Margaret Guroff is health editor of AARP The Magazine. In her first story for Urbanite, she takes out her inability to build an annotated Moby Dick website out on all fans who are not so swift to give up.
One distinctly modern form of obsessive weirdoism is fandom: becoming so devoted to a work of art that you want to augment or even inhabit it. Out of this impulse was born the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org), the phenomenon of “fan fiction” (unauthorized stories by civilians advancing new plotlines of beloved films and TV series) (The Urbanite Magazine),
Merriam-Webster defines Obsession as:
a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling ; broadly : compelling motivation (M-W)
What she fails to see is that fandom is a nascent culture:
a: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture><southern culture> c: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic (M-W)
Fandom began to form in 1960's and 70's, as Speculative Fiction began taking on the role of mythology. It gave a set of values, goals, and practices that have developed and grown over time.
Through our conventions, filksings, fanfic, and fanfilm, we have developed a culture that is uniquely ours. Like all subcultures, it is misunderstood and mocked by the dominate culture. The very idea that we are merely obsessing over favorite stories is an insult not only to us, but to every culture. These characters are our heroes, and these stories are our folktales.
The problem we are having is that all of the foundations of culture now ( not just those of fandom) are copyrighted and sold by corporations that neither understand nor care that they wield so much power. Just because our mythology is copyrighted does not change the power these stories have over our lives. In fact, it only increases our outrage when our stories are treated with the same disdain that corporate media has for the mythology of the Greeks, Romans, or even the beloved stories of the Christian Bible. The Corporation cares only for its own profits, not the effect it has on culture.
While our interest in these stories may seem obsessive to some, I wonder how they feel about those who share other folktales, or folk songs. I wonder if she shares this same disdain for others who do not subscribe to her culture. People mock what they don't understand, and it is clear she just doesn't understand.