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May 19 2005

Fan fixation - an escape from reality. A somewhat sympathetic and perceptive look at fandom. Buffy, Star Wars and U2 fans all get a mention.

Everybody is a fanatic of something. To deny that fanatics are part of the "real world" is completely retarded.
Yeah, nobody ever talks about the fanaticism of new parents. I'm serious, young professionals who suddenly turn into nappy-discussing freaks. How about non-smokers. Or even hikers (like my parents), who can't stop talking about their hikes and how you should really join them. They're as obsessive as anyone in fandom.
Heh, that all hit a little too close to home.
Stand outside a college stadium on any game day and you will realize how much more sane and intelligent scifi/fantasy TV/film fans are than "real world" sports fans (apologies to those that are both but I think you get my point).
Oh spot on Caroline!

RpgAction - To be fair to the article though I didn’t feel that it suggested that fanatics are not part of reality – more that they (we?) are seeking a way to escape it. I’d have to own up to that from time to time. I don’t necessarily see ‘escapism’ as a dirty word despite the connotations it may carry.

As for the overeager new parents (and other examples) surely many are, [*cue fantatical comment*] as Wesley said of Illyria, 'overcompensating' or 'posturing' when they suddenly realise the reality that they’re facing.

*ducks before being accused of bitter, bitter sour grapes*

ETA - just realised much of what I said was unneccessary given the way Simon has summarised the article in the phrase that forms the link - oops!

[ edited by purplehazel on 2005-05-19 15:02 ]
Escapism sure plays a role, but that’s only half the story.

I would actually argue that fandom in many cases it is a way of coping better with reality or making sense of reality and even of changing the status quo, all of which has also been alluded to in the article.

Becoming a ‘fan’ ie being touched by a piece of art deeply, whether it is music, writing, painting or performing is a totally common human experience. Art makes us think of ethical values, of ways of seeing the world and, because art is also political, about changing the world. Sport isn’t just about watching your team win, it’s about leadership and teamwork and promoting skills and all that stuff.

On top of that, I understand what the article is saying about pop culture but really all this is as old as the world. If you think about it, we are just replacing what our ancestors did thousands of years ago with dances and stories and cave paintings and songs praising great hunters – promoting skills, sharing common human experiences in a group and creating communities with shared values. Only now we do it over the internet and we can choose what we want to be interested in. (I do have to say that sometimes reading forums one is rather fittingly reminded of the limited communications skills of cave dwellers).

It is only an issue if it becomes obsessive and destructive as is the case with anything else in life – alcohol, sex, work and on and on.

So big yeah to fandom, nerdom, geekdom.

Better than organised religion in my book any day of the week. No offence intended if you are religious, that is just my opinion.
Long-time reader, first-time poster. Hello out there to everyone at Whedonesque!

Great article...just two things I have problems with. First of all, the writer doesn't seem to realize, even though she associates the words, that the word "fan" is nothing more than an abbreviation of "fanatic." This is why I chuckle when someone says something like, "I'm just a casual fan." So, you're just casually crazy about your team/band/show, are you?

Second, there's this gem from the Buffy fan:

"The morals of the show are ones that I live by, but only in theory, not in practice...It has this kind of concept -- there's no such thing as good and evil, it's all relative, it's all gray. So that's how I see the world."

No evil in Buffy? I agree that there's quite a bit of gray area, but no evil? Fantastic then. I'm sure that Angelus, and the Mayor, and the Master, and ad nauseam weren't really evil. They were just misunderstood.
For me, maybe 'fan' is an abbreviation of 'fanactic' but regardless, I don't really compute them to mean the same. I'm a fanactic when it comes to Buffy/Angel, but on the other hand, I'm a fan of Alias, and Lost. I love Lost and Alias. Never miss an episode, but at the same time, I couldn't tell you any of the actors names, the writers or the episode names for that matter. I don't over analyze either show, and I don't go out of my way to gain information about them either, via internet or any other way. So, when someone tells me that they are a casual fan of something, I totally *get* it.
Couple of explanations which might be useful:

"The term fan refers to someone who has an intense, occasionally overwhelming liking of a person, group of persons, work of art, idea, or trend. The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889, a shortened version of the word fanatic in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team.

(Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1525, means "insane person". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired". The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place (Latin fanum, poetic English fane). The modern sense of "extremely zealous" dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650.) Although modern "fans" sometimes display irrational or uncritical admiration, most resent any association with the more extreme term fanatic"

Or:
"Fan: 1889, Amer.Eng., originally of baseball enthusiasts, probably a shortening of fanatic, but may be influenced by the Fancy (1807), a collective term for followers of a certain hobby or sport (especially boxing). There is an isolated use from 1682, but the modern word is likely a new formation.

Fanatic: c.1525, "insane person," from L. fanaticus "mad, enthusiastic, inspired by a god," originally, "pertaining to a temple," from fanum "temple," related to festus "festive". Current sense of "extremely zealous," especially in religion, is first attested 1647. The noun is from 1650, originally in religious sense, of Nonconformists."
miranda, your comment reminded me of the Onion article last week, in which the new religion, "Fictionology" is gaining against "Scientology" The link is here Should you be interested. It's largely Off-Topic, but, very funny.
a 'fan' of something has always been considered 'obsessive' but that's so not always true: there are many levels of fandom and I've been through many! Including, travelling across the country to go to a convention lol!

In my opinion, you've gotta be a highly dull person if you've never participated in any fandom.
Fan is an abbreviation of the word fanatic, but the use of the word fan has changed it's meaning in popular culture. Just like 'fat', 'sick', and 'bad' can be used literally, or in the 'cool' way.
I don't necessarily think 'obsessive' when someone tells me they're a fan of something.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel fanatic about Buffy (and my children!, Caroline, you are 100% right about new parents, they're all crazy). I also call myself a fan of other shows/movies/actors, but I don't want to know every single thing about them.
There are many degrees of fandom, from the person who says " I enjoy watching that show, I'll try and remember to watch it next week" to people like me, who has lived in Joss's attic for the last two years, only coming out when he's out to use his PC. (So THAT'S why he and I have never posted at the same time!)

The point where people worry me is whan their fan duties take precedence over normal, daily, life. I read that some people standing outside the court with the Jackson trial have not only given up their jobs but one woman has left her dying-of-cancer mother to be there.
k8cre8 - thank you, that is a very funny article (I emailed Tom Cruise but somehow he didn't seem to agree. Don't know why.)
Glad to pass it along. I'm sad Tom didn't find it funny. Maybe he's concerned that Fictionology is some nefarious, leftover plot of Xenu.
Tom Cruise? Miranda, you're serious? That's hilarious. You should try John Travolta too. I live just two doors up from a scientology celebrity center. They have tables out there sometimes, trying to get people in for free peronality assessments. There's a portrait of John Travolta and his wife in the window. They are lifetime members.

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