Saturday, 18 May 2013

Fangirling: What it is; Fandom Wank

Which came first, fangirl or fanboy (fanboi)? I have only ever been involved in fangirling, and this dating back to the beginning of the Harry Potter films (though I was a fandom of one for many others, the HP Fandom was where I walked the walk and talked the talk with like-minded women.) Fangirling is, in a word, fun.

It's been a long time since my teen years, but who doesn't want to relive some of the silliness and the innocence and curiosity of that time? Fangirling to me, is like that. It's innocent and simple fun, promoting characters you love in a setting that's comfortable and where you're not as likely to be judged harshly (except by those outside the fandom and there's always a risk of "fandom wank" rearing its ugly head, but these aren't the norms.)

I was also in the Lord of the Rings fandom and had a very nice time there among folks who truly adored Tolkien (some were in their 40's or older and it was cool because in fandom, we're all equals), some who just adored the movies, some who adored Elijah Wood and others who adored Legolas (me!). I wrote fanfiction (yes, I wrote a couple of horrible Mary Sues for LOTR that haven't seen the light of day since 2003 at least), I even met up with a local group who dressed the part and joined them at the movie premieres. I entered a contest sponsored by and won a boxed set of LOTR illustrated by Alan Lee. Life was good.

Over in the HP fandom, I'd written many more fanfics under a pen name stolen from a character I'd created some years before. The fangirls in HP could be very wanky if you weren't careful, and there were a few BNF's (Big Name Fans) who "earned" that title on word of mouth for their stories. One of them who shall remain nameless had created one set of scribblings for LOTR which I very much enjoyed, and another trilogy of stories for HP which I found disappointing and which were rife with plagiarized quotes from pop culture  movies, and TV shows. How she became a BNF is one of those things called "herd mentality." When you enter the fandom, her stuff is rec'd and you sort of have to like it because everyone else does. If you don't like it, you're accused of being jealous or what have you. Anyway, instead of the fandom railing against this woman (though some tried to), she toddled off and insisted that lifting multitudes of direct quotes from other sources without citing them was not plagiarism, and then she plagiarized her own works and sold them to a big name publisher and is now on the best sellers list. I guess the herd mentality is just unstoppable. No one even cares if she's done something legally and morally wrong, but you know, I knew a very nice girl who wanted to "succeed" in the HP fandom so badly that she lifted a couple of paragraphs from some romance novel and added it to her fanfic. She was lambasted and left the fandom in disgrace, never to be heard from again. Seriously, I never heard from her again, and we usually chatted together regularly.

That this kind of thing can happen and the parties involved be treated so completely differently is a riddle. Why is it that one woman can rip off dozens of sources and not only get away with it but be defended by the multitudes (and a lawyer to boot) and given a book deal and now have one of her shitty books made into a movie, and the other woman was vilified and had to slink away into a corner?

Herd mentality. Lemmings. Sycophants.

Fangirling on its own is quite nice if you're not doing it expressly for an audience (as I feel the formerly unnamed BNF was.) If you're writing fanfic just because you love a book or movie or TV show and just don't want it to end, or want to see things happen that you know just WON'T (like you know, Harry and Draco kissing or something of that nature), then fangirling is a fun outlet for creativity.

What does fangirling entail, anyway? It's not just about writing fanfic, because not all fangirls like writing or want to write. Some might be artists, some writers, some observers and readers, some might make fanvids and mashups. Some just want to revel in the world that's been created to enjoy, a place for fans to come together and create friendships based on stuff they share.

I have friends I met in the HP fandom and we're still talking, writing, and sharing letters today. We are on LiveJournal, on Facebook, on Twitter, and so on. Sometimes we're in email. Sometimes we're in snail mail. And sometimes we've met face to face. We send Christmas presents, birthday presents. We're there for each other. None of us are BNF's in our fandom, but who cares? It's not about fame, anyway. At least not for most of us.

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