After having discussed fandom, its role, and fandom as a culture, I want to share an interesting lesson that came from this analysis. This . . . really long analysis.
We may question the primacy of fandom as identity for some people – I certainly do. I think fandom can serve as a primary part of identity for some people who are intimately involved in the relevant material, industries, and so on. I do think it’s not a good idea for people not so involved as they can become disconnected and unaware, investing time in something for social benefits but no other.
But the thing is that there are fandoms that we don’t think of fandoms.
And they can be just as empowering – and just as messed up as any anime fandom or group of band followers.
Let’s talk religion and Politics.*
Of course in America 2014 that probably could just be “let’s yell a lot about religion and politics” because it seems that’s what usually goes on. Somewhere amidst the screaming, the accusations, and the shadowily-funded adds thee are really decent people there. But where does the insanity come from?
Let me propose this – for some people, and in a media age, religion and politics are often fandoms. Disconnected ones (thus lacking a sense of the larger picture) and primarily social (inviting the earlier-discussed meltdowns).
- How many people identify with their religion or politics in a “disconnected way” – the belief is not connected to any real world benefits. They may even be negative benefits as they alienate family members (I’ve seen that) or vote against their own interests.
- Ever read a political or religious column that seemed to be some insane, elaborate fantasy about how things should go? Heard some pundit hold forth on an elaborate theory and were amazed anyone could be heard with their head so far up their ass? Think of these things as fanfic and it looks a lot clearer.
- For that matter on the subject of religion, it’s easy to encounter speeches of the fire-and-brimstone variety that seem to be disconnected from reality.
- Observed politicians or pundits or religious figures figures with obsessive fans? It may seem strange, but imagine they were famous actors or rock stars and suddenly it seems awful familiar. And in a few cases has the same amount of sex scandals.
- Take a look at any giant political event and think of ilike a convention. There’s presentations, ceremonies, and cosplay.
For many people politics and religion is a fandom. It kind of makes fandom make more sense as you see how it can be everywhere.
And it’s a bit chilling because it may mean were’s treating our methods of social and cultural organization in ways no different than people arguing if the Enterprise could take on a Star Destroyer**.
A fruitful area of research for us might be thinking where cultural groups are on a fandom/nonfandom and integrated/disconnected scale.
Just putting that out there for later. Probably for me.
* Clearly we are not at the Dinner Table.
– Steven Savage
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.