“I refer to this concept of a fandom who is said to be behaving badly, that is, excessively, as dysfandom, attaching an inseparable Greek prefix to a Latinate word, one which, per Liddell and Scott, is capable of ‘destroying the good sense of a word or increasing its bad sense’ (cited in Harper 2016). Both showrunners and fans with divergent beliefs may view dysfandom as dysfunctional and excessive, disproportionate and in need of discipline; dysfandom is subject to having its activities forcibly curtailed, told to be silent, or those who posit themselves as not within dysfandom will urge others to ignore it.”
This a really useful way to refer to a fandom that is doing things that perceived to be “rowdy” and “unbecoming” in the eyes of both non-fans and fans. This term does a great job of describing what is and is not acceptable collective fan behaviour, especially now that fandom, at least as understood in a Western context, is more normalized. As much as we’ve moved on from the cease-and-desist days of our predecessors, acceptable fan behaviour still has a very strict code of conduct. This is particularly of those outside fan circles.
Lowe’s term is not an attempt to pathologize fandom as in the past—that is, to make fans seem abnormal or unhealthy or like there’s something wrong with them. The term is a reclaiming of this harmful stereotype. Though this paper covers the disastrous results of the CW’s 2014 #AskSupernatural Twitter hashtag, it would be easy to make the argument that the GoT petition to rewrite its last season is another case of dysfandom. The petition not only made news, but painted fans as delusional or cute for even attempting to get a re-write. Even stars Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner got involved, publicly criticizing the petition and fan reaction.
Whether or not you watch Game of Thrones, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that dysfandom is a pretty cool term. It’s used to describe instances where fandoms are at their most badass: when, much like a feminist killjoy or nasty woman, they’re behaving outside the bounds of what is socially proper.
Lowe, J. (2017), ‘We’ll always have purgatory: Fan spaces in social media’, Journal of Fandom Studies, 5:2, pp. 175–192, doi: 10.1386/jfs.5.2.175_1.