Fandom (from the noun fan and the affix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.
Well, that’s a fairly accurate explanation, if a bit bloodless. The thing is, as Spike said in the season 3 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Lover’s Walk, “Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood screamin’ inside you to work its will.” Fandom, above all else, is about love. Sometimes it’s a sick, deluded love that leads crazy people to become stalkers, but it’s still love.
The brilliant thing about it, is that it’s constantly evolving as we (the fans) do the same. With the advent of social networking and Twitter, fandom has exploded, and the lines have gotten blurred. When I was growing up, the people I was a fan of were untouchable. Now, I follow people on Twitter and sometimes, when I mention them in my tweets, they tweet back! The first time it happened, I was in a tizzy for days. I’m still pretty jazzed.
Fandom is quoting lines or lyrics, and spending hours listening to them to get them right. Fandom is reading and re-reading. Fandom is going to concerts. Fandom is studying interviews for someone’s “tells” so we know when they’re lying or when they’re accidentally telling on themselves. Most of all, fandom is sharing your love with someone else.
I’ve been a fan of Duran Duran since the spring of 1985. I wasn’t a part of that fandom until the internet led me to John Taylor’s (now defunct) website TTP and its chat room. Before then, I hadn’t known other fans. Now, I am part of a group of wonderful people who share my love for the band named after Barbarella’s evil sex fiend.
Fandom is, like the internet, a web. I fell in love with Duran, and from that I became a fan of David Bowie, James Bond, and the Harry Potter series, just to name a few. Being a fan of BtVS led me to my favorite author, Jim Butcher and to my current favorite television show, Castle. When we connect with other fans, find out what they like, we look into it. Fandom spreads its tendrils out, connecting along points of commonality like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
What is fandom to you? What is (are) your fandom(-s)? Do you have a favorite quote or lyric you’d like to share?