Fangirls, Fanfiction and the Family of Fandom
Fangirl. A cliche compound that I stumbled upon about three years ago whilst rekindling my love of Harry Potter. There are many stereotypes of what a fangirl should be; a squealing, hysterical, emotional mess of a teenager who spends most of his or her (yes there are fanboys out there- they’re just a lot more discrete!) time in her bedroom on either Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and/or Youtube whilst not having a social life and generally hiding from the world in general.(Just so you know, I am guilty of all of those things- this is hopefully not going to be a judgemental post!)
But maybe I am a fangirl. Possibly. Maybe I am because I love the sense of community and family that comes across when finding other people who share your passions and understand your dreams. Maybe I like bumping into a girl going up to the library one day and sparking off a conversation about George Blagden’s cover of ‘I will follow you into the dark’ with certain lyrics changed (In revolutionary school, as vicious as Musain rule… need I go on?) that lead onto deep conversations about the West End production of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, who I ‘shipped’ in Victor Hugo’s novel, the joys and pitfalls of Tom Hooper’s 2012 film and the ridiculousness that is Marius Pontmercy that somehow transformed into a discussion on ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and someone to sit next to in English Literature lectures.
But being a fan of something is so much more than that. For me it is sharing my writing on fanfiction.net and getting probably some of the best feedback I’ve ever received on characterisation, plot development, my over usage of adjectives etc and meeting some of the nicest, most genuine people ever over the Internet who want to help me develop as a writer and share in the fruits of our labour. People who want to laugh at a ridiculous piece of fan art depicting Joly, Bossuet and Grantaire or cry over a fic describing Enjolras coping with Combeferre’s sudden amnesia after a protest went wrong or hold each other (metaphorically speaking) on 5th-6th June because it’s Barricade Day and I’m just scratching the surface of the Les Miserables fandom here because that’s the one I’m most comfortable with although there are many, many more!
Being a fan of theatre or anything for that matter doesn’t mean that you turn into a squealing mess or give up your life for tumblr or something like that overnight. For me at least it means being welcomed into a huge, multi-limbed family of people, many of whom I will never meet, but will always feel a small, warm glow of happiness when I publish something on fanfiction.net and know that somewhere; possibly way across the Atlantic ocean or even just across the border, I will be giving another reader the chance to indulge in the beauty and love that is fandom.
Being a fan means being welcomed into a huge, multi-limbed, global family of people who are dedicated to their passion and wish to share their creativity and love for what they do; whilst at the same time leading a normal life; holding down a job, battling the stress of school and university, living their day to day lives whilst all the while knowing that somewhere in the vast wide world of the Internet, there are people out there who want to read their head cannons on how ridiculous Marius Pontmercy is, or want to watch a video on the love triangle between the Phantom, Roaul and Christine and see their fan art on what the next Potter generation looks like.
Being a fan and being part of a fan site- be it Twitter, Tumblr, Fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own or even Facebook is so much more than just posting something and getting a few reviews, likes, follows, favourites etc back. It’s the knowledge that your work and other people’s work actually means something to someone half way across the world; that the ink you put on paper, or the words that tumble through your brain and into your fingertips, or the tears and sleepless night you have over a piece of writing because it just won’t work are something that people want to spend a few minutes of their normal day looking at and hopefully appreciating. It’s the knowledge that there are people out there who really care for your work and will always be there; at just a few clicks of the mouse away, if and when you need them.
Don’t give up on fans and marginalise them into a closet of silent, anti-social nerds who do nothing more than sitting at a laptop all day. Embrace their work, laugh with them, cry with them and throw yourself into the ridiculous world of fandom- I promise you it’s really worth it!
Phoenixflames12 xxxx 🙂