Conventions, Collections, and Obsessions: A look at Fandom

– Marco Brasil, staff

There are so many things in the pop culture world that people tend fall in love with. Stereotypically, we think of people who are huge fans of something to be nerds and when we think of committed fans we think of a nerd who may be obsessed with Star Wars or Star Trek.However, not all fans fit into the geeky stereotype and not all fandoms revolve around outer space adventures. Fandom has taken center stage in pop culture through things like TV shows and movies, conventions, fan fiction, and collectors.

The popular TV show Big Bang Theory attempts to show fandom in a positive light by placing its characters in humorous scenarios, like when they dress up as superheroes or spend time at a comic book shop. We find it funny when they play Klingon boggle or go out of their way to get Stan Lee’s autograph, even if it means Sheldon winds up getting a restraining order. But The Big Bang Theory isn’t the only show highlighting fandom. Shows like That 70s Show and Community have characters like Abed and Fez who each spend an entire episode dressed up as Batman.

Committed fans may attend conventions like Comic Con, Fan Expo, E3, or Anime North. At these conventions cosplay is popular and rampant among participants. Cosplay is the act of wearing a costume and accessories to represent that person’s favourite character. People dress up as everything from superheroes and supervillains to video game characters, animals, and Pokemon. Conventions aren’t just a place to roleplay, they are also a great way for fans to meet people with similar interests as them. It is not unheard of for two people who met at ComicCon to fall madly in love and get married, as shown in TLC’s “Geek Love”. These conventions also offer the chance to meet icons in whatever field a fan participates in, from creators to actors, many important players may be in attendance.

A part of fandom is collecting things related to what you are a fan of.

The characters in The Big Bang Theory have a Batman cookie jar, lightsabers, comics, costumes, and pretty much anything else you can think of related to Star Trek or Star Wars. As a fan of Super Mario and superheroes, I have a Spider-Man bobblehead in my room, a giant Star Wars cup and many posters on my walls, which makes it easy to see what my favourite TV shows and video games are. Collecting has been taken beyond the extreme by a man in the UK named Glynne Williams who owns a collection which contains more than 30,000 “The Simpsons” memorabilia and a couple who have spent over $150,000 on 240 sex dolls as documented by TLC’s “My Weird Obsession”.

Fan fiction is another branch of fandom, and is one that is widely spread across many different areas from superheroes to hockey. Fan fiction is simply fan-created stories which other fans, or anyone, can read. Many create sub-plots or relationships that the writer wants to see played out that may not actually happen in the movie or TV show. “I kind of just stumbled upon fan fiction. And once I started reading it I was hooked. The appeal of fan fiction is that you can change or alter the events that happened in your favourite books, TV shows, or movies. It’s also a good tool for people who want to eventually publish books of their own because it helps them hone their writing skill,” says Nicole Gascon, a third year at Laurier Brantford. “It’s a great imagination tool and I like being able to read characters that I fell in love with in a certain fandom in different ways.”
Some fan fiction can be pretty G-rated but some can border on just plain kinky.

One author writes, “I was pretty drunk when I agreed to do it, but the moment those cuffs clicked shut, I sobered up pretty quick and started panicking and getting all these crazy thoughts. Like he was some psycho who was going to torture me to death and bury my body in the desert. Or that he’d fuck me bareback and give me AIDS. Yeah, so that wasn’t any fun at all. Drew didn’t say anything in response for a while, and I was worried that I’d given the impression that I wasn’t willing to do it with him because of my bad experience.” This particular story is about Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, and that’s just one of many stories of its kind.

Fandom is nothing new, but as technology has expanded, it’s allowed fans from all over to meet each other and share their fantasies about their favourite things. The stereotyping of fandom, from nerds who like Star Wars to puck bunnies who watch hockey, has made it taboo to be even a little fanatic about anything. However, this common interest can also create unbreakable bonds and lasting friendships, something we all want regardless of what we love.

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