Last year on the Sunday night before Dead Week, I walked into my residence hall and something felt wrong. No, something smelt wrong. It was like the soggy fur of a tauntaun that had just sprinted through 10,000 parsecs of bantha fodder, only to take an unjustifiably long dip in a steaming, vaguely septic swamp in the most malodorous and god-forsaken corner of Dagobah. It wasn’t the fridge, and no amount of dirty laundry is pungent enough to stun one fully grown bull rancor, maybe even three small ones. Still, I decided to ignore the smell and sleep, perhaps even dream about the impending release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” like I had for months.
The next morning, I heard a sonorously sinister chuckle echo from behind my wall, a sonic distillation of evil. Something was alive, and it seemed to enjoy eluding detection. Still, it was no match for Foothill’s maintenance guys, who promptly opened a hole in my wall. Behold, the source of the odor, the author of my revulsion: Mold. Sensing the danger in being discovered, the mold intensified the emittance of its odor. “Strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine,” it said in a menacing growl.
It turned out that a pipe in the wall had burst. Over time, the water spilling out of the pipe had accumulated behind the wall where my desk was situated, giving rise to a patch of mold. I kid you not, I was told this could have taken place over several months, which gave the mold plenty of time to prosper, gain sentience and become well-versed in Kant and Nietzsche. On the night that the smell became apparent, the water had even begun seeping into the carpet. My roommate and I were told to move out of the residence hall for the time being because carpenters would have to tear down the majority of the wall to allow repairmen to handle the broken pipe and the mold.
It wasn’t so bad though, and my roommate and I still laugh about it to this day. Luckily, we’re both from the Bay Area, so moving home early wasn’t an issue. Besides, who can argue with a few home-cooked meals before finals? Looking back, it’s ironic that something so unanticipated occurred in a time that I’ll remember for being completely defined by anticipation. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was right around the corner, and it was easily the most highly anticipated movie I’ve ever lived through in my short 20 years. Despite the Portentous Death Cloud of Finals looming over my head and the unexpected mold incident, I couldn’t help but feel a consistent sense of giddiness.
For me, the anticipation leading up to a movie is one of the best parts of the moviegoing experience and fandom in general. I find myself in a similar situation right now, as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens within hours of this article’s publication. For the first time, I’m going to see not one, but three Asian characters represented as proper heroes in my favorite galaxy from far far away. That’s something to get hyped about.
The sad truth is that amid the hype, some fans have turned to the dark side. In 2016 alone, fans have accused critics of being on a seedy Marvel payroll, whined about Zendaya’s casting in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and even harassed Leslie Jones off Twitter for a time. The fact that an essay called “Fandom Is Broken” was published over the summer is really quite telling. These instances occurred because of passionate fans, and I admit, the fun of being a fan is the chance to be passionate about things you love. But, there’s a difference between passion and vitriol.
This recent spate of such hate seems to stem from the jarring effect of something unanticipated occurring amid periods of extreme anticipation. Take “Suicide Squad” as an example. Fans were eager to see some of DC’s coolest villains make their big screen debut, so when a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score surfaced, it obliterated those vibes, prompting a petition to shut down the review aggregating site.
When these things happen, it’s best to just move on. In life, the unexpected is unavoidable, and dealing with it maturely is essential. If you don’t agree with the casting of a character you grew up loving, spewing racist or sexist remarks isn’t the proper response, as there’s enough of that already. If critics bash “Justice League” next year despite your own hopes of how great it could be, please don’t launch a flurry of hastily written, poorly spelled polemic at them. In issues of geekery such as these, angry fanboys become like mold in a room themselves, an unexpected nuisance that threaten to ruin the fun of anticipation for the rest of us.
As fans, let’s all agree to not sweat the small stuff — even those angry fanboys. In the next year alone, we’re going to see movies with Wolverine, Wonder Woman, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, the Justice League and Thor. We’re even getting the eighth entry in the Star Wars saga. I’m not sure we deserve all of it, but there’s a ton of giddy anticipation coming our way. We just have to handle it better than this year.
I’ve had enough of the rogue mold, in fandom or otherwise, so here’s to hoping that “Rogue One” kicks major butt.
Contact Harrison Tunggal at [email protected].