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08 August 2006

somewhat incoherent ramblings on fandom

I've been thinking a lot about fandom, fanaticism and arrogant snobbery.

It started on the weekend when I went to Continuum, a speculative fiction convention here in Melbourne. I was speaking on two panels, one about YA fiction with Margo Lanagan, Lucy Sussex and a couple of other experts, and one about Harry Potter with Shaun Tan and some Young People. And I hung around and went to some other panels and talked to some people.

And the people are all lovely. Okay, some of them are a bit strange, but on the whole, that whole stereotype about the locking-yourself-in-the-basement-with-elf-ears-playing-computer-games is just bollocks.

I went to a panel on Doctor Who. Because it is good and I am totally in love with this man. And as I listened to the panellists talking about Doctor Who fans, and what the fans think of the new Doctor, I slowly started to realise something.

And the something was this: I didn't really care. I love Doctor Who. I also love lots of other so-called-geeky things like Red Dwarf and Blackadder and good fantasy books. But I don't belong in the world of fandom, because I don't care that much. I don't care if something is 'canon'. I don't care if 'kissing is just not Doctor Who'. I just care if it's good, and if it's entertaining. (and if David Tennant is wearing his glasses)

And this feeling of not-belonging made me a bit sad, and quite guilty. Maybe I was just being judgemental? Maybe I am secretly one of those people who sneer at science fiction fans. I always thought I was one of the fans, but I'm just not.

And then last night I went to see a documentary called Darkon, about Live Action Role Playing. It was an entertaining documentary. There were lots of funny bits. But there were also lots of really tragic bits. Like the bit where the school-age boy said that his in-game relationship with a gypsy (not a Relationship, just a relationship) was the first real relationship he's had with a human being that's not his parents. That is sad, and not in the jeering, pointing sense of the word that the rest of the audience clearly saw it as.

I think it's amazing that people can devote so much time and effort and creativity into an imaginary pursuit. It's like the game-playing I used to do as a kid (it's not all that unlike writing novels, really, except the LARPers actually put on clothes and leave the house). It is a Good Thing. More people should play and use their imaginations.

I wanted to kill most of the audience.

They were just a bunch of sniggering, finger-pointing snobs. You think it's funny that these people dress up as knights and fight each other in their spare time. What do you do in your spare time? You watch movies about people who dress up as knights and fight each other! And if you lived in a shitty American suburb and had a shitty job where you were never going to earn enough to be able to get out and do something, then wouldn't you want to do something amazing? And if that amazing thing is just imaginary, then who cares? Imaginary is good.

So all I can conclude (I said it would be incoherent) is that I may not fit in to the world of fandom, but I also don't fit in to the so-called-normal world either.

Maybe I'm like the fat kid from Darkon. Maybe I don't fit in anywhere. That's fine, cause I know a whole bunch of other people who don't fit in anywhere either. So I'm in good company.


Christopher Miles said...

I went to a Continuum a couple of years ago, and there was a panel on Doctor Who in which one of the panellists said that the show would never ever return to TV. Which is a great example of the usual negativity of Who fans having a wonderful outcome.

To get to the point, arguing 'canon' is the dullest and most pointless thing you can do. Arguing about kissing is less dull but arguably as pointless.

I'm glad there's a whole generation of kids (in the UK at least, new Who hasn't really caught on here I don't think) who aren't arguing canon or continuity, they're just enjoying a fresh new set of adventures. Give them fifteen or twenty years, though, and they'll be trying to purge from their ranks any other fans who don't happen to know the home planet of the Abzorbaloff and that planet's relationship with Raxacoricofallapatorious. (Klom, and not good.)

Re live action role playing, I read about US LARPers in a magazine once and thought they seemed so much more romantic then mere tabletop RPGers...

Emma said...

I was thinking something similar recently when someone was making fun of online gaming. I wanted to ask "and your recreational pursuit of watching quality television reality shows is so much better?". At least the gamers are interacting with other people!

And I hardly think not being a passionate fan puts you in the same camp as the science fiction haters!

Emma said...

PS Just read and enjoyed Joan! Congrats on a great book!

lili said...

Thanks, Emma!

Justine Larbalestier said...

You, Groucho Marx, you!

John Green said...

Wow. My editor just told me that your blog was great, so I visited, and it IS great. I wish I wrote like this on a daily basis.

Also I think that you might have read and commented in my blog about my book "An Abundance of Katherines," so thank you for that.

Can we read your book in the States yet?

John Green

lili said...

(everyone just excuse me for a moment while i have a fangirl moment because John Green is saying nice things about me on my blog)

John, not only do you write excellently on a daily basis (and actually daily, not sporadically), you also write excellently in Books! So hush your mouth.

Joan is unlikely to be available in the US, because non-fiction for YA is not an easy market to travel. But keep an eye out for the novel, which is being writ as i type this...

...well, not literally. I can't type different things with each hand. It would be cool if I could.