As part of my major project for university I have to write a contextual essay explaining how a Harry Potter magazine will fit into the market. As such I’ve decided to make my main area of study fandom.
I wrote an essay on it last year and managed to blag a first (I’m not even being modest here, I seriously thought I was getting a third or a 2:2 for it). My first thought of it was that it was an incredibly boring topic. But then I delved deeper into it, I discovered more about the whole culture of fandom and how it was treated by the media and found myself offended.
It was rather unfair, if you’re a man and a fan of football you’re branded a hooligan, if you’re a woman and you can often be found waiting at the back of a venue to encounter your favourite band you’re considered hysterical. However if you are of a much higher class and enjoy opera and classical music you are respectable and instead of being called a fan you are an aficionado. You’re neither a hooligan or hysterical because you remain calm and composed, you don’t express your emotions through any other way than a polite smattering of clapping.
But isn’t the whole point of fandom your emotions? Isn’t it about the community that comes from discovering those who share your love of the subject?
Everybody is a fan of something, in a way it’s encouraged from childhood. Children not only watch Thomas the Tank Engine but they can buy magazines about it too, they can buy toys and DVDs. Fandom follows us through life, it might not always be about the same thing, after all once you hit a certain age you don’t really want anything to do with Thomas anymore.
But you move on from that to sport or to films stars or musicians or even books. You go from being a lone fan to discovering an overwhelming amount of people who share your passion. At a football match the people that surround you are your community, even if it’s only for ninety minutes, together you celebrate or commiserate, only they can understand the emotions you go through because they go through the exact same thing.
As anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows, I’m a fan of Harry Potter. The community I’ve encountered is astounding. There’s something quite special about being crammed into Trafalgar Square waiting hours on end for a chance to catch a glimpse of Dan, Emma, Rupert or Jo. There might be people who saw it on the news who’d think ‘why the hell would they put themselves through that?’
Yet it didn’t matter how much it rained, it didn’t matter how much our legs hurt or if we were slightly battered from the crowd. What mattered was the fact that we spent the day with 8,000 people we had something in common with. What mattered was the fact that we made friends with people from all over the country and, in fact, from different countries. What mattered was that just a few feet from us stood our childhood in the form of Jo and the people chosen to bring all those characters to life.
Going back to the emotion of fandom, we all cheered with each other. We all chanted ‘thank you’ at Jo as she gave her speech and we all cried together when the stars bid farewell to the last ten years of their lives. These are experiences we would never give up and are proud to have.
I fail to understand the negative connotations attached to the word ‘fan’. People who go beyond the boundaries and stalk a person aren’t fans, they’re just deranged in my opinion. Fans help each other out yet the media never seems to want to report that, they prefer to focus on the negative and turn fandom into a bad thing.
Half of the fun is meeting the stars, but the other half is meeting people like you.