01 Feb, 2020 The Truth About Fandoms in the Realm of Escapism
by Abbie Adkerson
The truth about fandoms reveals the deception and idolatry at work in fan culture. This is part one of a series that will reveal the truth about fandoms, fanfiction, and bondage in the realm of escapism.
What’s a fandom?
As early as 1903, the word fandom has been used to describe various groups. More literally, “realms” of fanatics. Being in a fandom is a badge of honor for anyone whose passion for a film, movie, book, group, or person (fictional or real) exceeds normal levels of interest. Sometimes, fans develop more specialized labels for their obsessions. For example, Harry Potter fans call themselves “Potterheads” (a pun for “potheads”). Some female fans of Benedict Cumberbatch took the name “Cumberbitches.” Web platforms dedicated to obsessed fans, like Fandom, provide an endless feed of pop culture content for nearly any character, story, or genre.
My love of Marvel once exceeded normal levels of interest. I was a hardcore member of the cinematic Marvel fandom. I knew backstories of nearly every character and poured over the Norse mythology that influenced the Thor movies. My friends and I, we prided ourselves in our obsession. But somehow this delightful fandom, road-side attraction on the highway of life, took me down a path I never anticipated.
Truth about fandoms
In many ways, technology and modern merchandising make obsession almost too easy. We can binge-watch TV series as often as we want. Etsy, Amazon and other online stores sell movie memorabilia from Harry Potter wizard wands to Marvel cosplay and raunchy anime body pillowcases that allow someone to sleep with their favorite character.
What’s more concerning regarding the truth about fandom is that those who want their fixes can tap into the nearly inexhaustible supply of fan-made content about their favorite characters or people. The internet is replete with homemade art, stories and films, referred to as fanart, fanfiction, and fanvids.
I’ll talk more in detail about fanfiction in my next blog post, but just know that the appropriateness level of all fan-made content ranges from funny and sometimes cute to full-blown porn. Because this media is created by the general populous, anything goes. Pokemon can have sexual relationships with their masters. Captain America can share a bed with Iron Man and Bucky. A keyword search on any major site including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or web search engine, will quickly reveal the depravity even in the fandoms of Christian authors like Tolkien or Lewis.
Here are some of the results that I found in the first 30 images while searching “Legolas Aragorn fanart” on Pinterest (characters from Lord of the Rings).
The Christian Response
I find it curious that the word fan, from fanatic, goes back to the Latin fanaticus, “of a temple, inspired by a god.” In a modern context, we don’t use the word to mean idol worship, but here’s a mental exercise to see if your interests and loves are rightly ordered, with God above all:
After engaging in your favorite distraction or perusing through the content your child is beset by, could you turn to God in prayer and ask him what He thinks about the fandom or thank Him for the content that helped deepen your understanding of Him?
If not, the obsession might be directed toward another god.
We need laughter and fun. We eventually burn out from work and need a distraction to restore our energy and lighten our hearts. But, if we prefer to stay in the pit stop rather than run the race, we are no longer using entertainment for the glory of God. In particular, a pit stop that encourages sexual immorality (like online fandoms) should be on our hit-list of things to kill. Regardless of how clean our fantasies are, over-romanticizing other worlds and people can cause us to ignore the incredible story that God is weaving together in our own time and place.
- Keep tabs on the things your children talk about with their friends; stay in conversation with them about why they love certain books, movies, and characters. Never assume an obsession is harmless, even if the subject matter seems harmless.
- Take the purity of your daughters seriously. Girls are the primary creators and consumers of online fanart and fanfiction. They need help from mom and dad to think critically about the qualities a godly husband should have.
- My third tip may seem a bit extreme: Don’t allow your child to take a device into their room that connects to the internet. Based upon my experience, I’d argue that no child, even through 12th grade needs free access to the online world in their bedroom.
After reading this blog series on fandoms, fanfiction, the realm of escapism, I hope you will understand the truth about fandom and the dangers it presents to your children.
Abbie Adkerson is a homegrown Middle Tennessean whose education experiences range from public school and private Christian school to homeschool tutorials with The Comenius School (at Franklin Classical School). It was at TCS where she developed a love of classical Christian education and Scripture study. She received her A.A.S. in Visual Communication and Graphic Design at Nashville State Community College and is currently pursuing her B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Her perfect afternoon would be spent watercoloring, jewelry making, or paper cutting while listening to a good audiobook.