There are a whole lot of people who don’t really understand the Internet and the role fan-driven culture plays in it. Like this guy at TV.Com, who thinks he’s doing something ground-breaking by listing TV’s craziest fan bases. Yes, Surette seems to have just discovered that people gasp write fan fiction and gasp discuss fannish meta and gasp create fanvids…and he thinks it’s a “sick” level. Shocking! Scandalous! Where are my pearls? I must clutch them! It’s kind of like some tourist on a wild life safari slowing down with a camera and pointing excitedly at…placid, grazing cows. Dude, you’re not looking at anything wild. Wait till you actually get to the lions and hyenas!
I’m not going to talk about the psychology of fandom at length, because 1) It’s like Fight Club and 2) Frankly, that would take more than one blog post. But I will point to Internet Rule #34: if it exists, there’s porn about it. This is not a surprise. It’s not new. None of what this blogger has “unearthed” is.
I mean, NCIS and Bones have crazy people in their fan bases? Really? Without even breaking a sweat, I can name off 10 fan bases more passionate than the ones Surette listed. Well, okay, except for Superatural because I agree with the assessment — if not necessarily Surette’s particular criteria for why. Joss bless ’em, many of the fans really are a tad over-exuberant and showrunner Eric Kripke has acknowledged that on the series. But, seriously, NCIS makes the cut and Torchwood doesn’t? Fans of TW’s slain Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd) had a memorial for him in Cardiff. You know, with the flowers and candles like you do for real people who’ve died in a car accident near a specific spot? Yes. That. For someone who is not real. And Firefly Browncoats are notoriously devoted. Just ask Nathan Fillion (ex-Mal; ex-Joey, OLTL). Meanwhile, Roswell fans sent 10,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to the WB to get their show renewed. Ten. Thousand. A fan-made video or a piece of smutty fan fiction is not exactly breaking news in comparison, folks.
And soap fans! My people! Who else holds baby showers for fake babies and has constant letter and postcard campaigns for their favorites? I can’t remember who did this, maybe fans of The Young and the Restless‘ Cane and Lily, but we once got underwear to the office in support of a pairing. Don’t worry, it was brand-new. And I once heard about fans of General Hospital‘s Jason and Liz actually buying a billboard in Utah. Not that I ever saw it. I think it might be one of GH fandom’s urban legends. But it’s a good one, isn’t it? Sometimes I can’t even imagine what the devotion+money factor must be, but I sure as hell admire the commitment! I think if you gathered Liason fans, AMC‘s Zendall fans and ATWT‘s Nuke and CarJack fans in one place and harnessed all that passion, you’d solve the world’s energy crisis! They’re amazingly committed. (And could totally pwn any prime-time fandom in a throwdown.)
So it makes me laugh when you have an amateur explorer coming into this vivid community of people and thinking, “OMG! This is cray-cray!” just because he found a fanfic about Supernatural‘s Dean and Castiel that shocked his delicate sensibilities. Because you can’t possibly understand the breadth of and scope of fannish activity with a few Google searches and YouTube hits. It’s so much more than that. Fans of TV shows (and books and films) who engage in these activities have been around forever. Even before the Internet, there were fanzines and fan conventions. (Yes, there was a world before the Internet.) Sure, there’s a lunatic fringe — everybody’s got one — but, in general, writing fic and vidding is pretty commonplace. It’s, dare I say, normal. No different than a fantasy baseball league and painting your face and body for a football game. It’s just that no one ever tars sports fans with this “you must be an icky perv who lives in your parents’ basement” brush.
Look at it this way, folks: I happen to be someone who is lucky enough to work in the industry that I grew up fangirling. And I don’t live in my parents’ basement — I have my own and place and everything! So far…? The men in the white coats haven’t come to take me away.