Disclaimer: This post is about fans and fandoms in general. If there are similarities to actual people or circumstances, then it must be…real.
Some time ago, someone made a ruckus by dismissing shippers as “not real fans”. That got me into thinking on what a “real fan” is. And who’s to say who’s real and who’s not?
We have different stories on why we became fans and different ways of expressing it. Each fandom is also different in terms of temperament, prevailing character and the image they project to other fandoms.
We may have been turned into a fan through a drama, a song, a movie or a TV show. We liked the personality so we tried to know more about the person. We liked a song so we dug up other songs. We liked the drama so we watched their previous dramas.
Or there is something that we can empathize with them. We see something in their lives that may be similar or close to home. Maybe we share the same dream or same belief or even went through similar experiences. Then before we know it, they’ve become our rolemodels.
Of course, there are the superficial reasons: he’s handsome, she’s pretty, they wear fashionable clothes.
And then there are those who like the pairing, whether through a film, a drama or collaboration, we start to ship two people thrown together for work. We become “shippers” and speculate whether it’s real or not, we connect every little thing they do on SNS or say in their interviews, look for matching this and that, connect the dots or crooked lines because hey, that’s what shippers do. Some are just extremely delusional than others.
Some fans tag themselves as “pure” while others as fans of a particular member, if it’s a group.
Some are casual fans, some overthink. But all of them have reasons why they became a fan. Whether for a second, a day, a week, a month, a year or years. They were or are fans.
We also have different ways of expressing our love and support.
Some watch concerts, even flying across the world to do so. Some buy singles, albums, DVDs/BDs and the different versions in between. Some watch all their dramas and TV appearances. Or those YouTube videos to win music shows. Or participate in every online voting created by marketing teams. There are those who write fan fiction. Or tweet about them 24/7. Others send them gifts, even if these people can very well afford hundreds of those we give them. Then there are the magazine collectors. Or the stalkers.
Some, meanwhile, think they are relatives (mother, sister, grandma, auntie, pick one); or manager or lawyer, ready to defend them or make explanations for them. Then there are the KIA ones.
And how can I forget: the ones who think their idols will develop romantic feelings for them and marry them one day. Now, talk about literal fanlove.
It doesn’t mean that if you don’t fit any of the above, you’re not a fan. We have different circumstances and different POVs on how best to fanfgirl (yes, Oxford, I’m using it as a verb; about time you consider including the word as a new entry). Some are just crazier than others. It’s all part of being a fan.
No matter the different ways to express it, our idols only have one way to receive the fanlove. Accept it. Without bias and prejudice. That’s why you get the TVXQ poisoning case, for one. All in the name of fanservice, they take gifts and say thank you, because that’s how it should be, right? You’re given something, you take it, you eat it (if it’s food) or wear it (if it’s clothes) to show your appreciation. Unfortunately, some fans abuse and misinterpret fanservice, or expect so much more in return.
Each fandom is also different.
Some are more fun than others, some have dramas every day as if you’re watching a, well, Korean drama. Some are hilarious and love memes and troll their idols. Some are more serious
problem than others; try making a joke about their idols or criticising them and hell will break loose. Some don’t need an edict and will just construct a monument for their idols. Some will go to war or to hell, while some will even die for them (or in another idol’s case, be willing to be hit by oppa because it is an “honor”).
For me, fandoms play a huge role in making fans stay and be loyal. It’s not only the engagement and involvement because that is a personal experience, it’s also the prevailing mood because that makes for a collective experience. The latter is the reason why I have been an Arashi fan for a decade now *throws confetti*.
Consider the fandom as a home. If the home is chaotic and full of negativity, do you want to go home or even stay there? That is one of the reasons why some leave their fandom, while others just outgrow it. Or you just lose interest. It happens, you know.
A friend once said, “it’s best to fangirl alone”. And sometimes, it is.
But does that make you a real fan or not? It’s still fun to fangirl with other fangirls. Where’s the fun in spazzing and flailing alone. If for anything, it makes you a loner but it doesn’t make you less of a fan. Same thing with pure or shippers. We are all just fans. Nothing more, nothing less. The moment you overstep the fanzone and think you’re special or superior, then that’s when you become a real-ly crazy fan.
And as a special addition to this entry, let’s talk about fanzone and that time Arashi fanzoned their, well, fans.
Would Arashi date their fans?
Q: What if you fell in love with your fan?
Ohno: I think that even if I do fall in love with a fan, I will hold myself back. I wouldn’t confess. Because a fan is supposed to be a fan! Furthermore, to just give that fan all the love with her identity as a fan, I think it’s a rude thing for other fans.
Q: You fell in love with a fan! What would you do?
Aiba: Hmm, but that is still a one sided thing right. If that is so, I would leave my feeling at that. Since if I were to like her, I would be biased towards her. I want to treat everyone on an equal level. I can’t just love that one fan.
Q: Are your fans considered as your possible ideal partners?
Jun: Hmm, no. Certainly, I love my fans, it’s not that I dislike them, but I treat my fans as my family members. Therefore, I don’t hold any feelings of love towards them.
Q: You had a love at first sight at a fan who came for recording! What would you do?
Nino: Even if that happens, I will do nothing. Because it’s impossible for me to be dating a fan.
Q: What would you do if you received a love confession from a fan?
Sho: That is a difficult situation but I think I would reject. Because a fan is a fan, you can’t go beyond that relationship.
In the non-official book on Arashi, their ex-manager supposedly quoted Sho as saying that he would never date fans “because fans are talkative”. I’m sure a lot, if not all, celebrities know this. It’s not just about dating per se, but about things in general. They may seem to be friendly and approachable to fans, but we never know the caution they practice in actual life. That’s why I cringe when fans violate their personal space thinking it is okay. It is never okay.
And this is is also why I love and respect Arashi. They never sugarcoat or give false illusions to fans. Even when they were not popular yet, they did not have second thoughts scolding their fans for bad behavior, even if it may have meant losing those fans. The only fanservice in their vocabulary is to come up with work their fans can enjoy and be proud of. Personal fanservice? Be happy with a wave, a point, or a fishing gesture from Ohno…if you’re lucky at concerts. Or having your letter read and answered by Nino, Aiba or Riida in their radio shows. You can keep on writing until it happens. Because that’s the fangirl spirit. You keep the faith, but never think you rule their fate.
And with that, I am happy to stay in the fanzone. I’m, you know, real that way.
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