My kids are always asking for Fandom related things, but there are rarely enough fans of any given fandom to reach critical mass for a party or event about a specific party (Harry Potter is a notable exception). So I try sometimes to do general fandom programs that could reach a wider audience. Fandom debates were a suggestion from my Advisory Board. They wanted to debate various hot button topics from a variety of fandoms. They wanted pros and cons and people to argue them against. They didn’t give me any specific examples but I managed to sort at least an idea of what they wanted.
So last summer, I planned it. I came up with a main debate: Was Snape good or bad? figuring it might be a draw because of the continued popularity of Harry and also might help explain the idea behind the program. I asked kids to bring their own but also came up with a few from major fandoms as well. I later realized upon talking to some of the other kids and some of the kids who came that not as many tweens and teens are familiar with the term ‘fandom’ as I, and most of my Advisory Board are, so I’m now looking into alternate wording for Fandom programs.
At the program itself, I got three kids (two sisters), which is low for summer and less than I was hoping, but it turned out we had a blast. It also turned into a slightly different program. One of them had not read Harry Potter and the three of them as a whole had basically no fandoms in common. However, they loved the concept and debated about a host of topics. After the non-Harry reader didn’t care about spoilers, we did talk about Snape and a few other things, but we also talked about what makes a book good and why and why one of the kids liked horror and another couldn’t stand it. The trio ended up exchanging book suggestions, are now friends and are program regulars.
In all, I consider it a success, even if not quite the way I meant. However, I’ve incorporated ideas of it into other programs and in my upcoming three fandom program (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter), I’ll be offering up some things for debate among fans of each.
It was also super simple to set up. I offered some basic snacks and drinks but other than that there was no cost. I knew debate topics for most of the major fandoms out there, but did a bit of research just to make sure I had a few lesser known and also a couple more generic questions (which is what got the kids started on what makes a book good and other ideas). Knowing how to debate topics politely is actually a really good skill to have and it’s not a bad thing to teach kids in an indirect way such as this.