Fandom Culture: My Experience

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Yes, I will admit it, despite the innate shame I feel: I was a part of fandom tumblr back in the day. No, not only a part of it; I LIVED and BREATHED fandom culture, spending near excessive amounts of time on the internet talking about my favourite fan theories, ships, and characters, watching fan-edits and reading fan-fiction (and occasionally writing it too; don’t ask).

And yes, just to make it extra Tumblr-stereotypical, I was obsessed with Superwholock Tumblr. I ran a Supernatural themed blog, with an equally cringey username, and spent my days trawling through endless Destiel (if you know you know) edits and fancanons, even creating a few myself.

Forums would explode following every episode, flooding my creaking laptop with excited jargon regarding what could happen next, ‘omg did you see the way they looked at eachother??? THEY’RE IN LOVE’, and other general fandom lingo. It wasn’t only Supernatural for me either; Sherlock, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Hannibal (I still stand by this show as the best thing ever), LOTR, Dragon Age, Marvel… the list goes on. Even saying these once internet-ruling names makes me feel like a relic.

As much as I cringe at it now, I actually look back at my Tumblr days with a bit of fondness, too. Don’t get me wrong, fandom culture can be incredibly toxic; don’t even get me started on the arguments that would crop up over the tiniest of things, like deciding on a  character’s certain eye colour in an episode.

But in my obsession with this questionable TV show, I found a community of people who enjoyed (and actually wanted to talk about) all these little things that, in a wider picture, seem meaningless. I’d chat for hours on group chats and forums about fan theories, would read my online friends fanfics, reblog their artworks, and listen to their character playlists; it felt like a safe space I could retreat into. It’s also safe to say that, despite looking back on it now it was definitely a questionable place to gather info and find that kind of community, I, amongst other Tumblr kids, learned a lot about sexual identity as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community who didn’t really know where else to look.

There’s an inside joke that Tumblr back in the day was just the place that all the gay or gay-questioning kids flocked to, and to be honest, that rings true in my personal experience. It wasn’t a weird thing to talk about there, and even though fandoms definitely weren’t the best place to learn this information, I didn’t really have anywhere else to turn to, and I’m thankful I was given that space to learn and grow.

This felt almost like an exposé and a confession of my Tumblr days, but honestly, it is a period of my life that, albeit still feeling a bit embarrassing, I do find almost endearing. I made some really great friends online that helped me a lot through my formative teenage years, and still have great memories. Live watch-parties and the explosions following a new episode or the excitement that oftentimes would crash Tumblr following a new trailer or TV spot (looking at you Marvel). Tumblr might have fallen out of fashion now, but fandom culture lives on in new spaces, in the form of stan Twitter and stan Instagram; I think fandom culture will always prevail. Communities form out of a shared love of something and want to share that love with others, and this is exactly what fandoms epitomise; I find that kind of beautiful, in a way.

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records editor 2020/21 !! 3rd year film and english student. can be often found arguing about costuming in the avenue cafe or crying into a beefy novel in hartley

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