First, let me explain what Fandom is. Fandom as a whole is a subculture that celebrates a mutual bond formed between people over a bookseries, TV show, movie, band, or other form of pop culture. This larger Fandom is broken down into smaller factions, also called fandoms, but with a lower-case “f” instead of capitalizing the word. These smaller factions are named in pun-tastic ways after the thing that is the subject of admiration.
Personally, I have the innate pleasure of being a part of many fandoms such as the Potterheads, Whovians, and Pentaholics (I won’t name more, we’d be here all day). However, one thing that I see – usually from those not in a fandom of any sort – is a sort of disdain for fandom culture. Those of us in the fandoms are ushered off as childish, unimportant, or simply addicted to the internet with no social life. Honestly there is so much wrong with how fans in fandoms are viewed, and before I explain why, please let me paint a scenario for you…
Imagine this: a venue that serves food and drinks is hosting a huge, all-night long party for the season finale of your favorite show. There’s been this ginormous rivalry building up all season and tonight it will be settled. The fans crowd in, dressed like their favorite characters and talking about how awesome the side they’re on is. People have planned this for months; they got together with their friends in real life to meet people they know from online forums and now everyone is pumped and ready for the show to begin. Food is ordered, drinks are served and it’s getting closer to the start.
Any minute now the channel will switch over from the news to the show everyone is waiting for. You can feel the anticipation in the room, the blood pumping in your veins is making noise in your ears as you wait for it. Then finally, someone is “shushing” the room. After some on screen formalities it begins. The moment you’ve gathered for. The Superbowl is starting.
That didn’t go where you thought it was going to, huh? Honestly, football is America’s biggest fandom, but because it’s a sport it doesn’t use that title. If you compare the atmosphere of Superbowl Sunday in a bar to the venue hosting a Comic Con, there’s not a huge difference. The difference lies in how people see those who participate.
For people in fandoms, when we dress up in Cosplay it’s often considered a waste of money and time (even though one good Cosplay can last years and multiple cons), whereas a person buying $300 tickets to the Superbowl for half-decent seats and only one game is considered a “good choice” and “lucky.” Now I don’t mean to put down sports guys; go, do what you enjoy. That’s what all fandoms try to do.
Now on to something I mentioned in the beginning…being addicted to the internet with no life. I admit people in my generation (myself included) are glued to our electronics, but please consider one really good thing about this: we have a lot of friends and our friendships are not limited by continental borders. Look at it from the perspective of having a pen-pal, but better because you can get instant replies and you don’t have to buy a stamp every time you want to send them something.
From experience I can tell you that I have friends in all time zones across the USA. I have friends in Dubai, and in South Africa, and in England. They have gotten me through really bad times in my life the past couple of years, and I am so lucky to have found them. I know that I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for the friendships I’ve formed over a keyboard and because of my fandoms.
So please, don’t think that we don’t have lives, consider that our lives are much more digitalized than yours and that has opened doors for us that may not have existed when you were our ages. I know that I have a safe place in all the areas I mentioned, and my friends know that if they are ever in my area that they can just call me up and ask for a couch to crash on. Fandom is not about frivolous things, it’s about becoming a community centered on the love of, and passion for something. It’s about friendship, understanding, and opening doors and pathways that you never knew existed.