Why I Hate The Word ‘Hater’
I think I’ve heard the word ‘hater’ just about everywhere.
It’s a relatively new term, but ever since I first heard it uttered by a super fan, by a celebrity, or by a politician (yep), I’ve been a little irked by it.
Sure, haters exist. To me, a ‘hater’ is a person who actively goes out of their way to dislike something or someone for no logical reason. Directioners hating the band’s partners, film-goers hating a film before knowing anything about it. But I feel the definition of a hater has become a complicated mess within fan and stan culture, and even mainstream media, that its only motive is to halt and silence valid and constructive criticism of, well, anything and anyone.
My most recent encounter with the use of this definition of ‘hater’ is while I’ve been watching SKAM France.
That’s right, lads, I’ve managed to worm my love for SKAM in to yet another blog post.
So there are some creative decisions that I, and other viewers, aren’t particularly enjoying about the show. We, as you do when you have an opinion of something, want to talk about it with each other and to others. Doing so will not always be met with agreement; fandoms are large communities that cannot, much like any group, always have a consensus. While we may love the same thing, it is becoming more clear that fandoms are certainly not echo chambers.
Of course, our criticisms were returned with counter points, but there was also this overwhelmingly loud accusation that we are bad people. That we are looking for something to complain about. That we shouldn’t watch the show if we do not enjoy it, and that we are haters.
Oh, how you could not be more wrong.
I love this show, even though it’s a remake and I have already experienced this story twice now. I want it to succeed, I want to feel good things when I watch it. Regardless of the criticisms I may have, it’s not enough to make me dislike it. Of course, there have been things I’ve watched and read where the criticisms were overwhelming and I had to stop. But why can’t something be open to criticism, even when it’s something you love?
Why have fandoms and fan communities have to be hostile when it comes to criticism?
As a human being, it feels strange to blindly love something. To see no fault with something (or someone) that you love. Sure, I joke about it sometimes. I’ve called movies/shows/books “the perfect thing”. But in reality, I think it’s important to acknowledge problems or issues within a piece of media, even if there’s a time and a place for it.
I mean, I love watching Twilight with my friends, but me criticising the story’s romanticisation of abusive behaviour maaaay be a bit of a mood killer.
But here’s the real problem.
Being die-hard fans of people. It’s always been around; from The Beatles to One Direction. I’ve never really seen a problem with people showing how much they love something, and even discussed why judging teenage girls for liking things so much is a bad take. But this love runs so deep that those who need to be held accountable, are not.
This whole blog post was inspired by Haaniyah Angus’ ordeal with fans of Ariana Grande, and how a valid criticism of Grande’s lyrics and look was met with backlash, reported tweets, and Haaniyah’s account suspended. All despite Angus being a fan of Ariana Grande herself.
While the unhealthiness of stan culture is a whole other thing in itself, having a large group of people with the expectation of a hive mind with no room for criticism or realism can have serious consequences.
Obviously, it depends on the person/thing that’s being idolised. But this type of behaviour can be seen everywhere, not just in fandoms on Tumblr, but in politics.
And I don’t think famous people and the creators of the shows/books that people stan do their best to stop it. Liking tweets that call others with valid criticisms ‘haters’, exacerbates the problem. Just ignore the haters! They’re jealous! I’m so sorry people are being hateful towards you. Hate is one thing, but having conversations so as not to put others on a pedestal, is not the same thing.
Regardless of whether someone is criticising your fave, or you’re the one doing the criticising, I think it’s important to listen to what others are saying. There are unimportant things you can ignore: Ariana Grande’s music is shit! But then some that hold weight and should be thought about: Some of Ariana Grande’s lyrics appropriate the black female experience that black women wouldn’t be successful singing about.
When it comes to fictional things, like the fandoms I’m in? Maybe it’s not so serious. But a line from Haaniyah Angus’ article can be used to describe the situation in any fandom, be it musicians, actors or television shows:
“Critical thinking only makes our experience richer, and definitely doesn’t mean that we hate an artist for making mistakes.”
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