I’ve always been an obsessive TV watcher. I have DVD sets of my favorite shows, and I re-watch them in rotation, never getting sick of Firefly or Buffy or Roswell or Veronica Mars. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of them. My bff and I were Christmas shopping last weekend, and I suggested she buy someone on her list a copy of her favorite show, but she said no, once this person has watched something, they never want to watch it again. I’ve met quite a few people who feel this way, but I can’t even conceive of how they have the same kind of brain as me. Maybe they don’t. When I love something, I will watch or read it over and over. Probably forever.
So speaking of obsessive viewage, last week I was having a terrible week, and at the top of the short list of stuff I was actually looking forward to was watching the new ep of The Vampire Diaries. Damon and Elena were finally going to hook it up, after years of her pining over Edward Cullen-Lite™.
But then the writers pulled a JK, and explained away their entire relationship with another of their murky supernatural explanations as some kind of magical vampire sire bond. Whatever.
Right after the episode, I was outraged, and I realized there was a virtual place for me to go, a place where I was guaranteed to find others who felt the same way: the web, and specifically Tumblr. One quick word in the search bar connected me instantly to a community of other people who also had nothing better to do on a Thursday night than watch a TV show and then obsess over the way the storyline was going.
I’ve been watching and re-watching and getting pissed off at TV writers for what they do to my characters for a long time. In the olden days, though, there was no way to connect to other people who felt the same way, unless you had a friend you could call up right after the credits rolled. The immediacy of that connection is the biggest change—now, right after the show airs you can jump in and discuss the situation with at least everyone else in your time zone who gives a crap.
Hanging out on Tumblr has introduced me to a whole world of people who are every bit as invested in their shows, books, and movies as I am—and a lot of them are even more invested. I haven’t created fan art or videos or written fan fiction, but if I were a teenager or didn’t have jobs plural I probably would. Fandom is an interesting world, with its own rules, and its own language. I learned last week that if I were a TVD shipper, then my OTP was now canon and that that was both an exciting and paradoxically upsetting thing. Rooting for a couple to be together is probably more fun than actually just sitting back and watching the relationship play out. Shipping itself is an interesting word—it comes from relationship, of course, but think it also resonates a bit with worship. A phrase you see a lot on Tumblr is “I will go down with this ship.” Often the fangirl or boy has chosen to invest a lot of time and feels into a pairing that is never going to happen. And maybe that’s part of the lure. It’s about identifying with the characters and the story—when writers capture a fan’s attention to this degree, the audience feels something. We are connected to the characters.
Source gif: http://gesundheits.tumblr.com/
But everyone in the fandom is also connected to one another. Each fandom is a community, and it’s always on, just a few clicks away. When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone who was obsessed with the same shows I was. (They are too embarrassing to name, btw ;) But kids today are luckier in that way. For all the evils of the internet and technology, the web can bring us together. No matter what niche you pick, no matter how remote and small it is, you can probably find somebody else, somewhere, to hang out in it with you. And that’s kind of a beautiful thing. So let’s hear it for the shippers, the fangirls, everyone overcome by feels because they just love their characters. Ship on.