Fandom is focus. Fandom is obsession. Fandom is insatiable consumption. Fandom is sitting for hours in front of a TV screen a movie screen a computer screen with a comic book a novel on your lap. Fandom is eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome and not enough exercise and staying up way, way past your bedtime.
Fandom is people you don’t tell your mother you’re meeting. Fandom is people in the closet, people out and proud, people in costumes, people in T-shirts with slogans only fifty others would understand. Fandom is a loud dinner conversation scaring the waiter and every table nearby.
Fandom is you in Germany and me in the US and him in Australia and her in Japan. Fandom is a sofabed in New York, a roadtrip to Oxnard, a friend behind a face in London. Fandom talks past timezones and accents and backgrounds. Fandom is conversation. Communication. Contact.
Fandom is drama. Fandom is melodrama. Fandom is high school. Fandom is Snacky’s law and Godwin’s law and Murphy’s law. Fandom is smarter than you. Fandom is stupider than you. Fandom is five arguments over and over and over again. Fandom is the first time you’ve ever had them.
Fandom is female. Fandom is male. Fandom lets female play at being male. Fandom bends gender, straight, gay, prude, promiscuous. Fandom is fantasy. Fandom doesn’t care about norms or taboos or boundaries. Fandom cares too much about norms and taboos and boundaries. Fandom is not real life. Fandom is closer than real life. Fandom knows what you’re really like in the bedroom. Fandom is how you would never, could never be in the bedroom.
Fandom is shipping, never shipping, het, slash, gen, none of the above, more than the above. Fandom is love for characters you didn’t create. Fandom is recreating the characters you didn’t create. Fandom is appropriation, subversion, dissention. Fandom is adoration, extrapolation, imitation. Fandom is dissection, criticism, interpretation. Fandom is changing, experimenting, attempting.
Fandom is creating. Fandom is drawing, painting, vidding: nine seasons in four minutes of love. Fandom is words, language, authoring. Fandom is essays, stories, betas, parodies, filks, zines, usenet posts, blog posts, message board posts, emails, chats, petitions, wank, concrit, feedback, recs. Fandom is writing for the first time since you were twelve. Fandom is finally calling yourself a writer.
Fandom is signal and response. Fandom is a stranger moving you to tears, anger, laughter. Fandom is you moving a stranger to speak.
Fandom is distraction. Fandom is endangering your job, your grades, your relationships, your bank account. Fandom gets no work done. Fandom is too much work. Fandom was/is just a phase. Fandom could never be just a phase. Fandom is where you found a friend, a sister, a kindred spirit. Fandom is where you found a talent, a love, a reason.
Fandom is where you found yourself.
http://hesychasm.livejournal.com/187818.html (via copper-girl)
Given the ultimate research goals of this project, I thought it would be beneficial to end the blog with this piece. Written by a fan, about the nature of fandom, it describes the experience of participating in fan-related activity; the good and the bad. It also illustrates the diverse nature, the wide range of people who are drawn to participatory expression of fandom. Given the sheer number of notes of this piece on Tumblr alone, I think it is fair to say that many fandom-active individuals feel that this represents their experience to some degree.
When I first began to put together ideas for this project, I have to admit I had certain preconceived notions about what my research would uncover. I have had a Tumblr account, and have followed various fandom-related blogs, for almost a year now, though I’ve always been more of a bystander. I had my series that I liked, and had no idea how extensive the world of fandom was on Tumblr. All I knew was that every time I logged on, I was blown away by the artistic expression I saw on my dashboard, and I wanted to understand how it came to be that Tumblr had come to pull together so many talented young people.
I have realized over the past few weeks, reading through the responses of those who graciously took the time to complete my survey, and spending hours looking through various tags in an attempt to find examples I could use to illustrate my observations, that the real story here is the art itself - it’s about the people creating it and sharing it.
The responses to my survey illustrated that Tumblr is home to a group of dedicated and passionate fans. These fans coalesce into tight-knit, if imperfect, communities and at least some of the youth that participate in these fandoms find real value in aligning themselves with others who share their interests. As a result, these respondents expressed genuine positive effects in their lives, including an increased feeling of confidence in their knowledge and abilities and an increased desire to share and create pieces of art.
While it’s clear that Tumblr is not the first forum to facilitate fandom, it does represent what some might see as the future of fandom - a multimedia-friendly interface that allows for simultanous sharing and discussion, as well as social-media integration in the form of friending and following . The community that is being built on Tumblr does not seem to be an extraneous part of the lives of those who exist in it. Indeed, according to the responses I received, it seems to be fitting in to a larger part of who these fandom participants are. They seek to express their affection for the series they find that in some way reflect issues they face in their own life. They use Tumblr when they are away from their computers on their mobile devices. They cite real, solid friendships forming as a result of their participation in these communities. And in some cases, they are finding new modes of expressing themselves by opening up about their interests online.
The ultimate goal of this research was to determine, to some degree, whether online participatory fandom encourages or inhibits artistic and individual expression in youth and young adults. By polling a sampling of adolescents and young adults who have had experience in fandom throughout their teen years, I gathered data that provided some level of context as to what a group of users have experienced. By drawing from these responses and illustrating my observations with reblogged pieces of art and expression from various fandoms represented on Tumblr, I hopefully made a case for the idea that fan communities online help young people to bolster their artistic and expressive urges and develop their talents and identities.
Thank you to everyone - artists and fans alike - who participated in this project. Please, feel free to reblog or comment on any post made on this blog! Your input will only help to continue the discussion about fandom online.
1. Kopytoff, V. (2011). "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter." New York Times.
(Source: gointorosedale, via bridgeisburning)