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What is a “fandom”? Of course, if you’re interested in discovering the definition then you could just use Google to search for and find your answer. Google defines the word fandom as “the state or condition of being a fan of someone or something” and “the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture”. In regard to this examination of fandoms within the society of us readers, TV show lovers, and movie fanatics, neither definition is wrong.
However, neither definition succeeds in doing anything beyond scratching the surface as to what fandoms truly are. The term ‘community’ used in the definition provided by Google is fitting yet doesn’t quite express the strength and power to which being a part of a fandom holds. ‘Community’ portrays this idealistic, yet untrue, image of a large collection of individuals living and expressing their mutual love for said thing in harmony. However, there are times in which being a part of a fandom, or indeed multiple fandoms, is anything but harmonious… Therefore, it could be more fitting to use a different term to describe what fandoms are: fandoms are families. Those a part of a fandom can most likely agree to this use of terminology.
Fandoms are filled with people worldwide who come together to participate in the discussion of their favourite TV shows, books, movies, etc. Those individuals participate in a wide variety of activities which play a part in the ‘fandom life’ such as fanfiction writing, drawing fanart, and roleplaying etc.
There are many fandoms which exist today, some more popular than others and each with their own delights and disasters. Examples of the more popular fandoms today are as follows:
- Potterheads – fans of the Harry Potter book/movie series
- Whovians – Doctor Who fanatics
- Thronies – Game of Thrones fans
- Sherlockians – Sherlock fans, mostly those who are fans of the BBC TV series although it does extend to those who are fans solely of the movie adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes tales starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law
- Merlinians – Fans of the beloved show Merlin which featured also on the BBC channel
Other fandoms which exist revolve around a mixture of TV shows, movies, books and even just individual actors, such as Shadowhunters, Supernatural, Teen Wolf, The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Lord of the Rings, Twilight and more…
But whilst all these fandom ‘families’ may dwell within their own fictional worlds, sometimes two separate fandoms, or even three, may co-join with one another. This occurrence is known as a crossover and is often seen in fanfiction or even encountered during roleplaying, examples of this include:
- PotterLock – In which the Sherlock characters are enrolled or have been at Hogwarts much like the characters of Harry Potter themselves.
- SuperWhoLock – A mix of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock characters merged together to create an even wider universe for fanfiction writing and roleplaying prompts.
The fandoms mentioned and the others which exist are able to merge so easily now with the help that the Internet provides and sites like Twitter, Tumblr, ArchiveOfOurOwn, Fanfiction.net, and those used for roleplaying help to further expand the material surrounding a fandom by use of the fans’ imagination. One of the advantages which the Internet has with providing fans with the opportunity to interact with one another and create even their own material is that it allows—more often than not—for fans to keep the show alive even after it is over. For example, the BBC TV Show Merlin which ended in 2014 and MTV’s Teen Wolf has long been kept alive with the help of fans sharing their own AU fan fictions and fan art via sites such as Tumblr and even groups which can be found on Facebook. However, it’s not just the internet which allows for fans to interact with each other and even with their favourite actors and authors alike, but events held like Comic-Con allow for fans to gather, cosplay (dress up as their favourite characters), and meet those whom they admire!
Of course, as stated earlier in this article, not everything about being a part of a fandom is smiles, laughter, and fans coming together without complaint or disagreement… Fandoms are like families, after all, and families have their rocky patches. A big issue with the fandom life is the controversy which comes with being an individual fan in a sea of them, each with their own beliefs surrounding the material which canon provides. One of the biggest controversies within a fandom comes with the idea of shipping.
More often than not, fans are happy with the final relationships which come out of the works produced by their beloved authors and directors. However, this isn’t always the case and even if it is, where is the fun in refusing to explore the various outcomes of a product. Various ships which exist out with canon are:
Dramione – Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Jalec – Jace Herondale and Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments series
Newtmas – Newt and Thomas from The Maze Runner series
Sterek – Stiles Stilinski and Derek Hale from the Teen Wolf series
Cherik – Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr from the X-Men series
JohnLock – John Watson and Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock series
Merthur – Merlin and Arthur Pendragon from the Merlin series
All these ships allow for individual fans to explore the “what if’s” of their favourite movies, TV shows, and romance storylines. However, not everyone is a fan of a particular ship or in agreement of two characters being anything more than what they are in canon or even just friends and so the controversy starts. Shipping is not the only thing within a fandom which causes controversy either, more often than not fans headbutt each other when it comes to the many theories which each of them create; theories such as “How Did Sherlock Holmes survive? Is Jim Moriarty truly dead? Is the new Doctor being a woman a good thing? What if Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter had become friends in Year 1? What if Arthur had known about Merlin’s magic all along?” All of these theories can be found somewhere online with a great number of people arguing their own case, agreeing, disagreeing, and providing evidence to back up their points, the entire experience of joining in or even just observing is highly intriguing.
As stated, all these fan interactions allow for a fandom to remain alive through the fans themselves but just how far are fans willing to go to save what they love? One fandom, in particular, is the perfect example to use when exploring this question.
With the cancellation of the Shadowhunters series being announced on June 5th 2018, the fans of the beloved show were sent into a frenzy and it’s clear that Freeform picked the wrong fandom to mess with… The below image provides merely a few stories as to what lengths the fans have gone to in their attempts to save the show from creating the trending tweets #saveshadowhunters, #savetheshadowworld and sharing multiple images throughout the internet to hiring a plane to fly over the Netflix HQ carrying the banner #saveshadowhunters and more!
With campaigns being held over the social media and petitions going around via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, countless fans doing their part in helping to save the shadow world which we have come to love from the moment it hit our screens, there is no doubt that proof exists as to how important fandoms can be to us fangirl and fanboys. And whilst the fate of the show can not yet be determined, it’s clear that the dedication shown by fans allow for everyone to see how much of a family the fans truly are. They may be at war with one another at times regarding various aspects of the show, but mess with the show itself and the fans will stand together to fight side by side to save what has allowed for them to create such a family in the first place.
If that’s not family, then what is?