Fandoms create opportunities to better self, community

Hannah Kopek, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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I remember the first time I picked up a Harry Potter book. I was six years old, and I could barely reach the Sorcerer’s Stone off the bookshelf. Ever since, I’ve been wrapped up in a world of magical books and cinema. The Harry Potter fandom encompasses fans of the books, movies, and extended universe.
A fandom is a “kingdom’ of fans (or just a group of individuals) with shared interest and feelings about a pop culture installation on tv or in print. I consider myself to be a part of multiple fandoms: Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Marvel, and of course Harry Potter. I’ve met many new people and made many friends over our shared interests. Being a part of fandoms is a great way to connect with people and make a difference in the lives of others.
Supernatural is on its fifteenth and final year, reaching out and pulling people along the journey every step of the way. Through hierarchical diffusion, the stars of the show have been able to lead campaigns for great social causes. Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester on the show, has shared his experiences with clinical depression and, through the fandom, has spread the message to “always keep fighting.” The whole cast also released a shirt for “Supernatural Day” that raised over $280,000 for Hurricane Dorian relief.
Another Supernatural co-star, Misha Collins, has pioneered a charity called Random Acts. He donates his time and money to help those in need all around the world, like helping provide prosthetics for those who have lost limbs to landmines in Laos. Supporters of his movement have also taken the initiative to make a difference in their own communities, from providing school supplies to children in need to distributing personal hygiene products to women living in homes while focusing on their sobriety.
Being a fan of characters in shows and movies is also a way to make fast friends. The term internet friends has grown since the founding of social media sites like Tumblr. Conventions serve as neutral ground for fans to meet and make friendships and professional connections, or as a conduit to meet the stars of beloved tv shows and movies.
Through popular tv shows and movies, people can identify with a character they see on screen. Characters can inspire viewers to grow. For example, fans of Hermione Granger may find themselves keener to read and study. According to ScientificAmerican.com, passages from Harry Potter that engaged children in a discussion about prejudice saw a change in the child’s relationships with other people.
Members of fandoms can delve into their artistic side by engaging in creative activities. Fan art, transformative fan fiction, and cosplay photos can be found on any fandom’s threads. Video edits run abundant on Instagram alone. The characters and plot seen and appreciated by fans can encourage and cultivate many artistic mediums. According to Lectureinprogress.com, fan art can help artists introduce their name into the art world, and potentially lead to a career. Moreover, fan art can be added to a portfolio which can be used to obtain college scholarships because it can have artistic merit.
Some series also hold educational value. The original Doctor Who, which was broadcast on BBC in the 1960’s, was meant to be an instructional show, teaching its young viewers about science when the Doctor would travel forward in time, and history when he would travel back.
Fandoms can also help jump start small businesses. Funko Pop! figurines had a slow start in a small coastal town in Washington. After making their way through several different series, they finally released the Pop! collection at a toy convention. Now, the company ships world-wide and releases new figurines for a multitude of movies, television shows, and video games.
Anyone can be a part of a fandom – dressing up or making fan art is not a requirement. It is like being a part of something bigger than yourself. Despite carrying a “nerdy” connotation, being a part of a fandom is quite possibly the best group I have ever been in.
There is always something to be learned from the messages we see on TV shows and movies, and what better way to spread the positivity than by celebrating those who write, direct, and act in them?

 

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