I’m an excitable person. I do not do or feel things half-way. That, paired with my ability to emotionally invest in anything, means that when I like something, I really like it. I like to make the initial honeymoon period– when it’s all still new and very exciting– last as long as possible, which for me is achieved by surrounding myself with things related to the object of said affections. If I like a band, for instance, in addition to listening exclusively to their music, I might also scour the internet for live recordings and rare bootlegs, while making mix CD’s of my favorite tracks for anyone I thin might be vaguely interested. Some might say I become “obsessed.” Naturally, I was a born fan girl, ready to embrace cult classics and epidemics of the media. I can’t remember ever being any different, and though my friends never expressed quite the same level of enthusiasm, my habits seemed normal enough to me, if a little isolating.

Thanks to the internet I found that other people did share my enthusiasm– many, in fact, were far more zealous than myself. It was nice to know that other people watched television shows and spent each week cheering for their favorite couple, or imagining how best to bring justice to the villain they loved to hate. It’s not just me who reads interviews from their favorite authors, wanting to garner as much information as possible about the world of their favorite novels! I’ve never been one for joining message boards or fan-club-type mailing lists, but even without participating in those things, I felt a definite sense of community in knowing not just that other people like the same things I do, but that they like them as much as me.

Like any group, no one wants to be associated with the extremists. I might follow a book series religiously, but I’ve never opened up a novel and shouted that it smells like my favorite character (something I have witnessed before). I’ve also never had a fight with a fellow fan that didn’t share my opinion on One True Pairing’s or some obscure bit of symbolism. When you’re within the so-called Fandom, you can roll your eyes at this sort of thing and move on. Someone on the outside will roll their eyes as well, but they are much more likely to remember such outbursts. Which is how the face of a Fandom becomes ‘a bunch of crazies.’ It’s a common problem, death by association- just look at the Republicans.

I’d like to say that I have a solution to this PR problem, but unfortunately I don’t. The best I can do is point out that while being over zealous might sometimes seem obnoxious, it never hurt anybody. And people are entitled to like whatever they want. Likewise, everyone expresses their interests in different ways, and who are we to judge? Just cause you haven’t seen every episode of Dr. Who and don’t own a to-scale miniature blue telephone booth doesn’t mean you don’t have some weird interest, affliction or fetish. After all, no one chastises sports enthusiasts for that Naked Guy painted in team colors running across the field, and there’s no way you can convince me that’s not fucking weird.