Thursday, April 23, 2015

Yes. I'm a Nerd.

Today is April 23rd - Silence Day.  In the spirit of things, I show up at work with a couple of hash-marks on my arm.  As the day goes forward, a few more show up.  Then a few more.

My supervisor emails me - "Should I be concerned?"  Other people wonder but don't ask, and one asked me if I was being marked up for surgery and wow-what-kind-of-surgery-would-that-be???  On FaceBook, there were lots of "likes" and comments for me and for other people who also showed up with hash-marks on their bodies around the world.  Mine were quite tame.  It was obvious to me that not all the world is a fan of Doctor Who.

This got me to pondering fandom.  What is the allure?  Why do some things catch our imagination so strongly when other things you think would - don't?  What do we get out of it?

I realize, now that I'm actually thinking about it, that I've been a fan-girl for most of my life.  It started with a show called Star Trek.  Dashing, fearless Captain Kirk - leading his courageous crew on a five year mission in space, while removing his shirt and getting the girl every chance he got.  Alien Mr. Spock was his first officer; a Scot was his chief engineer; Russian navigator and Japanese pilot.  His communications officer was a black woman.  Very forward-thinking for the later 1960s... 

There were many versions of Star Trek - different casts, different uniforms, different ships.  My mom was a huge fan of "The Next Generation".  I liked, but couldn't stick with "Deep Space Nine".  "Enterprise" may be worth a look, but I haven't gotten around to it, and my family watched the entire "Voyager" series last year but tried to stretch it out because it was so good.

And then there were the movies...  with the original cast, then later with the Next Generation cast - and finally, a prequel to the original series that was probably the best prequel I've ever seen.

Star Trek fired the imaginations of people everywhere.  Adventure, romance and GADGETS!   A lot of the technology we have today was dreamed up for Star Trek and made into reality by scientists and engineers inspired as children by this show.  Not a bad legacy for my first fandom.

Star Trek lasted a long time, but then came Star Wars!   I actually can't remember the first time I saw a Star Wars movie - though I do remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theatre.  I don't think I actually became a fan until I had my son, whose fascination with robots and armor and space ships was catching.  We watched the original three movies over and over again and saw the next three in the theatre soon after release.  I know it's not cool, but I confess that I love ALL of the Star Wars movies.  We've had posters and Lego sets and shirts and figurines - if it was related to Star Wars, we owned it, including our own R2-D2 (yes, that one in the video is ours - and that's Z asking the question).

Harry Potter has been a favorite since he was first written.  When my son was born, my aunts in England bought me paperback copies of the first two books and sent them to me for him.  I read them to him before he had any idea I was reading.  His early lullabies were the sound of my voice reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  He grew up enjoying HP, but I loved all the books and all the movies.  I was heart-broken when JK Rowling decided she was done with Harry.

And I was thrilled to hear the rumor recently that she might write another book featuring those same characters as grown ups.  I don't know if this will happen or not, but I really do hope so!

Then there are the Avengers.  I'm late to this party, really only got here for the movies, though I know there are comic books.  I've seen most of the Avenger movies now and am looking forward to the new one that comes out next week.  My son and his friends are going and I asked if I could come too.  This was greeted by a sigh and an eye-roll, but he said I could come if I sat far away... 

Not long ago, another comic book franchise came out with a movie - Guardians of the Galaxy.  I'd never heard of them, didn't know what to expect, but I really enjoyed the movie and if another came out, I'd go see it.  Not sure that qualifies as fandom though.

My love for Doctor Who does!  Again, late to this party, but I'm the one dancing on the table.  I haven't see the classic ones - I began with the reboot at number 9 with Christopher Eccleston and Rose.  Everyone seems to have a favorite Doctor and if pushed, I'd say Nine, but really, I love them all.  All the companions too.  And River.  I was thrilled to actually be in London when the 50th Anniversary episode aired.  I sat in my grandfather's house with the British Whovians in my family and thoroughly enjoyed the moment.

So... fandom.  Is it a phenomenon that pulls misfits together?  People who are part of a fandom seem to be regarded as "other" by the so-called normal people.  I don't know if that is true across the board, but speaking for myself, it gives me something in common with other people.  I've never been very good at making friends.  I have some, but I guess I'm not the kind of friend one calls up to hang out with.  I'm good at problem-solving and listening, but a night out drinking or dancing?  No one calls me for that - and I'm kind of glad.  I don't enjoy those things much.  I'd rather hang out with people who want to play board games and eat pizza and have conversations. 

Perhaps the thing about a science-fiction fandom is that you DO think differently.  I have ideas that don't fit in with what the world regards as normal, but in my own little fandom all things seem possible.  It's one of the things that makes me want to write, those ideas.  Would anyone read?  I have no idea.  Maybe my family would...  That would be them in the next picture.
The right way to celebrate Thanksgiving!

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