Thursday, September 5, 2013

So I'm a Fangirl -- So What?

Les Miserables premiered on HBO last Saturday, and as I get virtually every premium channel thanks to my cable company screwing up my installation and my roommate complaining enough, I have watched it at least five times since then. I saw it in theaters, of course, but months after it came out, and I went before noon so I could get the matinee price at AMC. I cried, of course, but I cry at everything, so that's no big revelation. I enjoyed the cast's performance at the Oscars, and I listened to the soundtrack once or twice on Spotify. But I didn't buy it on DVD, nor do I own the soundtrack, and my sudden desire to completely devour this movie isn't necessarily because I'm a fan of the movie (though I do enjoy it) or musicals (though I am), but more so because all of a sudden I realized how awesome Aaron Tveit is. Which of course has led to repeated viewings of the movie (seriously, it'll come on one HBO and then the west coast version of that channel and I'll watch it again) and many listens of the soundtrack. Which led to tracking down the soundtracks to Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can and watching multiple videos on YouTube of Aaron in Wicked and Hairspray and Rent. And his album comes out tomorrow. And I'll end up watching Graceland.

But I guess not everyone feels this way? I have friends who don't understand how I can read a book more than once, let alone 8000 times like Harry Potter. People question why I saw a movie multiple times in the theater, though granted I've done that for some questionable films. Even my family members roll their eyes when I start talking about things like how the Teen Wolf fandom exploded when Brittany Snow's birthday pictures got hacked and released without her permission.

I can tell that they think I'm weird, and they're wondering when I'm going to stop being a freak and start being normal.

This is what I do. Always. Whenever I "discover" something, whenever I become a fan of something, I can't just like it. I have to know everything about it. I know that casual fans exist -- people who can just watch a television show and don't become overly invested in the characters or the cast. I am not a casual fan. I never have been. And people may not understand why I get so into something, but I don't understand how you can NOT get into something.

If I'm a fan of an actor, odds are I've seen everything he or she has ever done, even the shitty movies. (Do you have any idea how many times I've seen Hall Pass simply for Tyler Hoechlin's 10+ minutes of screen time? Oh my god, have you SEEN Grizzly Rage?) I set up Google alerts so that any time they're mentioned anywhere I can find out about it. I know their birthday and their favorite color and if I find out they're going to be in NYC I try to figure out how I can "casually" bump into them even though to this date it has never worked.

I go through phases. I'll refer to a movie and go, "That was during my Josh Hartnett phase," which is why I saw The Faculty a ridiculous amount of times or actually got Pearl Harbor on DVD (even though I've yet to actually watch the DVD).

If I'm a fan of a television show, odds are I've seen every episode multiple times. I could probably quote entire seasons to you if given enough time. I own it on DVD and have it on my computer so that I can easily make graphics. I probably own a few t-shirts devoted to it, much like the Weeping Angels shirt I am currently sporting. I spend more time discussing the lives of the characters than I do people I actually know. I will get into passionate arguments as to why Merlin and Arthur were totally in love. I have written fanfiction and made shipper videos.

Thanks to the internet (particularly Livejournal and Tumblr), I know that I'm not alone. We're called fangirls, and people tend to look down on us and dismiss the entire group as hyperactive, overemotional teenagers, even though a lot of us are none of those things. Because there are some people who do creepy things, like actually stalk the actors instead of just joking about it, or Tweet them weird things, or hack their photo accounts and post their personal pictures without permission. They bully other fans for various reasons and they generally act like huge shits, and so "fangirl" has a negative connotation.

Being a fangirl (or fanboy) isn't a bad thing, but people act like it is. I don't get it. People who tell others "it's just a TV show" usually have something they're super into that they probably wouldn't appreciate other people dismissing. What's so wrong with liking things? So I like to talk about a relationship that probably won't happen between people who don't really exist instead of politics. It doesn't mean I don't know about politics. I just don't want to talk about it.

People tend to think that those of us who fangirl and devote our time and attention to fake relationships and fake people aren't intelligent. Anyone who thinks that hasn't been talking to the right people or read any decent meta. Or maybe they have spoken to these people, and written off their analyses as something that isn't important. And perhaps a treatise as to why it's obvious that Derek and Stiles interacted over Teen Wolf's four-month time jump isn't as important as, say, the current political situation in Syria. But I don't understand why people having interests, and wanting to discuss those interests with others who have the same interests, is such a bad thing. Who cares if it's a television show?