Back in my high school and college days, I used to binge watch TV shows and anime series like a pro. I’d pick one series I’ve been dying to see, sit down, and watch almost the entire thing within a day or two. It really depends on the length of the show. Nowadays, I can barely sit down long enough to watch a show continuously for more than an hour. Watching a longer series is a huge time commitment for me and it’s really rare to simply spend an entire day of my free time just watching TV all day. What’s a busy girl with limited time on most days supposed to do? I discovered the only time I’m able to binge watch anything at all is when series or episodes are shorter in length.
Full Force is GFN’s in-depth look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists take a look at the fandom in general and what it means today.
To you, what does it mean to be a “fan”?
LadyCroft3: To me, being a fan is simply liking something enough to go beyond just watching/playing/reading something, to have a passion for the thing you are a fan of. It’s hard to explain really since every fan handles the thing they are a fan of differently and there are varying degrees of being a fan. Some fans may just watch every new episode of a show while others dedicate all their free time to being an active part of message boards or getting deep into character backstories, etc. I guess to put it plain and simple it’s liking something a whole lot more than just “Oh yeah, that’s a cool game” or “I read that book, it wasn’t bad”.
Cary: LadyCroft3 really hit the nail on the head. Fandom can take many forms, from the people who live their geeky loves to those who enjoy them a little less flamboyantly.But one thing that separates the fans from the rest of the general populace is the “must” factor. Being a fan means you “must” accomplish things for the sake of your fandom. I must have this book for my collection. I must watch the latest episode of my favorite show. I must attend the latest convention. And just as our interests evolve over time, those “musts” change too, and can become stronger or lighter depending on one’s life goals at any given moment.
Ashley: I totally agree. We all have different levels of “intensity” with the things we like, but I think being a fan means you really feel passionate about it. You want to talk about it. When you meet somebody else who likes the same thing, you feel an instant connection with that person. Being a fan can be kind of an emotional experience!
Chris: Yeah, intensity is one of the words that comes to mind for me as well. I don’t think you have to be a crazy ultra super supporter to be a fan, although there are a handful of franchises that I certainly get that excited about. Do you enjoy something to the point where you go back for more? Then you’re a fan in my book.
simpleek: I agree with what everyone has said about how they define what it is to be a fan. From my personal experience, there are things I “like” and then there are other things I “love” to the point I’m seeking any and all information about it. I’m also more likely to want to buy or collect merchandise on the fandom I’m really passionate about.
Grumbl3dook: You people are all crazy. Being a fan involves steady rotation at a set pace around a central axis while suspended from a ceiling…
The internet age has made fandom easier than ever, with forums, websites, message boards and Twitter accounts to give information on your favorite media. Does this access cheapen the experience, or simply make it more accessible for everyone?
LadyCroft3: I think social media makes everything more accessible. There are things that I am a fan of now that I never would have even known about if it hadn’t been for the internet. Plus, with message boards, fan pages and the like we can communicate with other fans and discuss ideas for the next game/book/episode/whatever or talk about our favorite characters and why we like them while seeing other people’s opinions too. I think it’s a good thing, but in moderation. As is the case with most things internet related.
Chip: This can be a tough spot for so many people, since being a fan of something normally means that is a part of your identity. Some people can embrace the community of like-minded folks and use the various outlets of the internet to learn more about their favorite media and share in joy with other people. But there are many people who feel threatened by the thing they love so much belonging to a bigger community. It can cause feelings of lost identity or begrudging others who aren’t necessarily just like you for enjoying the same piece of media. Speaking personally, I have felt both sides of this coin with several of my favorites.
Cary: I’m very bad at wearing fandom on my sleeve…or social network, so I tend to keep my distance in that regard. Short of the things I write about online, I don’t usually take to the Internet to repeatedly proclaim my love of this or that. But while I may not be an initiator, I will gladly jump into existing conversations in order to become part of a fan community. So the Internet has, for me, made fandom a little more accessible. (That still doesn’t mean I’m ready to take to the proverbial mountaintops or anything.)
Ashley: I think social media makes things more accessible. For me, it’s a fun outlet to be a “fan,” since I’m pretty shy in real life and try not to ramble on too much about, say, Dragon Age if the person I’m talking to doesn’t know anything about it. Online, you can find more people to connect to who have the same interests. That being said, it can feel like overkill a little bit to scroll through pages and pages of Sherlock gifs on Tumblr. Some weeks, I love it; other weeks, I feel like I need a break. But it’s awesome that it’s out there, for sure!
