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What does it take to be a fan?

“You’re a fan of Bastille, aren’t you?” my sister asked me yesterday.

I, of course, replied, “Yes.” because I absolutely LOVE their music. I could go on for a very long time about how AMAZING their song ‘Pompeii’ is. In fact, I am listening to it as I’m writing this. And here is a link for those of you crazy enough not to have already listened to it. As well as having a brilliant name, that song is just perfect in terms of the music and the lyrics.

Anyway, so she went “Then don’t you have all their songs?”

I shook my head and said no, because I haven’t bought even one of their songs. BOUGHT, let me stress. I have listened to them plenty of times on Youtube but I haven’t actually downloaded them from Amazon or anything.

So she went “Then you’re NOT a fan!”

I tried to defend to myself, saying that I liked their music, and just because it’s not in my possession, in ‘My Documents’ or on a CD, doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. She disagreed with me, saying that to be a fan you HAVE to have downloaded the music. Which got me thinking… what does it take to be a fan? Not just of music, but of movies, TV shows, books and anything else you can think of.

So on one extreme, some people think that there is a lot that requires you to be a fan. Let’s take a random example of a movie series… James Bond. I’m sure the die-hard fans would say that you’re not a REAL fan if you haven’t seen every single movie. With that logic, many people that like James Bond are not fans. I would be definitely out because shamefully the only Bond I’ve seen is Skyfall. And with music, the extreme people would say that you have to have listened to and downloaded/bought all of the songs. With TV shows, they’d say that you have to have seen every episode and got them on DVD. With books, they’d say that you have to have read every book.

On the other side, people say that you can still be a fan even if you’re the type that just listens to the songs on Youtube. You can still be a fan if you have only seen one or two of the movies in the series, or only read some of the books, or have only seen one series of the TV show. I think being a fan is not about how much you have, it’s whether or not you like it. And if you do, you’re a fan! It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen your favourite artist in concert, or not read the companion books to the series, or not got the TV series on DVD, or seen the movie millions of times in the cinema! With movies, I think you can still be a fan even if you don’t have the movie on DVD. I like plenty of movies that I don’t own.

And now a point on merchandise. Is it essential if you’re going to be a fan? I don’t think you need any merchandise to be a fan. If you want to show people that you ARE a fan, then go ahead and buy some merchandise. I have a couple of Life of Brian t-shirts; a Florence + the Machine poster; three Hunger Games posters and Horrible Histories Series 2 and 3 on DVD. But they’re like four of my favourite things ever in terms of movies, music and TV! With the t-shirts, I sort of want to show the world that I love Life of Brian. With the posters, I want a nice reminder of my favourite things in my room whenever I’m there. But overall I don’t think merchandise makes you a fan. It’s just an enhancement of your fan-ness.

Here’s another thing to do specifically with music. Concerts. I really don’t think they’re another criterion (or is it criteria?) for being a fan. You can like heavy metal music, listening to it quietly through your headphones, but a concert could just not be the right sort of place for you. Concerts, although I’ve never been to one, don’t seem to be my sort of thing. Loud music, screaming, not being able to see the stage thanks to my height… a cocktail of horror if you ask me. It’s probably down to the fact I hate loud music and being surrounded by a screaming crowd would be more akin to a death sentence for me. I would love to actually see Florence or Bastille in real life, but in the environment of a concert I’d probably be better off watching the performance on TV. So in summary, concerts: not essential to be a fan, but a good experience if you are a fan.

Also, a note on being grilled/ridiculed by other fans. Here’s a typical conversation:

“I saw The Hunger Games yesterday!”

“Oh really? Did you like it?”

“Yes! I’m such a fan!”

“Have you read the books?”

“Yeah, I loved them.”

“Have you seen the castings for Catching Fire? The Capitol Portraits? The pictures of the sets in Hawaii?”

“Um… I haven’t seen any of that.”

“You said you were a fan! That doesn’t seem much like it to me.”

I think anyone that claims to be a fan of something has been subjected to that by someone that thinks they’re a bigger fan. It’s quite embarrassing to be put on the spot like that and made to feel a bit inferior. It doesn’t make you any more of a fan if you know all the latest news about your series.

Finally, a point on people. This is a big point on its own. You see all the Beliebers and One Direction fans reciting knowledge about their chosen guy: his birthday, his favourite colour, his family’s names, the time he was born, his favourite pasta shape, his hometown, his preferred restaurant, the colour underwear he was wearing when he won that award, his favourite pair of socks, his house number, what’s in his fridge… as you can see, it soon descends into creepiness. Is it another criteria of fan-ness to have to know EVERY detail about an actor or singer you like? I love Florence + the Machine, but I don’t know every single detail about Florence Welch. Jennifer Lawrence is a great actor (or actress, depending whether you still say that or not. Apparently they’re all called actors according to some people), but I don’t know any personal details about her. I think you can still be a fan but not know ANYTHING about the person you like. If you have a celebrity crush on them, then you would obviously go out searching for everything you could to do with them. I don’t know about you, but when I go Googling a person’s name I see them over my shoulder going “Why on earth are you Googling me??? Weirdo!!!!!” This is probably true for some people, especially when they type the name with the word ‘is’ in front of it and the word ‘single’ after it.

Sorry for the rambling, it’s hard to write when there’s music in the background. But it’s just TOO GOOD, I have to keep it on. Now I’m listening to Bastille’s “Things We Lost in the Fire”! ANYWAY. I was rambling again. So I don’t think it’s necessary to practically stalk your favourite person in order to be a fan. If they’re a singer, then liking their songs is enough. If they’re an actor, liking their acting skills or their characters is enough. I don’t think you need to know any personal details. I sure don’t know many personal details about most of my favourite artists or actors.

But what do you guys think? Is it bad that I call myself a fan of Percy Jackson if I’ve only seen the (according to the fandom, rubbish; according to me, awesome) film and read the first two books? Do you really need to have subscribed to every Hunger Games website and seen every single special feature to be called a fan?

In my opinion, being a fan should just be about liking the thing itself. You can like The Avengers movie without reading the comics. You can like Rihanna without knowing her age or birthday. You can just like the thing for what it is! That’s all!

Your fan-ish blogger, Jaz

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2 comments on “What does it take to be a fan?

  1. OHMYGOD! I LOVE BASTILLE TOO!!!!!!!!!!!! I have only read the first book of percy jackson and I call myself a fan πŸ™‚ I have only seen the hunger games once and I love it a lot! I think the only thing you need to be a fan is a passion for something and if you have that you can call yourself a fan πŸ™‚

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