(Written by Martha S.)
I’ve been a fan of things my whole life.
I wouldn’t say I’m always a part of fandom, since my participation levels vary based on my enthusiasm and my desire to engage with other humans, but I watch and I lurk and I read the fanfiction and I look at the fanart. When I love something, a movie or a book or a video game, I’m reluctant to give up the worlds I’m in love with. Fandom means I don’t have to leave until I’m done with them.
I chose fandom in media as our topic for the next episode for a few reasons: I thought we earned a lighter, more fun subject after bending our brains in the last episode, and because fandom culture has become so pervasive in the pop culture dialogue that I think it deserves a deep dive. Why do people engage in fandom? What rewards does it offer? Why is it worth talking about?
Our homework for this episode:
Fangirl, 2013 novel by Rainbow Rowell
Fanboys, 2009 film directed by Kyle Newman
Galaxy Quest, 1999 film directed by Dean Parisot
We have a good spread of homework that looks at fans active in fandom, fans passionate about fandom, and the people fandom focuses on. I’d like to offer you some optional extra credit as well, to get a good taste at the good – and the bad – of what fandom can offer.
The story of the infamous MsScribe. MsScribe was a prominent figure in Harry Potter fandom around 2003. Her story is sordid, long, and entertaining in a “I can’t believe this actually happened” kind of way.
“For Women of Color, the Price of Fandom Can Be Too High,” article by Angelica Jade Bastien. This article is a pretty ugly look at the more toxic aspects of fandom, which are important to understanding the impact fandom has on actual human lives.
The Big Questions we’ll be considering on Wednesday:
- Is fandom portrayed generally positively or negatively in the homework we discuss?
- What does fandom add to the conversation surrounding a piece of pop culture?
- What, if any, responsibility do creators have toward their fans?
- Why is fandom relevant? Why should we care?