I’ve long figured there is no one Gundam fandom, just separate fandoms that vary greatly in diversity and dynamic. Separate fandoms that, for the most part, avoid each other like the plague and amongst the UC fandom especially consider the other ones “disgraces” and what not. Granted there is some cross pollination, especially in recent years, but this attitude is still alive and well in UC especially.
I wonder if some of it can be traced to the Toonami days when the Wing fandom was alive and ruling the scene. It was the Hetalia fandom of its day, being both one of the biggest anime fandoms on the scene and one the the biggest gatherings and sources of fangirl insanity. I can see why the UC fans of the day wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from it and probably were resentful of still being associated with it by the word “Gundam”. Unfortunately they’ve still clung to these attitudes of elitism and wariness of anyone with differing opinions even though the Wing fandom is long gone save for a few desperate souls.
I’m in a strange position since I’m a female fan who got in through 08th MS Team at the age of 12. After ten years I’ve seen more elitism and backhanded shaming directed at me than I can shake a stick at. Even though I’ve always been into UC and especially in the beginning had a very vocal dislike of Wing, I still feel like the fandom gurus just kind of (barely) tolerated me but didn’t ever think of me as a “real” fan, at least not one who deserves to be on their level. True, I’ve said and done plenty of dumb shit, but so do most awkward teenagers. I don’t know if some silly, fangirly post I made when I was 14 can be held to the same accountability as something written by a 20-something year-old.
My silliness aside, it seems like a good chunk of the crap isn’t because I’m legitimately acting stupid, but because my tastes in characters have always been at odds with the fandom majority. Gundam fandom elitism doesn’t just come in the form of series elitism, but character choices as well IMHO. Well-liked characters are perfectly okay to heap with praise and even whitewash (see Char Aznable), but heaven forbid someone try to give say, Quess Paraya the time of day other than to bash her into the ground (I’ve gotten people telling me to kill myself for saying I liked her). My favorite of all is Ghinius Sakhalin, and it seems like if you try to argue him as anything other than a 1-dimensional monster, you’re a dumb fangirl over-analyzing things. Of course it’s okay to have 10-page threads over-analyzing mech specifics or a popular character like Ranba Ral or Anavel Gato, but Ghinius apparently isn’t allowed anywhere near the same consideration. No one important likes him, and clearly the fandom majority is what’s right and anyone who says differently is automatically full of shit and not worth listening to.
I don’t ask people agree with my views, I just wish I wasn’t treated like some silly fantard whose views have no basis in canon and are thus unworthy. But it seems like the only way I’ll get that respect from people is if I denounce my opinions and change my feelings about my favorite characters, force myself to like characters I don’t (Char Aznable and Shiro Amada come to mind), and parrot every opinion of the majority and be a good little hive mind. And even then, since I’m female, prefer characters to mechs, and like some slash and fanfiction I doubt I’d still be treated as a “real” UC fan (unless I denounce all those things as well). It seems like the only way to win is to give up every ounce of individuality I have, and I’d rather not do that.
Other fandoms seem to welcome differing views/analysis (parts of the Utena fandom come to mind) since it can make for some great, intelligent discussion. But if you try it in the UC fandom, you’re looked down upon and invalidated. As much as this fandom has become a part of my identity, I don’t know if it’s really worth it to do anything other than stay in my corner, post my writings/fanfiction/essays/rants/etc to my personal journals and be ignored by most of the other fans and generally feel lonely as hell. I mean I guess I can’t blame them for not liking characters like Ghinius or Quess since they’re very much acquired tastes, but it still gets lonely and frustrating knowing that if I try to take my views about them to major fan forums I risk getting met with people trying their hardest to belittle and invalidate me while still coming across as “intelligent” and “right”.
Holy giant rants Batman, the fuck I just type?