Tag Archives: TV show fandoms

But You Have to Make a Choice

For some weird reason, this week featured a number of conversations with family members. On Monday, I spoke with my brother to wish him a happy birthday. After catching up on the basics, the discussion turned towards talking about Star Trek: Discovery and Picard as both of us enjoy the Star Trek universe. Later in the week there was a family intervention to stop my youngest niece from leaving the White Sox fandom. She discovered that her favorite player would not be with the Sox next year so she pondered whether or not she could actually cheer for the team anymore. Both of these conversations combined in my brain to get me thinking about fandom and whether or not there are advantages and disadvantages to fandoms involving music (like mine), like TV/movies (like my brother’s) or like sports (like my family’s). Is it easier or better to be a fan of one over the others?

Sports Fandom:

I know a little about sports fandom as I was born and raised in a White Sox family. This means that we watch games together, we cheer for the team together, and we definitely pay attention to the standings to see if our team has a chance to make the playoffs. I think a few memories might highlight the good parts to sports fandom. Baseball has always been shared with our extended family. As a kid, this meant that we went to games at old Comiskey with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Likewise, after my grandpa died, we did what he would have been doing himself, which was to turn on the game and cheer for the Sox. It helped us get through a really tough summer. Over the years, we have shared magical moments together like when they won the World Series in 2005. When the final out was made, my parents and I jumped up and down to celebrate just like the players on the field right before the phone started to ring with my siblings calling to join in. We were together, emotionally, even though we could not be physically together.

What does all of this tell me? Sports fandom brings people together like the White Sox have with my family. This, in turn, creates shared memories and traditions that can be passed down. My nieces, for example, have grown up as White Sox fans even though they live in North Carolina. Sports fandom is such that it is a constant. Every spring, we know that the baseball season will begin along with the potential of a winning team. A constant like sports can definitely provide comfort as well as a distraction from real life worries. On top of that, it is also the most socially acceptable of fandoms. No one thinks it is weird that my family plans trips around seeing the Sox. All that said, the people connected with one’s fandom does change. My niece is feeling that right now as her favorite player has moved on. We also learn little about the players beyond their statistics on the field. It is far less personal. No one (or very, very few) is reading or writing fanfic about baseball or other sports. It does not allow a lot of creativity or fan production. Then, there is the question of what the heck to do in between seasons or if the team sucks. Do you watch highlight reels of winnings years? While I think you could, I’m not sure that it feeds the soul in the same way as other fan activities might.

TV/Movie Fandom:

How does TV or movie fandom compare to sports fandom? Like the sports fandom, I feel like I have some experience with this. As many of you know, I was pretty involved in the Roswell fandom when the original TV show was on the air (early 2000s). That fandom was good to me as I met some good friends through it. In our case, the four of us met on a message board for the show. Through various posts, we discovered that not only did we interpret the show similarly but we also loved fanfic surrounding it. When we all figured out that we were all in the Midwest, we jumped at the chance to meet in person resulting in a weekend in Wisconsin with little sleep, much junk food and more laughs than I could count. Of course, the show did not last forever. In fact, it was only on the air for three seasons. Yet, our friendships adjusted and remained.

It seems to me that there are two big differences between sports fandom and one surrounding a TV show/movie. First, sports have a much longer life span. While the players and uniforms might change, the team lives on. TV shows and movies usually have a much shorter life span. Of course, there are franchises like Star Trek that carries on past the half century mark, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Still, though, there have been many a moment that seemed the end for Star Trek. Therefore, there is always a possible end to TV shows/movies. While there is always the opportunity to watch it again and again, there will be a point in which nothing new is produced. Maybe, this is where fans enter the picture as they create new stories, videos and art about their fandom. It gives fans a chance to produce something themselves. Yet, I would argue that it is much harder to keep a fandom going once there is no more official product released. On top of that, unlike sports, it is often misunderstood by non-fans.

Music Fandom:

Obviously, we have covered music fandom pretty intensely on this blog since it began nine years ago (!). In some ways, music fandom definitely does parallel TV/movie fandom. Both offer chances to rewatch/re-listen. I think about how TV/movie fandom have conventions that are super popular. Yet, they also have premieres. I think music fandom is pretty cool in that it has concerts, which, to me, is like a premiere and a convention combined. You get the opportunity to see a show for the first time (even if it is not the first concert of a tour as every show is different) and you get the chance to hang out with other fans. Maybe you even get to see the subject of your fandom in person–just like a convention! At the same time, music feels different. While both have the chance for fan productions of fanfic and fan art, one tends to focus on fictional characters and the other is about real people. For me, music fandom allows a really significant escape from reality when you are on tour but has less chance of small moments of escape that can be found with a TV show.

Obviously, I have not thought about every aspect of fandom or how they compare when looking at these three big categories. Instead, I just let my mind wander about how they compare. Clearly, there are similarities with all of them. For instance, they all bring people together or can. They provides chances for escape or big fun moments or times. Yet, there are differences. Some are about real people and the other is fiction. Some have a better chance at continuing through the years than others. Society likes some fandoms more than others. There are advantages and disadvantages for all of them and fandom in general.

What about the rest of you? What sticks out in your mind about the different categories of fandom?

-A

Fandom to Friendship

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a long time.  Instead of my usual grading and campaigning in between household chores weekend, I’ll be heading to Chicago after work to spend time with a group of women.  These women have been friends of mine for almost 20 years.  During this weekend, like most of our time together, I suspect that we will spend a lot of time just lounging in front a TV, watching something completely ridiculous while snacking and chatting.  Maybe we will go out to eat but we might not want to move from the living room.  Sure, I might bring some grading with me but it still will be relaxing as heck.  I’m hoping that it renews me a bit as I finish the first month of work and start moving into the last month of election season.

