Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality


Help Wanted: “What is a Fan?”

So, I’m driving home from meeting a research participant for a pilot study interview. I had my iphone playing its usual well-blended mix of 90s pop, 60’s rock, celtic music, trance, show tunes, a smattering of current top 40, and “other”. For whatever reason, I started thinking of the concept of “the true fan”. Like many a cliche (or “social construction” as we say in pompous Ph.D land), this term seems to be defined differently from fandom to fandom, and possibly even from fan to fan. I’d also wager based on my six months or so back in Fan Land that the differences in these definitions are a direct or indirect cause of most Fan Drama. So, in my wonky Fandom Lenses way, I got curious about how other folks define a “true fan”. I even wondered if there are some fans out there who doubt it’s possible to define this concept?

Here’s where you come in. I’d like you to answer the following few questions, either in the comments, via email (oklibrarianATgmailDOTcom) if you’d prefer privacy, or via tumblr or twitter.

1. Do you think there is such a thing as a “true fan”?

2. If so, what are the characteristics of a “true fan?”

3. If not, Why Not?

4. How old are you?

5. What gender(s) are you?

6. What are the three fandoms you are most involved in?

Thanks, and feel free to share this widely! If this goes well, I’m pondering a follow-up survey about what, if anything, fans feel their celebrities “owe” their fans. But, to mangle Michael Ende, that is another can of worms that shall be opened another time.


“But what you have seen you must believe…”(The Monkees, November 17, 2012)



Fair warning, this baby’s about 3000 words. If you want something more succinct and less subjective, I heartily recommend Dave Swanson’s review for Ultimate Classic Rock, which utterly nails the vibe of the evening. If you’re up for a longer, stranger trip, click onward. That said, I think I need to back up a bit first for my bias disclaimer. Not much though, just 15 years. 😉

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