Gatekeeping: The Problematic Aspect of Pop Culture

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Have you ever discovered a new song or show and wanted to talk about it but were immediately shut down by the fandom? Only because you weren’t the one who found it ‘cool’ before it became popular. It’s frustrating because all you wanted to do was find people who shared the same interests as you, and all you got instead was a comment about how you’re not a real ‘fan’. This is essentially what gatekeeping can be defined as. It is when someone takes authority over who does and doesn’t have access to a community or identity. What they’re doing is basically controlling general access to something, and with today’s generation, it is a very prominent issue in pop culture. 

The problem is that gatekeeping doesn’t benefit anyone, but people fail to see that and continue to guard something that is meant to be shared. All it does is discourage people from enjoying certain books or T.V. shows, or anything for that matter, because it fosters the mentality that people can’t explore new interests on their own, which leads to a culture of people not being able to express themselves fully without having the fear of being judged. You’re essentially making someone feel bad for liking the same thing as you, and that makes them feel isolated from the community, which is the last thing you would expect on the internet. 

In today’s world, social media platforms are popular because people have access to the entire world. If your friend group doesn’t share the same interests as you, you can easily go on the internet and find a community that appreciates the same thing as you, and that’s the beauty of the internet. It makes people feel welcomed and valued in a community, and by gatekeeping the community from them, you’re being a bully. 

I understand the appeal of having your favorite book be just your favorite book, because it means a lot to you, and nobody would ever understand the value of that piece of fiction. But, it may mean the same or much more to someone else as well, and you need to understand and appreciate that. If anything, it makes you realize how one thing can mean so many different things to different people. Art is subjective, it is what we’ve been taught since we were children, so learn to appreciate art for art’s sake, and let it be subjective. People have to learn that everyone is allowed to change their opinions and interests on something. Interests evolve, and you can’t feel threatened by new fans joining a community you’re already a part of.

There are people who are watching twenty-year-old iconic T.V. shows for the first time, there are people who are discovering music from the 80s, and there are people who are getting invested in the Marvel universe after Endgame. The point is, it doesn’t matter who likes what, because if something has gained popularity and is reaching more people, you have to know that it is a good thing. It just means that there are more people you can share your interests with. In an ideal world, I hope for communities on the internet to create more inclusive fandoms, because you have to let people enjoy what they enjoy, and perhaps even enjoy it with them.


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