Fans, Fangirls And...? Between a Rock and a Hard Place
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This is an introductory article of sorts. I am a new article writer at Hancinema and I thought this is as good a topic as any to start with. I would like to talk about a category of fans here. Specifically speaking about fans of Asian entertainment and indeed, Korean entertainment. About something which does not seem to have its own definition and is starting to feel like a minority. It seems there are a lot of people who are "fans" and a lot who are "fangirls" and "fanboys", but the middle ground feels so left out that there isn't even a name for it. But let's define the two existing ones first. I will speak in relation to actors and actresses, although these do apply for all popular entertainment personas.
Fan: A person who admires someone in their work capacity. Someone who likes how they do their work and the work itself. All of us are fans and it is a prerequisite for being a fangirl or fanboy. We admire celebrities, we like what they provide us with, they entertain us and we support them in return.
Fangirl/boy: This is the more extreme category. They are fans who are overly emotional about the subject they admire, to the point that it goes beyond simple appreciation and into obsession. If one is to judge these individuals by looking at the masses, they seem unbalanced and incapable of telling reality from fiction.
How many times, especially in Korean entertainment, do we hear about celebrities who are being stalked by disturbed individuals - because that is what they are, no matter how much we deny it- , who have to act apologetic for being in a relationship or are looked at like criminals if they lie about their height or a surgery?
The problem here is, that this category of "fangirls/boys" seems to be mainly about such individuals. So where do we fit in then?
There are people out there, like me and they are plenty, who are a cross between those two. We might admire an actor (or another celebrity) and due to that admiration, start finding them attractive. Or we may find them attractive and then become fans. But finding someone attractive and even having healthy fantasizing about them does not compare to the delusional extreme. We are romantic as people. When a woman is romantic, it is only natural that she will have dreams of a Prince Charming. We are either single and need companionship and indeed, physical connection or we have boyfriends and husbands who are slightly more "real" than the role models that are being force-fed to us by different mediums and society. We have a Prince Charming in our heads, who is our ideal man or what we think of as our ideal man and he takes on the form of someone we feel attracted to.
But here is where things go differently than with fanatics. As much as we have "romantic" - in avoidance of a more realistic term - thoughts about these individuals, there is clear separation between that and reality. Also, between that and our admiration of them as professionals and artists.
We "gutter" over them, but we don't expect anything from them. We realize that we don't even know these people and that we have no rights or significance in their lives beyond being the audience for their work. We can judge them as artists and entertainers despite the fact that we find them attractive, not because of it or based on it.
We also definitely don't start demanding apologies and cursing their betrayal if they do or say anything that shatters this unrealistic Prince image these fanatics seem to hold a bit too dear. Other fans I know have no such issues either. Men seem to be more level-headed in this aspect than women. Which is why we get more fangirls who go crazy over men and not so many fanboys who act the same over women. This is purely referring to the online world, which seems riddled with them.
So, what are we then? How many are there of us? Fangirls are vocal. Their voice reverberates off the invisible walls of this thing called internet. Are the rest, more balanced of us just quiet? Or not as many? Do we fight to protect the rights of the people we admire and our own to have an opinion or are the absolute and hostile when faced with their denial fanatics too many and too strong?
I hope I can be a fan who does more good to the people who offer me their skills and works, than bad. I hope we will stop taking this "they're just fangirls" for granted by allowing and even encouraging such unhealthy and immoral behavior.
I want to praise the entertainment and people I appreciate and also call them on their mistakes and their shortcomings in their job and what they represent. I want to defend what is worthy of defending and punish what is worthy of punishment.
And I want to do that while having fun, because life without fun and lightheartedness is wasted. So this is what I plan to do here, as I have been doing so far and will keep doing in the future. I'll have lighter topics and fangirl without complete loss of reality and I'll have slightly more troubling issues as well.
I am also self-taught in my English, so forgive lack of proper grammar, syntax and punctuation. As long as the point gets across, I hope you can overlook those.