FANDOM noun [fan-duhm]
I can’t remember a time in my life that I haven’t loved things in an almost obsessive manner, but I haven’t always been a member of fandoms. The first fandom I joined was Harry Potter, but it wasn’t until I was in late Primary School. As you all know, I’ve loved the books forever, but I didn’t actively play a role in the fandom until I was around eleven or twelve. I didn’t take sorting hat quizzes and read fanfiction and have ship wars and just generally obsess with other people until that point. Once I discovered the wonder that was taking part in fandom, I couldn’t stop. My list just grew, and grew, and continues to grow to this day. I can no longer just watch a show, or read a book series, and go ‘yeah, that was good’, I have to follow a million ‘fyeah’ blogs devoted to it on tumblr, and find like-minded fans, and develop favourite ships, and download zillions of graphics to sub-folders on my computer.
In my free period at school yesterday I was trying to explain my fear of the Pottermore Sorting. My friends simply looked at me like I was crazy, and said (and I quote), “That is the saddest thing I have ever heard”. Unfortunately, the word ‘sad’ was used in a “you are absolutely pathetic” way, as opposed to a “My heart is breaking over the fact you might become a Gryffindor”.
While I do have a few IRL friends who are as into Fandom as I am, the vast majority are sadly not. If someone is not in Fandom (which goes hand-in-hand with what I said about fanfiction a week or two ago) they will just not get how great it is. Just telling someone that a Voldemort/Socially-Awkward-Penguin crossover meme is hilarious is not enough, they have to be at the level of dedication to the book/movie/band/tv show/etc. that they will find it hilarious. The same goes for ships and head-canon; if someone is just a casual enjoyer of something, they will not get your level of dedication and will not be able (or more precisely, want to) take part in your conversations. You learn to keep your mouth shut (or not, if you’re me) around those who do not fall in love with fictional characters and dream of men in blue boxes, because it really just leads to odd looks and alienation.
Thankfully, that’s where the internet steps in. Going back to my adventures in Pottermore, I was much less alone when it came to my fear of The Sorting when it came to Twitter.
A quick look at Tumblr also saw many breakdowns and intense conversations. It was brilliant. As I mentioned before, sometimes being the only Fangirl in a wide radius can lead to feelings of alienation, and that’s where the internet is so amazing. People (mainly my mother) accuse me of being too addicted and dependant upon the interwebs, but it’s one place where you fit in, one place where there are other people who would go without sleep to sign up for a website, or to buy tickets to a show, or to discuss theories and spoilers and everything else. You belong and you can’t tell me that feelings of belonging are a negative thing.
I often get told that I should get off the net and into the real world and find some ‘real people’ to talk to, and some ‘real interests’ to spend my time on. The way I see it, however, is if you enjoy and are good at sport you will go to a sports specific school or join sports clubs and spend your days training and playing. While I suck at sport, I am good at Fandom, so why shouldn’t the same rules apply to me? Those who can kick a ball are allowed to devote their lives to the game, and to only talk about the game, and play the game, and basically have everything revolve around the game. No-one blinks an eye at them. There is no difference between that and being obsessed with Doctor Who, or Harry Potter, or The Jonas Brothers (or all of the above). I can hear you all thinking, “But Georgie, sport is HEALTHY! Spending all day on the internet isn’t!” and all I can say back is, as long as I go to the gym regularly and walk to school, and keep up my (rather good) marks at school, how is it any different? I have spare time, instead of spending it running around a field, I choose to spend it in Fandom. It’s an interest, just like sport, or music, or art, or whatever else you may be into. I shouldn’t be ostracised because I became a fangirl instead of a sports star. In fact, most guys are fanboys for sport. With their fantasy football leagues, and their conversations, and their footy tipping, they’re identical to us Fandom Dwellers, but seem to think because they worship men in short-shorts instead of some college kids who put on plays about Harry Potter, they’re better than us.
When I interviewed Lauren Rae Orsini, a journalist dedicated to fandom, she had the following to say about just why she loves it so much:
“I love how fans can take the creators original premise and turn it into an entire culture. For example, if you think about it, Harry Potter is just a series of books and movies. It’s the fans that make it legendary, with their fanart and fanfiction and handcrafted House scarves. Their tribute bands, like Harry and the Potters, and their tribute films, like Potter Puppet Pals. Their forums for discussing theories about the books and their costumes at the midnight movie releases.”
That quote basically sums up my feelings. Without fans and fandom, Harry Potter would just be another seven books on the shelf. The fans made it brilliant and amazing and everything it is today. Fandom makes the entertainment world go ’round, and it’s about time it gets the respect it deserves. Sure, a lot of people in Fandoms are nerds, but as The Vlogbrothers constantly tell us, being a Nerd is the best thing to be. As John says, “…nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
World, it’s time Fandom got some respect. If you’re reading this and aren’t into Fandom, what are you doing with your life? I mean, honestly. It’s fun, and we have some pretty awesome people over here. Charlie proves that nerds way into fandom are no longer fat creepy guys in lycra suits. They can be cute, and British, and definitely future husband material (side note: loving Charlie is kind of like Fandom inception. Because he (and Chameleon Circuit) are a Fandom inside a Fandom. See the kinds of epic things that go on?!) The only thing you’ll regret about Fandom is not taking part in it, so pick a Fandom (or five) and get into it! You can thank me later.
frangipani princess xoxo