Interesting, I think…

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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”.

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Role Models and Hope For A Messed Up World

I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say right away, so this post is coming almost a week after the incident, but the concept has been stuck in my head for quite some time. As an individual, I love being a singular version of myself. But I look often for someone else who is also a trailblazer. I wanted to write about why I look for and who I select as a role model for my life. I think it’s important for people, women especially, to have someone who is an upstanding, respectable example of the lives we want to lead. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people from older stories who could be role models (I frequently look to Joan of Arc, personally). The problem with using people from the past is that things were different. The world was not the same then as it is now, and we need people who are more like us than sword bearing warriors or queens from afar. 
  There is the social media factor, I suppose, which lends itself to a certain realm of role models, some good, some not. But it seems that the news represents best those who are not good role models for the young (and young-ish) people of today. I am of course talking about the celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan and to some extent even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. They all represent the pandemonium of fame and the pit falls thereof. We could also examine outlets like Disney or Matel, who have presented the world with prestigious Barbie, Cinderella, and Ariel (just to name a few). It is these three which are both a great help and a hindrance to young women of today. I want to explore them and then propose my list of four individuals who are better role models for our generation. 

  Barbie: In almost every household you might find her, or a cousin or a friend. She is blonde, brunette, red headed, light skinned, dark skinned. She has had a plethora of jobs, donned an impressive collection of costumes and even manages quite a large variety of accessories. Over the years, people have yelled at her for being too skinny, too unrealistically proportioned and too shallow. I mean, there was even a brief moment in Toy Story 3 where she was introduced to public audiences as a complete and utter bimbo, followed by a weak attempt to reclaim her dignity. But the thing is, she’s too uniform. She has no individualized flaws. No scars, stretch marks, beauty marks, wrinkles, pimples, or really flaws of any kind. Her makeup is always done, she’s always smiling and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

  Cinderella: She’s Disney’s star princess. I mean, who didn’t want to be a princess because of her? She came from rags to riches, found a guy, married Royal and viola. She even had a set of killer shoes. But what does she have as far as personality? She’s got wishes, desire. But she lacks motivation and drive. She “asked for a dress, shoes and a night off”. I get it. But that’s not real life at all. And why do you need a man to provide you with everything? I mean, independence goes a long way. I know in the original story she was a teenager, but isn’t that kind of the point? In her time period, that made her basically an adult, and I know she would have been in need of a man, but this is the 21st century and we don’t need that anymore. Say it with me: I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man, but can have one if I so desire.

  Ariel: With a golden voice and perfect hair, who cares about anything else, right? Wrong. Again, you don’t need a man to be the best woman you can be. The thing is, Sebastian was right. Giving up everything, your soul and life included, just to get a man (or attempt to) is not the way to go. And by this point, wouldn’t you also need to make exceptions for finding the right partner-be it woman or man or just a good friend? As with Cindy, sorry Ariel, but there’s nothing that warrants me looking up to you if you’re going to change everything about yourself for someone else.

So I’ve given you a basic run down of my issues with the above, but I do want to mention that I know these characters are fake, but they are widely distributed and influential. I do not want to come across as impossible to reason with so the last person (it’s actually two people) are fictitious as well. And I also realize that the women I am looking at have flaws. But that’s exactly why I chose them. And I will go over them as well. These are, of course, my own personal opinions and you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments, as always. So,without further adieu.

Michelle’s List of Role Models for Women of 2015.

  Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo: You might not have heard of this woman, but she is the reason I’m doing this post. Seven days ago, she was sworn in as a judge in New York. She wore a headscarf, because she is Muslim and she was sworn in on the Qur’an. Now, none of this even really seems like anything out of the ordinary. But the amount of hate mail she received for being sworn in on the Qur’an is astounding. This woman vowed to uphold the law, as she has done her entire career. She is an upstanding citizen who was voted into office. I came across this story in my FaceBook news feed because of how many ignorant people are accessing social media to tear her down. You are permitted to swear into office on any holy book and even the constitution of the United States. She has done nothing above and beyond the average expectations I have for a law abiding citizen, but she is my candidate for a role model for the simple fact that she stuck by her faith, even when people threatened her and heckled her about it. She stayed true to herself, even though that path offered great resistance.

  Adele: Let me say that I am a huge fan of Adele. Her voice is so beautiful, and she’s gorgeous. She’s not stick thin, and I love her for it. She says what’s on her mind and once again, stays true to herself. She took time from her career to take care of her baby. We’re almost the same age and that means a great deal to me. Why, you ask? Because she’s proving that not all 20 year olds and 20-somethings are wild and crazy and awful. She’s a credit to our age group. She even works at a record shop. Her flaws? She’ so soulful in her music that she really only sings sad songs. Which isn’t like a huge flaw, but I don’t associate anything other than sad love songs and break up songs with her. 

  Angelina Jolie-Pitt: Did this one take you by surprise? I really thought that this spot would be occupied by many other people, and indeed it could have been, but there are lots of women who could have taken this spot who simply aren’t as well known. And while you are all entitled to have your own individual role modes, for the purposes of this blog, I needed someone visible. She adopts underprivileged kids, she works with charities and organizations, speaks on behalf of underprivileged people to the UN. And on top of that, she preventatively had a mastectomy so that she didn’t have to worry about breast cancer. I mean, that sounds like a very personal thing and she’s known for her body. I remember a lot of people were upset at her for taking charge of her own body, and that is why I commend her for doing it. She did what she had to do so that she could live her life to the fullest. Also in this spot, Emma Watson for similar reasons. 

  

  Molly Hooper/Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I told you I would bring in some fictitious characters. I chose one from my younger adult life and one from my current adult life. So I will start with Buffy. She was a kick-ass teenager who saved the world a lot. And the thing is, that was badk when TV series were filmed with people who looked like teenagers playing teenagers, and incorporated flaws and diversity of character types. Buffy had an attitude, she was impatient and made mistakes. She needed help and asked for it, she complained about life and then grew up and made sacrifices. She represented real teenage life, apart from vampire hunting. And her friends were just as painfully realistic. But they all had a moral code and they represent a lovely era of beautiful story telling.

   Molly Hooper. I have great aspirations to be Molly Hooper. For those of you who do not know who Molly Hooper is, allow me to tell you. The BBC produces a show called Sherlock, based off of Sherlock Homesfrom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the BBC version, there is a medical examiner by the name of Molly Hooper.  She has an enormous crush on Sherlock, does everything dignified she can to get him to notice her including buy him a present at Christmas. He’s rude about it and she calls him out on his bad behavior. Later in the series, she also tells him he’s throwing away his gifts and that he should apologize for various actions. Sherlock comes to respect her. And she didn’t change herself. She stayed true to her personality and persona, all while being a valuable asset to a team. Honestly, I know that this is all fiction, but really, if I were ever to model myself after someone who never existed in real life, it would be Molly Hooper. If you haven’t watched Sherlock, I HIGHLY recommend it. I can discuss all manner of theories with you. I’m a true and devoted CumberCookie and Sherlockian.

Anyway, this has been my short list about female role models in modern society. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.