It’s so freaking hard to talk about anything on Tumblr, isn’t it? It’s frustrating because those conversations were always one of my favorite parts of fandom. But in the last eight months, I’ve found myself staying silent in the face of the vigorous debates that rose in the aftermath of series 3….
I’m going to respond, at the risk of making it all academic and ruining it for everyone (<— this is a joke, intended to lighten the mood, which may or may not read as a joke to you, YMMV, with full acknowledgement that I have been very esoteric and all academicky in the past), with something that I’ve been playing with in my head.
Historically, we’ve thought of fandom as community/ies - virtual places where people share - enthusiasm, ideas, passion, interests, etc. Something they have in common, and it’s the commonality that binds them. In academic literature, it’s not uncommon to see fandom theorized as “imagined communities,” which is an idea borrowed from the political scientist Benedict Anderson (and, wow, his name just took on layers of added significance for me).
An imagined community, as used in fan studies, emphasizes the sense of collective belonging, of a shared vocabulary, values, language - interests - that exceeds face-to-face interactions. And there’s probably no fan that hasn’t felt that way when they’ve stumbled onto a group of people who are talking about something they love in ways that they’ve been thinking or feeling about it all along. I don’t think it’s wrong to think of fandom as imagined community, but what I do think is that, in thinking of fandom as community, we kind of favor the utopian side of communities (camaraderie, friendship, passion, a sense of being in something together, you and me against the rest of the world, etc.).
(so sorry about that last one, by the way)
(and that one too)