Attaboy Fanboy!

Attaboy Fanboy!

For me, watching Raavan was like sifting through a stranger’s exotic family vacation photo album. While you marvel at the gorgeous locales and the awe-inspiring backdrops, the people in them are well just people. You do not relate to the fun they are having on their trip, you would not care to participate in a nostalgia tinged recollection of how, when, where a shot was taken and there is just no way you are going to feel any kind of emotional connect with even one of those beautifully framed pictures. Maniratnam movies are never known to induce this uncharacterestic indifference and that to me was the biggest disappointment with Raavan. However, even as I have made my evidently negative opinion on the movie clear, at the risk of sounding schizophrenic, let me also disclose that since its release, I have longingly scrounged and continue to scrounge for reviews that are remotely positive. If people whose opinions I respect have had nice things to say about it, I have been filled with a nice warm fuzzy feeling and if people whose opinions I generally disregard have had nice things to say about it, I have accorded them a bit of newfound respect. There is a succint word to describe a person like me suffering from such a two-faced, confused mental state- fanboy.

Fanboy- a term that wonderfully encapsulates the immaturity of the person that it is bestowed upon- a person who displays a baffling and often illogical, unwavering, unconditional liking for something. Fanboyism results when you walk the tightrope between being a fan and a fanatic.

Fanboy- a term that wonderfully encapsulates the immaturity of the person that it is bestowed upon- a person who displays a baffling and often illogical, unwavering, unconditional liking for something. Fanboyism results when you walk the tightrope between being a fan and a fanatic. When confronting the Maniratnam fanboy in me, I have asked myself where this steadfast refusal to alter my perception of him even after he has failed to meet my expectations, stems from. Is it because that one’s strong likes and dislikes are so much a part of one’s identity that attempting to modify them is painfully difficult? Or is it more because in a world which lives up to the cliche that change is the only constant, it is comforting to believe that some things really remain unchanged? Whatever the reasons may be, there cannot be a more appropriate word to describe that childlike obstinacy in sticking to your opinion and unwillingness to let anything alter it.

Fanboys are not endemic merely to the world of arts. They are abundant in the commercial world too, specifically in the electronics business and Apple is a prime example of a company that has built a strong fanboy driven reputation. People usually make the statement I just made, in derision or condescension, but, I say it with nothing but respect. Apple products are probably never the best in the market based on mere technical specifications. For the price you are paying, you can definitely find a faster, bigger, technologically more advanced alternative. However, when it comes to product design and user interfaces, Apple seems miles ahead of its nearest competitor and this alone has helped it build a strong fanboy following. This following is so committed, so loyal and so blind, that people are willing to sacrifice their sleep and stand in line for hours to get their hands on a newly released product. When you cater to such a responsive and receptive, albeit niche market, it makes sense to target your flagship products at them and let that drive your conceptualisation and design. There is something about men, or should I say “menboys” and their childlike fascination for electronics that has the capacity to fuel an entire market. This is one gender generalisation I hope I can safely get away with.

 

A fanboy is not immune to disappointment, but, that does not easily translate into dislike. He irrationally seeks some form of rationalisation for his disappointment and hopes to explain it as an aberration. Like how I found consolation in little aspects of Raavan- the stunning visual experience that makes you overlook the weakness in characters and the non-existence of any new contribution to the retelling of a familiar tale; or the wonderful use of an alternate version of Ranjha Ranjha to mark the moment that Beera truly falls for Ragini. And that is precisely how fanboyism is different from brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is akin to being a fan. It is mere preference. Fanboyism on the other hand is passion. The fact that Maniratnam and Apple have a passionate following that is sizable enough to give them the economic freedom to work on their own terms is a great thing, but, it can be easy to take that for granted and assume that anything they make will find acceptance. Both of them very well know that such powerful admiration is as hard to maintain as it is to earn.