Fandom has been an important part of my life since I was born, with my mother and father being complete dorks and shoving Star Wars down my throat before I could even speak, it wasn’t much of a choice. My first ever crush was on Luke Skywalker and my journey down the rabbit hole that we call fandom had begun.
As a child I was obsessed with the internet. If I was at home there was a 90% chance that I was sitting on the computer. First it was pbskids.org, then it was cartoonnetwork.com, and then it was smallworlds.com, a MMO site where you could create your own 3D avatar and explore the digitally made world full of all sorts of different games and people. It’s now shut down until further notice, a fact which surprised me a lot last year. I made my parents pay so much money to get VIP clothes and objects, all digital markers of wealth in a virtual world. That was the beginning of my foray into online fandom spaces. There was different forums and communities on the website dedicated to shows and movies that I participated in, but what really constituted the beginning of my online fandom presence was Deviantart.com.
Deviantart is a website that allows artists of all types to upload content from paintings, to animations, to fanfictions, and more. I used this site to gather and collect fanart of all my favorite pairings from shows, mostly Avatar: The Last Airbender. I poured hours and hours into just saving different art. I was obsessed with the “ship wars” of the fandom. A Ship War is basically a fight to determine which ship, short for relationship, was the best of the show, with the winner of this war usually being whose ship turned out to be canon in the show. These ship wars often gave a lot of buzz to a show and the creators of Avatar even encouraged them to happen. They created an entire animated short dedicated to who was going to end up being the true love interest of the most commonly shipped character, Katara, which sparked unrest and excitement for the fandom. While most of the time ship wars were fun and actually influenced more creativity among fan artists, sometimes things would get nasty with people actually becoming rude or mean to other opposing fans. It’s odd to think about so much emotions getting thrown around due to a fictional show.
These shipping wars continued with the sequel to The Last Airbender called Legend of Korra. This show also had a lot of ship wars, which only seemed to get nastier as the audience of the previous show had grown older as time passed. It was during my obsession with this show that I discovered tumblr in 2012. Tumblr was my main online fandom until summer of 2018 and I finally started using instagram. With over 88,000 posts made on my account, it’s safe to say I was on tumblr a lot. I started using tumblr and focusing on Legend of Korra, but I quickly found the Sherlock fandom. The Sherlock fandom started my obsession with gay shipping and broadened my understanding of queer communities. This is the fandom that made me realize that I myself, wasn’t straight.
The Sherlock fandom and tumblr community both had an emphasis on social justice focusing on queer, gender, and racial equality. My time on tumblr is what influenced me to become passionate and active in social justice issues. I also began to create content for the fandom while on tumblr with my first delve into video editing when I began to create music video-esque projects for an animated youtube series called Eddsworld. This is significant to me because I currently still make edited videos for my fandoms and I currently plan on using this skill to break into the film industry so it’s interesting to see how my online fandom community has really influenced me so much.
One aspect of of fandom that I’ve neglected to mention throughout this essay so far is the friendships that you make while in online fandom communities. It’s a community for sure, but the close friends that you make are so important. While I’m not friends with any from tumblr anymore, during middle school, my online friendships were so important to me, especially during a time when my real life friendships were lacking in a major way. They were my support group and I don’t know what I would have done without them. That’s one way that fandom hasn’t actually changed that much for me.
Today, my main source for online fandom community is instagram. I and other fans online create art and I am mostly involved in the video editing community but also interact with visual artists as well. I mostly create content for the movie Venom, and other shows and movies featuring the actor Tom Hardy. I also create marvel videos, too, but the fun thing about instagram is that I feel like I could change my interests at any moment and still have a strong fanbase for my edits. I created my account last year in June with editing videos about Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated children’s show that aired on Cartoon Network, and quickly found fellow fans, but thing about instagram is that a lot of people are just here to see cool creative art which allows me to spread my interests in lots of different directions. I’ve also made a lot of really close, good friends through the instagram fandom community. I even involved my younger sibling to join the fandom, inspiring her to join the hopefully first of many online fandom communities.
Fandom is important to me because it really inspires me to think hard and more in depth about the tv shows and movies that I consume and also has inspired me to create my own works having to do with those shows and movies, and eventually work on my own original works inspired by those important pieces of media. Everyone in fandom is working to make eachother explore media and be as creative as possible.