I’ve got it bad. There’s this movie I’ve seen three times in the theater (going a fourth time today); I keep returning just to see one character on the big screen. I listen to the soundtrack every chance I get. I have the Pop! toy. I bought the t-shirt. I’m writing the fanfiction. I’m downloading and uploading the gifs. I’m scouring Tumblr and every hiding place on the Internet for stills and manips. I’m reading all, and I mean all, of the interviews. I’m interjecting in fan theories. I’m thinking about the next movie already. I’m considering more work on my tattoo. *takes deep breath*
The fandom is alive and kicking in my life, and it doesn’t care that I’m a 38-year-old women who, by all standards, should be giving more care to her retirement, aging ovaries, and lackluster career. Oh, no. The fandom and all of its parasitic ways only cares about how it can burrow into my brain and remain for as long as possible before it inevitably ebbs away, only to return more furiously in an alternate form.
Of course, I’m personifying “the” fandom here for amusement’s sake. I make my own choices, but look, I can’t wholly control how my cracked brain works. I have met lots of women — older women, who are also happily plagued by the fandom – their own fandom – and are ashamed or proud or whatever. I know I’m not alone in this, but I have to wonder why sometimes. What’s with the strangle hold? And I think I’ve uncovered some interesting things by way of all this wondering. Here goes.
I am a clinically anxious person, and the world and all of its unpredictability scares the garbage out of me. Now, I know that I am a citizen in the world and I need to play my part in all of that. I’m moderately informed and I have ideas about social issues, but I can’t allow it to consume me, or it’s a panic attack-a day, and I just can’t take that kind of strain on my heart. Additionally, I contend with a lot of personal stress – making my way out in the adult world without assistance of any kind. No one’s gonna pay my bills or help me with my mortgage. My salary and my husband’s salary are it, and that money is the only thing keeping us from complete and utter devastation. “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Shut. UP. It’s not about happiness, you enchanted dolt. It’s about being able to survive in a very aggressive, competitive, cruel world.
So, there’s a bunch of stuff going on when you wake up every morning as a “grown up.” If you can manage not to stub your toe on the end of the bed, you’re doing damn good already, but there are so many other things out there to contend with, and it’s all kind of exhausting. Look, I’m not trying to cry “poor me”— this is just the way life is, and I’m simply calling a spade a spade.
Amid all life’s spinning responsibilities, there need to be healthy outlets, right? “Healthy.” Who are these people that determine the health ratios of hobbies? I mean, yeah, don’t turn to cocaine as your outlet of choice, or drinking to excess, or prostitution, or murder, or stealing, but most other things are viable and on the table, right? Going to the beach; reading; doing handwork (oh, my gods, do people still even use that word and know what it means: handwork?); playing video games; hanging with the squad; writing; blogging; creating art of some form or another; hiking; obsessing over a fictional character in a made-up world. W-wait, what about that last one?
I have hobbies that allow me to detach from the stress of the world. I’m a writer-ish, and I enjoy recreational activities with my friends and husband, sure. I like going out to dinner and visiting breweries. I enjoy road trips and going to see my parents out on the east end of Long Island. All of these things are really nice, and still, what truly delivers me from my dizzy mind is the heart-thrum that entertainment offers. If I like something and it catches my attention, I jump the hell on that ship, don the uniform, and fight other enthusiasts for the helm. Fictional worlds and characters bring me to a whole other place in my mind — a safe place where I don’t feel threatened. I like to re-watch movies because there’s predictability there that protects me from all the other uncertainties in life. I know all the lines of my favorite characters, and when I get tired of those lines, I write my own lines for them because it feels like a measure of control that I can wield without it being dangerous. I am comforted when I allow myself to feel like I’m a physical part of these worlds — it’s like a vacation inside my own mind; love stories that allow me an escape without being unfaithful or morally compromised. The fandom, if you’re on a ship, will get the endorphins going like nothing else, and I mean that. To hell with your Bikram BS — when I am in that theater or in front of that TV and those opening credits are running, I am invincible.
So, you’re not “obsessed” with entertainment or characters or anything like that. You think I’m totally crazy by this point, and that’s fine because I know I’m not crazy. It’s taken me a very long time to not feel ashamed about liking certain things to excess. I’m not hurting anyone with my interests, and ya know what? I have met the absolute coolest people from all around the world who are also sailing aboard my ships. Yup. Fully functional ladies and gents who are trying to navigate the choppy waters of their own lives, taking a layover at fandom-ville and having a good time reveling in each other’s excitement and supporting one another through real-life stress, too.
I’m going to see a movie for the fourth time today and you might laugh at me, but it’s OK. I am the captain of this ship, and I’m going to sail it to the world’s end, but only after I pay the Chase bill.