While sitting at the window seat of the train with your nose stuck onto that gripping chapter of the book that you are reading, you must have attracted questions from inquisitive minds like, “Are you a Potterhead too?” or had some over-enthusiastic teenager going wide-eyed at the limited-edition ‘Stranger Things’ t-shirt you had chosen to wear while going to the library.
Sharing a mutual love for a favourite character or being a part of a fandom or community with millions of people whom you do not know is a unique bonding where it is just frenzy and fanaticism as the common factor connecting you with them. It is the emotional attachment the individuals have for a specific character or a fictional world that helps them to develop vast networks with people sharing common interests which can even lead to a great camaraderie much beyond sharing fervent appreciation for a particular favourite.
What is that one thing that de-identifies the individuals and creates an entirely new world of imagination with people who collectively call themselves fans? Well, it is a kind of voluntary psychological investment into some popular media exclusively for stronger imaginative engagement and manifesting that engagement into a broader spectrum of the world.
Being a fan is like sharing a profound bond with the object of devotion and admiration which could either be some real personality, such as a sportsperson, actor, or social influencer, or it could entirely be a fictional world and characters from a book, movie, anime, or web series. When these fans create their own community together and make a powerful impact through their presence all over the media that is when the biggest fandom in the world is created.
Although the fans might be in different parts of the world, they are no less than a tight-knit family extending their love and care for each other, with the only difference being the object of their love and care and their identity being associated with that fictional world they are representing.
Unlike those brief spans of fangirl or fanboy moments when you meet your favourite celebrity or feel your heart pounding at a particular scene from your favourite book or movie or web series, these biggest fandom in the world have a more substantial presence in the form of communities that are dedicated to organising fan art exhibitions on online portals, writing of fan fiction and fan theories over different writing forums and also setting up chat shows over virtual media with the original creators of the fictional characters. Even for the biggest fandom in the world dedicated to actors or sports persons, there are these fan forums that arrange fan meetups with celebrities and even keep posting updates on social media platforms to keep the fans informed about their favourites.
When it comes to the biggest fandom in the world, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) undoubtedly takes center stage.
All of you have been a fan of something or someone in your entire life but how many of you have ever asked yourself the question, ‘What do you get from this world of fiction and imagination that you do not have in real life?
Well, if you set off on the quest to look for an answer to that, you need not wander too far as you might find your answers in the following sections:
- Fulfilment of all the voids in your life
Life is never too easy for anyone and there are hundreds of things perhaps around you that persistently make you sad and reiterate that vacuum in your life. There might be times when you feel yourself to be nothing but a worthless addition to this planet, thanks to the long list of failures you have had. It is during these times you need something to fill that void with and you just scrounge for something around you but all in vain. That is when you feel more substance in the success stories of your favourite personalities or the positivity projected into the world of fiction that you are so fond of. When you lose all the reasons to feel joy, empathy, compassion, and optimism in life it is the characters from your favourite fictional world or your favourite personality that continue to inspire you and support you in your worst times.
- Escape from the harsh realities
Have you ever felt like running away from everything that you are and everything that you know, picking up your baggage, and leaving for that trip your favourite character set off 20 years ago only to find so many treasures in some magical land? Have you ever wished to get that letter from Hogwarts so that you do escape the family where you feel like a misfit all the time and be a part of the world where you want to belong? If all these answers point out to a big and enthusiastic ‘yes’ then it means that the biggest fandom in the world are the escape routes for you when you feel too suffocated in your own life and it is what you share with your favourites is what keeps you alive and happy.
- Parasocial relationships
Very often some fans are seen to claim to be in a relationship with their favourite fictional character or a famous personality which might make them look deranged or obsessed to others. This is what parasocial relationships are where an individual does not care whether the object of their obsession or interest is even aware of their presence or not. These kinds of fans even go to the extent of renouncing real relationships and acquaintances for the sake of their fictional relationships.
Now let’s have a look at some of the biggest fandom in the world that are ready to welcome some more members to their families:
- The Stranger Things fandom: Ever since Will Byers got lost in the woods and his friends Mike, Dustin, and Lucas ventured into the mysterious Upside Down to look for him, the Netflix production ‘Stranger Things’ went on to become one of the most viewed series. With millions of viewers feeling connected to the show probably after watching it for the umpteenth time, the biggest fandom in the world like Stranger Watchers and Stranger Fans expanded its popularity further.
- The Hunger Games fandom: This post-apocalyptic fiction is currently a rage and when Katniss Everdeen decided to volunteer as a tribute to save her little sister Primrose Everdeen in the first book by Suzanne Collins people started going crazy about the series even referring to themselves as Tributes.
- The Marvel Universe fandom: The diehard fans of the Marvel Universe and its characters call themselves Marvelites or True Believers which was a term coined by Stan Lee himself.
- Harry Potter fandom: You cannot talk about the biggest fandom in the world without mentioning the Potterheads. What’s more, if you have not read the books and only know Harry and his friends and all about Hogwarts from only the films you would be labelled as a Muggle which is really something you need to worry about if you are a wannabe Potterhead!
With the emergence of the Internet and social media platforms, all these fandoms have got major outlets to channel their interests and very conveniently create a perfectly organized subculture comprising people with like-minded interests. These fandoms not only share their love for their favourites on the platforms but also make sure that new members keep joining their groups and expand the fandom more.