From Fanboy to Fanboi: The Evolution of the Obsessed

Are you excited about an as yet unreleased film or video game? So excited that you already have the poster, toys or T-Shirt? Have you walked out of films disappointed because "That's not the way Rogue's Powers were described in Avengers Giant Sized Annual 10" or because "They made Boramir into a sissy"? And do you think there's nothing at all wrong with this kind of behavior? If you do, then odds are you're a fanboy.

Fanboy is a term getting a lot of play these days. Here's a little primer to help keep you in the loop.

Fanboy (or fanboi) began as a derogatory term almost exactly like the word nerd or geek. In the beginning it was used to describe a person (or persons) whose love for a specific pop culture entity seemed to know no bounds. For a fanboy, dressing up as a favorite character, reciting trivia about said character or obsessively rereading/re-watching their favorite media of choice (especially in situations when none of these activities are warranted or even appropriate) is considered normal and would be accepted by the mainstream if only it understood the deep importance of the art in question.

The name evolved from the word fan (which itself evolved from the word fanatic); though, fanboys were something else entirely than mere fans. The term fanboy was originally coined to describe a certain caliber of fan that tended to creep out famous stars or actors with their obsessions at signings and appearances. Trekkies are the earliest known and most widespread form of the fanboy.

In recent years, since the advent of the Internet made anonymous instant communication possible, fanboys have connected with one another and formed large online communities. While Trekkies were the first to popularize conventions, now there are conventions for any and all kind of fandom, which bring these people into direct contact with one another. As a result, very real, lasting communities of people were formed by their love of a particular film, television series or video game. As with any kind of marginalized community, the ridiculed populace took ownership of their name, and now the term fanboy (like geek and nerd before it) has become a badge of honor.

Since the term fanboy became less of a slur and more of a new subculture of its own, the term fanboi has evolved. Now it differentiates someone who is simply a lover of the media in question from someone who is truly, deeply and very pathetically obsessed with it. Regardless of the attempts at ownership, the term fanbois still carries a bit of its original negative connotation and it is not recommended to refer to someone as one unless you feel comfortable with doing so. It is recommended that you distance yourself from any real fanbois and that you contact the authorities to handle any dangerous situations that might arise with one - like an argument over which superhero would win in a fight, or worse, which Enterprise captain was the best.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me


Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.