Fandom used to be an entirely different creature. Before the internet, fandom was all about physically interacting with other fans to demonstrate how big of a fan you were. Whether you were traveling across the country to attend a specific convention, handing out newsletters, or picking up a fandom centered magazine, it was all about physicality. It was the only way to communicate with people.
However, with the rise of the internet, fandom followed an extremely different path. While conventions, like Comic Con, are still cultural events, and there are a few fandom magazines that still exist, for example the “Doctor Who Magazine” which has been running for 50 years and is the longest running TV-tie in magazine to exist, fandom is much less about the face-to-face interaction. Everything is virtual and instant—information is constantly being produced and sent to the masses. The internet has allowed for chatrooms, forums, blogs, and more that can be entirely dedicated to a particular fandom. The internet has expanded the fandom universe into a never-ending group experiment. A person can talk about their favorite book, television show, film, comic, etc. at any time of the day, for however long they want, and with anyone they want. The possibilities are endless.
On a daily basis, I communicate with people from all around the world about my favorite fandoms. In the seventh grade, I started posting on a One Tree Hill forum called “OTHForums”. Much of my life was dedicated to going home and discussing past episodes, our favorite couples, and spoilers for upcoming episodes. When I learned that “spoilers” existed and that I could find out what was going to happen before an episode even aired, my life changed. I spent hours talking to people speculating what certain spoilers meant. I sometimes cared more about spoilers than the actual show.
Furthermore, I cannot even express how much time I spent discussing my favorite couple with fellow fans. Whether we were discussing our favorite kisses or hugs, sharing fanvids from youtube, or making mix playlists for them, your OTP – One True Pairing – was a defining factor in your online persona. Honestly, it still is. No matter what forum or blog site I go to, the question of “Who is your OTP?” is still the most prominent. Some online users will simply not talk to you or attempt to start a fight with you because of who your OTP is—this is called “shipping wars”. Urban Dictionary defines “shipping” as: “Fandom uses this word as a verb to denote their interest in the possible (and perhaps more often impossible) romantic relationship between two characters in a piece of fiction belonging to any medium”. So as a proud, active member of fanforum.com, tumblr.com, and other online blogs and forums, I can say that “shipping” is the best, but also the worst part about fandom. Yes, you can find beautiful fanarts, fanvids, fanfiction, and more dedicated to your couple and discuss your OTP for hours with other fans that truly care, but sometimes it can be extremely frustrating. There were many times I just wanted to stop reading other people’s opinions online because I saw positive posts about a particular Gossip Girl (2007-2012) couple, Chuck and Blair, or saw nasty comments exchanged between rivalry shippers. But if you’re going to be part of online fandom you must know that for the amount of people you agree with, there is always an equal amount of people that you will never agree with.
However, when fandom needs to come together—it does with full ferocity. Even if you have a thousand varying opinions about the same show, you all still love the show. For example, almost seven years ago when Veronica Mars was tragically cancelled, due to low ratings on The CW, all the fans of the cult series banded together to save their show. Marshmallows (an inside joke in the Veronica Mars fandom, “You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars” (Pilot)), were sent to The CW offices, multiple petitions were passed around the internet, and an overwhelming call for a movie was heard throughout Hollywood. One could not watch an interview with one of the actors from Veronica Mars and not have the Veronica Mars Movie be mentioned. Fans never lost hope, and neither did the actors. Particularly Kristen Bell, who played the title character, never missed a chance to plea for Warner Brothers to fund a movie. This went on for six years, and then they finally listened.
On March 13, 2013, Rob Thomas, the series creator, set up a Kickstarter page that asked for two million dollars to fund a Veronica Mars Movie. If the fans could raise two million dollars in a month the Warner Brothers would agree to make a movie. The fans were able to raise two million dollars—in eleven hours. In total, the Veronica Mars fandom raised 5.7 million dollars. The Veronica Mars Movie campaign made Kickstarter history, breaking records such raising a million dollars faster than any other campaign before or after it.
Not only did the Veronica Mars Movie campaign break Kickstarter records, it also changed the way Hollywood can work. Fandom now is not just going online and talking with strangers about your favorite show—no, now fandom can raise money. A lot of money. A fandom now has an active role in what can happen to their favorite shows, movies, books, etc. They are a crucial part of the equation. It will be interesting to see where fandom takes us in the next couple of years because right now, it’s only continuing to grow.