…created by real life actual people in the real life actual world.
The media we consume is not created in a vacuum. Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Media is a reflection of the world we live in. Good speculative fiction in particular has to be grounded in some level of realism for us as human beings in a mundane real world to identify with. Fantastical characters are often given less fantastical traits in addition to the strange ones in order to make them more relatable to the audience. I can’t especially identify with an alien assassin that has eidetic memory considering I’m not green, I don’t kill people for a living, and I forget where I leave my house keys half the time, but I can relate to a story about a father trying to do right by the child he abandoned and neglected. That’s a kind of universal idea, even if the parent and child in question are aliens on a space station.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an elf with magical tattoos, or the pilot of a starship, or a wizard, or a secret agent, or a cyborg or a vampire or whatever. People come to these stories bringing their own individual life experiences, and it’s natural for people to be reminded about things in their own lives. There are people in fandoms who experience the kind of things fictional characters go through in their real lives.
When a story includes sensitive real life topics such as abuse and prejudice, people who experience things like that are going to look at them—and the fans who discuss them—with heightened scrutiny. It has to be handled with care, and discussions surrounding them need to happen with sensitivity.
Most importantly, it doesn’t matter that it’s “just” a game/show/movie if the fictional people in question are saying the same kinds of things/behaving in the same kinds of ways that people do in real life when confronted with similar situations, and fans perpetuate the same kinds of harmful narratives about fictional characters that are used to hurt real life actual people, including other fans. That’s when shit starts getting real.