I know people throw around “crazy” like it’s nothing, from the woman at the supermarket talking about prices to the potential democratic nominee Bernie Sanders about the opposing candidates. I know I do it too, and in doing so that probably makes me a little bit of a hypocrite. I have flaws, I’ll be the first to admit, and it is something that I actively try to work on each day. It’s interesting to me, though, that passion has become a sort of “allowed” crazy. That being delighted to do something, to be a part of something somehow makes you different in such a way that you should be warily avoided. We come to classify ourselves not on our passions and not passions, but on what we are and what others are not.
The best example I can give of this is fandoms. A fandom, by definition is a group of people who are all a fan of something. Sports does count, but for today, I will not be talking about them. I think that being a sports fan is highly normalized. That is to say that it is socially acceptable to be a fan of a sports team and by openly expressive about it. I would know. I go to The Ohio State University (yes, the “The” is capitalized) and just to prove that I know here you go:
This is the student section sporting the hashtag UrbanEra, which is the name of our football coach: Urban Meyer.
No one even bats an eye at the collective of sports fans. But when it is something a little more…creative, people start using “crazy”.
This post is a dedication and an analysis of “Crazy” in the context of “Fandoms”. I’m going to rule out a couple people right now though.
If you do not/have not dressed up(cosplayed) as a character at a midnight release party/convention/photoshoot or any other venue that is NOT Halloween, this post doesn’t really apply to you. If you do not have lengthy discussions about fan theory, au (alternate universe), crossovers or character development, this post probably doesn’t apply to you. If you don’t regularly quote something from your fandom, become artistic in a way which directly applies to your fandom or in other ways promote the dissemination of that fandom, this probably doesn’t apply to you.
So, now that we’ve got that taken care of, let’s discuss, shall we? According to The Daily Dot, some of the biggest fandoms (they said most important, I said biggest) are: Star Wars, Naruto, Hannibal, Suicide Squad, and Marvel. I’m going to go ahead and add in some of my own, by the names with which they call themselves. Disnerds, Oncers, SuperWhoLockIns, Potter Head, Shadowhunters, Trekkies, Pokemaniacs, Lunars and there are PLENTY more.
At some point in my life, I have been a part of all of the ones that I listed plus I was a “Jedi” and a “Twihard”, and I even took a trip through Wonderland with my lovely author friend A.G. Howard. But the thing is, I never felt ashamed of any of them, or felt I had a reason to be until about the time Twilight came out.
I LOVED Twilight. I read the entire series in 2 days. I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat and had a book in my hand the entire 48 hour window. That wasn’t my first dose of fandom (my dad is the one who started this with his Star Wars/Star Trek collection) but it was the first dose of my OWN. My sister much later brought The Mortal Instruments to me and I was delighted to find a similar thing. But for some reason, it was not socially acceptable to be a fan of Twilight. And I understand a little, I mean I had problems with the book too! But I loved it for what it was: a story. Even now, I have the boxed set, the 10th anniversary edition duo-book and I enjoy it. As an author, I completely love Stephanie’s story, and I relate.
Fast-forward a little. I am now in my early 20s and I live with my husband. Thanks to Netflix, I now have basically unlimited access to any fandom I want. I picked up Sherlock (BBC) and LOVED it. I love reading fan theory, I love making my own. I even included Molly Hooper in my post about women role models.I got into Doctor Who because of a friend, and my brother is a big fan of Merlin. I decided to fulfill the nomer and jump into Supernatural. (SuperWhoLockIn is a multi-level fandom in which members enjoy any combination-or all-of SUPERnatural, Doctor WHO, SherLOCK and MerlIN). And may I just say, I adore SPN. It’s delightful. It’s a real shame, though, that more people don’t also look at Merlin. It’s incredibly hard to find something with all 4 of them, because most people just get into the first three. Sad, really.
I live on quotes and coffee. (That may be a blog in and of itself soon.) If the words that come out of your mouth are song lyrics, I will follow up with the next line of the song (and I’ll be singing it). So it is completely natural to me to make references and quotes. (My husband didn’t know that I used a scene from Walk the Line on him when we first started dating. He much later watched the movie and gave me the eye for it. We laughed.)
A lot of people don’t get the Sherlock ones. The dialogue does sound pretty routine, and I usually have to “do” an accent for people to pick up on it.
Most people don’t get the Merlin ones. (That’s because I’ve only just started.)
Some people get the Doctor Who ones. It’s like I’m malfunctioning. I usually get lots of people with songs, I expected more from the Doctor.
And then there’s Supernatural.
The moment I announce I watch Supernatural, or mention it briefly in conversation or someone sees me looking on tumblr or Pinterest, I automatically get characterised as “crazy”. I was talking to a roommate and mentioned that I’m like Dean and my husband is like Sam: I get all of the pop culture references, but he gets all of the “textbook-y” ones. And the response I got was
“Oh god. You’re turning into one of them, aren’t you?”
I found that a little weird. And then I looked back at my own pre-SPN experiences. Sure, I knew people who watched it since the original air date. But the thing is, I knew people on both sides of the spectrum: the loud, boisterous consumers of the series who were very in-your-face about it and I knew the “Oh man, that’s such an awesome show” side too.
The only thing separating them is how vocal they are about their support. But the ones who are most vocal brand the rest of the fandom as being that way. You only get seen by the most “radical”. And that’s true of fandoms, of religions, of skin colors. Interesting, no?
But what you do not see are the people who are adamant fans but less “up-front”. The ones who get on twitter and talk to the other (and oftentimes newer) fans about ideas, and the ones who set up fan groups with the purpose of creating a support system for other fans. The religious factions who protect other factions while they pray, the vigils held by people of a variety of skin pigments for a lost life.
I may not have been part of the Supernatural fandom for long, but I know that I have plenty of people to talk to about my ideas. And sometimes, the actors themselves! But that brings me to my hidden point today: the actors.
In Supernatural specifically, there are a host of people brought together by more than just a TV series. Misha, Jared and Jensen all actively participate in programs for depression. YANA, AKF and LYF are all supported by these three. (You Are Not Alone, Always Keep Fighting and Love Yourself First). Jared recently did a Represent campaign for AKF and LYF. Here are the shirts:
You can bet I bought a shirt AND a sweatshirt. Not because I want to be a “fangirl” but because I support the message. And when someone asks me about my shirt, I will proudly tell them it’s from Jared Padalecki from Supernatural to support charitable organizations like; To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), St Jude Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, Random Acts – as well as SPN Family Crisis Support Network.
Because being passionate about something is a great thing-even if it’s just entertainment. It opens up doors to be a good person. And that is far from “crazy”.