you a few of the things that have happened to me in DS fandom.
DS fandom is different. It was mainstream. Other fandoms — Star Trek, Dr Who, and the like — have evolved from a core group of intelligent, experienced fans. DS fandom, like Bonanza fandom and Beatles fandom, and any other similar fandom, came out of everywhere. Everyone participated. That means there are a lot of variations within the theme. People don’t know the social structure of the fandom. That tends to draw in people with boundary issues. A lot of them.
I was MemRep for the Prodigy Dark Shadows forum. It came with perks galore, so I didn’t mind the occasional strangeness. The weirdest thing that happened was my friendship with one of our members I’ll call Cootie. Unbeknownst to me, Cootie was running around talking behind my back, inventing her strange theories, trying to be “helpful” I suppose. No one knew the histrionics that went on behind the scenes with her. I even received an email from one of her defenders — a psychiatrist who was a regular on our forum — explaining to me “everything that was wrong with me.” Mind you, this shrink had never met me. We’d had a few exchanges on our message boards. He seemed to base his opinions on Cootie’s farce. Cootie seemed to need to be the center of everyone’s attention. If I looked away for even a second, she stirred up drama.
Cootie even masqueraded as a DS person in one of our Halloween chats. I’ve never had a lot of contact with the person she masqueraded as, but she contacted me off-board, mentioned a few people I know, so I thought she was legit. She wasn’t. I guess Cootie was trying to be helpful, but I’m still trying to figure that out.
This whole nonsense exploded on our forum when I had finally had enough and confronted her. Much to my amazement, nearly everyone ran to her defense — how COULD I hate on this darling, sweet woman who had never done anything to anyone? They had no idea. But at last it was all about Cootie, so we could stop dealing with Dark Shadows and all that less important stuff. Come to find out, she had been working her shrink friend.
Recently, I’ve been part of another forum where I was singled out by a woman with a serious Barnabas/Julia jones. To be fair, all the DS shipper enclaves tends to be nests of weirdness, but that’s the case in a lot of fandoms. Sexual tension breeds mob mentality. Anyway, this woman I’ll call Sindy started messaging me, trying to get me to hook her up Internet-wise with a DS connected person. She had a flood of mediocre fan fiction that she thought was brilliant, all about the Barnabas/Julia thing. When few people paid her enough attention, she posted all of this to my Facebook timeline.
I banned her. She then created a couple of sock puppets (these are alternate IDs for the same person — usually they’re used to bolster arguments or heap praise on the actual person) to defend herself. I believe she’s behind a longtime problemchild who told YouTube fandom that she was Jonathan Frid’s sister. Anyway, she recently popped up in a new guise, heaping praise on Sindy’s fan fiction, trying to lend some legitimacy, I suppose, to Sindy.
The sad thing is that this self-promotion crap has ruined online fan fiction for me. I was never a big DS fan fiction reader, and not at all for the online stuff because so much of it is just so so-so. None of it is edited or beta’d. And the writers themselves seem eager to create a legend for themselves, based on about four years experience. Kathy Resch and Dale Clark have been doing DS fan fiction for 30 years. Them, I will happily acknowledge to be high masters. Someone with a website, not so much.
Then we have Grayson’s old stalker who has always been a vicious, mean gossip beast but has now broadened his base of attacks. DS people are actually in touch with this guy, not knowing his background. They should be careful. He loves collecting gossip and then publicly “shaming” people with it.
So, that’s why DS fandom is different. I’ve also met just as many wonderful, caring, creative people in it. Those people I will keep, if they’ll have me. The rest I’m kicking to the curb.