Fandom Culture: An Insider's Guide To The Lure of a Passionate Fanbase
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
A fandom, by Wikipedia definition, is “a subculture composed of fans characterised by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest”. By Urban Dictionary definition, “hell.”
Think of this: Thousands of people wandering around one or two giant halls. The halls are full of independent artists, figurine vendors, merchandise stalls, people dressed in full armour, outfits that barely cover skin, widely beloved actors and actresses signing an autograph for Darth Vader. And you’re smack bang in the middle of it. Watching this other world go by. That’s the power of a fanbase.
A fandom, by Wikipedia definition, is “a subculture composed of fans characterised by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest”. By Urban Dictionary definition, “hell”. Fandom culture tends to be one of the most nerdy things you could get involved with, but over time it has become relatively mainstream. Don’t get me wrong, you will still probably be bullied, but we’re far past the days of Hetalia and Homestuck. Dear God. With the rise of the MCU, or Star Wars and ESPECIALLY the existence of ‘Stan Twitter’, fandom culture has started to plant its deep roots in our society.
Take what I mentioned earlier. ‘Stan Twitter’. What does that even mean? Well, Twitter is a popular social media site, we all know that. The word ‘Stan’ though, that’s a whole different matter. It’s derived from the classic Eminem song of the same name. It’s about a frantic fan of Eminem called Stan driving himself to insanity over his letters being ignored, and eventually driving himself and his girlfriend into a river to drown. This fanatic obsession of something or someone is what coined that word, and now its used to describe a whole crowd of twitter users. People calling themselves ‘stans’ of a character, show or actor, communicating with each other based on what or who they ‘Stan’, it’s actually quite beautiful to see. It’s a brilliant light into the world of fandoms.
One portion of Stan or fandom twitter I’ve been very involved in lately is ‘Jojo Twit’ composed of fans of the hit anime ‘Jojo’s bizarre adventure’. Its also held together by a’ discord server’ where the members can communicate more effectively. There’s always a few figureheads, the ones that everyone follows. In Jojo Twit, this goes for @GHIACCIO, @jolyemes and @josukeluvbug to name a few. These users are the ones most seen on the timeline if you follow anyone in jojo twit. And for good reason, they have incredibly good content and humour even if it’s not totally related to their favourite show.
Of course, with every amazing thing, there is a horrible thing lurking behind it, and fandoms are no different. Ship wars, harassment, toxicity, an obsession with being the least problematic. Anyone who’s not deemed valid because of the smallest thing could be witch-hunted and driven to the extreme to get away. A cult following means a cult hive-mind after all. And when thousands of people you thought were friends come against you, the whole world could crash down. One incident includes at a convention, when a Steven Universe fan artist was given cookies filled with needles because they drew something considered ‘problematic’. Genuine story.
Speaking of conventions, to lighten the mood, conventions are a fandom members heaven. Out of the eight or so conventions I’ve been to, every single one has been incredible, what I would call The Greatest Days Of My Life. I could recall every moment of walking down each aisle, each section, adjusting my cosplay and admiring artistic craftsmanship on every corner, laughing with new friends wearing just as extravagant costumes. Cons have it all. It’s a mesh of what’s usually only online, right there for you. Many long time online friends have finally been able to meet because of the existence of comic conventions and anime conventions.
The atmosphere at cons is just as beautiful, with the odd exception. When I cosplayed Kenny McKormick about three years ago, I dropped my wallet and it was instantly returned to me, given by a fellow con member. Which is a theoretical miracle, since money is a sacred source at conventions, which are synonyms for a wallet black hole. You will spend a lot of money. So to see a con member not take advantage of another’s misfortune and return the money is telling of how genuine these people.
Again though, with every good thing there is a bad. Cons are no different. One of the best and most infamous examples of a bad convention is Dashcon, a convention for users of Tumblr. Instead of telling you about how catastrophic that convention was, here’s an image straight from the con hall:
That should really say everything about it.
Fandom culture is a beautiful thing, yes. It can bring friends together, establish community, give people the opportunity to flourish in their talents and share them with their intended audience. But there is always a dark side, a side no one should ever fall into. Keep your wits about you, and your favourite show may just have a community to welcome you with open arms.