My relationship with fandom culture and to a certain extent, music, is a very strange one. I feel like it’s sort of a crutch that I’ve had ever since I was little–not just because my siblings are all musicians (albeit in different genres–pop, blues, punk) but also because our house was one in which music was always playing. Music is the gateway for a lot of things for me: very often, even literature or my ability to sustain writing moods or writing runs. I can trick myself into a state of mind with music.
The trailer (so to speak) for this was written a long time ago and I’ve never struggled so much with any of the other multimedia poems that I’ve put up. In many ways, it felt like a betrayal to bring up a lot of those things because something I’ve really had to struggle with (still do) is my place as a woman who is not a casual consumer of music and its respective fandoms. How do you talk about the problematic things without bashing the thing that you love? How do you bring up angst without it being “hater-ation?”
You come up with something creative, I guess.
I want to draw a line with regard to the context of this zine, I suppose. It’s one thing to play music–don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s easier: I used to play in a punk band when I was younger and the terrible, sexist shit that goes on when you’re an all-girl punk rock group isn’t very pleasant either–and quite another to depend on it but no longer be in a situation where you can make creative musical output.
This zine talks more about the appreciation of music and that world than it does the creation of it. We also dabble, of course, in (fan) fiction and the kinds of hopes that we pin on music and musicians.
I feel like when we talk about music scenes, women are often portrayed one of two ways: cunning groupies or brainless fans and the truth is that while there are probably a lot of people who adhere to that stereotype, I have met some of the most brilliant women in fandoms. Fictionists, artists, poets, musicians–you name it.
Recently, I left the fandom (it should be obvious from the titles of the poems) that I had been head-over-heels in love with for the past two years. I got into this fandom when my dad died and like all things like these, it was a form of escapism: a place where I could be myself without quite being myself as I would be in the “outside” world. I felt understood there, I felt like I met like-minded people who shared the same appreciation of music and wanted the same kind of ideal world.
But sometimes we mix up our ideals and what is, our expectations and who people really are. I found myself contemplating on this after a couple of problematic things that quite jarringly jolted me out of that state of comfort that escapism gives you and realized that I had gotten into the fandom behaving as if I understood what was being said when I didn’t.
I’d mistaken the problematic for the progressive because the same words can mean different things if you squint hard enough. I felt duped, like I’d been tricked into playing that stereotype of the stupid fan who blindly buys records or merch, does stupid things because of mania generated from a kind of out-of-whack momentum.
This has felt more like a break-up than any of my break-ups since 2007 because I put so much time and energy into writing fics, buying albums, queuing for tickets–I’d associated safety from the grief of losing my dad with this group, I’ve met so many amazing friends. But in the end, I suppose, we’re all Susan Pevensie. We realize we are alone and have to find a way to get through real life.
When it comes down to it, we need fantasies that nourish real life–and not the other way around. The happy ending can’t be a train wreck. And I really couldn’t stay and give people resources when I don’t agree with what they’re doing.
My Biochem professor once told me that we are like the atoms that make us up. We form bonds, we break them, depending on what we need to be stable at the time or what we need to grow, to “proceed to completion”. I’ve never forgotten that and I think that it’s true.
Things are a little bit easier on my heart now. At the very least, I figured, I could turn my grief into something creative.