*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. 🙂
(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.