Wonderwall

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting laundry ~E.B.White

 

When I think of what it is to be a fan of an actor, following their career and taking part in discussions about them and their work, words that come to my mind are things like admiration, gratification, fulfillment, passion, camaraderie, fun. that’s what I feel when I’m admiring on my own or with like minded people but when someone asks me about my hobbies, what I like to do for fun, do I say I like to admire actors and discuss their work online? (oh! that was good phrasing, I need to remember that…) the answer is: no. why? because the words that swirl around my head in those situations are more along the lines of childish, shameful, secretive, stalkerish, judgmental, misunderstood. when I do attempt to explain, people generally think I mean gossip magazines and entertainment news shows, neither of which are really my thing.

Q1Hdbl5

 

my family and close friends know about my “hobby”. I wouldn’t say they’re supportive so much as indifferent. they know I like actors and the movies they star in, I talk about them all the time, but I’m a storyteller so it’s just par for the course when I bring up a character from a movie to illustrate a point. if I went into detail about how I know or why I know, well, that’s when things get tricky. because unless you get paid to be a movie critic or gossip columnist, then you’re just wasting your time on frivolous pursuits. “wow, you really like this guy don’t you? isn’t that a little…obsessive?”

tumblr_nqbw448A8e1qidrf8o8_250

 

I’m drawn to actors. not musicians, or directors, or professional athletes, but actors. I like acting. the psychology of why I admire the male variety is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things; the lust factor is not as big as people automatically assume. if I were a man, these actors would be my sports heroes. I would rattle off their batting averages and recall specific games in detail, while pondering how their grip on the bat affects their swing. I would vocally admire their impressive knack for reading other players and speculate about their emotional state and how it may be throwing them off balance, or maybe that’s just the cut of the new uniforms. all of that would be considered normal. yet watching all of an actor’s work and recalling the nuances of body language they put into each character, while comparing their real life persona to their acting one, is obsessive. admiring an actor’s craft and the choices that they make, both professionally and personally, and weighing how the way they see the world around them plays into all of that; well, that’s stalking. “you know you can’t have a relationship with them, right? they’re not real”

not real? I was the last time I checked...
‘last time I checked, I was real’

I’ve been admiring actors pretty much all my life. the reasons change, how I go about “admiring” may differ, but it’s always something that I’ve enjoyed. and just as there is skill in sports, a rush of excitement and adrenaline, life lessons to be taken away from the game and applied to real life; I find all of that in acting as well. the drooling over the attractiveness of the players, is just human nature. and the lighthearted, sometimes silly, atmosphere that often infuses the crowd? silly is subjective. next time you go to a professional sporting event, look around you and you’ll see what I mean.

Cosplay? never heard of it.
‘Cosplay? never heard of it’

sports, cars, acting, singing, fashion, fishing; it’s all relative. recognize what brings you joy and embrace it. what we do, as fans, doesn’t have to be hidden in shame. it makes us happy, it connects us to others, it can be a healthy escape from the not-so-fun responsibilities of our every day realities. what’s so wrong with that?

Radcliffe+on+obsession_9ad5ab_5573758

 

as we so often say in this fandom, every one “fans” differently, there is no right or wrong way to do it. while many of us may follow a similar path in the way we go about things, our personalities and individual situations are reflected in our actions. we have different sensibilities, we get different things out of the experience but the great thing about being a fan online is that it’s all up to us, we can tailor it to fit our needs. my “normal” usually consists of the following: I become aware of an actor and am impressed by one of his performances. I look him up on IMDb to see what other movies/television shows he’s been in. I Google his name and click on a few fan-sites, along with browsing through Google images to get a better feel of him. this usually satisfies my initial curiosity but as the weeks and months go by, I’ll casually investigate more by turning to Youtube for interviews. if I’m lucky, someone will have uploaded some of his older, lesser known work. after watching some of that, I’ll turn back to the fan-sites and find print interviews and articles. I like both video and print interviews because they offer slightly different views on the actor’s personality and work ethic. all of this “research” may take place over several weeks and months, or it may be a crash course that happens over one weekend; I tend to alternate between the two.

