Friday, May 8, 2009

Holy Fandom, Guys!

I guess I took April off.

Apparently while I was gone, I acquired two new followers. Awesome! Hello, new followers!

I want to write a little bit about fandom.

I was geeking out about Harry Potter with my friend Taylor yesterday. She's writing a fanfiction and I was helping her pick out names for some original characters, and it made me start thinking about my own dabblings in that fandom and others, and why we get so attached to these worlds that don't exist and why that's important, because I feel like it is, even though I still haven't figured out why, exactly.

I was deeply entrenched in the Harry Potter fandom from the release of Book 5 to the release of Book 6 so... *checking Wikipedia* from June 2003 to July 2005. Though, in memory, it seems like it was longer.

I joined livejournal communites and roleplay forums, and was briefly a mod in one. I drew pictures. I read and reviewed fanfiction. I dressed up for book and movie releases alike and Wizard Rock concerts. I even started a very inconsistently drawn webcomic. A real life friend of mine who was similarly obsessed spent an entire day with me trying to figure out an anagram for a contest whose prize was a picture of a trophy.

A page from my inconsistently drawn webcomic.
(Click to enlarge.)

Mostly, however, what I did was write a lot of very, very bad fanfiction. My magnum opus was a 93,944 word long Draco/Hermione story called "A Perfect Day to Elope" that makes me throw up in my mouth a little every time I look at it, now.

I remember starting the first chapter sitting in athletic study hall my freshman year (I wasn't athletic in the least but I did have walking pneumonia which apparently was incompatible with gym). It was supposed to be a four chapter farce around England featuring those crazy Harry Potter kids. Then it sort of... exploded. Somehow, I was still writing it two years and thirty-five chapters later and by that point, in Chapter 35, I could barely even remember what had happened seven chapters earlier let alone at the beginning of the story. There was a lot of inconsistency, a lot of slapstick comedy, and so many flashbacks that it sometimes seemed more like a collection of disconnected short stories than a cohesive thing.

In Chapter One, a twenty-three-year-old Hermione receives a necklace as a birthday present from Ron, and in Chapter Twenty-Four we are told she hasn't seen or heard from him in five years. There is a whole scene revolving around a joke about Hermione's make-up. This scene took TWO CHAPTERS of set up to wedge in. There was an entire chapter devoted to Ginny dancing around in the kitchen singing Britney Spears. Seriously.

When I look back at the me who spent her freshman, sophomore and (part of her) junior years of high school writing a hugely overlong story and didn't even bother to have it make sense most of the time, I wonder where her friends came from. Who hung out with that person? Why did anyone like her? There is no denying, however, that the freedom of a chapter-by-chapter story, burdened as it was with a bloated kraken of a plot, and written over several very different years, allowed me a lot of freedom to experiment with what worked in my writing. I now know, for instance, that physical comedy is probably a form of humor best left for television and that there is such a thing as too many metaphors.

Half-Blood Prince killed my interest in fanfiction. When I saw JK Rowling portraying Malfoy as a complex character in his own right but a character deeply different from the Malfoy of my story (who was a card carrying Draco in Leather Pants if ever one existed), I had no interest in having anything to do with my Draco anymore. He hadn't ever existed and I felt, for some reason, that it was rude to treat Jo Rowling's characters the way I had been.

Me + Friends on Deathly Hallows release night.
That is me sitting in the front in the purple shirt wearing what I was pathetically calling a Ginny costume.

But since then I have had other encounters with fandom and I have to admit I sort of love it, as an entity. Last summer I was briefly but passionately sucked into the Twilight fandom, largely fueled by my fury that Jacob would not be bursting into Edward and Bella's wedding and sweeping her away on a motorcycle, as I had hoped. (In fact, I arrived in that fandom pretty much just in time for the Sparkledammerung drama, which was fun.) and recently I've come to wish that the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse fandom was less terrifying as I would certainly like to throw my hat into that arena (but they are still fueled by hormones and nightmares so I still can't. Woe.).

What is it that makes us get sucked into these things? As Fandom Wank will prove, while fandoms may start off as places where people come together to talk about a shared love of a book/movie/band/person/vampire, what they grow into over time can have nothing to do with that original shared interested. The ingroup lingo that grows up in one fandom and then moves over to another as if by mitosis, the fighting, the squealing, oh God, the drama. Why does anyone do it? Why are we not content to like what we like in lonely peace?

The answer probably has something to do with the power of fiction, but I'm just gonna say this about screaming: in any series (and they are mostly series) there are going to be things that make you want to scream, and I suppose we all feel a little less crazy screaming with someone else, loudly and in all capital letters.

And there's also the fanfic.

(tl;dr: Fandom is crazy, but I love it.)


Anonymous said...

You look so gorgeous with long hair! :D Grow it out!

Johanna Jezebel said...

I'm thinking about it. The problem is that that really is just a very good picture of me. I definitely did not look like that all the time and there are plenty of very, very bad pictures to prove it. :-P