If you’re anything like me when reading a book you’ll slowly, but surely, start to feel – and show – the predominant emotions of the narrative.
Say the character is under a lot of stress and constantly antagonizing all around them. I wouldn’t go that far, BUT I would carry myself pretty angsty for no real reason for the whole reading period.
Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps you’re not the emotional sponge I am [which is pretty good news], but you will always feel – even if just for the brief moment when your eyes are flying through the pages – that you are indeed a part of that world and as such you’ll share the emotions that live in it.
All of this serves as a warning: choose what to read on your vacations carefully.
You don’t exactly need to feel blue and stressed out, while soaking in the sun on a tropical beach or even just laying on your on couch. (You can if you want!)
Just another thing to bear in mind when choosing your Summer readings: the emotions that overpower the narrative.
Think about what you want to experience when you enter your reading pause and bear in mind that the effects might linger for awhile longer…
Check out the 1st Summer Readings post!
I think it’s safe to say that the holidays have officially crept in.
Whether or not you’re already enjoying the so called “free time”, your thoughts are most likely there.
You might be set on spending it with a bunch of super active, super healthy activities or… Just lounging around the house, your backyard or the beach.
Whatever your summer rest of choice is you’ll always need a good’ol book with you. Really. If you’re traveling or planning a visit to a theme park, there will be lines, there will be times when you can’t take another step and just need to stop (or others need to stop) and you’re forced to be there looking at the empty air around you (yes, yes, there are sights: but you might want to escape them!).
And here comes your savior: the new shiny comic you bought at the airport or maybe the tattered book you picked up from your nightstand on the way out.
This will help you travel even further, while giving a rest of all the craziness…I mean, lovely holiday surroundings you’re experiencing.
In this new genre discussion “summer edition”, we’ll be mentioning a few of the favorite go to options. We won’t dwell on concrete brands, but instead what each genre has to offer in terms of enhancing your summer holiday mindset!
(I would say ‘conventions’, but as Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk state, Con sounds much cooler)
Cons are a constant in a geek’s life. Whether you can afford the money and time to enjoy them in person or live through the photos and videos made by fellow fans.
Cons have the power of bringing a miscellaneous group of people that, no matter what their costume is or if they are not wearing one, will rejoice to discuss pretty much any comic / TV show / movie / videogame / RPG /…
You are sure to get out of those three days with a heavy sense of geek enlightenment. But beware: it will just last until you take off your costume and lumber into your everyday routine.
Everyone has opinions, theories, favorite characters, suggestions of things to try. Some have travelled a long way just to be there, others a mere five minutes journey.
No matter what, everyone is united in helping others get their idols autograph or simply walk past them. Saving seats, taking pictures, offering a kind word when someone cries their eyes out just because they missed their favorite actor: it’s a healthy comradeship.
For the sake of Cons everywhere, I’m leaving out the jump the queue acts, the rudeness in discussions and some costumes that are appalling offenses to the original characters and their creators. What? It’s not all lightsabers battles and cheering.
Anyway, talking about cosplay you’re bound to brush shoulders with any character from any fandom, from the more straightforward references to the more obscure ones. The point is you are surrounded by allusions to all genres: sci-fi, fantasy or steampunk.
Unless it has a specific fandom at its core say the Star Wars Celebration or the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration . Then you’ll only see Chewbacca and Princess Leia or on the second case, walking TARDIS and countless Doctors.
Stay tuned for personal convention stories as we enter the “Convention Season”!
(Don’t worry: we’ll let you know where to find Outland Entertainment!)
I’ve never been sure of that. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of time travel, even though, going back a few years, I didn’t see myself as a sci-fi fan. It appeared in the books and movies I avidly consumed, but was it science-fiction or fantasy?
How much scientific accuracy there needs to be for a narrative to be considered science-fiction? Is that even at all relevant? Sure you have time travel that is so technical and scientifically structured that you don’t hesitate in calling it sci-fi – in perceiving it as such. Take H.G. Wells‘ The Time Machine, for example.
But then the lines start to get blurred. And a detective story – the movie Memento – or a love one – the novel & movie adaptation The Time traveler’s Wife – get’s you thinking. You even have a time-turner in Harry Potter, which there is no doubt of being Fantasy through and through.
So what does it take for time travel to be freed from the sci-fi spectrum?
Time travel is more often than not associated with the sci-fi universe, but it surely is not confined to it. Do you find it more often there? Is it more cohesive or realistic (if we can call it that)? Maybe, but it finds place in all kind of narratives.
From fantasy to romance to science-fiction, it can appear in any of these genres. The main difference is perhaps the level of imagination or scientific norms that rule that possibility: the paradoxes, the multiple timelines, what can or cannot be changed.
Through the Doctor in his TARDIS to Dr. Emmett Brown in his DeLorean we’ve been taught a lot about this matter, even if some of it is contradictory. We have seen a myriad of theories and rules, from the unchangeable force of the fixed points in time to the dangerous repercussions of changing the slightest moment in history.
