Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Fandom Is Strong In This One

Hello all,

Over the last two weeks, I’ve viewed the six Star Wars films. I’d never seen them before which my friends and boyfriend (rightly) found horrifying and must be rectified immediately. As such, when the box set was at the library I jumped at the chance, believing that I was in for six good nights of quality entertainment. After I’d seen it, I would forget about it and go on with my life like nothing had changed. I was so wrong. Because the Star Wars films are AMAZING.
  As I watched, I felt myself growing more and more obsessed with this universe and the characters within it. Yoda is my absolute favourite, but Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, Han Solo and Leia all occupy a large place in my heart now. The thing is you can feel that you are falling into an obsession, you know that you’re going to be devastated when it’s finished because you’re so into it but there’s nothing you can do, so you find yourself being dragged under, knowing that soon you’re in for a world of pain. So that’s where I got to once I finished the original trilogy; obsessed with Star Wars but unable to do anything with it. Then, of course, there’s the prequel trilogy which is largely awful.
   That helped quite a lot in regards to letting go of this fictional world (for the moment). But there is still that sense of sadness that there will be no more Yoda in my life except for the set number of hours he’s in the films. The way around this depression is to focus on what we have, like his wonderful quotes (“Do. Or do not. There is no try” and “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”), awesome battle skills (he’s tiny and yet he still makes everyone else look crap) and general sense of being one of the most likable characters in modern cinema (which makes his sadness in the Episode III even more upsetting. I must admit I cried a little bit). This is, however, just a temporary solution which is why we, as children of the internet age, turn to our gods and pray for help. We go on Tumblr.
   Tumblr is where we of fandoms since past go to rest our weary souls and share our pain with others. It is where we spend endless hours looking at pictures of Yoda while listening to his beautiful John Williams theme and liking and reblogging them just so our friends know that we have been watching Star Wars recently and we now have something to talk about. But looking at the past is not just what Tumblr is for. Because in many cases, it will continue the story through fan-art or in some cases, collisions with other fandoms (the Jelsa ship between Elsa from Frozen and Jack from Rise Of The Guardians makes me all warm inside. Odd considering the ship is about two people who can freeze things). In some cases, they’ll even create links where there were none previously (the Free! fandom I’m looking at you. As much as we all may want Haru x Makoto to be a real thing, the show is just about them swimming. LOL, jks. That show is literally the most homoerotic thing the Universe has ever seen). Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s Tumblr (and other such websites) that separates the casual viewer from the NERD.
   Let’s use an example. I started watching Attack On Titan because I saw the obsession about it on Tumblr. I watched one episode now and then before eventually you get to a point where you can’t hold yourself in anymore and (as DanIsNotOnFire, one of my favourite Youtubers calls it) you hit freefall. You can’t do anything with your life until you finish Attack On Titan. But then, because you’ve rushed through it, it’s over in a day or two and you’re left there in this emotional shock because there isn’t any more time with these people. There isn’t more of Eren screaming, Mikasa protecting Eren, Armin coming up with clever plans and terrifying giant Titans attacking people. Somehow you manage to stumble to a computer with the internet (which for me involves shuffling off to the nearest library) and go on Tumblr. And there you see the fandom. As you scroll further down, you fall into the trap of fandom and you’re stuck there. And it never goes away. Once you have become obsessed with something that never goes away, even though it may seem to.
   I do this with Doctor Who all the time. I’ve been obsessed with the series since 2008 and occasionally I must admit I fall out of the fandom. I’m less obsessed with it than I once was. A month may pass where I don’t watch an episode, but I’m still involved in the fandom, keeping track of the latest news developments (the singer Foxes is going to be in the new series to be broadcast in August. WHAT). But there’ll be a moment, probably not too far in the future where something will drag me back into it. There’ll be a post on Tumblr about something I’d never thought of or a tribute video or the new season and I’ll find myself back in the TARDIS. Actually, I think I’ve dragged myself back into it just by writing this while listening to a tribute video. I now have the sudden urge to watch the Doctor save the Universe from the Daleks with one of his better companions (Donna, not Rose. Never Rose).
   But, as you may have noticed with these posts, I like to include some sort of observation, turning what I’ve just said around on its head to make a deeper point. I don’t know why I do it, just seems to be how I write, so here’s this weeks. Why do we find solace in fictional universes? What are we hoping to achieve? It’s not like we can exactly relate. We aren’t Jedis fighting against a Darth Vader of our own who is secretly our father. We aren’t Time Lords fighting against the Daleks. But so we’re not the Doctor, but we are like his companions. In essays I’ve written about Doctor Who previously (for the Doctor Who Club of Victoria and when I wrote my own 64-page fanzine called Theta Morbius Times), I’ve always argued that it’s the companion which is our way into the Doctor’s world. The best companions are those that we can relate to (which is why alien companions hardly ever work very well), which is why Donna has always (and always will be) my favourite companion, because she’s like me. She didn’t believe in herself before she met the Doctor. She thought she was nothing, and then he comes along, swaggering into her life and showing her that she can believe in herself, that she is special and important and what makes her amazing is that she is who she is. I was like Donna. I didn’t believe in myself. Before I watched Doctor Who, I hated myself and it felt like no-one understood me, but then I was flicking through channels and discovered this wonderfully silly program and watched as Donna grew to believe in herself. And I lived it with her. Doctor Who for me has always been my saviour and it’s interesting that when I’m at my lowest is usually the times when I’m not watching the series.
   Maybe that’s why. Because through watching people tackle the most insurmountable odds we feel like we can do the same. If Luke Skywalker can beat Darth Vader, then we can fight those people who are getting us down. If Rick can survive in a world infested with zombies, then maybe we can deal with the stupid people around us. If Buffy can still fight Vampires despite everything that’s happened to her, then maybe we can live to fight another day. But then there’s also the other thing which I alluded to in the very second sentence of this post. We watch these shows because we can talk to people about them. My friends and I will spend a fair chunk of our time talking about our latest television addictions. Holmes and Lola will discuss the latest Game of Thrones spoilers, while Molly
(Holmes’ girlfriend) and I cover our ears before she and I talk about The Walking Dead. By talking to my friends about what they watch on television, I feel like I know them better. By comparing which characters they relate to, which characters they want to succeed and which characters they wish would die to my own, then I begin to understand who that person is if we discuss a lot of shows. And then, once you know one another’s fandoms, then it’s like a gateway into deeper conversation. The most personal DNMs I’ve had recently have all started with some sort of pop-culture reference. That’s why if you want to start dating someone find out something they like and watch it. You might love it and it might change your life and then you can talk to that person about it. That’s what happened with Finn and I. He recommended the youtuber gay couple Lush and it changed my life, because there were people like me and I could talk to him about the latest developments. That’s how we got talking. And if you’re wearing a branded t-shirt people will sometimes stop you and say that they too watch that show. And you’ve got a new friend.
   People on the outside may call us a nerd, but that is a label I wear proudly. Because if you call me a nerd, then you are saying that I have related to a character or series that has changed my life and given me the confidence to meet new people and further my connection with my existing friends. And there is nothing wrong with that.
   Sorry this is so late. I was going to write it Thursday morning after I finished the last Star Wars film, but I slept in and didn’t get a chance until this morning. Still, I hope you like this one and I’ll see you all next week.
   Oh, and the reaction to Rainbow Connection was beautiful and I want to thank you all for being the most wonderful people and making me feel like it’s okay to be me.

