Before There Were Twihards: A History of Superfans

When I was growing up in Awesometown, USA, I discovered a terrible, dark secret that made my father the shame of our white collar lineage. He was a Trekkie. He could have been a porn star in the 70s, killed an entire sorority house or even been a Democrat and I could have lived with it. But no, I had to deal with all my classmates saying things like, “Your dad appreciates classic Sci-Fi television shows and popular movies based on books and said series.” What a nightmare it was.

As I aged in both wisdom and virility, I vowed to escape these dork shadows, and become a bullying jock that bedded as many women as possible. “I WILL NOT BE MY FATHER’S NERD SON,” I screamed as I gave Nikki Thompson the best 13 seconds of her teenage years. Thank goodness I grew up to become a part-time blogger and really cement my legacy of coolness.

Indeed, I never did understand the appeal of becoming a fanboy. I like sports a little too much for my own good, so you’d think I would understand the fascination. But I’ve never quite reached that point at which I dressed up like Najeh Davenport and pooped in a girl’s hamper for the sake of blending fantasy and reality.

Superfans have often been defined by two mainline groups – Star Wars fans and Trekkies. If Star Wars fans are the Transformers then Trekkies are the Gobots. Or vice versa, depending on how many people with fake phasers show up to “pew pew” at me until I change my heretical ways. In a sense, the Sci-Fi superfans opened the door for new breeds of costumed heroes and decorated villains. And no matter how much we question it, no matter how hard we try to stop it, there will always be a demand to dress up as a Jedi priest, only to later explain to mom why there’s Cheetos dust on the living room curtains.

Oh so they get to use the "Force" but I get 20 years in jail?

While there are not nearly enough lockers to shove all of these fanatics into, it wouldn’t matter. So long as people are enthralled with Enterprises, Millenium Falcons, and the fact that Gredo shot first, there will be fantasy role playing and glorified fascination with worlds that only exist in the universe of the mind. While so many different genres are brought to life by superfans, some amazingly stand the test of time, while some never quite got off the ground*.

*Or they were completely made up.

Tronnies (1982-1990; 2010)

How can you not love Tron Guy?

In 1982, Tron was pretty much the height of movie technology, so when it was released, goobers everywhere got up from their ColecoVisions and waddled into theaters to forever alter their budding technophilia. The possibility had been proposed – can we live in a world that is entirely computer-generated? And the answer is: No, you silly moonmen. But bless their hearts, the Tronnies thought otherwise. From coast to coast, people spent days and weeks in their dark basements, dressed in leotards and neon lights, pretending that they could discover a way to live in a computer world. The craze eventually died down in the mid-80s when half of the known Tronnie roster defected to start the Dunies and follow Sting and the Police on their world tours.

ALFies (1986-1988)

"Hey Willie!"

In the mid-1980s, Americans were enjoying the closing days of the Cold War and they were looking for a little more fun in their television experience. NBC answered that call with ALF – arguably the greatest show about an alien from Melmac in TV history. Some will argue that it was the only TV show about an alien from Melmac, but those people are just d-cks, OK? For all we know Cop Rock was about Melmac, because that greasy fart could not have been written by humans. Regardless, fans of ALF took to the moniker ALFies, and they emulated their hero by growing obscene amounts of body hair, living secretly in the attics of nerdy families, and eating cats. In fact, the ASPCA has often referred to the period of 1986 to 1988 as the Cat Holocaust. After ALF’s cancellation in 1990, the hundreds of ALFie loyalists marched to NBC Studios to protest, but when NBC refused to budge, every ALFie committed suicide on the studio lawn. In fact, that’s how they eventually got the idea for Friends.

Doogies (1989-1991)

The doctor is infant.

