Snowflake Challenge #2 - How Came You to Fandom, Old One?
The second challenge: "In your own space, talk about your fannish history."
Huh - well, I looked at my welcome post for the first challenge, and realized that much of my fannish history was there. (Here: take a look at what I wrote for my #1 challenge/welcome.) That's in large part because I can't talk about my life without talking about fandom. It goes well beyond merely saying that I like this book, that television show, this or that genre.
But I was inspired by melagan, who in one sentence really said it all - "I make no bones about it. I love fandom. It's like this big balloon of love that just keeps getting bigger." It brought into very clear focus why fandom is so central to my life. It's love. It's family. It gives to and (I hope) receives from me.
Figuring out fandom is a bit trickier for me, because I come from a time - distant, with the shadows of allosauruses and pterodactyls in its foggy depths - where fandom wasn't a term that obtained to one book, show, or (set of) movie(s)., but to the general community of people who loved science fiction and fantasy. I've moved into an understanding of the more modern definition, and have jumped in with both feet to online fandom, where that latter definition has flourished. Despite that, I still have roots in the older fandom. I like to think I can operate in both.
With both those definitions in mind, I can return to my central thought, of love and family. For me, fandom is both the set of bricks and the mortar with which I build the life house of myself.
There are other bricks. My blood family is dear to me, as dear or more, than my chosen family (a gift I know so many people have had to live without and for which I'm eternally grateful.) It's another set of bricks without which I can't build my house. My chosen field, reporting, has also been important construction material; so has my deep and abiding belief in the union movement and, increasingly, my political beliefs.
But really, my two families, blood and fandom(s) old and new, are the central pillars and the bricks that build the house that is my life. At the same time, those families exist within the house, nourishing me and warming it.
And now that I've beaten that metaphor quite mercilessly, let's show some mercy and leave it alone. Ahem.
A quick note about SFF itself.
I've loved the world of make-believe, one of the ingredients in SFF, since I was four or five. I've loved science fiction and fantasy ever since I could find the books to read and, later, the shows to watch.
Why? Science fiction and fantasy invite me to see the weird and wonderful beyond every closed door; new planets, new worlds, new concepts, but all tied to exploration of the universe, the human mind, and the human heart. In some ways, it's like this, only in a much broader sense than simply Dr. Who.
Fandom is a different love, though. I've loved general SFF fandom ever since I discovered it back in 1977. I loved it in real life, when I went to general science fiction conventions as often in a year as my pocketbook allowed. I loved it when I went online and haunted message boards - first, more general SFF boards and later boards dedicated to SFF shows - discovering friends there, too.
And I went back to a comment I made in 2010 over on LJ, to someone who didn't understand Doctor Who fandom. That person told me it cleared things up for them. Here it is, and of course it's wordy.
What this fandom, or any fandom, provides, is a group of people who share one's love of something, a group that goes beyond the admitted general pleasure of having friends enjoy it — because they might enjoy it, but not share your deep love of contemplating it.
Think of it this way: fandom is a gathering of people who enjoy like-minded things — and in our society, that takes place with far more groups of people than simply fans of genre cult shows.
Herpetologists and amateur lovers of snakes and reptiles gather to share their love; amateur stargazers and professional astronomers do the same, and can get quite intense about it. Lovers of mystery writers (in general or in specific) give awards, but consider the time they spend together socially at conferences even more valuable.
What are pet shows but a fandom of sorts? Lovers of Austen novels, wine aficionados who go on tours with friends they've come to know through earlier winery tours; carnival glass fans who get together to hear scholarly discussions on this or that manufacturer of this 1930s style glass, and then share both their own thoughts on the glass and news about their families ....
Fandom is simply a subset of society and, just as one gets out of society what one puts into it, one can get out of fandom what one puts into it. I get friendships with people who like what I like — and who have other likes and dislikes that I might discover. I get companionship, I get (again, this rant notwithstanding) substantive and challenging discussions about, for example, the show I love. I wouldn't get the latter in society at large because most people are default dismissive about DW.
The same obtains for other types of fandoms: star gazers seek out each other because if they want to talk about the joy of watching an ancient supernova in one corner of the sky, which they've watched make minute movements over the space of a week, they need to talk to someone who appreciates that joy. And they're not going to find that in general society unless it's by accident.
Society is a searching out by people for company and shared hearts. Fandoms of all kinds are simply a sharpening of that focus by people sharing a specific set of interests. And within that fandom, small or large as it may be, lies multitudes.
Yep. Wordy and pretentious. How can I boil it down?
The people I've met - creative, quirky, steady, weird, fighting challenges, making their worlds better, loving unreservedly, generous, witty, curious, some as mainstream as I am, others from marginalized communities, who are gloriously forcing the world to pay proper attention, who showed me so much about the world around me that I didn't know before. People who've shown me a better way to move and act in this world,way beyond just within a fandom. Artists, commentators, makers of new things, magnificent humans.
The things they have done - helped each other, materially and emotionally; helped me; allowed me to help them.
The things they've created - that goes without saying, all you artists, writers, and commentators.
So that's fandom for me. And now I'll shut up.
* Oh, and the acronym on the cut? It's from general old SFF/skiffy fandom. Fandom Is A Way Of Life. Isn't it just?