Things I Learnt While Dating #4
There are unknown benefits to being a person with an overactive imagination.*
*Particularly if your partner has an equally active imagination
Friends’ Blogs
Lola (The Blogging Of An Aspiring Writer)
Holmes (Life, The Universe And Everything According To A Writer)

The Playlist Of 21 May – 27 May
Welcome To The Black Parade (My Chemical Romance)
Come Back As A Man (Caro Emerald)
Can’t Stop Loving You (Baylou)
The Only Exception (Paramore)

The Top 6 Films Of 21 May – 27 May
The Hunt
It Happened One Night
Star Wars Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi
Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace
*Because of dating and television addictions, I only viewed six films this week

David Gumball-Watson


  1. As cool as everyone says Star Wars is, the only parts I've enjoyed are the quotes. Yoda is pretty bad-ass though. "Do. Or do not. There is no try." Indeed.

    Why did you have to bring up Attack on Titan? My heart just broke all over again from running out of episodes to watch. I want more! Also, making fun of the characters (all the yelling and funny little exaggerated sounds they make) are so cool. Also, saying "Annie" in a really deep and angry voice. *fangasm* LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME!!! *cries*

    Fandoms are awesome. :)

  2. Dude, you do know there is an entire franchise of Star Wars expanded universe, as well as a seventh movie coming out in a couple of years?