Have you ever liked something, so much, that it actually begins to take over your life? There is always something, everyone has something that pushes them over that edge into an oblivion you then can never escape. For some it can be as simple as a chocolate fudge brownie they found one day at the supermarket that they now have to devour at least 3 times a week. For others, it can be that new single by Adele that they need to keep singing over and over and over. But for many this obsession can run a lot deeper than your average craze, taking over your life in ways you can never image. Yes, oh yes I’m going there. I’m talking about Fandoms.
Fandoms or ‘Fan Culture’ if is defined as “the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture.” by dictionary.com. It is something that can be both beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Fandoms are essentially groups of hardcore fans who have sacrificed their social lives to obsessing over the things they love on the internet. Trust me, I’ve been there! But really at the end of the day the thing that draws people into these fandoms, besides the content, is this sense of belonging. Being able to interact with a group of people over the crazy things you love and care about feels amazing! And whats even better is that you don’t need to wait to find someone to talk to in real life! With one click of a button they are all there waiting for you, ready to comfort you over that last episode of HTGAWM. This is what makes fandoms, specifically on the Internet, so fun, and so addicting….
For me this all started with Harry Potter, as it did for many young people. I have always been a big reader and loved spending my evenings getting lost in countless stories and characters bound up in the pages of a book. Strangely enough I actually refused to read Harry Potter for a long time, thinking that I wouldn’t like them because of how scared the movies made me. It wasn’t until my sister started reading the series that I decided to give them a go and fell in love with them in a way I never had with a series, thus beginning my undying love and obsession! It wasn’t just the world of Harry Potter drew me in, but the characters, the writing, the detail that made these books so intricate that you felt as though you were watching a massive puzzle unfold before your very eyes. These books began to take over my life over the 8 or 9 months I read them, so once I finished I felt lost, sad and lonely, as if there was a sudden hole in my life. I didn’t know what to do! I had been with these characters for so long! I knew them so well I considered them my friends. What was I going to do without them? I needed to hear their voices again and relive the adventures. I didn’t want it to just be over! I had to find a way to fill this void the series had left in my life, and this my friends is where I turned to the internet.
This is the curial step that separates a normal everyday fan to a crazy fandom fan. Now I’m not saying that every fan who chooses to turn to the Internet reaches that level of obsession, but it is defiantly the place you’ll find them all. Today we can easily reach thousands of people around the world instantly, all through the simple touch of a button. We can share content, interact with others, and be a part of this massive virtual community that literally stretches across the world. Fandoms are now on a scale like never before! And all this constant interaction with other fans is why it can slowly get so addicting! It’s fair to say that many consider this an amazing, yet slightly terrifying phenomenon. Theres no denying that the dedication and power of a Fandom collectively can become a little crazy…… with the strange lingo and jokes, but this is a reason people love to be a part of them anyway.
So when I first ‘turned to the Internet’ I began by looking drawings and photo edits fans uploaded onto google, which led me to find fan videos people made on YouTube. I kept doing this unit I finally landed up on a site called Tumblr, the home of the fandom craze. Tumblr is essential a blog system where you share and create pictures and posts surrounding fandoms and strange things you love. Whats so great about it is that you get that ‘instant community I mentioned earlier, by following other fans and them following you in return. For many people this is where their obsession starts to take new levels. It’s one thing to obsess over something on your own, but throw thousands of other crazy, dramatic fans into the mix and things start to get interesting….But seriously its pretty fun being constantly surrounded by awesome content and people, but more importantly interacting with a community you already love so much. You finally have people to obsess with from the comfort of you own room, and you feel that void in your chest slowly start to fill again.
If you search online it’s not hard to find spoofs of your favourite movie of TV show. Just look at what you can find for Harry Potter alone! There has been ‘Harry Potter Puppet Pals’ a youtube channel that writes skits about Harry Potter, A Hillywood Parody to the song of Friday, Harry Potter in 99 seconds, and probably the most famous- the Very Potter Musical series: 3 musicals based around the Harry Potter books witten and uploaded to youtube by college students in 2008. And why is there so much stuff? Because people love to create and make fun of the things they love! It only adds to the enjoyment of the series and characters overall.
However I’m not saying fandoms have only existed online. As long as there has been stories and characters, there have been fans. Before the Internet a popular way to meet and connect with other fans was through conventions. Take a look back at the 60s! There were conventions for comic books and science fiction! People ran fan clubs, and news papers and magazines were made specifically for characters and franchises. Sure it was all on a much smaller scale than that of the Intent, but it proves sometime much bigger. That as fans, and people, we have always loved to meet and interact with other fans, its part of what makes being a fan so fun in the first place! If you look at the hitory of these fan conventions some of them run back all the way into the 1930s like Science Fiction connection in NYC.
Conventions are still a big thing for fans today, attracting more people than ever before. Comic Con, which is held in San Diego every year, is arguably the worlds biggest, attracting 130,00 people back in 2015. Creators and actors come in from all around the world to hold panels and conventions for the fans. Fans also use it as a chance to meet other fans in real life, cosplay (dress up) as their favourite characters, do activities and games, and to be a part of this wider community in real life.
So whether you are a part of a fandom or not, I’m sure we can agree that they are a pretty interesting and extraordinary thing! ( Or maybe I’ve just scared you and you are feeling a bit concerned). But all joking aside I think the reason so many people love to be a part of fandoms and ‘fan culture’ is to share their love of these stories and people, with others. Its fun to get lost in a fictional world created in a film or novel, and having that opportunity to get lost all over again in the fandoms online makes the series live on forever. Because there will always be people who still love it online with you. Being part of that wider community gives you a space to create, share, and experience the ups and downs of something you love, and to a fan that is an amazing feeling.
Fandoms can be strange, extreme, and pretty over the top at times, but they really are something many people hold close to their heart, or even define a certain period in their life. So if you ever see someone obsessing over something they love try not to judge them, because lets be honest, we’ve all been there at some point.
cnbc. (2016) Comicon Cosplay. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/23/no-drones-selfie-sticks-or-e-cigerettes-comic-con-unveils-2015-rules.html
Fandom Following. (2016) Harry Potter books. Retrieved from http://www.fandomfollowing.com/4230-2/
giphy. (2016) Doctor Who gif. Retrieved from http://giphy.com/search/fandom
Howell, Dan. (Danisnotonfire) ( 2012, October 12) FANDOMS. (Video File) Retreievd from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqYkERuoMN8
Tumblr. (2016) Fangirling Gif. Retrieved from https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/fangirls-gif
Portal MKT Digital.(2016) Tumblr logo. Retrieved from http://portalmarketingdigital.com/tag/blog/
psych2go. (2016) Fandom or Real Life. Retrieved from http://www.psych2go.net/fandoms-is-obsession-a-bad-thing/
Team Starkid. (2009, July 5) A Very Potter Potter Musical Act 1 Part 1. (Video File) Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmwM_AKeMCk