Meditation on Fandom re: Gawker’s James Holmes piece.
Adrian Chen does a decent job of actually getting at fandom, briefly, for a general audience.
“Fandom in many ways now spends as much time talking about itself as it does talking about TV shows and movies and comics,” wrote scholar Rebecca Lucy Busker in 2008. Back then, Busker attributed the change to a new awareness among fans of fandoms outside their own, due to the fact that fans were now discussing their passions on Livejournal instead of mailing lists. This threw different fandoms together, allowing a larger dialogue to happen between fandoms around what exactly it means to be a fan.
Today, the platforms used by fandoms—most notably Tumblr and 4chan—has increased this cross-pollination even more. Fandoms have become so porous that they can be seen as forming a single “fandom” subculture, like goths or punks from an earlier time. What fandom a person choses to belong to isn’t so important as the fact they chose to belong at all. Different fandoms are like different outlandish hairdos among punk kids. The hairstyle might have some relationship to their personality, but its real importance is separating him or her from squares—or other punks—attracting the scornful glares that increases solidarity with other punks at the mall.
I like this approach, and I asked Lindsey if she self-defined as fandom since she does have interesting things she is a fan of (Tom Hanks, Bud Light Lime) if she considers herself in fandom and she said, “no because I don’t communicate with other people in that fandom. I’m more a fan than fandom” which is a good separating point in our modern world where digital is everyone, and fixation on the “different” seems like everyone’s goal in the meme culture. Lindsey might make jokes, memes and talk about non-mainstream things, but she doesn’t organize around it in the same way a fandom member does.
I, as it probably shocks no one here, identify as part of Fandom, and then subsequently I am active at different times in different fandoms, in different ways. I obviously have a much more professional relationship now, but I wouldn’t care about fandoms or do well at working in and around them if I didn’t have passion behind it. Lindsey (and Kelly) asked me a few weeks ago if I thought it was weird when I looked back on the time in 2009 when I went to LA for Idol finals or Today Show to see Adam Lambert at 5 in the morning (I am paraphrasing but generally they were asking if I look back with regret or feel silly about that time since right now I am not actively in Lambert fandom.) As most people in fandom can tell you, the answer is obviously not at all. Sometimes you can laugh at certain moments (or if you ever do something actually out of bounds, I’m sure there’s regret, but I’ve never felt that), but the actions taken were pretty damn normal for a fandom member. It’s almost dull, my interaction with that fandom, but Kelly and Lindsey have an outsider perspective to that kind of community. My brain is just wired that way. I’ll always have something I have an interest in that I’ll want to organize around, talk about, and meta about, etc. I’ll always have a warmer feeling from the praise inside my community even when I also get outsider praise. I like being around people who “get it” even if I’m still totally lose about Teen Wolf and I can’t tell anyone in One Direction apart (I’m trying, I promise).
The coolest thing, I think, is that generationally we’re getting more and more wired this way. If we extend that punk metaphor is this the Hot Topic-ization of fandom right now? Maybe so? But I’m of the belief if you’ve got a cool thing going, everyone should get in on it. It’s the only way for that cool thing to transform and grow.
Since Rae went all awesome about fandom it’s clearly incumbent upon me to reblog it to the correct place. — Megan
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