Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Diagnosis of a Type C Fangirl for the Understanding of Society

      Recently, I've noticed that there are some misunderstandings when it comes to devoted fans. Some people that I've associated with have been downright rude about the things I choose to love and are not afraid to voice their opinion on how strange that makes me. I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I came to the conclusion that non-fans may not understand what goes on in the mind of a Fangirl, and that may lead to the comments. I'm tired of the jabs at my obsessions, so I decided to take a few days and write an essay on the subject. Whether or not you are a devoted fan, reading this may benefit you. Yes, it's long. What can I say? I got passionate. 

The Diagnosis of a Type C Fangirl for the Understanding of Society

               Let it be known that the first draft of this essay was written in the pages of a beloved TARDIS journal, which is a replica of the journal owned by River Song that the Doctor gave to her so they could keep track of each other's timelines.

                Don't know what any of that meant?
                That's just fine.

                Understood every word that I wrote?
                That's just fine as well. 

                The only difference between a fan and a non-fan is how involved a person let's themselves become. 


                There are three main types of Fangirls.

                First off, I’d like you to know that when I say “Fangirl”, it’s a title that generally encompasses all genders. That’s just how it seems to work.

 Type A: Fan enjoys book/movie/TV show and casually reads/watches [fandom] when they have time and moves on with their life in between doses.
Type B: Fan has attachment to [fandom] and finds joy in discussing plot points, theories and characters with other fans. Fan watches/reads on a semi-regular basis.
Type C: Fan has integrated [fandom] into daily living. The attachment to [Fandom] has become so strong, that the fan begins to think in quotes and references and becomes obsessive. This is the point of no return.
    All three of these types of Fans are perfectly fine. It’s not strange, it’s not weird, and it doesn’t deserve to be looked down on. I, myself, am a Type C Fangirl. I am not ashamed to admit that I have a major obsession with three TV shows and quite a few book series. Let it be known that there is a reason that I have let myself become as attached as I am to these fandoms. Quite simply, it’s because they’re good. They are amazing, well written and teach great life lessons that I have hung on to and will continue to for the rest of my life. For most people, being a Fangirl isn’t a phase. It’s a life-long choice that we embrace with every fiber of our being. We can’t help it. It’s what makes us who we are and we enjoy it. Type C Fangirls, especially, are generally considered crazy, obsessive, overly emotional, and highly protective. These descriptions are accurate, but are not, I repeat, are NOT a bad thing. I’ve had way too many strange stares, eye rolls and direct comments about how I need to “calm down with you fandom stuff” or “get a life and come back to reality”.


That is not what you say.

Not ever.

My purpose for today is to give you the diagnosis of a Type C Fangirl for the understanding of society. I only want to help explain why do what we do, and why we’re so passionate about what we love. I don’t ever want to be called strange for simply enjoying something that makes me smile. My hope is that it will make life a little easier place for both fans, and non-fans alike. Harmony will never exist if one side is constantly ridiculing the other for what they do.

One thing that many people don’t realize is how impactful a fandom can be to certain people. There is a difference between saying, “Yeah, that was a good episode,” and calling up a friend immediately afterword to frantically discuss character choices, plot points, parallels, and make gifsets to exploit the subtext that you know is there to show the whole world WHY it was such a good episode. Why shouldn’t we? It gets our minds turning, it creates or strengthens friendships and it gets us excited.  Creates friendships? How on earth does something as silly as a simple TV show or three hundred page book do something like that? One of the most rewarding experiences that a Fangirl can have is casually slipping in a fandom quote, reference, or inside joke into daily conversation and watching as someone’s head jerks up sudden recognition. Discussing the show or book with another fan that is just as crazed as you creates a link between the two that is forever an unbreakable bond. Some of my closest friends are the ones that are in my same fandom.

 I like thing. You like thing. Friends.

                “It’s just a TV show” Or, “It’s just a book” are never good things to say to a Fangirl. It will not make our attachments magically disappear and sayings like those will never, ever help. When a chapter ends, or an episode ends, or an entire series ends, so does a little part of my life. Those characters, and the trials that they were put through, were so much more to me than a source of entertainment. They are a part of my family and I am never going to give them up. For every new fandom I join, they simply move over and create room for more members of my band of misfits. They each bring in their own problems, insecurities and imperfections that I relate to.

When they learn, I learn.

When they laugh, I laugh.

When they cry, I cry.

I have been with them every step of their journey and I will continue to be with them until long after it’s ended. I would think that most people have cried over a fictional character. You don’t even have to be a Type C Fangirl for this to happen. Anyone who has read the “The Deathly Hallows” at least once has probably had tears fall for some beloved characters that you have known since book one. But reasonably, all logic defies it. We have feelings for things that don’t exist. Characters that aren’t real. People that will never be real. Our mind knows that these people are works of fiction and yet we pour our heart and soul into their stories. It makes no sense and we still continue to subject ourselves to the tears, angst, and sorrow over and over again. However, the good comes along with the bad, and a Fangirl will ecstatically do a happy dance alone in her room when two characters finally kiss, or finally achieve their potential. It’s completely unrealistic that I let myself become this attached, but I do, time and time again.

