Xiah Junsu (left) and Hero Jaejoong (right) are members of the K-Pop band JYJ, which has a saesang following.
As an overly passionate, silly geek, when I like something, I don’t just “like” it. I tend to get excited in a very specific way, going into full fan mode fairly quickly (see this drawing for a visual explanation).
Once I get rolling, I become a constant broadcaster, excitedly telling my friends about my newest obsession, while I wave my hands around in the air for emphasis.
This excitement is called “fangirling” (or fanboying, as the case may be), and it’s fairly common behavior when it comes to the nerd world. In fact, it even extends beyond nerds: Stamp collectors, vintage record experts, and doll fanatics have their moments, too. We all light up when we get a chance to talk about the thing we love. When we share our enthusiasm, we welcome another person into our inner circle.
Sometimes, though, in the midst of marathoning yet another Asian drama with impossibly good-looking leading men, I’ll catch myself wondering: Is my fandom escapism? And can it go too far?
All pleasures can lead to escapism, but where do they cross over into obsession? Are you obsessive if you spend each year crafting yet another insanely detailed Final Fantasy costume to wear to Dragon Con, or are you merely nurturing your creative pursuits? Is an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek history a good thing, or does the need to keep it up-to-date eventually edge out the necessities of life?
If there’s one sect of fandom that’s all about creating worlds to escape to, it’s fan fiction. Magan Cubed, who has been actively involved in the fanfic community for over a decade, said fandom is usually a harmless social networking tool. But at its worst, it can become dangerous, leading to stalking or harassment, she said.
“This tends to happen when a camp of fans become overly entitled,” Cubed said, “They begin to feel that they have a say in how the source material is written, presented, cast, etcetera, and that the creative staff is wrong for not following their wishes. This often presents itself as a sense of ownership over the actors of a film or television series, and has resulted in threats against the actor and his or her loved ones, both online and in person at conventions.”