Popquiz, hotshot: there's a tornado chasing a bus. if the bus picks up speed your wet shirt will dry, disappointing fangirls everywhere. what do you do? what do you do?!
popquiz, hotshot: there’s a tornado chasing a bus. if the bus picks up speed your wet shirt will dry, disappointing fangirls everywhere. what do you do? what do you do?!

it’s normal for me to not be able to get an actor off my mind. how he moves, how he talks, what I’ve learned about his background and what kind of actor he is. I become enamored with his characters, daydreaming about their stories and struggles, putting myself in their shoes and contemplating what I would have done differently in their situation. by this point I’ve formed some opinions on the actor and his work, and so I might venture out to see what other people think of him. this can be hard at the “puppy love” stage because the internet is a harsh place.

1188

people may say he’s ugly, people may say he seems like a jerk, people may complain that his acting sucks and anyone who doesn’t see it must be blind. this is when I forcefully sit on my hands and resist the (very strong) urge to jump in and say that they’re the crazy ones if they can’t see how talented he is! that I happen to like how he looks and no one is forcing them to like him, so just be quiet!!

IKR?
IKR?

but here’s what I always have to remind myself: their words have nothing to do with me. their words don’t change how the actor affects me. their words are just words. in the end, all that really matters is me. I shouldn’t have to defend what makes me happy, I shouldn’t have to justify why it makes me happy or how. I can internally debate those things on my own, but looking to others for approval about what makes me happy is not something I want to spend my time on.

it shows, believe me.
it shows, believe me

I want to fall in love with fictional characters. I want to revel in the way that certain actors bring them to life. I want to learn about the actors that portray those characters, see myself in them and watch them experience things that I never will. I want to see them grow as people and let them continually surprise me with their talent. I want to smile when I hear their voice in interviews, swoon when I see them in photoshoots, laugh and cry and rage and even shiver in fear, as they wreak havoc on my emotions during their performances. I want to celebrate all of the good things about them with fellow fans, and even admit the not-so-good things about them (and consequently, me) with people that I feel safe with. I learn from them, both the actors themselves and the people I discuss them with, in so many different ways.

everyday I'm shufflin
everyday I’m shufflin

 

“What’s your hobby?”

I like to crush on talented men.

tumblr_o0cp58Tnwl1uo85qxo2_400

 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

and just for the record, I have nothing against sports.

I like sports. a lot.

 

 

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “Wonderwall

    1. I think this is something we all struggle with, especially if Richard has been your only “fangirl” experience. I saw the subject mentioned as part of a conversation on IMDb and so I thought I’d touch upon it here, just to let fans (of all kinds) know that they’re not alone ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This.
    This actually just was the thing that finally made me get up from the breakfast table and put my clothes on, on a day that is already characterised by replacement activities, all in order to avoid the difficult work that lies ahead of me. You have that knack of putting your finger on exactly the sore spots that I experience as well, and I could not wait to move over to my computer and comment on your thoughts.
    The unfairness of how an avid interest in a hobby is seen differently between men and women, is what I always come back to when it comes to discussing my fan girling activities. Well, there we have it already. Our activity is described as “fan girling”. No one ever calls a fanatic football supporter a “fan boy”. Have I slipped into a trap by describing *my* activities as “fan girling”? Have I subconsciously bought into the opinion that you describe so well in your post? That following and discussing an actor’s career and work is obsessive, unrealistic, excessive, stalkerish, sad and UNHEALTHY? It is really hard to find the right way of explaining these activities without becoming defensive about it all. Agree with the critics, and you are basically admitting you are a naive and silly dreamer. Disagree and you are basically admitting you are a naive and silly dreamer. Catch 22.
    What is the right approach then? Personally, I am alright with my hobby – I enjoy it, it feeds my creativity, it allows me to engage in interaction with people. What I am not alright with, is that I either have to justify it, or have to keep it secret if I don’t want to justify it. I am not sure where the solution to this problem lies. I sometimes wonder whether the critics are simply just jealous: Maybe they wish they had the ability to be enthusiastic about something/someone, or the courage to express their admiration for something/someone freely.
    In any case, I thank you for this great post, Kelly. This time of year *always* throws me into my regularly, annually recurring phase of Richarding doubt. Your “speech from the docks” was just what I needed. Not only in order to get out of my pajamas, but also to get out of my silence and embrace the fun again. You are right – what matters is our own opinion, not what others think. Let the great fan girling begin again. (Although I really would like to find another word for this activity…)

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I don’t really like the term “fangirling” either, though I have no problem with the noun “fan”. fangirling sounds adolescent, it makes it seem like it’s just drooling over pictures and buying merchandise or whatever. for some people, that may indeed sum up their activities and that’s okay, but for me it’s more than that. I use the term “fangirling” when I’m being cute about things, lighthearted. I can admit that I do those things and laugh at myself for it; it’s fun, no big deal. but I don’t exactly fit into the textbook definition of fangirl, or at least what Wiki tells me a fangirl is.