“. . . Nerds like us are allowed to be un-ironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
                                                -New York Times best-selling author, John Green

                It’s not strange at all to become this attached. It’s a phenomenon that just happens. When people look at me like I’m crazy for simply being enthusiastic about something that makes me happy, I wish I could let them know how phenomenal it feels to have gained this attachment.

                Truths that I have accepted:

I know more about how Dean Winchester’s mind works, than I do most of my friends.

I know more about how to fly a TARDIS through the Time Vortex, than how to drive a car on the freeway.

I have more spells memorized, than I do phone numbers.

I know more about deducing a person, than I really care to.

It’s because these things matter to me. They have made an impact on my life in ways that you may never know. I have chosen to invest myself in these fandoms, and by default, I now have these pieces of information stored away.  This is not weird to me. It’s just life, and I don’t appreciate people ridiculing it.

Being a Type C Fangirl also helps develop talents. Three talents in particular: Art, writing, and video editing. While I’m rubbish at drawing, I participate in writing and making videos. I enjoy doing them and developing them. One form of art that I believe wrongfully gets a bad name is fanfiction. Fanfiction is where an author takes the show/book and takes all of the creative liberty that they want. They create scenarios that they wish the characters could go through, or change plot points to their desire. Some of it can be extremely badly written, but that’s how the amateurs start. One of the best things about Fanfiction is the ability to practice your writing skills. It’s a lot easier to develop your writing technique when you don’t have to create entirely new characters. You can have already existent characters play off of each other however you want. There are some beautiful fanfictions out there. Many times, there has been a beautifully crafted work that has demanded I stay up late into the night, reading and staring at a screen as tears streamed down my face at how perfectly the author was able to manipulate my emotions. Authors like that have pure talent and I am privileged to be reading their works. The most amazing thing of all about these Fanfiction authors is why they do it. They’re not paid. They’re not well known. Most people have no idea who they are. They write because they enjoy it. With almost no payoff, these writers continue to do what they do for the sake of being a part of something that means a lot to them.

“Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.” 
                                                                      -Novelist Lev Grossman

 It is part of the privilege that comes with being a Type C Fangirl. You get to create and let others freely enjoy your hard work. I don’t regret a single minute that I've spent creating or enjoying the work a Fangirl. Not only does it help you learn more about the characters themselves, you also learn a lot about you. I know that my writing has greatly improved since I started experimenting with this type of writing, and I’m grateful for that. 

The absolute best part about being a part of a fandom (or many fandoms) is the profound life lessons that you learn. This is the part where most non-fans laugh. They don’t think that there is anything remotely complex in “that weird British sci-fi show with the aliens” that I watch or no possible deeper meaning in “that scary show with the two brothers who hunt monsters”. But there is so much depth to everything that I love, that you wouldn’t know unless you’ve tried.

Life lessons that my fandoms have taught me:

Doctor Who:
·         Anyone can be a damsel in distress . . . but everyone can be a hero.
·         “Nine hundred years of time and space, and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.
·         "There is no indignity in being afraid to die, but there is a terrible shame in being afraid to live."
·         There's no point in being grown up if you can't act a little childish sometimes.

·         Family comes first, no matter what
·         "If you're gonna have faith, you can't just have it when the miracles happen; you have to have it when they don't."
·         “Family don’t end with blood.”
·         When we shut out pain, we shut out everything else too.

·         There is always more to people than you originally think.
·         “Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.” “No. Friends protect people.”
·         “In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is King.”
·         “Family is all we have in the end.”

Harry Potter:
·         Good will always conquer evil in the end. You may have a hard journey to get to that point, but it will happen.
·          “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
·         “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
·         You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

This is why I am a devoted Fangirl. This is why there are thousands of devoted Fangirls. These fandoms mean so much to us through everything that they teach us. They put us through thick and thin, they rip out our hearts and stomp on them, they make us cry in despair and shout for joy, they make up believe that we can be more than we are. . . .and we love it. Being this devoted is not strange. It is a way of life. So next time you think that someone is a little out-there for being “un-ironically enthusiastic about stuff”, just remember that it’s the privilege of a Type C Fangirl. We’re not strange, we’re not to be shunned, but we may try to convert you. We just really love what we love.

I am a Fangirl because fiction affects me in ways reality never will. 
I am a Fangirl because I learn from everything that I invest myself in. 
I am a Fangirl because I have passion. 
I am a Fangirl because I love what I love. 
I am a Fangirl because I choose to be.
I am a Fangirl because I am human.

None of those reasons are worthy of ridicule. 

I regret nothing. Nor will I ever. 

-Michaela Labit

If you made it this far, THANK YOU FOR READING. You rock!