There’s quite a few things in the world that are close to my heart. Today’s topic is one of them.
For some people, it’s just a strange word that they’ve never heard of; for other people, it’s a way of life.
According to Wikipedia:
Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.
have fascinated me for a long time, and I’ve definitely been part of several over the years. The internet and online communication platforms have enabled fandoms to grow beyond anything anyone ever expected.
Over the past week, I’ve spoken to many people who are heavily involved in multiple fandoms, and they all expressed a fondness towards the sense of community and belonging you can get from being part of a fandom; the ability of connecting with like-minded people with similar interests, who might live on the other side of the world. In fandoms, you’re able to form genuine friendships based upon a passion for (in some cases) a single book or film or whatever it may be.
Fandom has existed for centuries (thanks to the Sherlockians), but for me, the internet and online interaction is what truly brought fandom to my attention.
Although the internet has forever changed the face of fandom, online fan communities are also still constantly evolving. I’ll be discussing Tumblr in more depth next week, but in the world of fandom Tumblr has become an incredibly important platform. The micro-blogging website and in particular its search and tagging features have made it a lot easier for fans to find other fans or new fandoms to explore, and also for inter-fandom relationships to form. (I’ve never seen any of the Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes, but thanks to Tumblr, I could probably tell you a fair bit about it. Something about weeping angels?)
However, before the days of Tumblr and tags, there were fan websites like Mugglenet, established by then 12-year-old Emerson Spartz, because he was bored and liked Harry Potter. What grew from a simple love for what was then a best-selling book series, was something that no-one could have predicted. (This is the part of the post where my Harry Potter fangirl comes out, a lot.)
Commercially speaking, the Harry Potter franchise is ridiculously successful. Its overall worth is estimated at $15 billion, and it stems from books and films to merchandise and an ENTIRE THEME PARK. Fandom-wise, Harry Potter has one of the most extensive and passionate fan bases I have ever encountered.
The thing about being a fan of something is that usually, you’re not motivated by financial gain or selfishness. You like something because it makes you laugh or cry, because it entertains or inspires you, or perhaps because of the things it has done for you. Across the internet and across the world, you can find people thanking J.K. Rowling for saving their lives with her book series about the boy wizard. Harry Potter is a fandom that, like the original book series itself, is based upon love conquering all. For the fans, it is the love of Potter that makes them eternally part of a special community, a group of people who understand what it was like because they went through it too.
Fandom also empowers fan involvement in content, whether it be blogging on Tumblr, writing fanfiction or maybe even a fan musical or two. Somehow, your life can go from being a casual fan of something to being entirely consumed by it. Before you know it, you’ll be on Tumblr for hours arguing with shippers and writing in ALL CAPS about all your fandom “FEELS”.
As with anything, fandom definitely has its negative aspects. Being dedicated to a singular fandom can definitely make you fiercely protective of that group (like when Harry Styles began dating Taylor Swift and the Directioners declared fandom war on the Swifties and vice versa … I wish I was joking) and in some cases, this can make its way to the mainstream media.
Some people can seem a bit too dedicated to their fandoms (google the Larry Stylinson conspiracy, if you don’t believe me. Go on, I dare you), but generally, they are simply looking to share their passion. The thing about fandom is that it’s something that will always be there for you, even if you forget about it sometimes.
Do you have any particular fandoms you’re involved in? Or do you find them to be full of crazy enthusiastic people who should stay on Tumblr? Let me know in the comments!