LG via Wikimedia Commons
The Rise of Fandom in 2019
June 11, 2019
Two Wingspan writers take on aspects of “fan culture” in 2019, clarifying terms like ‘K-Pop’ and ‘fanfiction’ to the noob Wingspan readers.
In Defense of Fanfiction: Reading and Writing Through Fandoms
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding fanfiction and fandoms in general. For those who don’t know what these two things are, they may seem like random fan jargon. Fanfiction is a body of work about something in pop-culture made by a fan, or fandom, of that thing.
Fandoms are the umbrellas these terms fall under, meaning groups of people that concentrate towards the same thing.
From a young age, I have always been in a fandom. I recently just turned fifteen, so I have about 9 years of experiencing being in a fandom.I think it all started when I was around six years old, Justin Bieber was the center of my life. Everything I said or did had to revolve around the popstar, and there was nothing in the world I was more proud of at the time than having the same birthday as him.
The next year, One Direction had just released their song ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, which was an instant success after their X Factor loss. Immediately, I was hooked.
The smiling faces of the boys as they strut down a beach was enough for seven year old me to fall in love with the band instantly. At this point, I had just started first grade and was soon known as the “the girl in love with One Direction,” and that was the start of it all.
I discovered fanfiction at eight years old through One Direction. I had always loved to read as a child, and stories about my (then) favorite people on Earth seemed almost too good to be true. It was an immediate downward spiral into the world of Wattpad, an app for reading and writing stories..
Wattpad in 2013-2015 hit differently. Every story was iconic and left its mark on me. From “1-800-Niall-Horan”, “The Husband Games”, “Game On, Horan” to the many “adopted by One DIrection” stories, there was an abundance of fanfiction about my idols.
When I was young, there was nothing that you would do that could stop me from reading whatever I pleased on Wattpad. It allowed me to envision what life would be like if I knew my idols personally.
Eventually, I grew out of One Direction. It was inevitable, and I soon moved through the ranks of middle school.
From then on, I joined different fandoms, and my fanfiction library spanned over hundreds of stories.
One might ask: was there ever a time when I got tired of fanfiction?
The answer would be no. Surprisingly, because I was in multiple fan bases at a time, it allowed me to read works about anyone or anything, from Youtubers Dan and Phil to popular tv-show “Teen Wolf”. There was never a dull moment when I was reading, as it allowed me not only to connect myself to the characters but also to the stories being told.
Fanfiction can also have its faults, in the broad scheme of things. A lot of it is just trash: improper grammar, unoriginal story, poor spelling, etc. Basically amateur writers who post on a platform and hoping people will read it. It also gets a bad reputation of it all being inappropriate and pornographic, which while a large number of it is, more than half of fan works aren’t. There are about 5 million works on a popular fanfiction platform, Archive of Our Own (or AO3 for short); and of those millions, only 1.5 million works contain mature of explicit material.
With that said: the writing side of fanfiction is as important as, if not more important than, reading the works. Without fanfiction writers, there would be no fanfiction in the first place.
I have written plenty of fan works in my time and know the struggle of not only producing the stories, but publishing them as well.
From the writer’s perspective, creating your own original story while also staying true to the personalities of the original characters can be very challenging.
Confidently, I can say that fanfiction has helped me with my writing and reading skills. Since I had grown up with an affinity for literacy in itself, the world of fanfiction really allowed me to expand my reading and become a true reader.
While there’s understandably a large stigma surrounding fanfiction and fanworks in general, it continues to be a practice that people in fandoms rely heavily on. Fanfiction has been around since books and other entertainment became popularized, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon.
‘BTS Paved the Way;’ K-Pop Fandom Runs through NAHS
K-pop (Korean pop music) has been taking the world by storm in the recent years, groups having scheduled numerous concerts in the U.S.A and simultaneously selling out entire stadiums in the process. While this international standpoint can’t be pinned on one particular girl or guy group, it’s been made quite clear that BTS (Bang-tan Son-yeon-dan) paved the way for the Korean music industry and allowed a much larger international fanbase to take a heavy interest in not only the music, but the culture as well.
BTS (방탄소년단 or ‘Bulletproof Boy Scouts’) is a South Korean boy band that debuted under entertainment industry ‘BigHit’ in 2013. The group consists of seven members, three of which are in ‘rap-line’ and four that hold their place in the ‘vocal-line’ of the group. Their ages range from 21 to 26 years old and their overall net worth is nearly $60,000,000, which places each member at roughly $8,571,428.57 (This number is simply by math).