      I’m generally confident about my fan activities online, I know it’s not disgraceful and that I have no reason to feel guilty about it. and I think that’s one of the secrets of “surviving” this kind of hobby, you have to have a strong backbone. but offline, it’s not as easy to be open about it. most people just don’t understand, so they’ll scoff derisively and make you feel very small. a big part of this for me is that I don’t work outside of the home, I’m a stay-at-home mom who continues to stay at home even though my kids are in school full time- something else that a lot of people don’t understand. in both instances, I get tired of explaining myself and justifying what is important to me. I have no problem explaining to those who are actually interested in the answers, but most people I run across aren’t. they want to make themselves feel big by making me feel small. I pity them, really. that they aren’t strong enough to pursue their own happiness and instead have to belittle the happiness of others 😦

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The term fanboy is actually pretty common, outside of sports fans. Ime it refers to male fans of comics, movies, tv, books and basically anything that falls into the category of fantasy/sf, basically the lifestyle represented by the male characters of Big Bang Theory. (I have serious issues with the fact that the writers put 95% of all the female characters as outsiders to this world, even the ones working in the same fields as the men. Ime that is inaccurate. But that’s rant for another time). ‘Fanboy’ is not a compliment and their attachment to what they fan is similarly demeaned by those around them. Overwhelmingly they are treated in real life and in fictionalized portrayals as childish, obsessed, creepy and many of the adjectives that both you and kel quoted.
      Occasionally really zealous male rock fans get called fanboys too, usually by other fanboys 😀 ( Oddly enough I can’t recall this being said about male fans of any other kind of music, and rock and rap are considered acceptable male foci of interest. It just seems to be a diss).
      This means that it’s not activities that are enjoyed by males that are the only acceptable ones. It means that only a specific set or sets of activities enjoyed by males fall into this category.
      I guess if I had to choose one thing which characterized all these ‘acceptable’ activities, it’s that they are all for physical activities enjoyed (supposedly almost exclusively) by heterosexual males.

      Like

  2. I love everything about this post, especially the “popquiz, hotshot” gif. Ha! You’ve cheered me up considerably and I applaud your spot on analysis of the injustice we suffer by being labeled all those words you mentioned. The other day I was at a dinner party and the host mentioned that he loves to listen to jazz music all the time – only jazz music – and his neighbors called the cops on him for blasting it. Is he called obsessive? Of course not! He is an expert, a connoisseur. Me? I’m just plain weird for liking Richard’s work and reading books every day. Thank you for giving voice to my frustration!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Ha! Reminds me of that song that says, “parents just don’t understand”. Mine didn’t bat an eye. The rest of my family, and my friends…that’s another story. 😉

        Like

        1. I just got two Armitage things frames and my parents will NEVER know how much I paid for the privilege because they just don’t get it. I’m almost 55, I don’t think I should have to explain anymore. But I did get interviewed by a former library aide of mine, and it turns out she is an Armitage fan. 🙂
          She’ll be even more of one after she listens to the Audible books. It’s so much fun when you find other people in actual life who understand.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I’d have movie posters all over my walls, if it wasn’t for my husband; he’s a “grown up” 🙄 so the “Crucible” poster is in the laundry room and the framed Lord of the Rings is in the kid’s game room.

