Yes, I actually worked out a philosophy, based on Plato’s Theory of Ideas and Aristotle’s Ethics. Then there’s my Jungian animus theory. But these are probably best saved for the Journal of Irreproducible Results.
I date the onset of my fandom to a particular evening in January 2012. In Hindsight (heh, heh) I call it the Thunderbolt. At the time, it felt euphoric. I suppose it’s like that first hit of crack. (Or in my case, the first time I tasted rapini.) One minute I was innocently watching a costume drama ordered from Netflix. The next, I was a hopeless addict.
Oh, it took a week or two for me to realize what was happening. I’m not in the habit of scouring the web for pictures and interviews of movie stars, or anyone else. I had never been a “fan” of anything in my life. So it came as a surprise when I realized how much time I was devoting to this new interest, and how good it made me feel. At first I supposed that it was a passing whimsy, like my occasional cravings for Keebler Fudge Sticks or Habanero-flavored cheddar. Once you’ve had your fill, you’re pretty much set for another year or two.
Then, as it dawned on me that I was now an actual fan, I felt shame. After all, women college professors of a certain age shouldn’t be gushing over actors. They should be doing dignified stuff, like going to conferences called “Decentering the Subject Now That Foucault and Derrida Are Dead,” hearing papers on “Hegemony and Hermeneutics: Why Greek Derivatives Make You Sound Smart” and then trying to outdrink British Classicists at the hotel bar. (A very serious business indeed.) I was afraid to tell any of my friends, since none of them suffers from a similar affliction–so far as I know. Maybe they are all hiding from me the fact that they have a jones for Tommy Lee? A Rickman fetish, perhaps? Or a preoccupation with Oliver Platt?
Yes, there was that one Assistant Vice Provost who displayed a life-size cardboard cutout of Elvis in her office, along with an extensive assortment of lunch-boxes featuring both Jailhouse Rock Elvis and Las Vegas Jumpsuit Elvis. From the Olympian heights of my non-fandom, I had looked on her before with amused indulgence. But now I thought to myself: Dear Gods, Linnet, is that where you’re headed? [Answer: yes. See photos.]
It helped when I found an online community of fellow-fans, all of whom had experienced something along the same lines (and many of whom had been under the spell for far longer than I). What a pleasure to talk with like-minded people all over the world! I suspect that I managed to bore even these sympathetic souls with my endless flood of words about Himself.
Eventually I had to come clean to the Long-Suffering Husband as well. I tried to break it to him by degrees. I think the penny finally dropped when he learned that we were traveling to New York expressly to see Big Daddy in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and had second-row seats. (I reasoned that it was no burden on any man to watch Scarlett Johansson cavort in her slip for two hours, while I savored the Real Presence. Unfortunately, the LSH seemed, Ashley Wilkes-like, to be impervious to her charms. As for me, I spent the evening in a state of constant perviousness…)
The Long-Suffering Husband is indeed a Man of Nobility. He took it amazingly well, far better than I would have, were he to explain –for example– that he had been gripped by a powerful yearning to see Emma Thompson twerking. (I must say though, that he cherishes a rather suspicious interest in Tina Fey.)
Soon I realized that I could comfortably arrange my leisure entertainments around the Object of Interest. As it turns out, he has had quite a long career on stage and screen, and has given many an interview. So in addition to watching his own films, I could read the books they were based on, or sample things I knew he also enjoyed. (In this endeavor, I was fortunate to have at my disposal a vast archive of interview material collected by a small group of dedicated Überfans, who approach the Subject with scholarly rigor.) This seemed to me a legitimate way to gain a greater knowledge of Himself, while avoiding weirdo stalker-woman territory. And thus it was that I broadened my own horizons considerably. For example, over the past two years:
- I educated myself about the Troubles in Ireland and Irish history.
- I’ve listened to a lot of new music, especially Van Morrison. I finally realized that he’s from Belfast. Silly me. All these years, I thought he was American.
- I’ve read a lot of Yeats, a good bit of Shakespeare, numerous Irish heroic sagas, and several great novels (including that classic of Ulster life, December Bride by Sam Hanna Bell) that I would never have picked up were it not for my fandom.
- I’ve become interested in contemporary drama and widened my theater interests (which used to be mainly musicals) to include the works of Conor McPherson, Brian Friel, Harold Pinter (not Irish BTW), Samuel Beckett, and more. I also revisited old loves like Shaw and Wilde with a new appreciation.
- I even worked on my French. Believe me, Jean Dujardin, Jean Reno and Ciarán Hinds in one film is a painless way to increase your vocabulary.
See how good fandom is for my education! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. And then there was this little conversation with myself:
Jekyll-Linnet: I’ll learn to use iMovie and VLC so I can make videos for my students!
Hyde-Linnet: You’re so full of shit. You only want to learn iMovie so you can make tribute videos.
Jekyll-Linnet: That’s very hurtful. I was going to do a distance-learning class.
Hyde-Linnet: Sure you were. Can we get started already!? I want to bathe my retinas in screencaps of Himself.
So yes, maybe I am a bit mental. But it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.
I have not said much about the tender and painful side of fandom, which one experiences during the first year and periodically thereafter. My favorite philosopher, Epicurus, would say that sadness is best consoled in the company of friends, and in the contemplation of past and future pleasures. I would only add that when the gods amuse themselves at your expense, the wisest course is to join in the laughter yourself. Preferably with a glass of wine in your hand.