It’s a surprisingly common occurrence. One moment, you’re absolutely head-over-heels in love with a show, and the next minute you realise you have nothing in common with anyone else who loves it. In fact, its fans kind of drive you insane. Or perhaps you like the fans, but you’ve just sold off your entire collection of books from the series you once adored, and have no intention of going back to reading them for a while. Still, all your friends are into it, and you know some artists who are producing beautiful illustrations and artwork for those familiar stories… it would be a shame to lose that, wouldn’t it?
I sometimes see people on the internet saying ‘oh, the fandom totally ruined [that film] for me’. Whether it’s because they have nothing in common with you, because they leak spoilers, or because they have an above-average level of getting uncomfortably personal with the cast or writers, sometimes it can be really hard to deal with fellow fans of something you love. Even if it’s something as small as an in-joke you find annoying, there can be things about your fandom that set your teeth on edge, and that’s OK. That’s allowed. You can feel like that.
Then again, sometimes you lose interest in a show itself but still find its fandom and in-jokes hilarious. I myself haven’t watched my old favourite soap in about a year, but keep up with it by way of a Facebook group dedicated to gently mocking it through the medium of drawing terrible pictures of it in Microsoft Paint. I consider the members of that group to be friends and I’d probably still include it on a list of my fandoms if I ever made one. After a year of not watching the programme I still find myself checking out the new art daily and chatting to people about storylines past, present and future.
At around this point in the article, both you, my dear Wanderers, and the Editor, are probably wondering what I’m getting at. Well, the clue’s in the headline – fandom and the subject of that fandom go hand-in-hand, but they can be separated. You don’t have to be part of the Lord of the Rings fandom to love the books, or the films, or both. You don’t have to reread Little Women on a weekly basis to make friends with fellow fans and chat about the March sisters. You’re not required to write fanfic, or make videos, or get way down deep into the meta, for everything you love. That would be utterly exhausting, wouldn’t it?
Of course, there will be things – hopefully – that you love, and love the fandoms of, and just generally love getting involved with. But humming along to the Les Miserables musical on your way to the shops doesn’t mean you have to get involved in the nearest flashmob of ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’. If you’re a fan of an actor or musician but don’t like how often their fandom publishes candid photos they’ve taken of them on the Tube, you’re still quite free to look up their filmography or discography and adore them to your heart’s content without getting involved in the more personal-space invading aspects of the fandom.
So yes, fandom is great. We at Fandom Wanderers HQ love it, anyway. But it’s not mandatory. You needn’t let fandom ruin your relationship with the media you enjoy, and if you find the thing you’re a fan of doesn’t bring you the joy it used to any more, you don’t have to say goodbye to all your fandom friends. The two can be separated. Hurrah!
Eleanor Musgrove (loves most of her fandoms most of the time)