FANomenon (2013) – Lynne Carter

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Premiering this evening on Global as part of a new series called Obsessions, is this fascinating documentary about fandom, and the revelation of one of the largest driving forces behind it, women. This shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as Bjo Trimble, a female fan, was one of the major fan forces in helping classic Star Trek stay on the air, with letter writing campaigns.

The documentary explores all areas of fandom, from cosplay to collectors to fan-fiction. It’s a rather sad state that it’s guys who get talked about the most when it comes to fans, because, as the show illustrates, a majority of fans are actually middle-aged professional women.

While bouncing around conventions, the doc also follows around Suzie Beckner.

Beckner is a fan of Stargate: Atlantis, specifically the actor Joe Flanigan who played John Sheppard. She collects his action figures, has his pics, runs a fan forum, and writes fan-fiction about the character and the show. She lives in rural America with her two sisters, in a small town, a place she’s never left. Her only interaction with fellow fans has been online…

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But when an opportunity finally presents itself to not only attend a convention, but to meet Flanigan, Suzie makes the journey of a lifetime.

Carter and her fellow filmmakers have made an objective and honest look at the world of fandom, the good and the bad, and in the world of fans, there is plenty of both.

I’ve been a genre fan for as long as I can remember, from that first time I saw Jaws, to the moment when Star Wars blew my mind, when the first episode I ever saw of Star Trek changed my life that Saturday morning, I’ve seen the obsessive fan, and I’ve seen the casual fan.

This doc looks at both kinds, using Suzie’s journey and her experiences as a window for the viewer. We get to see the people who helped create these fans, strong female and male actors, and their characters.

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It has always amazed me that the strongest female characters to be found in film and television have always been genre characters, intelligent, strong women who give viewers both female and male something to look up to. This is something I still haven’t seen lots of in the ‘mainstream.’ It’s no wonder that so many people, gravitate to genres and embrace them as passionately as they have. They inspire, lead, and fire the imagination. And they have fans because we identify with them, recognize a part of ourselves, or something we want to be.

So it’s time for geek girls and fan boys to learn to share fandom, recognizing that we all bring a love for something to the table, and celebrate it together.

Carter’s film is fun, captivating and honestly, I could have watched a full two hours of it, going into a deeper exploration of the world of fans, their obsessions, their interests, and who they are, because of them.

FANomenon airs this evening on Global as the inaugural episode of Obsessions… what’s yours?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. “She lives in rural America with her two sisters, in a small town, a place she’s never left. Her only interaction with fellow fans has been online…But when an opportunity finally presents itself to not only attend a convention, but to meet Flanigan, Suzie makes the journey of a lifetime.” This sounds like me…I live in a small town…never been out of the state I live in til the chance came to meet Zoie Palmer of “Lost Girl” in NY Oct. of last year…turned out to be one of the best days of my life. Today actually marks the 1 year anniversary of that very exciting day!

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