Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Sneaky Nature of Fandoms

I was pondering last night on the natures of fandoms (I use the word in a loose context, BTW, I mean anything you can be a fan of, not just nerd things). In particular, I was thinking about how the love of something can be either immediate, or come up out of the blue and over time. Or how you can be a fan of something for a long time, and never really understand exactly what it is you're a fan of. I have a few examples.

My fandom I have been indulging this week is Pirates of the Caribbean. Yeah, y'all know what I'm talking about. There are not enough flattering words for those movies. This was a fandom that was immediate, it took no time at all, sitting in the movie theater that first time, to just fall in love with everything about it. I loved the story, I loved the costumes and sets, and more than anything, I LOVED the characters. Captain Jack Sparrow in particular. Like a lot of people, in the wake of Lord of the Rings, I had gone to the movie primarily interested in seeing Orlando Bloom, since he'd pulled off the whole hot Elf thing so well.

And I left that theater with a raging crush on Johnny Depp.

Who can blame me? Most everyone else did the same thing. This was the movie that skyrocketed Johnny Depp to superstardom, and for good reason. He is my favorite actor, and he deserves it. There is not a role that this man cannot play. Trust me, I've seen a lot of his work. He is brilliant.

So, anyway, there's my example of a fandom that was immediate. An instant love of the Pirates world and everything in it. My next example, the sneaky fandom that pops up out of the blue, is another Hollywood alum.

Robert Downey Jr. I'm fairly sure I have mentioned once or twice my . . . slight obsession with this man before. And it's an obsession that truly came out of nowhere. I had seen Iron Man before, and I liked it. I had seen other movies with RDJ before, specifically Sherlock Holmes, and while I liked them, it wasn't anywhere near a fandom level. Just a standard, "Oh, this is a good movie, he's a good actor" kind of thing. I think I was watching Jude Law while watching Sherlock Holmes more than I watched Robert Downey Jr.

But then, one night my husband and I decided to watch Iron Man again, and . . . the fandom was born. I fell in love.

Something about that arrogant, funny, quick-witted character had me glued to the screen in a way I hadn't been the first time I watched it. I was utterly enthralled. And then, I'm not sure exactly what happened next, but either way they happened in quick succession. I watched Sherlock Holmes again. And it was clear that it was not just Tony Stark who had stolen my heart. It was the incredibly gifted actor playing the role.

Don't get me wrong, I adore the character of Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes as well, but my heart truly belongs to RDJ. And the same time as watching Sherlock Holmes, I also made the big, BIG mistake of looking up clips of Robert Downey Jr on YouTube.

I was stuck there for days. I kid you not, I do not exaggerate. Days. Yes, breaks were taken for things like eating, mothering, sleeping, etc., but I did not do any other personal time activities other than watch clips of that man for DAYS. Hours upon hours upon hours, and one stint even lasted 8 hours after I put Sammy to bed! I'm not kidding! I voraciously pounced upon every video I could find that had RDJ in it. I saw clips from movies, I saw dozens of interviews, I saw behind the scenes featurettes, I saw everything. I can even tell you which video it was when I absolutely fell in love with him, the man, not the characters.

This one.

Again, not kidding. I've seen that clip probably 20 times now. I have it memorized. Shut up. I can feel you laughing.

Anyway, that spawned an outrageous need to watch every movie RDJ had ever been in (he and Johnny Depp are similar in that they can play ANY role), know about his life (that was a party, let me tell you), and I also discovered that he is a musician. A d*mn good one. I hadn't even known it, but he had even released an album.

Which I downloaded. And listen to frequently. And sing along, because I have all those memorized too. (Side note: I kind of melted a little bit when I heard his voice. Like, into a puddle of gelatinous goo on the floor because it had been awhile since I had heard something so seductive and sexy as that husky, gorgeous voice.) Here's a link to one of my favorites songs of his, if you wanna give it a listen.

Now, I want to make sure we're clear that I'm not stalking the man, or that I'm a creeper. I've purposely kept myself from going THAT far. (I don't live in Hollywood anyway, so it's not feasible.) I know what year he was born, but not what day, and I know about his family, but not intimate details. And I think that Robert and his wife, Susan, are the most adorable couple in the world.

Their love story is just ridiculously cute. (Yes, I watched that interview. And that one. And that one . . . )

So, yeah. Fandom that inexplicably became a fandom despite having been exposed to it before. And, I'll have you know, this is the fandom I am currently most known for. If my friends have a RDJ related question, guess who they ask . . . And I usually know the answer.

This next one is the fandom where I was a fan for years, and didn't even know it. And this one goes to the King of Rock and Roll.


Look at that face. Who doesn't love that face?

Anyway, this fandom came about in an interesting way. See, I have inherited most of my music tastes from my parents. When I was little, I was exposed to a big variety of music, since my parents have different tastes. My mom loves country, my dad loves . . . well, he loves a lot of stuff that played when he was growing up. So whenever we were at home or in the car, there was always music going. Country with my mom, an alternative rock station for my dad when he wasn't listening to KSL (news, talking, I hated it), and for four solid years there, we were parked on an oldies station that played music from the 50's through the 70's. Carpenters, Air Supply, the Beach Boys, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. All of the goodies. Even if I didn't know the words, I knew the tune, and boy, do I have memories associated with all those tunes.

Anyway, while we were in this oldies phase, I heard and loved so many songs, but being a kid, I never bothered to really find out who sang what. I knew the Carpenters by sound, since it was so distinct, but I knew very few others. (For the record, I could also pick out Reba McEntire in a lineup. My mom was very proud.) So I heard Devil in Disguise, Return to Sender, Suspicious Minds, Can't Help Falling in Love, all without knowing that it was Elvis singing those songs. Even Jailhouse Rock didn't tweak in my head that it was Elvis.

And then, many years later while I worked as a librarian and I was putting CD's away one day, I happened to flip over an Elvis CD to look over his songs and lo, to my surprise, I had been a fan of Elvis all those years and never knew it!

Return to Sender and Devil in Disguise were a couple of my favorite songs and I had never known that they were Elvis songs! I gleefully took that CD home, listening with joy to songs that I loved that now had a name to go with a voice. I was pleasantly surprised! No wonder everyone made such a fuss about Elvis, now I knew why!

So Elvis turned out to be one of those fandoms that I'd been participating in all those years, just without knowing exactly what I was a fan of. I didn't mind finding that out, especially when I looked up pictures of the guy and discovered he was even more smoking hot that I had originally known (I'm talking younger Elvis, not horrible hair, jumpsuit Elvis).

I even have a poster, it's on my ceiling right now. Next to a poster of Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

Robert Downey Jr. in an Avengers poster is on the back of my door, which is another fandom, BTW.

I love fandoms. I love being a fan of things. I love being a nerd in the way that I can have totally unreasonable, irrational love and excitement about something that I find amazing and cool and worth my time. Simon Pegg said it best in this quote, I love it so much;

"Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating."
― Simon Pegg

You are so right, Simon. Being a geek is liberating. Having fandoms is joyful and liberating. Having an unabashed love for something so distant from yourself is a unique kind of freedom. And so, I devote myself to my fandoms. I devote myself to the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp, Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. Elvis. Harry Potter and J.R.R. Tolkein. Julia Quinn and J.R. Ward (romance authors). Narnia and Wonderland. I wholeheartedly express my enthusiastic, over the top, and sometimes childish love for these things that have endeared themselves to me and earned my eternal adoration.

I salute you, fandoms. I'm yours forever.

Now tell me, dear reader . . . share your dirty secret. What is, or are, your fandoms(s)?

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