We may question how something takes place, we probably don’t even agree or think that some theories are simply too farfetched.
Nevertheless, I dare you: have you never dreamt of travelling through time?
And that’s it. The universal force that binds us all to this story element, no matter the genre it is wrapped in.
So you’re part of a fandom. A whole group of people shares theories, art and fanvids fervently. You finally feel at home with all those likeminded peers.
Sure it’s fun BUT have you read or watched anything else for the past <introduce a ridiculously long amount of time>?
I’ll go out on a limb here and say you haven’t.
You’ve been sucked into a vortex of active participation (or sometimes just passive contemplation) of characters, story arcs and entangled theories.
Remember the “strange consequences” I mentioned on the previous post? Well, if you’ve ever been part of an active fandom, I think it’s safe to assume that you did cut some ties with the real world during your fanatic days.
And then maybe it got cancelled or you simply turned that dreaded last page. I’m pretty sure you felt angsty and acted snarky towards those clueless around you: withdrawal symptoms.
And that’s when you venture into the fandom’s gloomier place, reserved to relive those darkest hours that marked the end of the world you were so completely immersed into.
But we know this is how it goes. It’s a vicious cycle. So why?
Why do we feel the need to tear our eyes out watching favorite characters suffer, die, live impossible loves?… Doesn’t real life provide us enough pain? Do we really need more? Are we supposed to be living in such a perfect world that only their hurt – the one we watch, read -gives us the pathos escape we need?
I believe our lives are far from perfect many times. As it is often said we have moments. Of happiness, sadness, even despair. But this doesn’t mean that our lives aren’t good.
No matter how grateful you feel, there is always a little “something” you wish was different: for me is health. If only I had Disney’s Rapunzel magical healing powers… But it’s fiction. Fantasy. And there lies the reason why we take refuge in fictional worlds: there are no limits, or rephrasing it, the limits are different.
By this point you’re probably thinking “Eureka! What a breakthrough, Sherlock.” And you’re right. I’ve been just stating the obvious. Now, what I am trying to get to is why do we torture ourselves with fan art of those final agonizing moments of a character or story?
Having had some reasons to cry in real life, I found myself crying with one of those fanvids. I am not even talking about watching, say “Angels take Manhattan” (Doctor Who’s 7th season finale], where you are experiencing the whole thing for the first time and find yourself grieving the characters that you’ll miss, the familiar faces that won’t be on screen every episode. I’m talking about masochistically re-watching episodes and fanvids with “tear trigger” music. Seriously: what’s wrong?
I think we have to go back to the beginning: “why” are we part of a fandom?
We need to belong, to share our experiences through those worlds.
We need to have heroes, but they have to be flawed and able to get hurt.
Only then we get our catharsis.
You cry for their pain, while secretly crying for yours. Are we really that shallow? Can we just show feelings over fictional characters? No. But it’s easier. You don’t have to explain it. It’s there. It’s the lost of your favorite character or the love story that will never be.
It isn’t. It’s you. But that doesn’t have to be said to anyone, not even to yourself.
Fandom and genre don’t always coincide. You might be addicted to a lot of stories, characters or even just the aesthetics of countless disparate works.
The genre isn’t a barrier. It might be what makes us take the first step – the so called point of entry – but at a certain moment our passion for a fandom transcends any label and even leads us to experiment different types of content (genres) and format (video games, TV series, cinema, novels, comics…).
Fan engagement is built on psychological mechanisms that concern the realm of imagination on the one hand, and the emotional processes on the other.1 Being part of a fan community means that you’ve passed the threshold. You already feel connected enough to the material in a way that gives you sense of nearly ownership over that work. You might pluck your favorite character from its Dramatic Novel surroundings and drop into a Steampunk universe.
And that’s when it happens: when you start interacting directly with the content you will most probably tweak the genre. Using that flexibility gives you the total freedom you creatively need to develop and maintain your relationship with the characters, certain narrative moments or a whole universe.
As Henry Jenkins has so clearly contrasted, the fan culture has gone from a stage where it was deeply marginalized to an age where fan participation is not only accepted and encouraged, as it is “increasingly central to the production decisions shaping the current media landscape”2.
However, being part of a fandom doesn’t always just mean that you have a whole new world to explore, a parallel universe to escape to. You can become addicted to writing or reading fanfiction, to creating or watching fanvids or even listening or playing some very specific music genres (Wrock, anyone?).
If you allow yourself to get involved, to engage with the different components on a systematic basis, it can become an integral part of your life, sometimes with strange consequences.
Have you thought about the emotional baggage you suddenly attach to you?
We’ll talk about that on the next installment of these series.
1) JENKINS, Henry and SHRESHTOVA, Sangita: “Up, Up and Away! The Power and Potential of Fan Activism”, http://henryjenkins.org/2012/07/fandom_is_built_on_psychologic.html
2) JENKINS, Henry “When Fandom Goes Mainstream…” http://henryjenkins.org/2006/11/when_fandom_goes_mainstream.html