Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality


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The Ballad of Shamy and Shenny

*Disclaimer/Bias–I was the humanities/social sciences version of Amy Farrah Fowler during most of my teen years, though I like to think I have turned into the humanities/social sciences version of Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz 😉

While my posts here and on Tumblr have been rather Monkee-centric of late (read: I’ve thought and written more about that crap beloved ur-fandom of mine since May than I have in the prior decade combined), I do have other interests. In fact, as the heat wave has finally broken over suburban Bible-Beltia, and as the rumbles of scattered thunderstorms mark the first signs of autumn, my thoughts have lightly turned from past to present–namely my fall semester at work and PhD (which y’all don’t don’t care about (1)), and the impending season premieres of the TV shows I currently follow (which you might care about). I’ll probably gush about My Little Pony when the new season comes out, but I’d like to get some stuff out of my system right now about The Big Bang Theory. Specifically, The Big Bang Theory fandom.

So, back in late May, due to the personal loss and attendant epiphany beaten into the mud elsewhere in this blog, I started hunting for some new fan communities. Ultimately, I realized that right now I don’t want or need to attach deeply to a community as I did to Long_Title back in the day. Between husband, career, PhD, and my existing social circles, not to mention 10 years of fairly momentous personal growth, I am not that young woman anymore. And that’s cool. (2) However, I did stick around in a couple of fandom communities that i auditioned during that time. One of them was NOT The Big Bang Theory, even though that’s probably my favorite Pop Culture thing at the moment. (3) Here’s why.

Being a pretty hardcore fan of Big Bang Theory since the start of Season 3, I thought that a mailing list or forum devoted to the show might do the trick. There were surprisingly few out there, but I found one that fit the bill. I had high hopes when I started lurking. Yes, the show’s practically mainstream these days, but I figured there would be a geeky core of high-level fans that I’d fit in with. While there seemed to be a few there, they were fully drowned out by the Shipping wars. Specifically, the eternal warfare between the Shamy (Sheldon + Amy) People and the Shenny (Sheldon + Penny) People that seemed to spark in almost any active thread, no matter how tenuous the connection to the original topic.

Now, to be clear, I see where the Shenny people may be coming from here. Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco definitely have awesome chemistry as actors, and every scene they do together is a delight. In addition, Penny has played an important role in Sheldon’s Character arc as it bends slowly his toward becoming a real boy. However, I, like Penny, totally dig the Shamy. It’s possibly the first, and certainly the most realistic depiction of Nerd Romance to be found on network TV. (4) It’s one of my favorite things about the show, and a key aspect of what I think the overall “message” of the show is, which is another post. Almost as importantly, I tend toward canon compliance in my shipping and fanfic tastes (except in the very rare instance of a Shark Jump that I disagree with but is not sufficient to make me drop my appreciation of the work entirely). In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t see where Shamy is headed is, in the immortal words of JK Rowling re: Ron and Hermione, “delusional”.

That said, I can’t get sucked into the shipping wars in the way that seems to infect much of this fandom, or at least the parts I bumped into. At the end of the day, it seems like for most people that fandom is a community of like-minded people who start their friendships via a shared interest, and who then, if lucky, go on to develop deeper connections. The object of the fandom, while important, ultimately becomes peripheral to the community. Unfortunately, much of The Big Bang Theory fandom seems to be focused on sniping over One True Pairings, not building an actual community. Maybe it’s just my phase in life right now, but that kind of fannish drama a lot less interesting than me than is making those human connections. Ah well, so it goes. It’s still appointment viewing, and I can hypothesize with Kevin to my little heart’s content.

And on that note, I’m off to spend some time in RL, and possibly work on a fic idea that I mentioned in my tumblr. More on that next time, as well as eventually some thoughts about the scholarly literature of fandom (yes, there is such a beast). Of course that’s only if next time happens before the Shoe Suede Blues show next month. If I don’t write before then, I will be blogging about that first. I’ve seen Peter live before and even talked to him very briefly (i.e. 5 words or so) at a meet and greet in 1997, but something tells me this is going to be a whole ‘nother ball of wax. I’ll try not to be too emo about it. 🙂

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(1) if for some odd reason you DO care about my scholarly thoughts (to the extent I have them), I post sporadically at The Infoliterate University on that sort of thing.

(2) Priority 1 for me is building a career that helps college students learn how to learn more effectively, and helps librarians figure out how we can best facilitate that process. However, to be at my peak mentally, I need some room to be goofy. There’s not much room for goofiness in Academe, at least until you’ve got tenure. All this is another story, anyway, which shall be told on another blog.

(3) My favorite that’s actually escapist at the moment, rather than entangled in 12 weird layers of personal loss, lightly revived preteen angst and eerie coincidences that threaten my happy agnosticism. I am looking forward to both November 17, when a long-cherished dream will be coming true, and November 18, when I can hug my friends, go home, give some playlists a rest for a bit and ponder what the hell all of this actually meant, if anything.

(4) Given of course the standard sitcom exaggerations. I’m talking about the emotional core underneath all the “Fun with Flags” and tiara schtick.

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Gazpacho, Grief, and Gratitude

Once upon a time (2000), in a land (yahoogroup) called Long_Title, there lived four Frodis Femmes.

There was Cin, the ringleader, and Mich, the warrior, and Camille, the mystic (and your humble author), and Anissa, the sweetheart. The four of us had our own quirks and damage from various geek girl adolescent traumas, but beyond all odds we were brought together by a shared affection for a half-forgotten 60s boy band. We wrote fanfiction and went to concerts together and snarked on the guys’ eccentricities mercilessly (though always from a place of love). More importantly we became friends despite (or perhaps because of) our wildly divergent personalities.

But life, as it has a way of doing, got in the way after a few years as early-20s gave way to mid-20s. While we all stayed friends, we drifted apart a bit as we chased our own personal and romantic dreams. There were marriages and graduate degrees and careers to be created, and I like to think that each of us drew strength and writing skills from our time as postmodern self-aware Mary Sue kickers of fanfic villain butts as we figured out how to be heroes to ourselves.

That said, there’s a difference between growing stronger and growing harder. For reasons I’ll skip, I spent my whole life driven to be a success. Not to achieve fame or fortune, but to develop my talents to their utmost in the service of others, to make sure my life mattered. In service of that goal, I became a librarian. Then I wrote a scholarly paper. And then that paper was selected to be presented at a conference in Cleveland—the geographic center of the other Frodis Femmes. (I live a few states away).

There were a few tentative plans to meet up while I was in town, but nothing definite. And then, the week before my trip, my life went chaotic. While most of the issues had been sorted by the time I arrived in Cleveland, I was a basket case and there were still a few balls up in the air. Between that and the fact that logistics had never been finalized, I/we cancelled the meetup. It was an awkward time for all of us, and there’d be other chances, after all. At least, that’s what I told myself at the time.

Fast forward a couple years, to early 2012. For obvious reasons, the four of us started talking more in early march, and there was some tentative discussion of going to a Shoe Suede Blues show later in the year. Anissa was particularly enthusiastic. I didn’t commit one way or the other, as I was well into my Ph.D and didn’t know if more important things to my career would be going on.

On May 12, 2012, Anissa died in her sleep at the age of 36. As an occasionally wise man once said; “Boy, Dumbass me”.

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