Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Synergy of Fandom

Tanya's post yesterday fits nicely with mine, because cons are part of the synergy of fandom. That's what I call the phenomenon that takes a show you like and turns it into something joyous and fulfilling, not just a piece of entertainment that fills an hour once a week.

My first obsession passion was Brendan Fraser, shortly after the second Mummy movie came out. It only lasted long enough for me to rent everything he'd ever done. I didn't know anyone else who liked him, but a forum on a fan site gave me an outlet for a few months. Then Brendan kind of had a lull in his releases, and my obsession passion faded.

A few years later, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring came out. I'd never read the books, but oh, man, did I become obsessed with the movie phenomenon. That went on a long time, as long as new information from behind the scenes was released, and past the Oscars. I started watching Lost only because Dominic Monaghan was on it. (He played Merry, in case you never made the connection.) This was my first foray into "fandom," the world surrounding a great piece of entertainment. There were places I could go to get news every day, and tons of articles and interviews and videos to feed my obsession. But it could only climb so high, because back then, even the worldwide connection that is the Internet wasn't all that personal.

I have other passions. I'm a Browncoat. I listen to Pottercast and bought Harry, a History. From September to January, you'll be hard put to have a conversation with me that doesn't contain a football analogy. All of these have a commonality with my Supernatural obsession passion, but none come close to the intensity with which I love this show. And I blame the fandom.

When I first started watching the show, I had one friend (waves at AuthorM) who'd already been watching it. Slowly, we enticed some mutual friends, and some non-mutual friends, into giving it a try. They in turn found some more. I talked about it on my blog, and discovered some existing acquaintances (waves at Mary and Trish) who also liked it. When the show wasn't available to me (stoopid hiatuses), I put out feelers to find places that expanded on the experience of just watching (Plastic!Winchester Theater, Encyclopedia of Weirdness (comic), and an LJer who did Ten Things I Love About Episode X lists that numbered in the dozens). Through those, I made some new friends (waves at Gail). Sharing the experience enhanced it, gave my love some fertilizer and room to grow.

Then it got bigger. After season two, some of us held "Supernatural Summer," where we watched the first two seasons, a few episodes every week. We drew a new fan into the fold (waves at Ava) and did it again last summer, packing three seasons into about 12 weeks. And during season four I started weekly chats immediately after new episodes, and joined a blog with a group of brilliant writers who are fans like me (waves at Terri and Tanya, Trish and Mary).

All of that seems pretty extreme for a TV show, but I'm obviously not alone. There are huge forums like TWoP and Buddy TV, destinations for massive groups of fans of various shows where they dissect and analyze and discuss to levels far beyond what you find here. Tanya mentioned the fan conventions--Creation Entertainment also does them for Twilight, Stargate, Farscape, and Xena, as well as genre events for scifi and horror. Seven years later, there are still events being held for Firefly/Serenity, the Joss Whedon TV show that was canceled after 14 episodes and spawned an awesome but low-box-office movie. Do you think anyone would have cared this much 20 years ago, back before we could communicate with each other so easily?

No matter how much a person loves something, whether it's knitting or a game or sport or a TV show, if their love is self-contained, never shared, there is a limit to how big that love can get.

But put it out there, share it, and it can grow to infinity. It can make you cry at the prospect of losing it, or spend hundreds of dollars to go to a convention to get closer to it. The love can last far longer than the creation that generated it.

If I was alone in my love of Supernatural, it would still be there. I'd watch the show eagerly every week, and I'd watch it over and over. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki would still be on my List (you know what one I'm talking about!), and I'd still watch their horror movies and Jim Beaver's reportedly terrible new TV show (Harper's Island, starting in April!).

But it would be enough. If there weren't others for me to reach out and touch, I wouldn't spend hours analyzing the ramifications of a single line of dialogue. Thinking about the show from perspectives of my fellow bloggers or my friends or people over at Buddy TV whose opinions make me goggle inspires a host of new feelings as well as deeper thoughts.

The love, the excitement, grow logarithmically the more people I bring into my obsession passion.

That's synergy.

And I never want to be without it.


AuthorM said...

I am so glad your cable package allowed you to start getting Supernatural, because it wouldn't be half as much fun watching without you.

I'd still watch it without all the other stuff (and I avoid most fandom outlets so I remain spoiler free) but it's TALKING about it that makes the experience so much better.

The after show squee on Thursday nights is such a highlight!

And who'd have ever thunk we'd pay money to go to a convention?

I love Supernatural!!!!

For more than just the show itself...


Victoria said...

I love it, too, (thanks to you and M) and, like M, for more than the show itself. Thursday night squee and chat is one of the best parts. And Supernatural Summer! I agree, talking about it makes it so much better.
I still wish a miracle would happen so I could go to the convention!

Anonymous said...

I love sharing my fanaticism with others. I only wish I could watch the shows with you guys!

They're saying Harper is bad? I'm still going to check it out. I didn't know Jim was in it, but I knew about Katie Cassidy.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Ditto, M and V!

Maybe someday if we all end up at a writer's conference we can do a mini-SPN marathon. :)

Terri, I only saw one comment about Harper's Island by a TV reviewer, and she just said she couldn't recommend it at all, but not why. So we'll see. I didn't know/remember Katie Cassidy was on it! I just knew Jim Beaver has been more absent from SPN this season because of that (hence, Bobby being "at Hedonism in a trucker cap and a banana hammock").

phouse1964 said...

The most fun I have ever had is getting new people to watch this show! Now I can talk to by BFF and the lady that works with em about ti! So only two RL friends but that's two! And my BFF got her mom and boyfriend to watch so that's two more indirectly!

I watch my DVD's every night as I lay in bed. I tried watchdog other things but they are just boring in comparison. I am about to start S3 again tonight (for the 3rd time on DVD - my DVR repeats don't count yall!)

Plus the pre-bedtime viewing makes for some yummy dreams.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I like the way you operate, phouse! :)

Two conversions is excellent, and as you said, they convert more, who convert more...it's been working, since we do have higher ratings this year!