For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by what can be accomplished by a group of like-minded people. As a kid, my two big likes were Duran Duran and the Chicago White Sox. While I liked individual musical artists as a kid, there was something special with bands. I know that I could not really analyze that as a kid beyond the fact that different band members appealed to different fans. I now know and understand that it is WAY more than that. As for the White Sox, I watched how the team came together to win. I liked the camaraderie. When there was a lot of it on the field, the games were more fun and there was a greater chance of a win. This fascination with the power of groups did not stay behind in my childhood. No, in fact, during my undergraduate years, the focus became social movements. This interest combined my study of history, political science, sociology and women’s studies to give me a focus, an academic area of interest. Now, as an adult, this strong interest remains and found a new example. Fandom.
Fandom is all about a group of people with a shared interest who come together. It is about a lot of people who are passionate about the same thing, whether that is a band, a sports team, an actor, a TV show, a movie, a book series, etc. This passion creates a desire for people to want to share their thoughts and feelings with each other. That in and of itself is pretty super cool to me. I think about the Duranies I know. There are countless Duranies who live all over the world who all love the same band so much that they talk about them and participate in activities and events connected to this love. It is amazing, really. Yet, at times, fandom goes beyond that. It is when members of a fandom accomplish more than just creating, maintaining or growing a community surrounding their mutual interest. Then, fandom is able to garner attention beyond fellow fans. The members do more. Just recently, I have seen two very good examples of this.
First, I saw such an outpouring of grief and love about David Bowie from bands, artists, celebrities and individuals. Yet, I also saw people who came together to not only grieve but also to celebrate him as well as seen by this video posted on Facebook. If you read through the comments below the video, you can see how the people there felt that this was an awesome way to deal with the loss of David Bowie. Others who weren’t there felt the same. I know that I would have a similar desire to be with Duranies if something were to happen to one of the guys in the band. I could not deal with the loss alone. I would NEED to be with Rhonda, at the very least. I would want to be around others who understand. I would also want the rest of the world to see how much the band member was loved. This is what fans of David Bowie did. In case the world didn’t really get the love for Bowie by his fans, after seeing that video, it would have been crystal clear.
Sometimes, fandoms are so strong that fans are able to affect the object of the fandom’s future. Probably, the most well-known and significant example of this is Star Trek. The fans of Star Trek were not satisfied with the few short years that the original series was on television. They kept the show “alive” by having conventions, writing fan fiction, and more. Eventually, Hollywood took note and resurrected the show with movies beginning in the 1980s and more Star Trek TV shows following that. A TV show that I am a big fan is going through something similar, which is the X-Files. The show ran for 9 seasons and even had 2 movies get made from the show. Yet, the franchise saw the end after the second movie in 2008, or so it was assumed. Now, the show is coming back! In fact, new episodes begin in a week! Many say that this would not have happened if there weren’t fans still interested! In fact, I would say that there are many fans still around who are VERY excited. Some lucky ones were able to see the first episode already as seen by the video below:
These fans remind me of how many of us felt after seeing Duran Duran reunited after so long. Would Duran Duran have reunited if there weren’t fans who were still interested in seeing the Fab Five back together? I suspect not.
These recent examples prove to me, once again, that united groups of people can be truly amazing. They can express emotion in a much bigger, much more significant way. They can accomplish so much more than any one individual can. This is the power of fandom. It should also be the pride of fandom.