The Secret Life of a Fangirl
Fan culture plays a large part in any society, no matter the country you look at. It has existed for as long as can be remembered for all different types of media ranging from art, opera and theatre, films, books and even people such as celebrities. Yet, there exists a type of fan now that is more dedicated than the average fan, known as…. The Superfan.
These super fans take fan culture to another level, as rather than just enjoying a certain band, film, book or television show, they live it. They are the experts on trivia for their passion, watching out for the latest news updates and episodes, blogging and reblogging detailed scene breakdowns for discussions. Some even write their own stories (known commonly as fanfiction) about the characters’ adventures so as to continue the story, or dressing up to emulate (or ‘’cosplay’’) their favourites.
The sheer numbers of people devoted to one fandom, over one book series or tv franchise is astounding and is reminiscent of one of the most well-known fan crazes ever to have happened; Beatlemania. Beatlemania is a term used to describe the intense fan frenzy directed towards British rock band, the Beatles, during the early years of their success. This phenomenon began in 1963 and has lasted long past the band’s breakup in 1970. Fans were so wild and uncontrollable that the band stopped performing live in 1966, as the screaming fans made it impossible to put on a good performance and the safety of those who could attend was put into question.
Some of the biggest groups of fans or fandoms (fan kingdoms) out there to date as of right now include the highly popular franchises of Harry Potter, Games of Thrones, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Star Trek, Spongebob (as seen below!) and 1Directioners.
Each of these fandoms form a community both on and offline that enables them to connect with other fans with similar interests globally, often using online blogging platform Tumblr. Some of these fandoms have even evolved their own languages or fan speak from the series, such as using the Harry Potter spells or term “Muggle” or become fluent in Klingon from Star Trek. However, this doesn’t just happen online! With conventions like Comicon, Wyntercon, Trekkfest and many more happening globally, fans can meet up to talk and enjoy elements from their fandoms… but is it really worth attending, especially with multiple fandoms there to clash?
As a proud member of multiple fandoms, I set off to the London MCM October Comicon to find out. I was dubious as to whether this would be as good as the main Comicon in San Diego, but from the moment I boarded the train I surrounded by crowds of people displaying their costumes and armour with pride, and the closer we got to the venue, the more excited and happy the faces became. People would scan the area and point out several costumes to their friends, compliment the apparel of those closest to them and pose for pictures; the community spirit of each fandom uniting to bring the crowd together as heroes and villains alike exited the station as one.
As you entered the convention, you were met with the sight of a colourful sea of people (nearly 122,634 over the three days!) from all walks of life. They had gathered that day to support the people, creators, artists and teams behind their favourite games, shows and comics. Fandoms often attack each other online, with various and frequent articles online showing the victims of this abuse (such as fan artist Paige Paz), but at this convention everyone stood united against that. At a small booth at the back, there was a donation bucket and a collection of the pictures of those who are or had been affected by the online hate where you could donate to a charity providing support to those under threat of cyber-attacks. They raised nearly £787 on the first day alone.
The community at this event was extremely supportive and kind, with people posing for photos or fight scenes with those they met on the day, compliments and jokes being shared between the vendors and those celebrities who were there for a panel. One of these celebrities was the 7th Doctor himself, Sylvester McCoy who stopped for a quick chat despite my lack of a panel ticket as he is a big supporter of Comicon and fandoms everywhere. Whilst there, I managed to ask a few people for a quick thought on what it was like to be part of something that was so much bigger than themselves….
“I think it’s amazing, to have like-minded people like you; people who have the same interests as you. It’s literally like a big family where everyone takes care of each other and no matter how weird you are, people accept you no matter what.” – Ana Mikaella Dabi, 17
“It’s amazing how welcomed I felt when I first joined. I wasn’t in as many fandoms as I am now that I joined it and you learn SO much more about your favourite books that you wouldn’t have thought of before, like how Sherlock survived the fall and it’s just so amazing! I know I can talk to anyone about anything, even if it is not fandom related. I have gained so many friends because of fandoms and fandom pages, they have changed my life” – Chelsea Martin, 15
“I feel welcomed. It is very enjoyable, because when you’re in a fandom, you’re not alone. There’s other people in it with you who don’t judge you for being there. In some ways, it does enhance the experience. Take Harry Potter for example; it’s over and done with, right? No more books or anything (besides the play), yet people are STILL putting together pieces of the books that we seem to be missing. It’s fun, sad, entertaining, and completely mind blowing. I’ve made over 300 friends just by being in Fandoms. I used to admin fandom blogs, so I made admin friends, and then I came to be an admin of this one group and made even more friends. I have more online friends than I do real life friends, which is sad, but more enjoyable because there’s no drama, but it also sucks because you can’t see them in person unless you pay to go wherever they are.” – Jasmine McKinzie, 22
“It’s always interesting to meet people with similar tastes and having a good old debate about it is fun. It’s definitely a distraction and escape from real life which is good! Given that I meet my husband as a result of being an HP fan, it has shaped my life a great deal!” – Sophie Lowrey, 33