Monday, 1 February 2016

Monday's Are For Moaning - The Secret Cost of Fandom

It's nearly half 10 on Monday night and I still don't know what this post is going to be about. I have nothing I want to rant about. I know; I feel weird about it too. Of course, I say I have nothing but, as we've already established here, I'm kind of bitchy when I get going. If this blog was dedicated to my working life then I'd never run out of things to moan about. However, as someone who prefers to distract from her fulfilling professional life using popular culture, I really don't want to dwell on the annoying things a small handful of my co-workers do to constantly drive me insane. I'm even slowly starting to find my groove when it comes to reading. I mean I'm not back on top form but I've finished a couple of books recently and am well on my way to getting through another. It's like I'm a new person.

So, I guess one option is to use my weekly rant spot to moan about not having anything to moan about. However, that feels like I'm really scraping the bottom of the pathetic barrel and I'm, hopefully, still better than that. So I had to ask myself what had got me riled up this week. I have to turn back to my colleagues for inspiration. I discovered this week that the new girl, who is preparing for her trip to comic con, has just spent £700 on her cosplay. I can't fucking believe anyone would spend that much on something. It's insane.

I'm all on board for cosplay and have embraced casual cosplay ever since I saw a necklace that sorta looked like the one Scary Spice wore in the Sat You'll Be There video (something that, in hindsight, wasn't the best place to start). However, I'd never dream of spending so much money on something that was, in all likelihood, not going to be useful for anything else. It's something that I don't understand. Yes, I can see that making your own costume is about creativity and celebrating a favourite character or franchise. I'm all for people expressing themselves but what does it say about you that you are willing to spend so much money on something so frivolous?

How financially irresponsible are you that you will happily spend £700, a sum of money that means a great deal to certain people, on an outfit that you'll wear on, at most, a handful of occasions? The thing I love about cosplay is when people spend time on making their costume from scratch on limited funds. It's something that they've poured their heart into and can look back on with a sense of pride. I get that. However, if I'd spent £700 on that costume the pride I could have felt would slowly seep away into embarrassment and regret. What else could she have done with that £700?

I realise that I can't tell anyone how to spend their money and would never confront this person about it. I just fail to see how this is the rational choice. It's part of an ongoing trend that in order to be a fan of something you need to flash the cash. If I may reference that High Fidelity quote for a second, what really matters is what you own, not what you like. It's not okay to just be a fan of something any more; you have to be a fucking super fan.

I guess I see it most readily through Instagram where you see countless photos of the possessions people flaunt in front of perfect strangers. Obviously, as someone who has an account dedicated to her book collection, discussing this runs the risk of entering hypocritical territory but I will continue regardless. We live in a world where our lives are documented at every turn. We publish the aspects of ourselves that we want people to see so they get the view of our ideal self. I read an article recently about my generation being the most dissatisfied because their expectations were so much higher than the generations before. This is something that isn't made better when your old University friends are only ever posting positive life events to their Facebook page.

In this sense, modern fans are bound to be the least satisfied in history as well. It is no longer enough to have a love of something that stays within your personal space. If the world doesn't know you're a fan of something then can you really call yourself a fan? It's something that is never clearer than it is in the world of book geeks. Readers have created a community that is brought together by a mutual love of books but that exists in a constant state of extremism. Everyone has to buy all the books, read all the books and love all the books. You see Booktubers and Bookstagramers showing off their hauls (of mostly freebies) to their loyal fans and causing people to reach for their wallets. Then, when you've spent the money you have to show off your shiny things. We're all in this stupid game of one-upmanship to prove that we love books the most. Its fucking exhausting and expensive.

(I think) I've touched on this subject before in terms of Harry Potter and suggested that I feel inadequate because I don't view the books through the rose tinted spectacles that the super fans do. I'm not one of them.You know the type. Their Instragram is full of pictures of their Harry Potter books and their pop vinyls. They describe the amount of fun they had at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter whilst they relax in their house hoodie. When I got into the books it was enough that my friends and I read them and talked about them at length. We loved Harry Potter without having to buy a load of shit to prove it. Yes, we lined up outside bookshops at midnight to celebrate new releases but we weren't stood there with intricate robes and wands that cost a few hundred pounds each.

Since when does fandom become subject to income? So many things have been monopolised by the financially stable that we can't even let someone enjoy something unless they fill their life and their house with clear reminders. And the worst thing about this? I totally fall for it. I have a wardrobe full of pop culture t-shirts and walls filled with posters and maps. I've fallen into the trap and filled with constant regret whenever I view my rapidly increasing collection of pop vinyls. I'm 27 years old: I should have grown out of this shit. It's no wonder my workmate is constantly mocking me thanks to the fact that I own a set of IRL pokemon gym badges.

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