Why do people 'Fan'?
To be a fan or to fan? That is the question.
It's a jarring linguistic distinction to make, but I think it's important. When you're a fan of something, you can be passive. You can watch the show or listen to the music, absorb it and move on with your life. But to fan, to actively embody fandom? Is something so different. Suddenly instead of being moved by a piece of media, you become the person doing the moving. You create, you inspire, and you change how people interact with media and themselves.
Media can either have power over us, or we can have power over our media.
Which brings me to this vid.
(Vidder: lim, song: 'Us' by Regina Spektor). Why does the difference matter?
Before there was copyright law, stories were shared. Books and performances were commodities, but the stories themselves were part of the public domain from inception. Which means that Shakespeare could write Romeo and Juliet. He didn't come up with the framework for that story- but it doesn't matter. The story he told about youth and corruption endured because he created something new and important. The story has been allowed to evolve and change. It's become West Side Story. It's become the Lion King 2. It's become Underworld.
Stories are intended to be transformed.
And that's what fandom is all about. It's a culture dedicated to reclaiming stories from the companies that try to own them. Because when someone tries to own a story, what they're really doing is trying to own us. Stories are what we use to shape our identity and define who we are. "Us" is brilliant not only because it's telling us the entire history of media fandom and its wildfire spread (even up to and including the recent and slightly uncomfortable move to mainstream and/or critical attention) just gorgeously, through natural metaphors like the "mountain" "trees" "water" and "avalanche", but also because it shows us, rather than tells us about, two things that are key to fandom as I understand and love it: 1) she turns the mass media image into something that looks handworked; by "drawing" some of the most famous footage in fannish history she turns the mass-produced back into the handcrafted, just like we do: I swear to God, some of the frames as she's worked them remind me of crysothemis's pictures of Sheppard, or Jean Kluge's Blairs. To me, it's a metaphor of everything we do in fandom, where we write personalized, customized, by request stories, and make pictures and vids of commercialized, mass-produced images; and 2) it stages what it means to "see" fannishly, which is to attend to (sometimes odd or interesting or peculiar) details, to care about the parts of canon that aren't necessarily "important", to interrogate and focus on and fetishize bits and parts--a scarf, a shirt, the tic of a hand. That's what it's like to SEE like a fan, imo. And this vid doesn't tell us that, it DOES it, by showing us not only the "big" pictures (note the fantastic sequence where she links a ton of fannish actors through their fannish roles) but by focusing us on the kind of minutae we adore." (via)
Stories aren't the property of anyone.
Stories are part of our cultural currency. They're how we frame our lives. They're who we ARE. They're our future and our present and our past. Our fears and our dreams. The second a story enters your mind it becomes part of you, and it's going to be unique to you because no one else will see it the way you do. Releasing that story is what it means to fan. It's a beautiful thing to do.