In his last podcast, George RR Martin talked about the fact that he is, first and foremost, a fan. Not just a reader (and writer) of SciFi and Fantasy, but a fan. This begs the open thread question: What are you a fan of?
By fan, we mean more than just a passive participant. We mean someone who lives, breathes and creates content. Fill us in on your dirty little fanboy/Fangirl secret.
I’m reading Convergence Culture right now, which talks a bit about “participatory culture” (as they say), and thus about fandom — but I’m not sure what my working definition of fan is right now. I think it’s interesting that you include content creation in your definition. Do you think it’s essential to the role of the fan?
To be fair, I think creating is the easiest distinction. I totally borrowed Martin’s definition.
Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
What does a football fan create to pass the threshold and enter fandom?
Nothing, unless one considers the massive amounts of statistics (and opinions) the football fan (who enters fandom) has as “creation.”
Being a fan of the genre and being involved in fandom may be two different things.
“What does a football fan create to pass the threshold and enter fandom?”
Tom Brady fanfic.
(Don’t google it. Don’t.)
I wouldn’t say creating content is inherent to crossing from fan into fandom, but if a person does create something — a story, a blog dedicated to the subject, a forum thread for figuring out just who Jon Snow’s true parents were — they’re more likely to have done so. I think the phrase Will used, “participatory culture,” might include all those things.
Also, I’m not sure (Brady fanfic smartassery aside) that the criteria for entering into sports fandom would be the same as the criteria for, say, sf/fantasy fandom. There would be similarities, certainly but what is the football fan’s equivalent of Dragon*Con? I don’t think it’s the Superbowl.
Lauren: I’m tempted to say Fantasy Football League draft night, but FF is a different beast.
Also, Tom Brady mancrushes are perfectly OK. Right?
…I write fanfic. Sufficiently dirty?
The scary thing is, I’ve been doing it since I can remember, it’s just in the past few years that I’ve been 1) putting on paper/electrons and 2) aware that was what it was. But I vividly remember inventing Narnia stories at five and, as a Tolkien-obsessed 8-year-old, coming up with various adventures for the sun-goddess who gets a brief mention in the Silmarillion. (Seriously. The devil-equivalent is scared of her. What’s not to like? But I digress…)
Fan fiction/vids/art definitely = fan, and it generally seems to be aimed at filling a void in the source material. Witness the incredible number of romance-oriented ‘fics for action-oriented sources. (Though I’d argue that fantasy sports are fanfic for men. *grin*) Truthfully, I think creation is a part of it, and there’s an interesting corollary of possessiveness. (Just ask Buffy-watchers what they thought of Season Six and why…) In both cases, I think it’s crossing the line from passive consumption to creation that creates a “fan”, and there’s worse things to be.
As a followup of sorts to the fandom=creativity concept, there’s no way in hell I’d still be playing World of Warcraft after three years if it weren’t for the roleplay aspect. There’s only so many mobs you can kill, but Rashona is endlessly fun to annoy. 🙂
Lauren, I’m not sure there’s a proper football equivalent to Dragon*Con, but prior to the ability of the Internet to draw geeks together every day, things like stadiums full of football fans and the presence of talk-radio sports shows were evidence that sports fans are common and nerds were weird. Modern media sales and web-based interactions between fans and creators reveals that both sorts are quite common — but only the football fans had million-dollar stadiums for weekly rituals.
Dragon*Con is just a big damn away game, maybe.
I’m still not sure I’m down with this notion that the threshold to fandom (which is just a noun meaning the state of fanhood) is creation. Plenty of casual fans enjoy — actively and thoughtfully — this television show or that without generating much more than water-cooler talk.
It seems like my criterion for fanhood is much lower than all y’alls’. Is my definition out of date? Is the idea of fandom returning to its roots of fanaticism?
When you picture a fan, what are they doing?
The fact that you WoW folks are so invested in the RP aspects is what makes it downright criminal that you’re playing it instead of LOTRO.
I have a PPC Mac. I can’t play LoTRO. At the same time, I just have room in my life for one MMO (hell, at this point I think I have room for one video game period). As awesome as Tolkien is, I want to read it. I don’t want to play in it. The Azeroth setting is a game world I’ve been playing in, in one form or another, for over ten years.
Make a Strange Legion MMO and watch me jump ship.
Will, you’re not out of date. I think Marty, Mommacow and I are using the word fandom to mean a deeper (more immersive?) kind of fanhood to distinguish from more casual fans. I probably picked it up from the blogs and communities where I spend far too much time lurking. There must be a better term for it, though.
When I picture a fan, they’re enjoying Thing X, probably discussing it with friends who are also fans — at the water cooler, on message boards, etc. They could probably give someone new to Thing X a good run-down to get them up to speed on it so the newcomer could enjoy it as well. That might be in the form of explaining the rules of baseball in general terms, or giving a short synopsis of the plot of Firefly without going into minute details. Hell, they probably own a Thing X tee-shirt/coffee mug/mousepad.
Someone in the fandom goes deeper than that, sometimes writing fiction set within that world, maybe going to conventions, being a more active participant on message boards than the casual fan. Their knowledge around the subject is probably more thorough and they’re also curious about… tangential things? I’m not quite sure how to word that last one exactly — think along the lines of being curious about the worldbuilding that goes into a story, or looking into an author’s biography to see how historical events might have affected the tale.
I apologize for the generalities and the all-over-the-place-ness of my post — I’m trying to whittle down my own definition, but every time I start getting somewhere, I begin finding the exceptions to my own rules. This definitely requires much more thought and audience participation.