            Like

  3. I embrace every single word! So great, so true. One of your sentences totally applies to me – that about sharing fan experiences with people you feel safe with. It is the first time for me that I fell for a actor and all his aspects – I never had that before, when other girls were swooning about this man or that band or whatever … It still feels new, and it’s a wonderful feeling, but I don’t want to be forced to share my experiences. It’s okay with people I feel safe with, and I must say that I feel not even safe, but quite happy with the Richard Armitage fandom. I get the feeling that everyone’s nice in here, and messages like yours prove that ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, it’s important to go at your own pace. sometimes “lurking” (observing in silence) can be looked down upon and new fans feel pressured to engage in conversations or contribute topics before they’re ready. I don’t like that. it’s in my nature to scope things out, get the lay of the land and the people in it, before I even think about coming out of hiding to engage. and in some instances, I never do engage b/c that’s not what I’m looking to get out of the experience. that’s why I said that having this kind of hobby online is ideal because we have all the control 😎

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautifully put, and as always, love the illustrations and captions! I’m in the category of being a first-time “fangirl” but really, looking back, I can honestly say that if I’m not obsessively interested in a topic, I’m generally not interested at all. That’s just me. Over the years it’s been horses, fossil collecting, flower arrangements, quilting, etc. and those have all been “smiled upon” so it’s depressing at times to have a new interest (insert “Richard Armitage”) frowned upon and/or mocked. Shouldn’t have to hide it, and at least from Hubby, I don’t… but it’s certainly easier to just keep it on the down-low rather than endure all the BS questioning of sanity and so on that comes with discussing it with almost anyone else. At least we have back-up from one another. So thank you for this! =)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. being obsessive about a topic has always been a trait of mine as well, which is why I think this particular hobby doesn’t really phase those who have known me a long time. and it’s usually movies that spark all those different interests in the first place, so it only makes sense 🙂

      Like

      1. Me too. Obsessive is my middle name 😀
        And I’m proud of that , goddamit!

        I’ve always been an intense ‘obsessed’ fan of everything that interests me, from history to scifi. It’s led me to achieve or try to achieve a whole lot of things I would not otherwise have tried to do, and I suspect that the same for others here. It’s brought me together with some really great people online and off.

        In the words of one of my friends, ‘We should embrace our capacity for intellectual passion’.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this post, Kelly. I think it’s especially difficult for introverts like myself who tend to be self-critical. I analyze myself to the point of exasperation and the public perception of “fangirling” automatically triggers a defense and discomfort with the experience. I started reading more about parasocial connections, and found an interesting factoid on a KQED page: Those who form stronger parasocial bonds generally display stronger feelings of empathy. Stronger empathy allows us to get more engaged in the story. Bottom-line is that most people are fans of something. As long as its effect is positive, I think we should embrace it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I analyze myself A LOT (which is beneficial, IMO) and it was looking at what I get out of all of this, what the specific actors I follow have in common and what need they fill in me, that helped me be at peace with it. the psychology of it, parasocial relationships and infatuation, etc., helps take that sting of shame away as well. people who don’t understand something will make fun of it, that’s just a fact of life. I’m not going to let their fear dictate my happiness 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved your post. Thank you to Guylty for pointing it out. The whole Richard thing is really tough to explain to people. I find myself getting defensive about it . I am “outed” when someone asks me how met my international or out of state friends. Then a definition of “fandom” follows and a brief explanation of why I like to participate in it. Most friends and relatives know about my hobby and smile indulgently while I explain. But one (only one) has said she wishes she had a fun, passionate interest in her life. I guess I only have one honest girlfriend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. my Grandma has her card club, my parents have their motorcycle club, my friend has her book club, and I have my RA fandom “club”; it’s all the same thing, really. it’s just that ours takes place online 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never cared what anyone thinks of me or my interests or what I do. It’s a kind of blessing, I guess, as I read about other peoples’ anxieties here.

    Plus, some of my earliest fan finds were uber-sophisticated and erudite subjects such as the “searching for the real Mr. Thornton” thread on C19 which require no apologizing. It was readily apparent that the RA fans were a different crowd from the Dungeons and Dragons/Trekkie “fans” I knew in high school. And when I discovered fan videos and that some members are hysterically funny—what a fabulous combination!

    I had some trepidation about my first live meeting with other fans but got over it quickly. Now I love calling myself a “fangirl” and reveling in all kinds of ridiculous activities I never did as a teenager.

    My experiences with “coming out of the fangirl closet” and/or proselytizing have been mixed. In my early days of wanting to share my fabulous find, I hosted a North & South viewing party for three of my best friends. Knowing 4 hours in one go would be a slog, I provided a meal, and snacks, and broke up the afternoon with other activities. I was confident I was introducing them to this precious, life-changing experience, right? When halfway through hour 3, one dear, dear friend (of 30 years) said, “Is he ever going to stop glowering?” I knew I had lost them. How do you convince someone who didn’t suck in her breath at “I believe Miss Hale and I have already met,” that she really, really needs to see this fabulous kiss that’s coming up in…90 minutes. (Only 90 minutes more!) Sigh.

