Con Life, Culture

Finding Fandom – With Ali-Wan Kenobi @Kangaru CAT-CAT @cfnchng and Jenn @jennXlai

Finding Fandom with Alice, Catherine and Jenn Squad

I’ve been interviewing content creators whose purpose is to build community with their work.

Each one has a unique opinion of “fandom” and why it’s important to have one and why it’s important to build a community around one. 

 With this interview I’m surrounded by not one, not two, but three awesome geeks who are a part of said community. Oh, they express their fandom hard too via social media, fashion and rolling deep in the con frenzy. They have tightly organized squads and squads within squads. Yeah, they squad hard. Just follow them on Twitter, and you’ll see how they geek out together over everything all the time. It’s amazing.

This is an interview with Alice aka @kangaru who has a couple of nerd blogs. Alice also brought some mutual nerds from her squad, her sister Catherine (@cfnchng), and their friend Jenn (@JennXLai). Since this interview, I’ve been thoroughly entertained by their blog and social media, seeing them geek out squad style, and I’d advise everyone else to do the same. 

 Over some pie in Pasadena (you’re gonna see that a lot) we uncovered the benefits of geeking out as a group, and if TWILIGHT was a fandom even worth getting into. Enjoy:

Nerd Coolture (NC): TWILIGHT…Fans: Yes or No? And what happened to all of the TWILIGHT fans?

Alice: NO.

Catherine: NO.

JENN: I never read the books and never saw the movies. I’m like “pure.”

ALICE: I’m only into the whole TWILIGHT movement because I’m super into books, particularly YA (Young Adult fiction). TWILIGHT’s kind of like a big touchstone type of thing in the Young Adult world. And I did read all the books. And I have seen THREE…of the movies?

CATHERINE: I’ve seen them all. So not a fan. In high school all of my friends were reading these books and obsessed. But I had this trip to Germany, and during that span of time, they casted Robert Pattinson as Edward. I liked him from Harry Potter. So I was like “Oh, I’m probably gonna watch this because he’s in it. Well, I guess I should read it before it comes out.” So I start reading it and then I was like “This is like stupid, but also really addictive. SO that’s how I got into it.

ALICE: Catherine had borrowed the books so I read them. I was like “This is ridiculous.” But it was like super addictive kind of in the way soap operas are addictive. And if was in high school or middle school, I would be totally into this. So I think it was just a maturity thing. I was curious because it was such a big thing.

NC: So what do you think happened to all of the Twilight fans?

ALICE: I think they’re still around. I feel like it’s hard to be part of a fandom when there’s nothing else coming out.

NC: Yeah, there’s no residual.

ALICE: Stephenie Meyer just released that 10th Anniversary thing, and when that came out a bunch people I knew were like “OMG I’m gonna read it right away!” It’s dormant because it’s less stuff coming out.

NC: For me personally, TWILIGHT was my realization of what a fandom was, mainstream-wise.

ALICE: Yeah, I think they brought it more into the mainstream.

NC: For you to dress like a “normal” person, to wear stuff from THE GAP or Banana Republic, it was good for mainstream pop culture. So FANDOM. What does “FANDOM” Mean?

ALICE: I guess it’s just a community of people who are like really into something. Like they have the same passions, and you look at all of the culture around it, inside jokes…I know you also mentioned “language.”

CATHERINE: I would agree with that.

JENN: Whenever I hear the word “fandom” it’s surrounded in some mass sub-culture whether it’s HAMILTON or MARVEL or DC, or like any other type of book that’s out there. It’s primarily around that. Someone can say “I’m a fan of science.” I wouldn’t really call that a fandom. Fandom is geared toward a particular area or subject matter.

ALICE: I feel like the level of passion is important versus like “I really love science.” Obviously, scientists are really into science. Twilight is that great of example of bringing fandom out of a niched thing into mainstream pop culture. You kind of need that fangirl, frenzy around it to make it feel like a real fandom. I feel like it needs kind of that edge to make it feel like a fandom.

JENN: If you’re in a fandom and some type of news comes out. It’s like a wave when someone gets freakin excited! It’s like “OMG! It’s a new book! OMG! I’m gonna post a GIF of that!”

NC: God bless the people who make GIFs by the way…and memes.

JENN: I’m gonna learn. I’ll become a GIFmaster!

NC: If you’re a part of something that’s causing the movement, that’s great! I don’t disagree. If I did, we’d still be friends. How is a fandom best expressed, portrayed, or exemplified?

JENN: With people. If you’re by yourself liking something, it’s cool. But if you find something else who also shares it…

ALICE: Like ME many years before HAMILTON finally came out.

NC: Oh gosh…

A little background on meeting Alice: The very first time I was introduced to Alice, it was to record a podcast with Tony Kim aka Crazy4ComicCon via telephone. One of my friends who had met her prior to recording said something like, “Alice is cool. She loves Doctor Who and has a strong liking for Alexander Hamilton.” I was like “Huh? That’s cool…I guess.” So yeah, her hipster statement would be “I liked Hamilton way before he was a musical.” 

 JENN: You kind of keep it to yourself until you find other people who are into it. Then it grows from there when you find other people.

NC: So it’s best expressed with another person, with other people.

ALICE: It’s not really a fandom by yourself. I feel like the community aspect is important. “Fandom” kind of sounds like a “kingdom.” So you can’t be by yourself.

NC: It’s like “I’m king of this castle!” So what? No else is living there.

CATHERINE: You need minions.

ALICE: Minions, at least.