Chris: Though it’s a fault of my own and not anyone else, I tend to rebel against things that become extremely popular. I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve never picked up a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings book (or seen any of the movies) — by the time I had the chance to jump in myself, I had heard sooooo much about both of them that I didn’t want anything to do with it. The internet has been responsible for a large part of that problem. Still, objectively, I think it’s a massive improvement for fandom. You can find other people who love what you love and discuss the subject matter to death, even if no one in your area happens to like the same thing.
simpleek: The internet has been great with giving people access to the fandom they love. You have the option to either read other people’s discussions on the very topic you’ve been thinking of or participating in the discussion to get your own opinion out there. I used to participate in public forums back when Sailor Moon was huge and I’ve had a positive experience of just talking back and forth with people about a character or plot in the series. There’s a nice sense of community and inclusion when I used to frequent forums. These days, I don’t participate in forums all that much anymore, but I do read other people’s opinions about other fandoms I’m into when I feel like getting someone else’s perspective. Another great thing about the accessibility aspect is if you aren’t initially a fan of a particular video game, book, film, etc. but are interested in seeing if you want to give it a shot, it’s much easier to find the opinions of fans who have been into the very thing you’re looking into for a while online. It’s how I ended up deciding to buy certain video games or books. I discovered something new to love I probably wouldn’t have if there wasn’t much information and discussion about them.
“Fan” comes from the word fanatic, which usually has a negative connotation. The word “fanboy” (or girl) seems to be heading in the same direction. What can communities do to stay positive and welcoming while keeping a unique identity?
LadyCroft3: First, I think people should stop using fanboy or fangirl as a way to demean other people. I know that’s hard to do, but for example I don’t mind saying things like “I’m a huge Dean Winchester fangirl” because I am. I don’t see it as a bad thing, even though that word typically means you are over the top or blinded to everything else. To me it just means I really, really love Dean Winchester and consider myself a huge fan of his character. Aside from that, it’s always important to be as welcoming to new fans as possible. Being inclusive and not exclusive is really important and draws in larger crowds, making the community as a whole more diverse and open rather than snobby and uptight, which turns people away from liking cool things sometimes.
Ashley: I always associate “fangirl” with being a fan of a male character or group, but mostly for shallow reasons. Like how, when I was 12 years old, I was an N’Sync fangirl. (OKAY?! I loved them more than the Backstreet Boys.) That’s not a bad thing, but I always shy away from the term because it seems frivolous the way I think of it. However, I am totally a Garrus fangirl for a whole lot of reasons. And if these terms just means “fan,” I think they’re great. I also agree with what LadyCrof3 said, that it’s important to be welcoming as a fandom. The worst thing about fandom, for me, is that it feels like you have to pass some test to prove that you know everything about the subject at hand. But honestly, I have not had time in my life to watch every single episode of every single season of every single series of Star Trek. That does not mean I can’t be a true fan. I think the more we accept people at all levels of knowledge, the more positive the fandom experience will be for everyone. It should be a fun and inviting thing based on feeling connected to something, not necessarily knowing every single detail about it.
Chris: I’m a firm believer that words are only as important as the meaning we give them. So “fanboy” and “fangirl,” on the surface, are completely fine in my book. The problem is that like so many other things, these terms can be used in a derogatory fashion. I know that for many people, being a fan is a deeply personal experience, and some people feel threatened when others try to jump in as bandwagoners. But to me, if you really do love something, shouldn’t you want as many other people to take part in it as possible? If that’s the case, folks should stop deriding others who like similar things — and likewise, if you DON’T understand why somebody loves a series so much, don’t pass them off as a crazy fanboy/girl and demean the whole experience.
simpleek: I don’t mind calling myself a “fangirl” of let’s say Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Sailor Moon or whatever because it’s true. I get really excited about these fandoms because I love them to death. That doesn’t mean I’m a crazy person who can’t function in “normal” society either. Being a fan should, as everyone has already mentioned, be an inclusive experience. I love when you find other people who like the same things you do and you’re united in your passion and devotion to that fandom. When people start getting hostile against “fanboys” or “fangirls” because people either don’t get the hype or that person may not know everything there is to know about a series, then it sucks the fun out of loving a fandom. It’s a terrible feeling when you feel like you’re either a freak or not a “true fan.” It really comes down to respecting the other person for liking what they like and always being open to newer fans who are just discovering a fandom for the very first time. Connecting with other like minded people may actually give you a new friend you never would have met otherwise if it wasn’t for your shared interests.
I used to be a major TV watcher as a kid. TV was my main source of entertainment, mainly because you had really good shows like Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to name a few. It was easy to get caught up in the lives and antics of these families or characters for half an hour. Every time I tuned into these shows as a kid, it really felt like coming home or visiting an old friend each week.
These days my TV viewing habits have gone down drastically. There isn’t a lot of time to watch anything as much as I used to, or I’m much pickier about what I spend my time watching. Then there are shows I’ve been wanting to get into, but haven’t had time for a variety reasons. Recently, and thanks to the invention of Netflix Stream, I finally made time to watch Zooey Deschanel’s hit TV show New Girl. Words can’t even begin to describe how much I really love this show.
