There are many incredible things that fans do for the art they love. It was fans that granted Firefly its own movie so that Joss Whedon could finish telling his story. Fans have been responsible for similar things in the Star Trek franchise (I'm told... not a Trekkie, so I don't know much about that particular fandom). Harry Potter has an incredible fan base that has mobilised to make the world a genuinely better place, There's Nerdfighteria who are doing something similar.
Fandoms can and do wonderful things for the world, their communities, and for the creators of the material they fell in love with.
I'm not talking about those wonderful people.
I'm also not saying that we should stop all discourse at grovel at the feet of the creators. Not at all. I actively encourage discourse. Things should be spoken about, argued over, criticised and critiqued. That, in my opinion is what art is for. Fans are allowed to say "this broke my heart" or "I really don't like this." Fans are entitled, especially, I think, in franchises that have a long history (Captain America), to speak their minds. I think it behoves those carrying the banner of such franchises to remain true to the original soul of the franchise they're inheriting. I think it is perfectly legitimate of fans of that franchise to scream "THIS IS PROBLEMATIC!" when they come across something problematic.
That kind of critical thought and discussion should always be encouraged.
But, in my opinion, I believe it should stop there. Shouting down the creators or demanding they change their vision to suit you is just not on. Sending death threats? No. Nothing justifies that.
Do I believe that turning Captain America into a Hydra agent was a good move? No! I think it was cynical and disrespectful both to the spirit of Captain America, and to the two men who created him. It was an insult to the fans, and to the symbol of justice and inclusiveness that Captain America was. I remain hopeful, however, that they will remain true to the spirit of Captain America. This was the first issue of the new run, after all.
Do I have the right to express my opinions on this in a public forum? Absolutely! So do you. Do I have the right to tell the creators not to tell their story? No. Neither do you.
It was brought to my attention that the author of the Fandom is Broken article I linked to yesterday is a malicious dink. Looking through his tweets, yup. Yup, he certainly is.
But the fact that he is a distasteful person doesn't negate the fact that he did raise some very valid points. One quote in particular stood out to me:
These fans are treating stories like ordering at a restaurant - hold the pickles, please, and can I substitute kale for the lettuce? But that isn't how art works, and that shouldn't be how art lovers react to art. They shouldn't be bringing a bucket of paint to the museum to take out some of the blue from those Picassos, you know?
Unlike Dinky McDink, I happen to think fandom is fantastic in so many respects. The passion, the community, shared experiences... I absolutely adore things like fan fiction in all it's forms (Potter Pals, anyone?), and I love how fans take something and make it their own in this way. It is incredible. I absolutely adore things like How It Should Have Ended, that great YouTube series that pokes gentle fun at books, television series and films.
Okay, technically fan fiction in it's purest form is plagiarism, in that people are using characters and worlds they did not create themselves. However, they do so with great affection and, provided they aren't charging their readers for it, with great respect. They're not making any money, they're just playing in a world they love.
As a creator, I'm more than happy if anyone wants to create fan fiction of anything I write. As long as they aren't selling it, I don't really see a problem. And I've read some wonderfully written fan fiction. Sure, there's some absolute dreck out there, but there is dreck in "legitimate" publishing as well.
But I think that fans should understand that a creator's work does not belong to them. It belongs to the creator. That feeling of ownership over a story or characters or worlds is absolutely false. It's exceptionally problematic, the line of thought that says that fans own the objects of their fandom. They don't. It's not yours any more than Van Gogh's Starry Night belongs to impressionist (post-impressionist?) art lovers. Certainly you're invited in to play, to discuss, critique. But you don't own anything here. It's not yours. It never was.
You just fell in love with it, that's all.