From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.
Siyang Wei is a Chinese communist, a lesbian, and currently an MPhil student in Political and Economic Sociology at the University of Cambridge. They are especially interested in how ideological horizons shape discourses of identity and community, and hope one day to finish their Cambridge Latin Course fanfiction epic. Today, Siyang talks about fandom as a consumer identity.
How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?
I’m not really sure how I ‘first’ found out, mainly because I was pretty young. I also think there are a lot of things that could be understood as fandom or fanworks that you wouldn’t necessarily assume to be relevant on the face of it. I had a Tumblr account by the time I was 11 or 12, which is definitely where I started to gain awareness of fandom as an actual distinct thing or culture, but before that I had a LiveJournal account which I mainly used to dump on Twilight (I wasn’t very good at LJ either, but I’ll blame those both on being 11). Even before that, my sister and I used to do these extensive role-plays as various real-life celebrities, and I distinctly recall at one point finding an S Club Juniors fanfiction to crib ideas from. Does role-playing in itself count as a fan activity?
So when I really started getting into it was probably around 2010 or 2011, because I distinctly remember a few things that were going on at the time. I was an avid fan of the “Mark Reads” blog (where this guy called Mark wrote chapter-by-chapter reviews of his first time reading things like Twilight and Harry Potter). That was quite a structured fan space anchored around the blog posts, but there was also an interesting dimension of the fan objects being both the reviewed works and the “Mark Reads” blog itself. I might have gotten into that from my Twilight anti-fandom as well; dark times.
Similarly with some of the Youtubers I started watching (you know who they are). And on Tumblr, this was around the peak of Doctor Who/Sherlock fandom, and I was really into BBC Merlin as well. So I followed some people, and it kind of spiraled from there, and I ended up moving from fandom to fandom for a lot of things I hadn’t known about before, purely because I was loyal to certain users who started making posts about different things. Inception, Star Trek reboot, One Direction, ice hockey, Bandom, you name it –- if it blew up, I was probably there.