Are you afraid to call yourself a “fan”?

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural Convention, San Francisco December 2017

Honestly, what first comes to mind when you think of “fans”? There’s really so many ways you could answer this and you could get into trouble with whatever you said. You might picture 13 year old girls crying over One Direction, or overly enthusiastic sports fans rioting in stadiums when their favourite soccer team doesn’t win, or how about the “nerds” who camp out for Star Wars tickets. It’s true isn’t it? Whether our views on such things come from our parents, friends or the media, we’re quick to judge and assume when it comes to fandom. If a grown man says he loves Star Trek or plays video games, he’s automatically called a nerd or geek. When a grown woman says she loves Supernatural or reads Fifty Shades of Grey, she must be a lonely cat lady. But the truth is, that fans come from all walks of life, all nationalities, and can be aged anywhere from 10 to 100. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to being a fan. And everyone is a fan of something.

Fan: a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular person or thing

Sounds harmless enough right? So why do so many of us deny being a fan of something? Why aren’t we taken seriously when we say we love a particular movie, tv show or celebrity? And when I say love, I mean REALLY love. You know the love that turns into “googling/tweeting/binge watching/losing sleep over” love! It seems more acceptable to be a fan of a sports team or classic literature, than say a Marvel movie or comic book. The word fan is actually derived from Fanatic. Which by the way is “a person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for…” Or from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning “insanely but divinely inspired“. Ok, so that’s true. Is that the reason we’re so quick to say that we aren’t a “fan” for fear of being seen as crazy, weird, or told to grow up?

But let’s face it. If it weren’t for the fans, actors wouldn’t have a career. Well some would, but they certainly wouldn’t be as popular. If it weren’t for the fans, movies, tv shows, comics, anything at all, wouldn’t get made. The fans buy movie tickets, dvds and merchandise, which goes towards the popularity for said thing. Most recently Marvel’s Black Panther crossed over the billion dollar mark with worldwide ticket sales, all in just under a month! Think of how boring life would be without the fans. Without all the comments, opinions, criticism, appreciation, commentary, tweets, tumblr posts, fan art, fanfic, videos… The Excitement. Passion. Love.

Why in general are we told to calm down when it comes to talking about something we are so passionate about? Ok, so movies and the fandom life are not a “life or death” situation. Whether Rick Grimes survives on The Walking Dead or not, life will still go on the next day. He is a fictional character after all. But at the same time we become so strongly invested in these shows and characters. Our mind doesn’t know that he’s not a real person. We still become emotionally attached. We still feel sad when a character dies or a show ends. So in saying that, if tuning in to The Walking Dead each week makes you happy, then by all means keep loving it and enjoying it. Talk about it. Get excited. If something moves you, if it gives you a reason to get up in the morning, then embrace it. Keep buying those comic books. Keep going to those conventions. There’s so much negativity and sorrow in the world as it is, without constantly being told each day that we aren’t allowed to love something or do something that makes us happy.

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you’re alive.” – Hafiz

What do you think? Are “fans” or “fandoms” in general taken seriously? And are you afraid to say you’re a “fan” of something for fear of what others will think?

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