It’s been a lot of fun, especially with the new podcast we’re launching but it’s also been making me question my place in the universe. Because we’re kicking around ideas for future podcasts and it’s stuff like video games and 90s superhero cartoons and Game of Thrones and… I’ve got nothing. So I wind up thinking… am I a nerd?
If it were up to me the next episode would be all about Song of Achilles by Madline Miller and how YES, omg, Mary Renault has been reincarnated! Amirite guys?! Guys?
And then I watch the play counts diminish.
Sure, I like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings but not more than the average fan. I like dystopian novels and Classical history but am an enthusiast, not an expert (though I am working on that). But you know what, I am still a nerd.
Why? Because I’m a fangirl. I define fangirls and boys as rabid consumers of media. As opposed to someone who watches a show or reads a book, enjoys it, and puts it away, fanpeople find something they like and turn into BLACK HOLES OF LOVE, gobbling up everything they can possibly find about that thing. They join fan communities, create art, write essays, write fanfic, ENGAGE with the thing they’re consuming and give back.
This definition doesn’t entirely come from me though I have seen it in action. But I heard it articulated by Henry Jenkens, at the time the co-director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program, on a podcast about slash fanfic, mostly Harry Potter. And, I’m sorry, if that reference doesn’t buy me back all my nerd cred, I don’t know what I can do for you.
Fandom is a way of life. It’s the way you approach things and it doesn’t apply to everything. I like Star Wars fine, I have Totoro eating Stormtroopers as my desktop, but I feel smug just knowing what a Tauntaun is. That’s the extent of my technical knowledge of Star Wars. I had to google Tauntaun to make sure I spelled it right. However, get me going on Alexander the Great (real or Colin Farrell) and watch out buddy!
So fanpeople aren’t fans of everything. But I think everyone has an inner fanperson. They could be really into… scrapbooking, or jogging, or fingernail art, or anything, but it’s that thing they’re dying for someone to ask them about so they can finally cut loose. I guess I wouldn’t call someone who’s really into March Madness a fanboy for that but all this obsessive bracket-making is nothing more than socially sanctioned nerdery.
So I’m a nerd. I’m a nerd about weird shit, but I’m still a nerd. I hope everyone is.