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Posts Tagged ‘fandom’


[I want to preface this post by adding an addendum to the previous post regarding The King’s Speech.  I don’t want anybody to come away with the thought that my problem was severe as his.  What he did was truly heroic, as Colin Firth said in an interview.  My issue flowed from partial deafness; gnarbled sounds equalled gnarbled speech.  Once my parents and school therapists realized one caused the other, my speech impediment was basically controlled by age 11.  My comments mainly concerned experiences as child and efforts not to lose ground as an adult.  I don’t feel as badly plagued as he was, but can truly empathize and identify.  So, there is nothing brave about me.]

Anyway, believe it or not, I’ve been ramping up to talk about my first exposure to fandom, except for maybe the bits about blizzards, dogs and computers.  I actually drafted a partial post about an adult fandom experience but realized that if this was to be an introspective view, I needed to explain my thoughts.  But everytime I questioned why I behaved a certain way, it led to earlier and earlier experiences requiring more peripheral explanations.  So, I’m going to chuck it all and take things way back – before I was born

When my mother was 16 years old she developed a fascination for a young British actor, named Laurence Olivier.  When Wuthering Heights premiered in 1939, she made her boyfriend (my father) take her to see it so many times, he finally refused.  Way before he became Sir Larry and Lord Olivier, she knew LO would be considered a great actor. In fact, she would shake her fist and exclaim, “I knew he would be great, before he was great!”  I was small child when the film was broadcast on televison for the first time.  While she squeed and exclaimed and sighed, my father would smirk, shake his head and walk out of the room.  This was my first experience with a fangrrl.  I looked forward to repeats just to see my proper mother behave so unseemingly, although my parents’ reactions signaled it was all silly and fun.  Later I paid more attention to the actors and thought they talked funny.  Then I realized I could understand every word.   Remember this was before anybody realized my hearing problem.

Thus was born my love of British films.  Because of the lilting tones and crisp diction, I could hear every syllable and consonant.  When a speech therapist informed me I wasn’t talking like others’, I loosely patterned my speech after the Received Pronunciation type British accent in an effort to enunciate clearly. Pygmalion with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller was one of my favorite films. British actors became my personal speech therapists and Laurence Olivier headed the list, spurred on by my totally smitten mother.  We watched Wuthering Heights every single time it was broadcast (along with anything else LO made).  When finally after viewing Love Among the Ruins for the upteenth time I admitted,  yes, LO was a great actor, she loudly cheered, “yes, he’s finally gotten to my daughter!”   Her crush continued some 47 years until her death.  Wow, that’s what I call a loyal fan.

I wonder if her crush would have lasted as long in this internet age of information access.  I suspect my mother would have preferred not knowing facts disclosed about LO in recent years.  But in her time, the star system and satellite media panted rosey pictures of its actors and so, my mother managed to preserve the innocence of her fantasy.  In a way, that’s kind of sweet.

Speaking of sweet, I thought this picture is just that:

Richard Armitage realizes he has fans while on Red Carpet at BAFTAs 2007

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I went to bed last night feeling quite pleased with myself for actually proceeding with this experiment.  Just as I drifted off, my mind decided it wasn’t quite done and directed a few stomach flip-flops.  “Are you sure you want to talk about being in fandom?” it asked. “Because people will know.”  This touched off a bizarre feeling; you know, the one you get when you’re arguing with yourself and think you just might have finally gone around the bend.   “People will know WHAT?” I thought furiously.  This transpired in my head and not out loud, so don’t worry.

Blogging about fandom will be an official acknowledgment of being a fan.  I’ve always been the reluctant variety with only a few like-minded people aware of my particular hobby horse.  I once was a fan of a particular actor (a mystery man!) and found an outrageously expensive autographed framed photograph of him.  Anxious to break out of my careful predictable mindset, I decided to take a spontaneous risk and buy it.  (Trial and error and a lot of sleepless nights over other actions later taught me that spontaneity and risk taking did not mean what I thought it did.)   As soon the squeeing stopped, I wondered what to do because I didn’t want anybody but close friends to see it.    So this costly piece of foolishness lived in the closet, literally, for years because I might be fingered as a fan.

This is probably a generational fear. I grew up during the heyday of the Trekkies, the biggest fandom at the time.  These followers of Star Trek had a reputation for being rabidly devoted and a bit bonkers. They were known to ask actors on the show impossible questions: “In episode 4 of season 2, when you fought that Klingon while being taken over by a Vulcan parasite, what were you thinking?”  This image was widely publicized by an infamous skit on Saturday Night Live skit where a total dork’s ridiculous questions sparked a rant by William Shatner to “Get a life!”

I dreaded being perceived as being like That Guy.  I couldn’t be taken seriously in my profession if people thought I was That Girl.  Of course over time I discovered this was a stereotype and fans ran the gamut of enthusiasm and sanity.  Now days, easy internet access has caused an explosion of fandoms.  There are many magazines, websites, and entertainment programs dedicated to celebrity watching.  The cult of celebrity is huge. People readily talk about their favorite show or person.  Nobody cares as long behavior is kept within a reasonable parameters.

So, I won the argument with, erm, myself.  It’s okay people will know.  I’ve done nothing for which I should be ashamed.  I’m not running for political office.  It’s no big deal.

Last year my sitter came to watch my dogs while I was away.  In my haste to leave, I forgot remove a picture of another actor (another mystery man!)  from my desktop and turn a large picture calendar to the wall in the den where she would be staying.  I noticed when I returned that the calendar had been turned to the wall.  ‘Oh,” I exclaimed in embarrassment.  ‘Hey,” she said.  “That’s a nice picture but I had to turn it around. Every time I looked up from the bed, there he was staring at me!”   That was the beginning and end of it.  So much for her knowing.

I’m considering leaving a picture of RA on my desktop to see what she thinks.  Notice the smooth segue.  I might become good at this.

Guy is amused

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne, Richard Armitage Central Gallery

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