Recently, something very interesting has been happening within fandoms: the internet. Whereas before people who loved something – let’s use X-men as an example – had to meet at their local comic shop or at a convention in order to rabidly express their appreciation for their beloved series, now we have social media – particularly Tumblr.
Tumblr is a quick share blogging website that is populated with the most intense fandom appreciation the internet has ever seen. With the ability to share just about ANYTHING with the click of a button – text, images, video, music – and then reblog it with another click, posts that people love get thousands and thousands of “notes”. It is a fast moving social tool that has been important in many different things – from civil rights issues to “OMG LOKI IS SOOO HAWT”. There are tumblrs dedicated to incredibly specialized things: characters, “ships” (fandom speak for “relationships”), drawings of just Avengers characters as puppies… And it’s bringing new fans into the fold.
Tumblr makes fandom accessible to people who maybe would not have been into something, due to ignorance or inaccessiblity. It has helped things like Doctor Who become common knowledge among Americans, made web comics like Homestuck blow up, and launch social issues within the geek world into the light in as little as 24 hours.
Within the last week or so, the absolute perfect example of this “fan uprising” has come to light: “The Swimming Anime”.
Kyoto Animation – aka KyoAni – is an animation studio that creates beautiful, feminine female characters that appeal to the straight male. However, they recently came out with a 30 second short (to demonstrate their animation abilities) that appealed to young women who like yaoi – anime and manga that has beautiful men (or “bishounen”) that are usually homosexual. Yaoi stories are wildly popular, and this mock trailer only drove that point home.
Within 48 hours, Tumblr had EXPLODED. The four boys featured in the trailer all had expansive back stories and character development. There was fanart and fanfiction. Dozens of “anime music videos” setting the 30 second trailer to various songs. Cosplay plans. Roleplaying blogs. Texts from Last Night parodies. All with thousands and THOUSANDS of “notes” (the way Tumblr tracks reblogs).
The fandom for this fake anime has become so huge that in the very near future it may just become a REAL anime – as many of the participants are begging for.
This is the most poignant example of how fandoms have grown throughout the years. Thanks to the internet they are accessible to people around the world, who all share their mania and intense love for their “geeky” exploits. In fact, websites like Tumblr are creating an entirely new generation of fans. With the release of the Avengers movie, many young women who had never read a comic book latched onto the movie and characters with such a passion and love that they filed into comic stores in droves.
The entire thing is absolutely amazing to me. I love looking around conventions and seeing new, passionate fans who are just so full of excitement and life rather than being jaded and judgemental. The fandoms are inclusive, communities where people feel safe expressing themselves and their opinions.
I’m very intrigued to see how Tumblr helps fandoms evolve in the future… and I hope “The Swimming Anime” becomes a real anime. Because then Tumblr is going to explode. LITERALLY EXPLODE.