Comic Con, Characters, and Fandoms

| Monday, July 16, 2012
Today's Tune: Little Monsters

Today is the last day to enter to win a signed copy of THE DISENCHANTMENTS, so if you're interested, you better get on that, dude.

So (not being at) Comic Con has given me some time this weekend to think about celebrities and fiction and fandoms (AND I WISH I HAD BEEN THERE SO BAD YOU GUYS KGLOS:"DGYFSDF:SDHFHDS SOMEDAY I WILL BE A REAL NERD AND GO).

 There's a difference between celebrity and character, but when fandoms become involved, that line often gets blurred. Some actors aren't generally ascribed to a particular character, but others will always be representative of a certain iconic character they once played. They are larger than life, more than human. They're the sort of person that if you ran into them on the street, your breath would catch in your throat because you've just run into your favorite fictional character and you feel like they're someone you know personally but have never gotten to see in the flesh.

That has to be a strange, disorienting experience. Actors are forcibly separated from their complicated human selves and thrust into this role. They probably had no idea when they took on the role exactly how the fandom would react, or if there'd even be a fandom. It certainly has its downsides, but there's also this amazing sense of involvement and of being a part of something larger than yourself. I follow Nathan Fillion on Twitter, and I remember him once tweeting about walking down a street and having a man simply nod to him and say "Captain." He was understandably moved by the sentiment. Firefly was something he helped create, that he gave character and voice to, and here it is, many years later, still rippling throughout so many lives.

I've written about fandoms before, and I still like to think about and puzzle out what inspires and grows a fandom. I still think it's largely based around character -- fans must have characters and character relationships to root for. It's even more than that, though. It requires some sort of hook, something about the fictional world or its inhabitants, that latches deeply into our hearts. Seeing ourselves represented, wanting desperately to live in a fantastical world, a twist so clever that we imagine it over and over again. Next, it has to be shared. There's no fandom without, well, fans, and those fans have to be able to connect with other fans and create said fandom.

Fandoms have always existed so long as there's been work worth sharing and fawning over, but technology has made our world so much easier to access. There's no more wondering if you're the only person who loves a thing... you can hop online and find websites and forums and communities dedicated to that thing. You can spend hours comparing notes and building theories.

I can't help but feel this is rooted in a deep human need for stories and imagination. Some people certainly use fiction as escapism, but I think the main thing is that we all just enjoy imagining the world differently. We like to imagine our lives, our world, as its own story. But our story happens slowly. Unbearably slowly. We don't live all the highs and lows of our lives over the course of a season of television or a series of novels. So this is a kind of shortcut; a way to live a legend-worthy existence and share it with other people.

I'm totally rambling, DON'T MIND ME. Sometimes I can't completely organize my thoughts. These are a few random things I was thinking about fandoms this weekend.

What are your thoughts on celebrities, characters, and fandoms?


{ JeffO } at: July 16, 2012 at 5:21 AM said...

I tend to agree it's about character. To me, this explains why the original Star Trek series is still so popular. Yes, the acting could be a little--hammy, and the special effects were on the cheesy side, even for its time, but the characters are memorable.

{ Matthew MacNish } at: July 16, 2012 at 9:39 AM said...

You know, it's kind of odd. As nerdy as I am for things like LOTR, Star Wars, Avatar, D&D and so on, I've never been big on getting involved in the fandoms. I don't write fan-fiction, I don't visit forums (much), and I don't write essays arguing who Jon Snow's true parents are (but I have, ahem, read a few).

{ Krispy } at: July 16, 2012 at 12:43 PM said...

Yes, I think you hit on it with the world and character. I think the characters are a huge part in the creation of a fandom because I think when you love characters, you will go with them anywhere, through anything. You're invested in THEM and their adventures, and you probably won't ever get tired of hearing about them. A great world helps too because it plays into those adventures and invites people to explore the world themselves, but I think for those really solid fandoms to form, there has to be compelling characters first.

And yeah, I was so jealous of all the Comic Con people this weekend. I totally need to go next year!

{ Sarah Stephanie Kristan Ingrid } at: July 17, 2012 at 5:50 PM said...

<3 this post. <3 Firefly. <3 Nathan Fillion. <3 Joss Whedon. <3 fandoms.

And yes, it's about characters. Characters that become as real in our minds as the people in our lives. Characters that are bigger than their worlds or their stories, and certainly bigger than our screens.

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