Lora’s 8 Stages of Fandom

11 Feb

I know I’m not the only member of my friend-pod who suffers from chronic Fandom. Be it a webcomic, movie, TV series, mythos, culture, you name it, there are Fandoms everywhere, and I admit, I’m decidedly a part of them. To name a few, I’m an avid member of the following fandoms:

– Harry Potter
– Buffy/Angel
– Firefly/Serenity
– Doctor Who
– Torchwood
– Chuck
– Repo! The Genetic Opera
– Questionable Content
– Lord of the Rings
– My Chemical Romance
– Star Wars
– Star Trek
– Homestuck

Some of these, Homestuck for example, are recent fandom discoveries, and others like Star Wars have been part of my Fandom life since I was in the single digits of my life-age. While pondering this, I also pondered the steps I seem to repeatedly go through during my discovery and acceptance of a new Fandom into the squidgy hole where my heart used to be. After some more pondering, and eating some cheese, I compiled a rough list of my personal 8 stages of Fandom.

DISCLAIMER: Fandom is not the same for everyone. My coming to love a Fandom is different from many other folks’ journeys. A lot of the principles, however, are the same. So here it goes:

Stage 1: Discovery

“Hey, have you tried reading this comic? It’s really good!”

Discovery comes in many forms for a Fandom. Sometimes that Fandom comes to you through a close friendship or relationship (personal examples: Firefly, Chuck), sometimes through family (Star Wars, Angel) and other times through independent discovery (Doctor Who). Whatever the method, this is where Fandom begins, where the seed is planted and roots are put down.

Stage 2: Casual Perusal

“Hm, I’ll give the first chapter a try…”

This is the stage where the Fandom is explored. For Harry Potter fandom, for example, Perusal involves reading the original books written by JK Rowling. For TV shows, it’s watching an episode or two. For comics, it’s reading a page or three of the archives, and so on. My Perusal of Star Wars occurred when I was ten years old and watched the Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope with my parents. I remember little of the encounter, except that the seat I was given was too low and that it was really loud.

Stage 3: Abandonment

“Meh, I’m gonna go watch re-runs instead…”

Not a common stage, but a pattern I’ve recognized in my fandom journeys is that it takes a few tries for me to get truly invested in a Fandom. Examples of these ‘false start fandoms’ for me have included Harry Potter, Homestuck, Lord of the Rings and Chuck. It says nothing of their quality, just of my attention span. I can be facing the most amazing Fandom in existence, but if I’m distracted by something shiny, forget it.

Stage 4: Re-Occurrence

“Hm, this actually gets good once you get past the early exposition…”

This happens in a variety of ways. Perhaps a friend drags me to watch a movie I previously felt reluctant about. Perhaps I’m bored and my mind wanders back to a long-forgotten story that bears new discovery. Maybe I just didn’t get far enough into it. Whatever the reason, reaching true Fandom requires returning to that first discovery in some manner over a short (or long) span of time.

Stage 5: Devouring

“It’s 4AM and I have to be up in 3 hours but OH GOG I CAN’T STOP READING hlaghlasdghlghlgh”

A melodramatic term perhaps, but it’s the best way to describe the method one uses to absorb the items of Fandom. When a new Harry Potter book emerged, I absconded with it to my room and stayed there for hours, reading and ignoring all distractions. Webcomics kept me up until the sun came up with their storylines and drama. I systematically swallowed up whole seasons of TV shows in less than a week. This is where the build of the material is experienced, where the source becomes realized.

Stage 6: Obsession

“Wow, people actually write Buffy/Torchwood crossover fic?”

Once the material has been devoured, the signs of Fandom become abundantly clear. Perhaps it simply begins with a google search, or a conversation with friends, but before you know it you’re trolling Deviantart and Fanfiction.net to experience MORE of these characters and stories, to interact with others who share your passion. You integrate inside jokes into your vocabulary in the hopes others will notice and engage in conversation with you about your Fandom. The Obsession grows and leads you to new levels of nerdery you’d never consider. Like Shipping. And writing fanfiction. Or even drawing smutty slash art for friends.

Yes, in case you were wondering. I have done all of these.

Stage 7: Petering

“Maybe I’ll read this new book later, after I investigate something shiny.”

Similar to Stage 3. Sometimes the obsession comfortably dies, leaving naught but fond memories of times gone by. Other times they don’t and aspects of the Fandom become permanently integrated into your life, be it through cosplay, purchasing merchandise, or if you’re weird like me and have characters that run around in your head chattering at you constantly.

(Lemme tell you, it’s getting crowded in here with all the trolls).

Stage 8: Lasting Love

“Vriska, you’ve wedged your way into my heart and there you will stay. Even if you are shithive maggots.” *

The final stage demonstrates the staying power of a Fandom. Some are flash in the pan, brief infatuations that fade into the past, but others stay for years, decades even, and remain in your heart to inspire your actions, thoughts and dreams.

*Homestuck reference

So that’s my take on my experience with fandom. Others do it different, some have similar experiences. Whatever fills the gaps in your blood-pumping unit, I’m sure Fandom has helped you the way it’s helped me. Be a huge nerd. >.>

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