Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Happens When I Think Too Much

Okay, so here's an unfinished thought I've been kicking around for awhile: what's with fandom?

And I don't mean this in the sense that "why are people fans of things" or "why are fans crazy," because I'm a fan of things and (sometimes) I'm sure I behave in totally certifiably crazy ways, particularly when my fandom(s) are invoked.

One night last week, I was having a hard time getting to sleep, so I was poking through Anna's backlog of Fandom Secrets posts. In case you don't know, FS is a totally charming LiveJournal blog along the lines of PostSecret except slightly less emotionally maiming. You write up your fandom secret -- whatever it may be -- in some graphic form, submit it, and see it posted. Tah-dah!

What gets me is how many of these secrets in any particular post have to do with these deep anxieties people apparently feel over joining or participating in or leaving any particular fandom. During my sleepless drift through FS posts, I lost track of how many individual secrets expressed that anxiety in some way or another: "I want to get into Doctor Who...Supernatural...Harry Potter...anime...Star Wars...D&D...Sherlock...Being Human...Downton Abbey," for Christ's sake! "...but I'm worried I won't fit in...older fans will judge me...people will be mean to my artwork...writing...fanvids...thoughts about characters...preferred pairing..." Fill in further blanks here as you desire.

Really? Seriously, people? Fandoms are meant to be fun! If they're causing you this much anxiety -- it's probably not fun! Go find something that is, for heaven's sake!

Not that my fandoms don't cause me a certain amount of anxiety but it's not usually due to the other people in it. Yeah, okay, I worry about the Supernatural fanfic I write because I'm a perfectionist and, as soon as any given story is posted, I can always think of about 15 ways I could have written it to make it better. Well, so what? I enjoyed it; the people who read it seem to enjoy it; and I'm never going to be Misachan or Lamardeuse or, god help me, Wordstrings. Eh. That's okay, too (most days, anyway.)

But I certainly don't express the kind of bone-deep anxiety that some of these cards seem to. Really, if you're worrying about it this much, it's not fun and it's meant to be fun.

And who says you have to "join" a fandom anyway? It's not like you have to ask it to the prom or worry if it's going to call you the next morning.

You watch the show, listen to the band, read the book, see the movie -- and that's it. You can still call yourself a fan as far as I'm concerned. You like it; you're a fan of it. You don't have to buy a membership or learn a secret handshake or cut your hair funny. Follow what you like, enjoy it, try not to kick other people in the knees too much. Congratulations: you're a fan. No pre-nup required.

1 comment:

  1. Preach! I too have been wondering about the actual and perceived policing of fandoms and what that means for a intellectual and technological space intented to be non-exclusive. I think you've put your finger on something seemingly simple but difficult for members of fandom to remember at times: fandom is a venue of exploration and enjoyment, not an identity. The anxieties about policing expressed by fans in "fandom secrets" are reminiscent of those in "queer secrets" for a reason, fandom has become identity for some.