Fandom Culture and What It Means
Being a part of a fandom is an experience a lot of people miss out on, mostly because a lot of people have little idea of what it really means.
The term fandom can be derived from the idea of being a fanatic, or fan, of something; most often a television show, movie or movie franchise, book series, celebrity, etc. The purpose of being in a fandom is to connect with content relating to a person’s specific interest and then discuss this content with other fans online. These fans are often also called “stans.”
Fans a part of a fandom often cause the fandom’s work to trend on social networks. They can attend conventions to showcase their dedication, or they can purchase merchandise to integrate fan culture into their daily lives. These fans also create fan art, fiction, magazines, videos, edits, products, and more devoted to their fandom and share their creations with other fans.
There are also many different places to express interest in a fandom and take part. Fandoms exist on every social media site like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. There are blogs creating content hourly, like GIFs, memes, text posts, etc. The first step people have to take to join a fandom is just support what they are interested in, and then, if they want to, join the fandom culture online through a fan account. Being a part of a fandom means going beyond a casual interest in the content.
Fandom culture cannot be explained simply or easily, but there are some basics to being a part of any fandom. Most people who do not partake in fandom culture may not know this, but “shipping” is generally one of the biggest parts of any fandom.
“Shipping” people together means liking their relationship and taking a special interest in creating content or supporting the relationship. Whether it be celebrities or fictional characters, “shipping” is a huge part of almost every fandom. This often leads to “ship wars.” “Ship wars” cause a lot of controversy and discourse among fans. The biggest or most common examples I can offer are Edward vs. Jacob in Twilight or Peeta vs. Gale in The Hunger Games. However, this occurs in many fandoms and often can lead to many debates or full-fledged arguments.
Another part of fandom culture that has been introduced more recently is “cancel culture.” “Cancel culture” is the idea of “cancelling” a public figure or, in other words, considering a celebrity problematic and thus rendering them irrelevant. While this part of fandom culture may be necessary to call out many famous people on the actions they take, like supporting inequality or discrimination, it can be a little overwhelming at times because many people get “cancelled” over mistakes they have owned up to and apologized for, even after showing that they have changed. However, this is an important part of fandom culture, as problematic media and statements should be brought to attention.
As hard as it may be to understand, being part of a fandom has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Growing up online and taking part in many different fandoms over the years, I have earned a lot. The internet can be a great teacher, and it has opened me up to knowledge about all genders, sexualities, races, religions, and countries. Fandoms often get into heavy discourse about the characters from a show or the relationships in a film. These discussions have shown me a lot about equality and privilege, as well as abusive relationships and mental illness. Because of my time in a fandom online, I have learned so much about the world that I have not particularly learned from anywhere else. It may be a unique educational experience, but I have gained a large amount of knowledge about different topics through being apart of a fandom.
I have talked to many people with the same interests as me, whether it be a show, a celebrity, or something else. This community of fans helps bring people together and often makes others feel less alone through a shared love for something. I have talked to people all over the world and formed friendships, but it is important to note that I exercise internet safety and do not give out personal information online. This process can feel a lot like online dating, where people must be cautious of the people they meet but at the same time, it can be a fulfilling experience and lead to many friendships.
Being part of fandom culture is like being part of any community. It is similar to a club for people with the same interest. It has shown me a lot about the world and given me a place to express my interest in a lot of different music, literature, film, and television. “Fandom culture” might seem confusing to a lot of people, but the gist of it is easy to understand: it is a place in which people share their love for a certain topic and get to express themselves without judgment.