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?
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.