My parents were both Trekkies way before I was born. It was therefore a foregone conclusion that I would become a full-fledged fangirl. My father was also a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings as a teenager, and so took me to see the Fellowship of the Ring on opening night. That was the event that cemented my future as a fangirl.
Now my fandoms have broadened further. I devote unreasonable amounts of time to several book series, television shows – Game of Thrones, Orphan Black and Hannibal being my top three – and movies. I’ve become particularly involved in Marvel films, and I’ve collected piles of comics and graphic novels to feed this passion.
I think fandoms really exploded into pop culture significance once the internet became popularized. For many people, this offered them the first opportunity to share their love for a particular movie, TV show, book series, etc., with like-minded and equally enthusiastic people. What was a niche, geeky obsession for my parents was, for me, commonplace. The vast majority of my friends shared at least one fandom with me, and if there was one fandom in which I was alone, there were always online communities to engage with.
The article defines the real difference between liking something and being a fan of it – the average consumer of media is passive; they read a book, watch a film, and then they move on. Fans participate on a much more active level. Fandom stimulates a deeper connection and understanding to a work. Fans may write fanfiction, create fan art, discuss and debate their fandom at length online or in person. They can be seen as passionate or even obsessive about their fandoms. As Katie Behrens states, “fandoms are creative, supportive, inspiring, instructive”. I feel that fandom represents a huge benefit to teens in particular, encouraging them to explore their own passions, develop their creativity, and interact with other people who share their interests. It may even help keep them out of trouble; There is less pressure to fit in, to conform to one’s peers, when one has an established group of supportive, enthusiastic and like-minded individuals with which to socialize.
Behrens, K. (2012). Essay: Why you should pay attention to fandoms. The Library as Incubator Project. Retrieved from http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=7618.