Monthly Archives: September 2016

Guilty Pleasures-Purchasing Fandom

You’re shopping at your favorite store, and suddenly something catches your eye.  It’s not something you really need, but it reminds you of your childhood, or afternoons spend with friends at the movie theatre or the ballpark, and you have to have it.  Before you realize what you’ve done, you have purchased a piece of fan memorabilia.  What impulses lead us, as adults, to purchase iconic artifacts of beloved shows?  What drives push us to wear a team name on our chests, or to have their banner decorate our house or car?

stalls at the Sci Fi market

Photo credit: Scorpions and Centaurs via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that expressions of fandom are just for kids or just for Halloween, or just something to do on the weekends when the team is playing.  Of course, kids like fan merchandise, but they take their cues from parents willing to indulge and even encourage, because we need an excuse to plunge into the fad ourselves.

Did you buy your child Star Wars sheets because you always wanted some yourself when you were a kid?  Did you have more fun setting up the Lord of the Rings playset than the youngster you “purchased” it for?  Who had more fun at fan day at the ballpark collecting autographs, you or the nephew you “borrowed” for the day as an excuse to go?

Museums devoted to the memories of rock stars, television icons, and sporting halls of fame exist because there are those out there who are interested enough to come, and pay to visit their attractions.  Special shows such as the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit “Star Wars and the Power of the Costume” draw attention even from those who are not “fans” simply because of the impact the cultural phenomenon has had on multiple generations.

Websites such as http://www.ThinkGeek.com or http://www.SportsMemorabilia.com cater not to children, but those who are young at heart.  Do we do it because for nostalgia, because it speaks to us of cherished memories, or is there a deeper meaning?  Do we seek to display our individuality, or are we seeking camaraderie in a group of like-minded “fans”?  Do our collections say that we are whimsical at heart, or do we exhibit an obsession with a particular icon or genre?

There are probably as many reasons for amassing fan merchandise as there are fans of anything out there.  Our individual tastes vary, but there is somewhere, either around us or in an online community a group of others who enjoy the same thing.  We can share our devotion for a favorite show that has gone off the air.  In a few instances these outpourings of love and devotion have led to shows being brought back, either online or another network, or in movie format.

We can cheer our hometown team, or our alma mater, no matter where we currently reside.  We can find others who share our passion, and pass along news, information, appearances of faves, and tips for further collecting or displaying our finds.

Together it is possible to build an enduring community of fandom in whatever we choose.  Wherever a group shows an interest, there will be some way to indulge it and someone ready to produce related merchandise.  Share your interests with others, and every now and then, don’t be afraid to indulge your passion.  After all, it’s just a part of who you are, and who you want to be.

Have fun!

Amy

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What is Your Greatest Fear?

What are you afraid of?

I don’t mean those things that scare you when you wake in the middle of the night and are too drowsy to bother with a light and you’re not sure why you’re awake anyway; but the things that haunt you in broad daylight, that take your breath away in the middle of a sunny afternoon, surrounded by people who should make you feel safe.

What we fear, and how we deal with it, can give experts cause to discuss and explain and share strategies for accepting that can seem as varied and endless as the stars in the sky.  Some would tell us fear is a good thing; that it’s healthy, that it’s normal.  I’m not here to dispute any of that; I’m merely curious what brings out that heart-thumping, knee-shaking, hair-standing-on-end reaction in each of us.

Fear of the Dark

Photo credit: stuant63 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

No two people show exactly the same fears in the same way.  Of course, two people in a crowd may both be afraid of spiders, but they will manifest their fears quite differently- one may simply scream when she sees a large spider land nearby but another may actually jump on the closest chair at its approach.  And who’s to say any reaction is right or wrong?

Some people freeze when confronted with their fears; while some strike out, either at the object of their fear or at their environment, at something they know cannot hurt them.  Family members have arguments that are rooted not in actual differences but in fears, which they may be reluctant to share with those closest to them.

How do you handle fear?  Do you confront it head on, or try to ignore it until it or the cause goes away?  This is a common choice for many of us, and a natural instinct, but unfortunately one that usually doesn’t work.  Even if you can wait out the cause of your fear, there’s nothing to stop it from returning if it’s not been dealt with.  Ignoring the source of our fears is at best a delaying tactic, and a confrontation, while not desirable, is usually inevitable.

Perhaps it’s better to face fears on our own terms, rather than wait for them to take us by surprise, to catch us when we are most vulnerable.  While it’s never easy to do so, the reward is a sense of achievement that can’t be found elsewhere.  Your particular fear may not be something that can be overcome by one person, but perhaps your courage will inspire others to act.  Perhaps you can beat your fear by sharing it with others, and working together.    Perhaps in camaraderie you will find the end of fear.

