Yes, Virginia, there are adults in fandom, and no need to participate in ageism. Adults who were, shocker, born before 2000. TikTok lives to mock millennials, millennials themselves are defining some of their own as “geriatric,” and younger fans are consistently shocked when adults “out” themselves, even going so far as to make Tumblr posts saying adults don’t have a place in fandom. Of course, we millennials have a fragile grasp on time, with many of us shocked that 1990 was, in fact, over thirty years ago.
Now, admittedly, we are easy to tease, and we get our dander up over some truly silly things — my most hated platform in the world is TikTok, which is mostly harmless and sometimes helpful! No, I can’t explain it. But still, millennials are the founders of contemporary fandom; and before that, Gen X’ers and even baby boomers, and even greatest generationers were founding members for fandoms of Star Trek and Star Wars. In the journal Transformative Works and Cultures, there’s an article about Sherlock fans in their 50s. There’s another article, too, about an older woman who has been a part of a long-term fandom of Patti Smith.
Older fans of many fandoms exist, have existed, and will exist well into the future. Yes, even Gen Z’ers will grow old and face ageism eventually. We are your parents, your siblings, we are the older generation. There’s a certain part of me that’s repulsed when I hear that younger fans, even in fandoms that skew younger, are shocked and potentially dismayed to find older fans among them, even though the older fans rarely make a secret of their ages.
Ageism is a serious problem in our society, and it’s nothing to poke fun at, but little places like fandom, even if fandom’s not really that little, are where bigger problems start, especially on the Internet. During the height of COVID in the United States, there were many think pieces bemoaning the selfishness of Americans when it came to the older and more vulnerable people of the world. There’s a lot of callousness when it comes to discussing age, and people considered “old,” and defining what a person’s definition of “old” is. Is it someone legitimately considered geriatric, or a millennial who has just crested the age of thirty?
So, younger people of fandom, it’s okay to be older than you and still love characters, ships, shows, and movies. It’s okay to create art, write fic, and make lengthy meta posts. Older people are, in fact, people: we don’t just work day jobs or go to grad school or write columns from our ivory towers. Make friends, if you’re comfortable with it, with your fandom “elders;” we might be able to learn something from one another.