JENN: You don’t necessarily need a person to look up to, but more so…

CATHERINE: To share. When I just got into watching soccer last year, I was by myself, waking up at freakish hours in the morning to watch these matches, but there was no one to talk to. But when I got Jenn into it, it was fun. I could show her Tumblr links and GIFs, and she would understand. We wake up at weird times now together.

ALICE: It’s a bonding experience!

NC: So when did you all realize you were a true fan of something?

ALICE: Ok we’re gonna go way back. In middle school because I loved the BACKSTREET BOYS. I think for me and my close friends, that first taste of frenzy was the boy band frenzy. That was when the internet was becoming a common thing too. That’s when we would like make web pages and find photos.

NC: Geo Cities!

CATHERINE: YEAH! Mine is probably the same, BSB. But even before that, THE SPICE GIRLS. And that’s how I got into music. Our parents used to play music. But it was like, for once it was my own thing. I found out about it ‘cause I was really into it.

NC: That’s awesome. Music has huge fandoms that we’ve overlooked in the nerd world. But there was no Asian Spice Girl though. It would’ve been cool if there was like “Chai Spice” or…

ALICE: That was before Chai was a thing.

NC: That’s true! Curry Spice…What about you, Jenn?

JENN: It was anime for sure. It actually started with Pokemon and Digimon. I was a huge fan of those. WAIT. Sailor Moon was my first. I swear I was only…six or seven years old. That was definitely the first! Because I remember being so sad that my cable got cut off. My mom was like “You can’t get it back. It’s done.”

Jenn continued her fandom stories about how her fanime grew and evolved, leading her into other fandoms like Fan Fic and J-Pop and then K-Pop. Alice and Catherine chimed in with a consensus how not only anime but fandoms in general are a trip. I believe the phrase was “Fandom just takes you.” 

 NC: OK. So Top Three Fandoms-Alice!

ALICE: Currently, HAMILTON…

NC: I never would’ve guessed…

ALICE: I know. Surprise right? HAMILTON and then probably STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER.

NC: Did STAR WARS start recently, or has that been an ongoing thing?

ALICE: It was from high school.

NC: With the prequels?

ALICE: Yeah! I know…SURPRISE! It was because we were obsessed with Ewan McGregor.

NC: Catherine, Top Three fandoms?

CATHERINE: Probably, STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER, but I don’t know about the third one…

ALICESoccer- right now

CATHERINE: Yeah right now, it probably would be soccer. So HARRY POTTER, Alice was probably into it more because I don’t like to read. When the movie was coming out, I started reading it and got really into it. My thing is, whenever a movie’s coming out, I always have to read the book before. So that’s how I got into HARRY POTTER. 

 NC: What about you, Jenn?

JENN: It’s weird because my fandoms have sub-fandoms. I love Disney…

NC: DISNEY in itself can be a fandom.

JENN: I would say STAR WARS, MARVEL, and SOCCER. Those are the recent ones at least. I know MARVEL began relatively recently. But yeah, these are all recent fandoms. I go into fandoms quick with hope that I’ll stay.

NC: Do you think you’ll phase out of these fandoms? They themselves seem like they’ll have a pretty long run.

JENN: I have merchandise now, so much of it. I feel like I can’t turn back at this point.

NC: So what are your best ways for expressing fandom? Is it conversation? Do you have a platform? Do you spill out of the mouth with people? I see a lot of heads nodding so…

CATHERINE: We have all these crazy Facebook Messenger chats. It’s been a great way of communicating. So for the three of us and our friend who’s not here, we have our POE SQUAD Chat. That’s where we all just go and talk about STAR WARS and OSCAR ISAAC. Jenn and I have our own where we talk about soccer. We have another one called CON SQUAD. It’s the three of us and like three of four other girls who we all went to COMIC CON with last year. That’s the chat we talk in when we do random marathons of TV shows or if we want to go to a museum, or just general pop culture. 

  NC: So you express that way to each other, but what about to people who you don’t know? Alice, I know you have a blog…

ALICE: Yeah I have two blogs. The GIRL ON THE ROAM one is newer, and it’s mostly about travel but also about the geekier aspects of things that I do when I travel. The older one is a writing (slash) book blog. It’s book reviews and keeping in contact with my online writer friends. So some of that has overlap with fandom stuff.

JENN: For me, it’s usually at work. I’ll just be like “OH! Did you see that latest JURASSIC WORLD movie?” Somehow it will lead into something else like, “Oh, STAR TREK. I like STAR TREK too. Have you seen THE ORIGINAL SERIES?” It’s a lot of everyday conversation, talking to my coworkers and dropping random hints. “OH, is he a geek too? I’m gonna try to poke at him and see…”

ALICE: And clothes too, Twitter, our desk…”deskerations…”

JENN: When I first started at work, I brought all these toys, and they were like “What is all this?” I’m just making my space feel really fun.

NC: Why is it important to express and share your fandom?

ALICE: I guess it’s the community aspect. It’s nice to freak out about something with someone who’s also equally passionate about it.

JENN: It’s a cycle. Expressing what we love allows them to create more for us.

NC: It allows who? Producers? Content creators?

JENN: The producers, the content creators, and all of them. We love what they’re putting out and going crazy over it. They give their response as a result of that, and they can create more. And as a result, we are freaking out over whatever’s going on. It’s a nice cycle. It will continue to grow. As more content is out, the more people, the bigger the fandom grows, and it just kind of goes from there. It’s a fun cycle.
Who do you “squad” with? Are they old friends or new?

What’s the how what’s the latest fandom that you got a friend into?

What’s the latest fandom that a friend got you into?

Why do you think it’s important to express your fandom?

Drop a comment below! Would love to know and chat about it! Thanks!

-Marlon @nerdcoolture