If you want to get technical, a fandom is defined as: “the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc.” But outside the dictionary, fandoms are generally regarded as more of a community or subculture.
When we think about fandoms, we think about the truly dedicated fans. We think about the cosplayers and convention attendees, the fanfiction writers and podcasters. Casual fans and everyday consumers, while necessary, don’t make up the backbone of a fandom the way these uber-fans do. They don’t belong to the fandom; they just visit it from time to time.
Personally, I’m a fan of many things. I’m a fan of the Ender’s Game book series and the Once Upon a Time TV show and Doctor Who. I like watching The Flash and Arrow and Supergirl. I really enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and the Divergent series and I’d consider myself a fan of Major League Baseball. But I’m not in any of their fandoms.
I am, however, a member of the Harry Potter fandom. For years I reread the books like it was a day job and wrote fanfiction after school. I dressed up like the characters for movie premiers, listened to Wizard Rock in my spare time, and debated the minute details of the series in an online forum. To this day, Draco and Ginny are still my One True Pairing (“OTP”) even though their relationship never existed outside the imaginations of myself and my online friends. So you could say that I’ve always been a really big part of the Harry Potter subculture, even if most of my friends didn’t know it.
In the last few years, I’ve also joined the Marvel fandom. I’d been a fan of the X-Men since I was a kid (the first fanfiction I ever read was about Avalanche and Kitty Pride), but recently I’ve expanded that obsession on a much larger scale. I joke sometimes with friends that I’m like a walking encyclopedia for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s becoming truer by the day. I spend a fair amount of time preparing for the release of each new TV show or movie by reading the comics and doing online research in advance. And after taking in the new media content, I write reviews and do my best to educate others on any screen/source material differences as well as describe the web-like intricacies of the MCU as a whole. I’ve also recently closet cosplayed as some of my favorite characters Rogue and The Scarlet Witch. But I’ll admit that I’m what the Marvel fandom would probably call a “newbie.” I still have a lot to learn!
Above it all though, I’m a proud member of the Whedon-verse fandom. Before he was ever approached by Marvel to oversee the first two phases of the MCU, Joss Whedon wrote and directed some of my favorite series of all time: Firefly (and the accompanying movie Serenity), Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse. His work is filled with female leads who are both strong and vulnerable; they defy the current “Chosen One” female lead trope (like in Hunger Games and Divergent) because they show both sides of the coin. His characters use their passions and their vulnerabilities to make themselves stronger and more dedicated, but his writing and plots also acknowledge that sometimes the challenges are too big for any one person to take on alone – and that it’s ok to fail. Not to mention that his writing is interspersed with my favorite kind of smart, witty humor and banter, too. Joss Whedon has definitely influenced my taste in film, taught me to think critically about what I was watching, and inspired me to take on tough challenges like the leads of his shows: River, Buffy, and Echo. I defend his work at all times, dress up as the characters whenever I have a chance, and bond with any other Whedon-verse fans immediately upon meeting them. We are a niche, but dedicated fandom and I love that we share the special connection of this brilliant man’s work.
So what fandoms are you a part of? Are you a really dedicated Red Socks fan who follows every game and statistic? Are you a Whovian with a shrine to your favorite Doctor on your bedroom wall? Do you memorize obscure Batman trivia or Disneybound every time you use your Disneyland annual pass? What fandoms take over your life? Let me know in the comments down below!