On the PCA podcast, both Rick and I have a number of opinions. Sometimes they are popular but many times they are not. We (especially myself) are labeled as “controversial” or “polarizing”. We are aware of this and it comes with the territory. Something that we are both proud of though is accepting that everyone collects differently. For example, I don’t like movies from the ’80s or sports.
I might joke about these topics. Hell, “sports boys” has become an ongoing punchline for the show. But not once have we ever pointed out that if someone likes something they are wrong. This is gatekeeping and if you do this you have no place within any collecting community.
It has become an ongoing issue, especially within the Funko groups, that certain high profile collectors, YouTubers, and influencers have made a name for themselves by pointing out that certain items are terrible or you aren’t fan enough to like them properly. Along with labeling certain items as terrible they also cast a shadow on any collector that is drawn to those items.
I don’t care who you are or how much of a “fanbase” you have, nothing gives you the right to tell anyone else that the thing that they like is stupid or terrible.
So What Is Gatekeeping?
Gatekeeping boils down into 2 distinct categories. You either love something so much that you want to keep it for yourself and others that are just as dedicated as you. Or you hate something so much that you can’t stand it if anyone else enjoys it. This is not a new activity. Gatekeeping has been happening long before vinyl toys were a big deal.
It even exists outside of collector communities. The problem is it has recently become a growing and toxic phenomenon that needs to be addressed. It all boils down to one person’s die-hard dedication to something and that isn’t always a good thing.
You Can’t Like My Thing Because It’s Too Good For You!
This is the side of Gatekeeping that, I feel, is the most commonly occurring. It happens, you love something so much that you bury yourself in the subject. You learn all of the facts and trivia. You buy every item that comes out. You forget that not everyone is as into the subject as you are.
When you meet another person that is also interested in the same topic you vomit your passion all over that person. One of two things will now occur in your interaction. Either this person is equally as involved in the thing as you are and you have a new best friend, or you discover that the other person is not as knowledgeable about the subject as you and we have potential trouble. This is your chance to do the right thing.
In a perfect world everyone that falls into the “I love this thing so much” category would use the situation to share their knowledge with the other person and help them grow, maybe teach them about the subject. Unfortunately, there are many times when you end up turning the other person off when their lack of knowledge is looked at as a negative.
You have to remember that just because someone isn’t all about your favorite superhero or TV show doesn’t mean they aren’t a fan. Someone can be a casual fan but you have to remember they are still a fan and just as much of a fan as you.
The important takeaway is to remember that everyone can be a fan in their own way. Not everyone has to be 100% into something to still appreciate it or even love it. Casual fans are still just as much a fan as the hardcore. But that’s not why we are here, let’s talk about the real culprit amongst our ranks.
You Can’t Like That Thing Because It Sucks!
Let’s be honest, you know who this person is. We have all come across them. They like to make themselves as vocal as possible and ruin your day. As soon as a new item is released they are the quickest to turn on the camera, jump on Twitter, fire off that post in the group to let everyone know how terrible the item is and nobody in their right mind would/should ever buy it.
Keep in mind you better not have a different opinion or taste. You are wrong and they are right and your opinion makes you horrible.
As I stated previously I am not without sin, I have made comments before about how something is insane or stupid. Take in episode 100 of the PCA Podcast I make a comment about sports cards and someone spending $5,000 on one is stupid. More than anything I say this in jest. A $5,000 price tag for a card is bonkers. But in the end I respect someone that truly loves something and sees it as an investment or as a must have for their collection. I support every one of you in your collecting journey.
It’s fine to have an opinion. Opinions are what spark conversation, generate ideas, and how people make connections. The problem is when you feel so strongly and treat your opinion as fact, you risk burning yourself and others. We have all been guilty of this, I know I have. It’s something that I work on every day.
I can get so excited (or down about something) that I forget that my feelings aren’t everyone’s and they shouldn’t be treated as they are. The important thing to remember as stated earlier is everyone collects in a different way. Everyone has different tastes. Just because you think something is poorly executed or tacky or silly does not mean that is everyone’s opinion.
Support all Collectors.
If you come across anyone trying to tell you that something you like is less than just remember it’s not. The beautiful thing about collecting designer toys, Funko, enamel pins, trading cards, or anything else is it speaks to us. We have a passion for the things we find beautiful or interesting.
On some level, this is all art and it’s completely subjective. Don’t let anyone tell you your collection isn’t worth what you feel it is. Here at the PCA, we support all collectors no matter what it is that you like. We all might not share the same passion but we share a passion for collecting. Keep moving, buy what makes you happy, and collect until you are dead. That’s our motto. If you are looking for an accepting and diverse community I encourage you to check out our group on Facebook or become a Patron and join our Discord server.