A Beginner's Guide to Fandom: A Fangirl's Perspective

{September 3, 2009}   My beginning as a fangirl

Have you ever heard of a Star Trek convention and thought, “I wonder what they do at those things?” Or maybe you’ve heard those kinds of fans are pretty weird and said to yourself, “Those people can’t possibly be normal- can they?”

I was once that person who looked at fans and thought, “I have no idea what that world’s all about.” Then, I started going online to look for things to read about my favorite TV show. I found insightful commentary, colorful characters and inspiring creativity. I was hooked.

The idea of fandom is that a group of people come together to celebrate a book, movie or TV show they care for. They talk about what makes it good, they speculate on what could happen or might have been, and they take what authors have given them to create their own artistic visions of the show. In the process, they enrich their own and others’ creative experiences with the material they love.

From an outside perspective, fandom can be intimidating. I was certainly unsure of myself when I started exploring what fandom was all about. But the more I saw, the more I was fascinated with this unique subculture. Are there ‘crazy’ people? Of course; there are a few nuts in every group, after all. In general, however, I’ve found most fans to be a group of passionate, fun-loving people who put a lot of time and effort into a hobby they love. Do fans engage in weird behaviors? By some standards, yes, but almost any group of people will do something that others see as strange.

Here in this blog, I’m going to outline some of the basic parts of fandom for the uninitiated. I’ll be looking at things like fan-created works (including fanfiction), the communities that fans build with each other and certain behaviors standard in online fandom that differ from behavior elsewhere. Much of my experience is with the fandom for the TV show Supernatural, a smaller show on the CW network about two brothers who fight ghosts and other monsters from American urban legends, but I’m also familiar with other fandoms. (I should note that fans aren’t always exclusive; they can be in several fandoms at once.) My goal is to make the idea of fandom less intimidating and foreign and to explain how it works for those of you who know nothing or only a little bit about fandom.

By many standards, I’m still a rookie in fandom. Despite this, I’m proud to call myself a fangirl, and I hope my experience helps you have a better understanding of what it means to be in a fandom.

et cetera