It’s not often I get asked a question like, “Are you a geek?” — but it’s happened, and I never know quite what to say. The instant answer should be yes! I like science fiction and fantasy. I’m into Star Trek and Doctor Who, and I spend a lot of my free time playing video games. I blog about that stuff. I have a job related to that stuff.
All of this is easy to say in writing, but there’s something strange about using those rather strict labels to describe myself out loud. My friends know what I’m into, but I don’t think they would instantly describe me as a “geek” or “nerd.” After all, there are so many other things I love besides sci-fi, fantasy, and video games.
Of course, a lot of people argue that a “geek” is someone who is enthusiastic about his or her interests, whatever they may be… but “geek” definitely has connotations of being into things like computers, comic books, Star Wars, zombies. If you really want to be part of geek culture, you’d better know something about Game of Thrones.
There’s nothing wrong with that definition of “geek,” and I love geek culture. But I love a lot of other things too. And it’s more important — not to mention far more interesting — to be a multifaceted person rather than just a good geek. The trick is to be comfortable in your own skin, which includes all of those sides of who you are… including the nerdy ones.
Nowadays, when I think about where I got my first ideas about being a geek or a nerd, I think about the TV show Gilmore Girls, of all things. I watched it when it was on the air from 2000 to 2007, which was perfect timing for me, being about two years younger than the character Rory. The show follows the lives of Rory Gilmore — 16 years old at the beginning of the show — and her mother Lorelai, who had Rory when she was only 16. It’s fun to watch the friendship between the two, and there are moments when bookish Rory is wiser than her wise-cracking mother. But their relationship is also extremely healthy, and Lorelai is the perfect, flawed woman to raise a daughter who is smart, funny, and independent.
Neither Lorelai nor Rory is a typical “geek” or “nerd.” This show aired before geek culture became a popular thing, anyway. But Lorelai is offbeat. Over the course of the show, you learn all kinds of details about what she’s into, from her coffee addiction to her love of the Bangles. She is incredibly intelligent — fast-talking with an offbeat sense of humor — but she’s not as book-smart as her daughter. More apt to make references to pop culture than an obscure novel, Lorelai is a unique breed of brainiac.
It’s her daughter Rory who is more worried about passing her finals than being pretty. She always carries a book with her, just in case — even to her school dance. She reads things like Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World… for pleasure. I always loved that she has healthy relationships in her life, with her mother, her best friend Lane, and often with a boyfriend… but in high school, she doesn’t quite fit in and frankly doesn‘t care. She has her headphones and her books and does her own thing. Sure, she sometimes has to fight to overcome the shyness that holds her back from participating, but overall she is okay with being different, quiet, and bookish. In those respects, I always related a lot to Rory.
What makes Rory an even more interesting character is that she’s not just a nerd with her nose in a book. She can make pop culture references as well as her mother does. She has excellent taste in music. She’s a film buff. She has some of her mother’s irreverent sense of humor. She’s unsentimental. It’s all of these things that make Rory a realistic, relatable character, and they’re why I never thought to call her a “nerd” until recently.
If we go by today’s definition of “geek” — related to geek culture as well as just being super into things — Lorelai and Rory may not quite fit. After all, Rory doesn’t want to watch Lord of the Rings over and over the way her boyfriend does. Lorelai teases diner owner Luke Danes for wearing a Star Trek shirt when he was younger. You do hear the occasional Wonder Woman or Superman reference from Lorelai, but sci-fi, fantasy, video games, superheroes, comic books — these are never the focus of the show, and they’re not a big part of any of the characters’ lives.
What we do have are characters who are eccentric. Luke is into baseball and wears a flannel shirt and baseball cap everyday. Lane is passionate about music and eventually becomes a drummer in a band. Rory’s boyfriend Jess reads as much as she does, and neighbor Babette is the town’s cat lady who also happens to be happily married. The town of Stars Hollow where the show takes place is full of misfits, and that’s exactly how they all like it.
Lorelai and Rory display inner confidence that has always inspired me. They don’t hide the things that make them different; they showcase them. Gilmore Girls is a show that successfully depicts two women who wear their intelligence and eccentricities with pride — and sometimes as armor when things get tough. They’re beautiful, but they care far more about their personalities even when going after guys. It’s not their looks that make them lovable, but their quirks.
I love a lot of things about Gilmore Girls, but my favorite thing is that it presents nerdiness and geekery without ever calling them that. I don’t mind the words “geek” or “nerd,” but as labels, they leave out so much of who we are. I’ve embraced my inner geek — that’s why I have my blog and why I’m writing this here today — but it represents just a few interests of many that I have.
Since 2001, fans of Xena: Warrior Princess (including me) have gathered at conventions and through the internet and petitions in order to help spark an interest in reigniting the story that left nearly every fan heartbroken. Now, TV bosses in the U.S. are rumored to be considering bringing back the cult show that turned Lucy Lawless into a universal icon.
