You might be wondering, “what on earth is a fandom!” Well, you wouldn’t be the first to be confused. Actually, it wasn’t until last year that I fully understood what a ‘fandom’ was and was definitely shocked to realize that I could be called a very minor ‘fangirl’ myself (I do love my Harry Potter and Star Wars!)
Loosely defined a fandom is a subculture connected with a book, tv series or graphic novel that comprises of fans that feel a very strong connection with the characters. Fans that feel a sense of empathy or camaraderie with the characters tend to develop communities devoted to talking about their chosen topic, almost the point of obsession. It is interesting to note that some of the more popular fandoms are:
- Harry Potter
- Lord of the Rings
- The Hunger Games
- Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.
These are just a few of the many fandoms available to today’s avid readers, gamers or social media types. Although being involved in a fandom is never seen as overly negative, it does tend to collect such adjectives as nerd and geek. This does not, however, seem to bother the members of the fandom. Some argue that they have found a subculture in which they fit and are able to relate to people through. There are many images that proud fangirls or fanboys can display on their social media sites to show other fangirls or fanboys their level of devotion. So is this level of obsession healthy?
Amanda Marcotte wrote an article looking into this obsession titled Your pop culture is not a sickness (2012). In this article she recounts the findings of Phoebe Riley’s investigation into this particular obsession. The investigation focuses particularly on a Doctor Who fandom and suggests that:
fandom[s are] flagged as an obstacle for living your life and developing your relationships with others
The article goes on to state that fandoms are often used as a distraction to our real lives. Therefore, by continuing to obsess over these fandoms, whatever they may be, we can increase our chances of becoming emotionally stunted and unable to connect with people that are not a member of our fandom.