In our society today we have seen a rise in the number of people who consider themselves in a fandom. A fandom is a group of people who consider themselves more than just a fan of a certain person/group. They feel like they are part of a community that is so much more than just being a fan. While fans might enjoy watching/listening and even following who they like, members of a fandom take things even further. Fandom members go to conventions dressed up as their favorite characters or reproduce content in their own way in order to join in on the phenomena.
One of the best examples of fandom is the “Trekkies.” These are the most devoted fans of the movie series “Star Trek.” Every year all across the country there are Star Trek conventions or Comic Cons where fans come together to celebrate the movies they care so much about. These fans have a special connection with one another because of the movies. They feel like they have to actively participants in not only the films but the movie franchise as a whole. This leads into fans who like to create their own fan content from the Star Trek movies. If you go on YouTube and search “Star Trek Fan Films” there are hundreds of videos that pop up that are made by fan. The fans want to participate in the making of the story so they create their own versions of it. Most of these videos are completely fan funded and very low budget. While the production might not be the best on these videos fans love them because it makes them feel more involved in the community.
Another fandom that is very prominent in today’s society is that of Bernie Sanders supporters. Bernie Sanders has a fan base that is polarized by the idea of him becoming the next President of the United States. It is highly unlikely that he can win the democratic nomination but he is still filling arenas with his supports and getting enough donations to keep his campaign running. Members of his fandom have helped his campaign by creating user generated content. The best example of this I can find is a video made by a fan who writes right in the video description that they have no affiliation with Bernie Sanders or his campaign. The video takes speeches he has made over the last 30 years and mashes them together. It can be seen on the left. The video shows how his views have not been changed over that time frame. The video itself on YouTube only has about 170,000 views but Bernie’s campaign Facebook page shared it where it got over 14,000,000. Bernie sharing this video shows that he is happy to have members of his fandom participate in his campaign and that he is okay with collaboration.
Another great example of a fandom joining in and participating is the members of the How I Met Your Mother fandom. When the show had its finale fans, not just members of the fandom, were disappointed. The show put two of the main characters together and many fans were upset with this happening. CBS later released an alternate ending where Ted didn’t end up with Robin. Some members of the fandom were still not satisfied. If you go on YouTube and search How I Met Your Mother alternate ending you can find some videos that were created by members of their fandom. They wanted to create the ending that satisfied them and they did so. An example of this can be seen here. CBS allowed fans to use their video from the show to make these alternate endings. They allowed the collaboration to happen with active members of the fandom.
While fandoms and fans could be confused there is a distinct difference between the two. Fandoms create a community of people who can be active in creating content for the band/show/politician/movie series. They are generally obsessed with the content. Fans just tend to follow the content; they are generally not active in participation. The third and lowest tier is audience, who are people who just watch/listen just to do so. They don’t necessarily have an interest in the content.