By the time Neil Patrick Harris hit the screen as a precocious kid doctor, the television viewing community was in need of a lighter breed of fanboy. Teenage boys numbering in the millions began attending colleges in Mexico and throughout Central America in order to obtain semi-legal medical degrees and begin their own practices. Many people died as a result, of course, but it was still pretty freaking adorable watching kids try to amputate the neighbor’s femur. Hell, I accidentally gave a guy hepatitis. That’s just the chance you take when you visit a 10-year old proctologist.

LARPers (???-present)

His special power is wheezing.

Nobody actually knows when Live Action Role Playing came to fruition, but at some point a very super cool man chose to dress as a dungeon master and handle his problems by pretending to throw magic missiles at his enemies. The general public became aware of this fascinating trend thanks mostly to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the epic debate over which is better – Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. The answer, of course, is sexual intercourse is better than both.

Juggalos (1995-present)

I hope they breed soon and often.

It may seem like we hate on Juggalos a little too much on Uproxx, what with recent Filmdrunk posts and RoboPanda’s mention of Juggalo Facebooking, and that’s because we do. There is nothing more ridiculous on this planet than teenagers and grown adults wearing clown makeup and pretending to be hardcore, all in the name of the Insane Clown Posse. I sat down to make a list of things that were more ridiculous than adults dressing like clown rappers and I came up with two things – unicorn porn and Nazi slap bracelets.

Harries (2001-present)

That video clip features a performance by indie hipster band Harry and the Potters. That’s right, it’s a band with the gimmick of outfits and songs inspired by the Harry Potter books and films. And that’s still not as stupid as being a Juggalo. Harry Potter fans are intriguing because the chicks try very hard to look like Emma Watson, and I like that because she’s hot. But most of them walk around with broomsticks and pretend to play Quidditch, which is a really queer attempt at being athletic. There’s a group of hipsters that play this near my house and I like to picture General George Patton dropping a nuke on them.

Losties (2004-present)

Worst show ever.

Of all the groups of superfans in the history of television and film, Losties are the most insufferable. I tried to watch Lost on DVD a few years back and the same people who encouraged me to watch spoiled every damn episode along the way. There is nothing worse than a collective fan base telling you how brilliant a show is while they sit next to you, hold your hand, and explain to you what to look for. Thank God this show is over. Too bad Losties will spend the next 20 years analyzing DVDs and boring us with their theories about smoke monsters and gay polar bears. We should round them all up and make them watch The Hills until they can’t even remember their own names. It’s the only way to stop them.

Twihards (2005-present)

Stolen unapologetically from FilmDrunk.

Fans of Twilight are special people. First of all, Twilight has destroyed the vampire legacy. Vampires are supposed to be the coolest, most evil beings of all-time. Instead they’re sparkling and playing baseball in scarves. Secondly, Stephanie Meyer is a terrible writer and basically made a fortune romanticizing her crush on teenage boys. Don’t read the books or watch the movies, just read synopses online and if you finish without asking yourself, “What the f*ck is going on here?” at least 16 times, then you may need to see a therapist. Then walk by a Hot Topic and you’ll start to understand why third world nations have better education rates than America now.

Gleeks (2009-present)

Oh, I get the joke.

If the kids who love the High School Musical franchise are your effeminate little brother, then Glee is that kid in gym class that always got a boner in the shower. The broads I hang with swear this show is incredible, and even some dudes I arm wrestle and drive trucks with have said it’s cool. I was going to give it a shot until I was at Sea World last week and witnessed a high school glee club on vacation. Each dude was practically riding a unicorn made of rainbows and they were singing everywhere they went. I swear that my first son will know how to use a grenade launcher by age three.

Avatards (2009-present)

Haters gonna hate.

I have not seen Avatar, nor will I ever contribute money to James Cameron’s bank account. I stood and cheered at home when Katherine Bigelow won Best Director for Hurt Locker because Cameron is such an arrogant douchewizard. But that’s between me and him. His Avatar film has led to entire web sites devoted to people who wish they can live on the planet Pandora and have sex with their tails. I’m all for saving the environment, but these people make me want to slaughter a herd of giraffes and use their bones to chop down every tree on Earth.

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