Had an interesting call from a chap who wants to re-invigorate the #Xena brand. You guys may have started something.
— Lucy Lawless (@RealLucyLawless) May 23, 2013
The original series, a spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, ran for six years through 134 episodes that ended with Xena slain and decapitated. “The fans were always devastated that we cut Xena’s head off. We thought we were telling a strong storyline and it was hilarious, but it broke their hearts,” Lucy Lawless said. And in her own mind, she already has an idea for the direction that the show should follow. “In my dreams it would be that Renee [O’Connor, who played Gabrielle] and I, and Ted [Raimi], who played Joxer, would come back and basically stick Xena’s head back on her and go on a quest. At the end you introduce this new Warrior Princess, hand it over and let them run with it. So we could put the family back together, give the fans what they want, reinvigorate the brand and hand it on to a new generation.”
I’d love Xena to get her head screwed on right and go off into the sunset with Gabrielle to open a burrito stand at #BurningMan.
— Lucy Lawless (@RealLucyLawless) May 31, 2013
My main question is: Would fans truly enjoy a new warrior princess on their TV screens? It seems that the majority of Xena’s fans would appreciate some final closure, a story that would reunite the characters of the much beloved series and end Xena’s final chapter in a sense of peace. But beyond that, I’m not sure if I would go for a new warrior princess… unless some familiar faces at least offered to guest star every once in a while.
But regardless, it’s nice to know that the fans have made an impact. Internet missions like the Xena Movie Campaign have gathered up thousands of fans, contributing to an awesome effort to reignite Xena and Gabrielle’s story after the tragic end of the original series, and it’s possible that our desperate wishes will be granted.
So, we decided to record over Skype this week as a bit of an experiment. This week we talk about drunken YouTube clips, monorails, Sydney, R-ratings and THE NINETIES BUTTON!
Apologies for fluctuating volume other associated issues with Skype, we did the best we could but the source material was buggy.
INTRO MUSIC – “Lazy Calm” by Cocteau Twins
Thanks to Umphrey’s McGee for their kind use of the song “Miami Virtue” for the outro. THEY’RE ON TOUR NOW! GO SEE THEM! THEY’RE GREAT!
I admit it: sometimes it feels like I’m living under a rock. I usually adopt the latest electronic trends fairly late, what with my waiting until 2012 to buy a smartphone and a gaming PC and still not having Xbox Live. Netflix was never on my radar because I’m not a big television or film guy, and I felt that most of what I wanted to watch was readily available online. And yet, Mitchell Hurwitz decided that Netflix was going to be the exclusive home of Arrested Development’s fourth season, so I knew I had to get it eventually.
I’ve been slowly exploring the service’s offerings and it appears to have a wealth of shows and movies that have been recommended to me over the years. Now that I actually have a high-quality means of watching them, I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons. I’ve always mostly assumed that TV is generally crap, but I’ve since realized that’s kind of unfair, and I’d like to at least give it a chance. But I’m going to need the help of people far more experienced than I to help guide me on this vision quest. I need to know which shows are worth watching.
Here are a few things I’m considering watching:
- Arrested Development (obviously)
- Community (Currently halfway through season 2. Really liking it so far.)
- The Office (UK) (Recommended to me by many people as far superior to the American version. I haven’t seen the American version, but Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais, and Martin Freeman are decent dudes, and the prospect of a live-action Dilbert comic seems funny).
- Twin Peaks (I know nothing about this show other than David Lynch made it and lots of hipsters think it’s really good.)
- Global Metal (Documentary on heavy metal, and sequel to Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, which I really liked)
- Anvil: The Story of Anvil (spiritual sequel to This Is Spinal Tap, only it’s an actual documentary of a mediocre Canadian metal band…yeah, I like metal, and I’m sad there isn’t more stuff on it out there)
- Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (again, metal…I’m only watching this because Ronnie James Dio and Meat Loaf are in it)
- Sherlock (Just starting the second season…really enjoying it)
- House of Cards (I love characters who are willing to trample others to get what they want…also, Kevin Spacey)
- Spaced (watched this years ago, it was really raw and unpolished, but a good start for Pegg/Frost/Wright…want to watch it again in preparation for The World’s End)
- Archer (Has some of the cast of Arrested Development on it, and I guess it’s all the rage right now)
- Fawlty Towers (John Cleese is a boss, and I’ve heard this show is legendary…but does it still hold up?)
So, Geek Force Network…please help me! Tell me which of my picks are worth watching and which are a waste of time. Also, please feel free to suggest any other shows that I’ve missed. I’ve noticed from our Twitter conversations that our tastes in TV and movies are extremely varied, so please, try to force your opinions on me! I welcome it. Please enlighten this ignoramus!