Fandom and the Emotional Connection

It doesn’t matter what fandom you consider yourself to be a part of, at some point or another I will bet good money that you have heard the phrase “oh my god, FEELS” or some variation. (Please note, I’m not actually betting anything here because I am skint.) This phrase – or variations thereof – generally means that due to the product of the media the fandom has arisen around, they have been overcome with a wave of emotion.

Fandom has a way of doing that to people, giving this deep emotional connection with the people who find themselves drawn into it. These emotions manage to spread the whole range, and it’s often thought if your media isn’t giving you ‘feels’ of some kind? Yeah, it’s doing it wrong, you ought to look into that. I guess the question we need to ask here is how it’s able to do that.

Generally speaking, we connect to characters who we can relate to. And yes, I am aware how much of a huge generalisation this is and that it isn’t always 100% accurate, but I’m going somewhere with this so bear with me a moment or two. We connect to a character, and with them we experience highs, and lows, and good times, and bad. We can become protective of this character, wanting only the best for them.

And thus enters shipping. Let’s gloss over it quickly. The only time it is worth arguing about a ship is … well, never. General rule of fandom: every ship has fans, and it’s best just to let them be. Now, logical reasoning as to why you personally dislike a pairing, that’s fine, but it’s best to keep the outright hating to a minimum, and just try to ignore it. Unless it’s canon. Then you might have issues.

Shipping is a good example of the emotional connection that fandom is able to give its participants, though it’s not necessarily the only example. It’s just that, well, face it, every fandom has shipping. Find me one that doesn’t. I’ll wait. No, seriously, if you can find one, comment and tell me, I’m interested to hear.

When you get involved in a fandom, it’s ultimately because you have had an emotional response to the media in question, enough to make you interested to see what other people thought. This is a good thing, people! Being emotionally invested in a show or book or whatever format your fandom of choice comes in is not – as some might think – a weird thing. No, it’s actually pretty run of the mill and it’s been going on for centuries. (No, seriously, it has. Just look at the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing – Benedick and Beatrice were beloved by audiences, and even turned up in other plays, like Sir William Davenant’s The Law Against Lovers)

What’s my point, I hear you ask by now, clearly tired of reading through my rambling thoughts. My point is this: fandom is designed for people to share their ‘feels’ with other people, who are probably having similar ‘feels’. We are all connected, in a sense, by the emotional reaction we have to any particular media. It can be positive, negative, or just plain insanity, but it’s a connection, and it can help lead to fantastically brilliant friendships. Media is designed for consumption, and for emotional responses to be had.

So let yourself react, people. Just remember; someone else is having the exact same reaction as you.

Z. McAspurren
(Was having ‘feels’ over a never-going-to-be-‘canon’ ship while writing this. Thank gods for fic.)

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3 Responses to Fandom and the Emotional Connection

  1. me says:

    Could you please do an article on the rampant racisim in fandoms especially in the Merlin, Dr Who and True Blood fandoms. These are for the most part white girls and some Asian Americans usually teenagers or in their early 20s who have such a level of hate, that is outstrips mere fandom and must come from their real lives. This needs to be looked at and although I’m asking you I know it will not be done as it’s the nasty side of fandom but these racists need to be called out. You should ask them why they are the way they are and why they find is so hard to watch people who aren’t white on the TV or in film. I know you won’t do this article but I thought I’d would ask.

    • We can’t say we’ve really seen much evidence of racism in these fandoms ourselves, although we’re sure the problems do exist. However, your comment makes a lot of assumptions, both about the people at the root of the issue and, I’m afraid, about our ability to track them down and get them to talk!
      As you acknowledge, it seems that the attitudes you’re referring to spill over from other aspects of people’s lives; it’s not strictly a fandom issue and really, we don’t feel that we could do such a subject justice. While we have no problem covering the downsides of fandom – our tips for using social networking sites with celebrities was heavily influenced by the negative behaviours of fans – we are wary of getting into topics that are way beyond us. Giving racism the thorough examination it merits would take a very long time and we would want to do it well!
      That said, we can’t rule out the possibility that we might one day touch upon such a subject if we feel it needs addressing from a fandom perspective. At the moment, however, we simply don’t have the data or evidence to proceed.
      Thanks for getting in touch, and we hope you feel we’ve addressed your request fairly. -Ed.

  2. me says:

    ‘At the moment, however, we simply don’t have the data or evidence to proceed.’
    Take a look at any fandom with a black character in the show or film, it exists despite your pretending it does not. As I said before in the fandoms for Merlin and more recently The Hunger Games. However, I did not expect you to touch the subject and I’ve been proved right.

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