I'm not talking about a "specific" specific here, I'm talking about the idea of specificity: choosing to belong to one group, and taking great "pains" to maintain that membership through dialogue, cosplay, self-identification and critique. The idea of choosing to specifically ally with one "thing" is swiftly losing ground to the idea that allying topically to many things- generality- is the preferred, and one might think "appropriate"- avenue towards which one expresses their fandom.
I spend a lot of time speaking and writing about the skew of physical fan communities towards multifandom pursuits, “fandom for fandom’s sake,” and while I still have a strong belief in that idea, it comes with the notion that a major motivator for the process of this conversion lies in the lack of specificity within anime fandom.
Example: many of the longtime fans can remember a time when there was a specific show that grabbed and held their attention. For me, that was Dragonball Z. For a friend of mine, it was initially Evangelion, then Rurouni Kenshin, then Naruto and Bleach- four specific shows that he loved and identified with, often placing them above contemporary series. At the con, I saw a change from InuYasha to Naruto and Bleach, to Hetalia, but even while those were maintaining popularity, their “dominance” was slowly being ceded to cosplay and adoration for other series.
In the past two years, this notion of generality has practically become the norm. While Homestuck currently holds the title “most visible fandom,” when compared to the rest of the con, it doesn’t quite have the same “visible dominance” that InuYasha once enjoyed (where you could go to a con and see more cosplayers of the character InuYasha than anything else). It is undeniably popular, but lacks the level of saturation that previous fandoms captured and wielded. Rather, it’s become a large force existing within a gulf of large forces.
Moving beyond cosplay for a moment, look at the viewing habits of contemporary fans: I noticed a number of tweets this week asking “what’s the next big thing? what should we be watching?” There was a time when this, too, was “obvious.” Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon had their day, then Pokemon, Cowboy Bebop for a time, Fullmetal Alchemist...but where is that concept today? Is there a show that has such a dominant presence, that you can say “everyone” has seen it? One could argue Madoka made an impact, but again, Madoka is one big show in a sea of other “big shows-” it’s “visibly” popular, but not overwhelmingly so.
I think, at least within the anime community, hand in hand with the notion that fans are pursuing the idea of fandom, they are also pursuing an idea of generality over specificity. There is no “fan canon” anymore. There is no “must-see” series, or “must cosplay” property. Rather, there are a slew of choices and options, some of them big and trendy, that fans have to choose from, and often embrace. Casual cosplayers who swap outfits multiple times a day, rather than don the same one for the entire weekend. People who marathon episodes of multiple shows, rather than devouring just one. The ability to belong to multiple groups, and claim membership in multiple fandoms, as opposed to throwing their all behind a single, all encompassing property.
Fandom for fandom’s sake relies a lot on the notion of generality, because specificity requires “too much” of it’s adherents, whereas generality welcomes variety. With regards to its impact...well, you be the judge of that.