Where did I meet these people?  Funny enough, we met on a message board (fan forum) over a little TV show, Roswell.  When we first started getting together, we watched a lot of episodes or other Roswell related material.  We talked about all things Roswell fan community related.  Needless to say, we had such amazingly fun times that the show Roswell will always have a special place in my heart.  Yet, time has passed and we have moved on from the show since it was canceled in 2002.  (Although, the show is being rebooted in the spring of 2019!).

I remembered being worried in 2002 about how this little friendship group would be after the show ended.  How long could we continue to be focused on Roswell?  How many times could we rewatch the episodes?  I feared that once the show and everything connected with it got old and tiresome, we would stop getting together.  Maybe,  our friendship would slowly fade.  I worried about this because I have seen it and felt it from other friends both before and since.  When I was a kid, my best friend was just as into Duran as I was.  Then, she moved away and soon said goodbye to being a Duranie, too.  This marked the beginning of the end of our friendship.  We never had a falling out and never got angry with each other, but we lost this very important connection.  As an adult, I have experienced something similar with people who were once part of the Duran fan community and who are not now.  Our friendships hang by a thread.

For those friendships, I guess there was not much of a foundation outside of fandom.  On the other hand, the friendship between this group of women goes beyond fandom.  It may have brought us together, initially, but our love for each other has kept us friends long after our fan connection has died.  When I think about fandom, that is really what I hope is true for all the friendships I have made.  I wouldn’t want Duran to be the only thing that keeps me friends with people.  I hope our connections run deeper.

-A

But It’s Much Harder to Stay

Today marked the end of a quiet, relaxing weekend with some of my favorite people.  I “met” these friends who came out for the weekend in 2002.  Yet, we had talked for years before meeting face to face.  Fandom brought us together as we all loved the show, Roswell, and found ourselves chatting on various message boards before arranging to meet in person.  Those first meet-ups were both a little scary but also a ton of fun.  We found ourselves watching and re-watching favorite scenes and discussing all aspects of the show.  The show, unfortunately, didn’t last beyond the three years.  Despite that, we still have plenty to talk about, including fandom in general.

While a TV show fandom brought us together, all of us have participated in other fandoms.  My friend, Kate, for instance, loves the band, Hanson.  Robyn loves to go see live music but also traveled for other TV show conventions.  Therefore, it is pretty common that our discussions lead us back to talking about current and former fandoms.  Through the discussion, I began to wonder if certain fandoms are easier to belong to than others or easier to stay in, especially in light of some recent blogs that Rhonda wrote about various fan conventions.

Fandoms surrounding TV shows, movies, books, etc. definitely seem easier to belong to for a variety of reasons.  First, anyone can join the fandom and participate in a big chunk of fan activities.  Everyone can turn in to watch the latest episode on TV, right?  Money doesn’t factor much unless the show is on cable or through some other subscription service like Netflix.  Second, after an episode, fans can and do rush to the internet to discuss all aspects of what they saw.  Fans can all participate in the same time unlike some music fan activities like going to a concert in which only some fans can attend.  Third, fandoms surrounding a fictional story easily allows for fan fiction.  Fan writers can take what they read or watch and expand the story in some way.  Again, money does not matter.  It does not separate fans from other fans.

Music fandom is different.  While there are some shared experiences like hearing an album on release day or watching a brand new video, most of the rest of fan activities are not ones that all fans can and do attend.  Concerts only featured a small percentage of fans at any given time.  The ability to go to fan events like concerts are often dependent on one’s financial ability.  While, yes, all fans of a certain band can tune in when that band is featured on TV, not all fans can afford all concerts and certainly not all in the front row.  Likewise, fan fiction is much less likely in music fandom as there is no fictional story to expand.  There is just the history of the band and real people as opposed to characters who have been created.

All that being said, there are some other factors.  TV shows, movies and books often have a smaller life cycle.  It is a big deal when a TV show, for example, lasts ten years.  For Duran Duran fans, the band has been going for almost 4 decades.  The limited time of existence could make those kind of fandoms tough.  How do fans keep the passion alive when there is nothing new to talk about or get excited about?

At the same time, there is additional factor of the celebrities.  The chance to meet a rock star, for example, is limited.  Sometimes, fans can meet the rock star of choice through concert meet and greets or through CD signings.  Perhaps, one can have a brief encounter at the stage door after a show.  If music fans want a picture or an autograph, they either have to hope for some magical luck at finding the celebrity of choice before or after a show or they have to hope for an official signing.  Music fandoms generally don’t have fan conventions like TV shows, movies and books have.  Rock stars are not appearing at some weekend convention where fans can buy autographs or buy a photo with the star.

Music fans must rely more on money and luck in order to have any chance for interaction with their celebrities of choice.  TV show/Movie/Book fans have a greater chance at being able to have access at fan conventions.  Often times, those conventions happen in between projects, too, for actors and actresses.  This could help to keep fandom alive, too, as there might be less down time.

What I now wonder if there isn’t a way to combine elements of both types of fantoms in order to keep fans happy and to keep fandom alive.  As more of a music fan, for example, I would really like more chances to meet my favorite band members without having to have luck or a chance to meet them after a show.  Perhaps, if more fans had that opportunity then there would be less competition, making fandom a happier place.

-A