BTS have released 12 main albums spanned out across the 6 years that they’ve been together, and have overall sold over 10,000,000 physical copies as a result. K-pop albums are quite a bit different than traditional American albums in terms of their structure and their contents. K-pop albums typically consist of a photobook that holds exclusive photos of the group members from specific photoshoots that were taken. The albums sometimes also contain stickers, posters, or other little goods, but one thing that fans go crazy over are the photocards.
Each album comes with a photocard with a picture of one of the members on it. There are usually different versions of each album that have different photo books and photocards as a whole, which makes them very collectible. One thing that they can be held to bar with would be Pokemon cards in the sense that collectors tend to sell and trade the cards in order to obtain the entire set.
“I had the money, and I really connected with them… so I decided to start collecting them, i want to keep the things that are close to me.” stated Gabby Garcia, a freshman at the high, “…if you listen to the albums there’s always something different.”. BTS is the type of groups that consist of multiple musical styles. For instance, ‘Dionysius,’ on their new album ‘Map of the Soul: Persona,’ is a song more closely related to hip hop, or rap, while their title track would appear more upbeat and pop-like.
Millions of fans across the world stan (it’s a fandom’s way of saving ‘favor’ and is used more commonly within Twitter and amongst BTS fans) BTS as their favorite boy band, and most agree that BTS in fact did pave the way. Though there are plenty of other large groups that made their debut before the band, groups such as Big Bang, that have also made a very large international impact, it’s become clear that BTS is different, having won awards that no other Korean group has internationally, and most recently having performed at the Wembley Stadium and being compared to The Beatles.
Fans of BTS from all over the world communicate mainly through Twitter via ‘Stan Accounts’. On Twitter, BTS also take the opportunity to interact with fans occasionally through their account that is managed by BigHit. The group posts pictures and videos of themselves as well as their concerts and various other messages for their supporters.
“It’s cool to see what people have to say about them, I guess. Stan twitter is crazy, especially BTS stan Twitter.” Jon’nette Kidd, a writer for the Wingspan admitted in regards to the funny shenanigans that are carried out on the group’s behalf, “No lie, BTS paved the way. I used to just listen to girl groups and really liked EXO’s music, but BTS stole me. Stan Namjoon.” Kidd explained that the appeal of BTS’s music as well as the different unique aspects of each member’s personality is what captivated her. “I love all seven of them, they’re all really talented and nearly every member has released a mixtape or their own original song and they’ve all been great.”
Overall, though, despite the appeal of the handsome young men, and the catchy songs and dances, many fans also have a strong connection to the lyrics. The interesting thing in terms of kpop is that many international fans don’t actually speak Korean, so they rely pretty heavily on translations. If fans are still touched so deeply by lyrics that are in a completely different language, then that must say something about the people writing them.
“I like that their lyrics are really deep and inspirational,” said Selena Escobedo, “They constantly tell you to love yourself. I guess it’s more meaningful coming from them because of everything they’ve been through and where they are now.”. In this case, Selena touched on the different types of struggles they went through as a group, dealing with incredible amounts of hate, and the harsh training conditions. K-pop is known for its crazy training and diet regimes.Members having passed out backstage and in their dorms numerous times do to lack of nutrition, but now, as BTS has stated in a number of interviews, they’re better, and becoming who they want to be with the help of ARMY- their fans.
“I like their lyrics and songs mostly because of the passion that’s actually behind what they’re saying.” added Rachel Phan.
On top of all of that, members have donated to plenty of organizations. For instance, on Suga’s birthday, he donated 100 million won to Korea’s Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and Jimin donated a generous amount of money to his old elementary school in Busan in order to help the students’ education.
There were numerous instances where members have actually given back to fans as well, Suga having sent out a ton of individual thank you gifts to fans on his birthday.
When it comes to BTS, it’s not just the fame, or the fact that they’re attractive young men who work hard, it’s the message that they strive to convey through their music. The entire group went through a lot during their training, this is something they’ve admitted in numerous interviews and even provided in some of their songs. Despite this, they continue to work hard and inspire their fans to be the best them and to… well, love themselves. This message has appeared to resonate within listeners, and with that, BTS paved the way.