They Belong to Us All
At first, you feel like you have this big secret. Maybe it’s a TV show no one in your family watches, or a book you’ve found that your friends haven’t heard of yet. A comic. A movie. You hoard it, consuming every episode or devouring every page until you feel like you could ace the final, if Uncontrollable Geekery was a college course. Suddenly your mind is full of distant planets, or Westeros, or Sherlock’s London, or a big blue police box and you feel for a time like you’re living in a realm wholly unlike your own.
Then, of course, comes the proselytizing. You’re full-to-bursting with trivia, maps, storylines, quotes, and your closet has started to look like a community theater costume shop. You just can’t keep it to yourself anymore. You need a cohort, a partner: a fellow nerdenizen to live with you in this crazy made-up place that you didn’t even make up – you just borrowed it – but somehow, all the same, it’s still yours.
So you’re recommending episodes or editions to start with, trying to plan movie marathons to convert the masses, when somewhere along the way you stumble over that special someone: your soul-mate in squee, your compatriot in conspiracies: that one friend who shares your obsession and delights in chatting the night away about foreshadowing and character development as much as you. All is right with the world, because someone else sees it like you do.
Except one is never enough.
Being a fan is like entering a black hole of feelings: emotions stretch and elongate, becoming infinite as you approach the center. It’s impossible to contain your anger at a misstep in casting or your elation at a plot arc well-concluded. These sentiments must and will be expressed, and one shoulder is not enough to cry on. So the next logical step is the Fellowship of Feels, a gaggle of groupies you collect to drink and go see the midnight showing of THE AVENGERS with. This, of course, leads inexorably to: FANDOM.
The Kingdom of Fans. The Land of Unapologetic Enthusiasts. Where the stormy high seas are ruled by shippers and the dark swamps are inhabited by cynical troglodytes who loved the world way before everyone else came there. Where the wide, windy plains are home to herds of cosplayers in their homemade Browncoats and 4th Doctor scarfs, and throngs of fanfic writers crowd the cobblestones of the overpopulated cities. At times overwhelming, but always welcoming to the truly dedicated, the Fandom is at once an ideal and an inescapable reality. We many, we happy many: we band of fans. We rule over all this land, and we call it…This Land.
Tolkien never envisioned a world so fearsome, or so beloved.