When you start getting into a band, celebrity, movie, or anything under the sun, more likely than not you’ll end up meeting someone who shares the same interest.
A sense of belonging, as well as identity forming, comes with it. It feels nice to share and gush with someone about the same thing you’re passionate about.
However, it is inherent in nearly every fanbase that Gatekeeping takes place. It is the act of controlling and limiting access to something.
In this case, there are some fans who are not welcoming to the people that are starting to take interest in the same thing. As the fanbase continues to grow and attract more people, some fans begin to be competitive while some become possessive. This attitude creates a divide within the community itself.
Franchises that were created and produced decades ago are usually the most popular case of gatekeeping.
Gatekeepers look down on those that, for example, have not seen, or have not even been born on the day of a particular movie. Consequently, the length of the fan’s exposure seems to be a huge, defining aspect of a fan’s dedication. Thus, new fans, most especially the younger ones, are immediately put down. They take this aspect that are uncontrollable for both parties in order to be superior.
Gender is another element to this phenomenon. The gaming community has been predominantly male. Games are considered to be masculine. There is already an inherent divide and stereotype attached to gaming itself. So for a female to play and take interest in this already make them seem less of a fan to the eyes of the gatekeepers.
What is made apparent by these factors is that gatekeeping rejects change.
A growing fanbase entails receiving more diverse people and responses. The “natural order” of the fanbase begins to be questioned. And gatekeepers don’t like that. There is a system, or even a culture, that is being created in the process of coming into contact with people in the same fanbase as you. Interactions, from discourse to purely gushing, form bonds that manifest into inside jokes, references, and even unspoken rules.
To have people unfamiliar with those things means risking those rules to change. But that is the point. Fans should be able to share their ideas, just as much as they are able to agree with the precedents. Of course, there are still areas where confrontation and calling out have to take place. Instances such as bullying, and harassment of both the fan and the subject necessitates such actions.
Having a huge fanbase is one of the primary factors behind a franchise or a celebrity’s success.
As their fanbase grows bigger and broader, change is bound to occur within their bubble. Most of the time it forces them to burst that bubble for people to discover and love them.
What gatekeepers seem to forget is that there shouldn’t be a limit or rule to liking the subject at hand. These should be the things that bring people together, not apart.