    Either you get it or you don’t, so when I need a certain kind of consoling—or giggling—I call one of you!

    You essay is fabulous, Kelly. As always, your gif choices and captions are soooo funny, your visuals are dead-on and also funny (I have no idea what that blue man is supporting, not being a sports fan, but I get the point!) and I agree with all your assertions. You are preaching to the converted, but I’ll sit in your church any day.

    So remind me, the problem with spending hours and hours looking at pictures of a smart, talented, handsome man and reading fans’ blogs about him is…?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kelly, thank you so much for this post. You’ve described me down to a “t” and I’m still analysing exactly why Richard has become such an important part of my life. Ive never “fangirled” over anyone before, but there is something SO captivating about his performances. The first time I saw him was as Sir Guy, but he held my attention, even as the bad “guy”, and I wanted to know more about him and his work. Over the years, his choices of roles have helped me to learn more about the subjects that are highlighted in such films as Urban and the Shed Crew and Brain on Fire, subjects that I wouldn’t have even touched on if not for these issues being brought to the forefront because of Richard’s heart, not only of compassion, but for social justice. I don’t hide the fact that I’m a great admirer and some of my friends, young and “not so young”, from my church have become admirers as well because they have watched some of his performances and have becone admirers of the diversity of his choices. My children think I’m having a teenage crisis (I’m 68 btw) and my son, in particular, gives me grief and tells me I’m borderline obsessed. I just laugh and tell him I’ve crossed the border. And all this from kids who can’t miss a day of going to crossfit!!!! Obsession has many forms lol. To sum up, I think he is one extremely talented actor and a kind, compassionate and genuine hunan being, and if I’m obsessed, well so be it. Thanks again, Kelly

    Liked by 2 people

    1. when people say “teenage” they’re using it as an insult, but I take it as a compliment. it means I’m fulfilling my goal to always stay young at heart! and what’s so horrible about “teenage” anyway? to not be weighed down by society’s expectations, to find intense joy in the simplest of things, to see the world as big and wide and full of possibilities. what a disgrace 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. thanks for another great post! and for being so open and honest 🙂 I guess i’m slightly luckier in that most of my fiends are theater and opera nutters, so none of us are ‘normal’ to begin with so i’m not taking any downtalk from them , ‘pot-kettle’ 😉 What irritates me is the public slant on it, in the media, in papers, TV. The derogatory phrases, the ironic tones etc. And when it comes from actors or the artistic community themselves it really stings.
    It’s sad to see how women and their hobbies or occupations are looked down upon even today 😦
    I think we can only look for support in each other, stand tall and value ourselves the way we’d like society to value us and keep fighting the gentle, good fight and never give up. We have the right to enjoy what we like and our hobbies are just as valuable and any other ones out there, from expensive cars to football, from video games to quilting, from music to cooking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post.

    A friend of mine said to me recently, you should be thrilled that you can get as excited about anything (that’s not politics) at your age — and that’s kind of how I have come to feel about it. I don’t care much what outsiders to the experience think, and I am happy with the label “fan” or “fangirl.” I think this is because I’ve frequently had the experience of being misunderstood by “outsiders” in life (or maybe my parents set me up for that because of their religious preferences), but I tend to not care what the clueless think. The problem for me in fandom has always, always been insiders to the experience, because they/we are not clueless. Not that how insiders behave is especially odd in our fandom, I’ve learned, but it’s really different, say, from something like playing in an orchestra. When I was a teen, I played in an orchestra which outsiders where I grew up all thought was strange, but there was a consensus within the orchestra about the importance of our activities, and we didn’t criticize each other for our intensity or how much we practiced or how interested we were in the activity or its outcomes or how much money we spent on pursuing our skills. I think this is because of shame, somehow — internally, among other orchestra members, there was no shame in being focused on music, but that is so different in fandom; fans seem to carry to the external shaming on into the experience with them. I suppose it’s because of the “frivolity” question you raise …

    Like

    1. I started writing about the outside perception and how we shouldn’t let it shame what we do, but then as the post went along that point ran parallel with how other fans shame for the same things the outsiders do. it can be a circle, how we try to justify ourselves, even among our own “kind” :/

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s