Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thoughts On... Fandom

I look around and I see, read, and hear everyone around me talking about how they are fans of this thing or that show. But, very few people stop to think about what exactly they are saying when they use the word "fan". Because very few people ever really think about the origin of the word "fan" and the meaning. "Fan" isn't really a word, it's an abbreviation. Of what you may ask? It's an abbreviation of the word: Fanatic.

Think about that for a moment. The word we casually throw around to say we have an interest in something originates from a word that is very closely associated with insanity. What’s amazing is how accurate the term is in the way we apply it to ourselves.  I can’t count how many times I’ve seen (either in person or on television) people lose themselves in their interests completely.  I mean to the point of completely disregarding family, friends, even work.

Now, I am a passionate person, and anyone who knows me can tell you, dear readers, how my interests can consume me at times. While it may not seem like it outwardly, there are always limits to how far my passions take me. Because I know there is a line between my life and my interests. I don’t dream about living in the world of my favorite shows, or dress up as my favorite characters. With the shows I watch, that would be tantamount to suicide! I don’t hunt down every single piece of information about the celebrities (actors, musicians, etc) I like. You won’t see me decorating my house like the lair of some video game or movie villain.

Why? That’s simple: I don’t care.

I don’t care who is sleeping with whom on the set. I don’t care that some musician said something to some reporter about some actor they ran into. Or that this person was caught kissing that person in this place which is “oh so scandalous” because they are in a relationship with someone else. That is just fluff & nonsense to me. It’s crap.

What do I care about? The future projects my favorite celebrities are going to be working on. Their thoughts and opinions on the subject matter they’ve chosen to work on. The reasons they decided to work on a given project, or why they left.  And, of course, the ACTUAL SUBJECT MATTER they’re working on. Most of the things I’m interested in usually gain my interest because of a key philosophical point in the subject matter. Others gain my interest because they are sufficiently complex to distract me from the problems in my life for a little while.

I have had discussions for hours on end about tv shows or books that I’ve read. And while from the outside, it might seem on the same level as the people I’m critiquing at the moment, it isn’t. Because these discussions serve a purpose, they flesh out my beliefs in my head. They allow me to challenge my worldview in situations that I would NEVER encounter in my life. When will I be battling ghosts, demons or angels? When would I need to interrogate a terrorist? When would I need to get into the mind of serial killer? I wouldn’t. But getting a glimpse of that life, even a fictionalized version of it, helps me expand my knowledge of myself. It helps me figure out what I really believe, and why I believe it.

In the end, I am not a fan… I am an enthusiast or aficionado if you like. A buff or geek, even. But a fan? Not on your life.

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