Here’s to being human-we all are sometimes afraid, and we all have trouble facing those fears.  Here’s hoping you are successful at overcoming yours, whatever they may be.

Amy

Feeling the “Fall”

I admit it, summer’s not my season.  When the mercury rises above the 90 degree mark and the humidity takes on the consistency of pea soup, I would rather be in an air-conditioned house than outside working on my tan.  My outlook on the great outdoors changes, though, as September comes and the first hints of autumn stir the breeze.

Crisp, cool air assails my senses and invigorates my resolve as a cascade of colorful leaves covers meticulously green lawns.  Harvest festivals tempt with scents of apples and pumpkin spice and overwhelm with their bounty.

~Autumn Leaves~

Photo credit: ~Xiu Xiu~ via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

As anticipation of cool nights and upcoming celebrations lurks around the corner, I find myself enthralled by the wonders of the season and as hopeful as a child to bring out the holiday decorations, to rearrange the furniture to accommodate jack-o-lanterns (and later Christmas trees), to plan festive desserts and an array of the perfect gifts for various and sundry.

Suddenly it is impossible to step in a store without a reminder of the season in terms of Halloween costumes and colorful pumpkins, both natural and crafted out of every material imaginable.  It’s time to purchase mums and look for orange candles, to unearth dusty Styrofoam tombstones and stockpile treats for costumed visitors.

Halloween is Coming

Photo credit: Muffet via Foter.com / CC BY

The harvest moon dominates the autumn sky, as stories of ghosts and monsters both glamorous and macabre appear in abundance on both large and small screens, as well as from groups gathered around a bonfire-whisperings of imaginings that excite the spirit as we take pleasure in those things that frighten us, that “go bump in the night.”

It’s time to let go of the summer projects that were never finished or even began, and focus instead on the necessities of the new season to come.  Whatever part of the season moves you; be it football, holidays, tailgating, apple picking, Christmas shopping (how many days are left?); fall is a time for revival and reflection, for thanksgiving and enjoying both the season and the company.

I hope you enjoy yourself as much as I plan to!

Amy

The Art of Imitation

For all that various movie and TV producers and marketers of books seek to promote interest among their sometimes-rabid fans; one aspect of fandom sometimes gets the cold shoulder.  I’m referring to fan-made tributes to their faves, namely fan-produced artwork and fanfiction.

Some fans of particular storylines or universes “play” with particular characters as a labor of love, or of devotion, to the original.  Some use established characters and storylines as a way of developing their own skills, or copy existing characters to practice their craft in paint, digital graphics or other forms of visual art.  Still others choose to write stories out of desire for altered plotlines, story finales that didn’t satisfy, or to change a beloved character’s sexual orientation or life experience.

Numerous websites are devoted to sharing such works with other fans, and some of these amateur “authors” go on to publish their own original work.  In this way, fanfiction can be seen as a training ground for aspiring writers; among those who admit to producing such at one point in their careers are Meg Cabot and the legendary Stephen King.

Many authors/producers are flattered by the interest and devotion of their fans, and some have even taken steps to encourage it.  It can be flattering, and even be considered publicity for the authors’ original work.  Of course some professional authors are more concerned about plagiarism and copyrights, and it should go without saying that fan creations should always include disclaimers about ownership and not in any way produce profit for their imitators.

You may say you could never imagine indulging in this making fanfiction yourself:  okay, then, pick a story you have loved, either from childhood or perhaps a difficult point in your life. It can be it a movie, a TV series, or a book character, as long as it was something that meant more to you than an image on a screen or words on the page.  Did this character help you in some way, by becoming something you could identify with or look up to?  Was this fictional character a friend, a mentor, a hero?  Perhaps it was a passing fancy, or a seriously unrealistic obsession.  (I won’t ask you to admit that!)  The point is, this character(s) took on a life beyond the original intention for you.

Now, imagining your character, did you ever at least have an idea for a new plot involving him?  Did you wish for a different outcome to an existing storyline, or did you find that the questions left unanswered by the conclusion leave you wanting more?  If you were unsatisfied by the writer/producer and thought of a way in which the conflict could have better been resolved, then you have taken the first steps to create your own fanfiction.

Perhaps you are or have been an art or graphic art student.  You have a project to do, and instead of an original subject you decide to copy a popular character, one that speaks to you for whatever reason.  Maybe it is a character that is familiar and so is easy to draw, maybe you find it easy to find “official” images of the character to use for reference.  In making your own version of another character, you’ve produced a fan image.

So, it’s more common than you think, and as long as you “create” with respect to the original and in no way try to pass off the professional work, or any aspect of it, as your own, it can be fun.  Bear in mind that while “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” (Charles Caleb Colton), these authors earn their living from their original work, and depend on your support for their next book series, episode or movie, even more than you look forward to it!