Lessons on Geek Anthropology explores fandom as an extension of the Self today. In other installments, we’ve argued that fannish objects might be points of identification that help us explain our individual personalities. However, fandom is more than that. It could be argued that fandom is an extension of a fan’s self. Fan objects can work as role models. Think about a fictional character that we love. Not only we can find points of identification with the fictional character, but we can also use it as a role model for our daily interactions. Thus, not only the fan shapes the fannish objects; the fannish objects also shape its fans.
Fictional characters can be read from different points of view. They might have different closures, different interpretations for different audiences. These differences come from our personal experiences and cultural backgrounds. Shared cultural experiences are the source for groups of fans to find common ground, thus conventional interpretations. This is why we can find groups of fans interpreting a character in the same light. These fans will have points of identification with the fictional character, but they may use it as well as an extension of their Selves.
How fans use their favorite fannish objects as idealized mentors that help them navigate the world. Fans might use quotes of their favorite characters, use everyday fashion mimicking them, or might even make the same gestures as the fannish objects do. One easy example is Cosplaying. However, some people have mistaken these processes of identification and mentoring with transformation into the fannish object itself. Fans do not become the characters they love. Instead they thrive in maintaining the roles and the way a group of fans idealizes the fannish object.
Thus, we can see that fandom is an extension of our Selves. Not only fannish objects might explain parts of our personalities, but we also use fandom to express and extend our Selves while sharing with others that have the same interests we do. We find fandoms when we connect with one, and we do that because there are elements of that fandom that connect with our personalities. But we also create the fandoms we meet, because we use them into expanding our Selves. Thus, fan cultures are not static at all: they grow and change as their fans do.
So yes, we have points of identification with the fandoms we fall in love with. And yes, we do extend our personalities using those fandoms. We’re not the same as we were before meeting our favorite fandoms. We’re much more muchier. We gain more muchness.