Friday, January 7, 2011

Fandom.


Recently Kathy has become enraptured in an online-fandom-world for Skins, a British TV show documenting the trials and tribulations (and drug-fueled rebellion and sexual adventures) of a group of teenaged friends, whose young & inexperienced cast changes every two seasons ('series' for the Brits). (And yes, the same Skins which has jumped over the Atlantic and the American version of which is set to air on MTV next week.) The fandom in particular focuses on the relationship of Naomi & Emily (or Naomily, as they say), who portray one of the most realistic and ground-breaking teenage lesbian relationships to ever grace the screen. Their storyline falls into the second generation of Skins' casts; or rather, series 3 & 4.

I was (just very) slightly skeptical of, and distant from, her relationship with this Skins world until, like, a week ago, for several reasons, although she's invited me into it several times. First, I don't feel as strong of a connection to the show, although I feel the need to defend myself to any Skins fans who may read this when I say that. The show is really well done, really unique, really raw and honest: I love the colors in the show a lot (I would say this more eloquently if I knew anything about film/video making); I love the music; I love many of the characters and lots of the writing. And after reading some analysis of it, I feel like if I went back and re-watched it I would probably appreciate it even more. You must understand that I have a horrendous short-term memory and normally can't remember what happened in TV shows I watched just last week, and Kathy had me watch these episodes quite awhile ago, so I probably hardly remember most of the things that happened, anyway.

EXCEPT, I do have to say that I feel like part of the reason I don't feel as thrilled about Skins as I might have is the last scene with Freddie, which I was completely traumatized by. If you know me you know I'm a serious wimp with any kind of violence, but this one scene was, like, over-the-top disturbing and upsetting. (I know this is the second time I've used "like" in this entry, but I am a little drunk, okay. Also, even though people have told me it makes me sound uneducated, I SAY LIKE A LOT IT'S JUST THE WAY I TALK OKAY.) I know the Brits apparently have higher temperaments for disturbing and upsetting things, but I had NIGHTMARES. And couldn't stop thinking about the last five seconds for days. Like. I really didn't like it.

Okay, confession over. The other main reason is that Kathy & I are not exactly one of those "opposites attract" couples; we often are on the verge of melding into the same person. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing; relationships work in all different ways, and ours works well. However, over the last six months when we've started our different programs at our different schools, our lives seem to be diverging more than normal: very different daily lives, different friends, different goals, etc. This definitely has felt a little strange but it's probably good at the same time. The point of this is that, going along with this theme of growing in our relationship as individuals, I saw Skins and the fandom as clearly her thing, and thought I should just let it be that: stay away, let it be hers, just as I have my things. You know, like healthy, normal people.

Well, apparently, I am not that healthy or normal, because I've spent the last day or so silently investigating this fandom world of hers, like a creeper. Well, mainly I've just been looking at Rophy Does, and reading Heather Hogan's blog, but I still feel like I'm intruding on a world that isn't mine.

Mainly, it's been awakening all kinds of thoughts and memories about my own history with fandom, and in particular with fandom on the internets. Read: Hanson, 1997-FOREVER.

There's a distinct difference between these: cool people like Skins. As an American, being a fan of a British drama for teens is an inherently cool sounding thing. These people that are part of the Skins fandom, from what I've seen and from what Kathy's told me, are cool. Hanson, however--well, I probably don't have to say more. Although this uncool-ness factor played a role in our admirations, as well; we were proud to be so uncool, and the constant rejection from the rest of the world brought us even closer together.

Which brings me to my larger point: a true fandom goes beyond the subject matter pretty quickly and really becomes about the people. And whoever has not experienced such a community can't really understand it, at all. Hence, I fully understand that my first real entry of 2011 is going to make me sound like a crazypants. And also, apparently, is going to turn into a novel.

The people I met online through my Hanson fandom got me through my teenage years; they spanned the country and the globe; I've met many of them in person and many of them, even if we don't talk as much as we used to, I still consider some of my best friends. It's amazing how much of yourself you can share through ICQ and AIM. My mother was amazingly reasonable about it--when it came to actually meeting them in person, my sister was convinced the people I were talking to were all crazies, my mom shrugged and said they were like "pen pals." There is something freeing about talking to people online--they don't know how awkward or weird you are in real life; they haven't known you since you were five; they don't know you just because of friends of friends. They just get to know you.

Kathy got a birthday card in the mail the other day from Germany; she listens to Vocaroos from Skins friends from all over the place. One time in high school I stayed up through the middle of the night to have a three-way phone call with a woman from Australia and a man from New Zealand. Which is normal, right? (Nick and Shelly. Shelly had the biggest heart and was overly kind to me. I couldn't understand Nick's NZ accent at all. They later ended up getting married. I have no idea what they're doing now or if they're still together, but I hope they are. Memories flooding back: I hosted Nick's fanfic on my website! It had a funny name, which I can't remember! It was like an action fic, which was new and exciting in comparison to all the weepy love stories written by girls.)

All of this focus on one group of people, or whatever the fandom is about, may seem a bit obsessive and/or creepy to other people, which it very well may be, but it is a complete distraction from Real Life. This can become unhealthy at some point, but most of the time, I think it's actually healthy. Some people have yoga; some people have fandoms. In any case, it's good to have something that makes you feel happy, that takes you away from the stress of all that crap the Real World throws at you. With me and Hanson, I actually still quite enjoy their music--which I will detail more in another blog entry--but I really don't care much about their personal lives anymore. I don't follow them on Twitter. Mainly because I feel like their lives started becoming too different from mine a long time ago--they all got married and started having lots of babies when they were still babies, and that's just not me. (This is especially devastating with Isaac since I'm convinced he's gay. I also have a feeling he's a Republican.) But back in the day, I felt like they could have been me--well, not really, but I could have been their friend--they traveled around the country and the world and made music instead of going to school, what a dream, and then in interviews they were always just goofy, and down to earth, and human. They gave me hope that life could not suck.

More differences between these fandoms, now and then: then, we posted all of our fanfics, all of our dedicated transcripts of interviews and favorite photos, on Angelfire, Geocities, Tripod. Now, with Skins, these people have professional blogs, with hip looking graphics (no rainbow bar .gif, no starry night backgrounds). Heather Hogan is a freelance writer who gets PAID to WRITE HER OPINIONS ABOUT SKINS on AfterEllen.com. (I know, right.) From what I can tell, Hanson ladies who are reading, Rophy and Heather Hogan are like the Laura and the Amanda (remember Lived? Oh, Sweet Jesus) of this fandom--those girls who can write really well that make you wish you could write like that, and mostly that you just really wish you could be really good buds with (but you never will).

Because these people? Who like to obsessively like the same things you do? Who are kind of crazy like you? Who waste lots of time on the Internet, like you? They are awesome. And talented. And awesome.

What a weird, wonderful world you are, Internets.

4 comments:

  1. Zac Says Tay Still Wets The Bed.

    OMG FLASHBACK.

    loved that story. love you.

    <3aileen

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG THAT WAS TOTALLY ITS NAME. right? hahahahaha.

    <3 back, aileen!

    ReplyDelete