Why Labyrinth Is The Nicest Fandom

Why Labyrinth Is The Nicest Fandom

Celebrating a cult classic with mutual love and appreciation


Fandom is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as all of the fans (as of a sport) or the state or attitude of being a fan. Thanks to social media, fans of any given movie, book, TV show, or even a band or celebrity can join together to discuss, lament, debate, celebrate, theorize, and share art and fan-fiction about their fandom. Tumblr is a hub for fandoms of all kinds, ranging from household names such as Harry Potter to otherwise esoteric titles.

People join fandoms and participate in discussion to share their love for something. With bigger fandoms, however, debates may get out of hand and initiate hostile battles between users with different opinions. For example, the Star Wars fandom has been divided between people who "ship" (endorse a romantic relationship) Rey with Finn or Rey with Kylo Ren since The Force Awakens came out. These pairing names are called Finnrey and Reylo, respectively. The Finnrey shippers believe that Rey is Luke Skywalker's long-lost daughter, and thus she and Kylo Ren are cousins. They also believe that their would-be relationship is incredibly abusive due to the scenes in The Force Awakens in which Kylo Ren imprisons and tortures Rey. The Reylo shippers believe that there is a great deal of unresolved romantic tension between Rey and Kylo Ren, and that Rey and Finn are better off as friends. The factions continue to get into heated debates on Tumblr, which resulted in the blocking of disagreeing blogs after long, public fights; blogs getting deleted by the owners (unfortunately including my main source of Star Wars fandom news, which is how I know all this); anti-ship art; and long posts about which ship is superior. The fandom awaits future movies featuring the new characters to determine which pairing becomes "canon" (official), and in the meantime debates big and small continue.

Another fandom that sparked hostile debate recently is the Avengers fandom. Before and after Captain America: Civil War came out, the fandom divided in a similar manner as the characters in the movie into Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. Team Captain America considers Tony Stark to be a bad guy due to his irresponsible past decisions. Team Iron Man defends Tony Stark's actions, often stating that he suffers from PTSD, and thinks that his ambitions during Civil War were the right thing to do. Luckily, the heated debates between the factions on Tumblr have become less common, and everyone is excited for Avengers: Infinity War, in which the Avengers will reunite to battle side by side rather than against each.

The Internet is a great place to debate on topics that interest you, but when they get heated and out of hand, fandoms get hostile and divided. What Star Wars and the Avengers franchises have in common is that they are ongoing. They are a long series that is nowhere near completion. Thus, the fans are left to their own devices before the next work comes out and come up with theories and ideas about what happens next to share with the fandom. The Internet is the best place to share theories and opinions, and the fact that hostile debates occur is unfortunate because fandoms should be all about sharing love for something. To accomplish this, it is important to agree to disagree. The Labyrinth fandom, one of the more obscure titles on Tumblr, has no choice but to do this because it stands alone. I believe that it is among the nicest, least hostile fandoms, which other fandoms can learn from.

Labyrinth, created by Jim Henson of the Muppets, George Lucas of Star Wars, and illustrator Brian Froud, is a 1986 fantasy film. IMDB summarizes it in the simplest terms:

A 16-year old girl is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King.

The movie known for its cult following. Cult films do not have mainstream audiences, and are instead celebrated by dedicated and passionate followers. Tumblr hosts a relatively small group of these dedicated followers. Some blogs are entirely dedicated to the movie, some are dedicated primarily to the star, David Bowie, and some are personal blogs that participate in other fandoms as well. On Tumblr, the fans share art, fan fiction (it is the 11th most popular movie for fan fiction on fanfiction.net, with fics dating back to 1999. Unfortunately its rank has declined over the years), their personal theories or ideas to fill in the blanks of the ambiguities in the film, and generally share the love for the film.

Labyrinth has no sequels or prequels. There was a manga series that served as an unofficial sequel, but the fandom did not accept it as canon. There are a lot of blanks left in the movie, and many people are left wondering what happens next. Does David Bowie's character, the alluring Jareth the Goblin King, ever return for Sarah, the brave heroine he lusts after? Fan fictions address their future and creatively fill in the blanks from the movie. Every fan has unique ideas as to what the enigmatic Goblin King is really like. Some write a "Dark Jareth," a dominant and intimidating figure with dastardly agendas in getting Sarah to love him. Some portray him as the same suave and alluring romantic figure he was in the movie, and eventually the headstrong Sarah will fall head over heels for him. A notable author and Tumblr user, TheBeetleQueen, portrays Jareth as a flamboyant, adorably clueless, and lovesick character, ever dedicated to the headstrong Sarah. She writes explicit fan fictions in which the pairing switches dominant and submissive roles and experiments. Usually Jareth is portrayed as the dominant one, so TheBeetleQueen provides a unique and necessary perspective. She still portrays Sarah as the both strong and humanly flawed female character that makes the film so unique and important.

Because of Labyrinth's blanks, it is impossible to decide what is right and what is wrong. When someone makes a text post on Tumblr about their theory regarding some aspect of the film and uses evidence from it, relevant lore that inspired the creators, and the creators' own ideas, someone else can counter it with just as much evidence. Neither of them are right or wrong. The fans know how to agree to disagree and seldom engage in hostility. There is no way to know if their opinion is right or wrong because there is no anticipated sequel, despite several rumors over the years that caused nearly the entire fandom anxiety and relief when they were debunked. The fandom generally agrees that a sequel is not necessary in reality, but occasionally fantasizes about a sequel with the same cast and overseen by the late Jim Henson to serve the original movie the justice it deserves. The fandom shares dreams and appreciates one another's ideas and art. When David Bowie died, the fandom grew closer in mourning. We are always there for one another, which makes the fandom more like a big group of nerdy friends. It is among the nicest fandoms on Tumblr and is always open to new people to share in the love.

I've been a part of the "cult" since the age of 10, which was before Tumblr. I found the community on Tumblr upon joining around the age of 14 or 15. When I was 13, I started a fanpage on Facebook that grew to almost 10,000 likes in the past 5 years. I get a lot of content from Tumblr, always crediting the original posters, and quite often I get comments from the original posters thanking me for sharing it. I like to engage the likers in discussions about the blanks in the movie, such as what Jareth's crystals mean and what really happens to wished-away babies. The answers vary beautifully, and I appreciate each and every one. I'm incredibly proud of the page I established and try to post daily, despite my busy college schedule. The likers are worth it, and I always look forward to the supportive comments they leave me.

In the Facebook community I started and in the Tumblr community I'm part of, I always feel welcomed and appreciated for what I have to offer, and strive to make others feel the same. This is what fandoms should be about: celebrating the beauties and ambiguities of the subject and celebrating each other for what they bring to the fandom. Perhaps Labyrinth's small cult following, abundance of ambiguities, and definite end spares its fandom from the hostility that plagues fandoms with more to anticipate. These fandoms can still learn from the Labyrinth fandom that you're never right or wrong, at least until the sequel you all have been anticipating comes out. In the meantime for these fandoms, the best thing to do is to respect everyone's right to express their opinions. The beauty of fandoms, especially big ones, is that someone will agree with you, or at least find what you have to say interesting. That is an essential part of sharing the love. As long as there is the Internet, fandoms will never die, and the Labyrinth fandom will continue to celebrate the cult classic and one another with congeniality.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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