On Fiction and Fandom

Yesterday, after other holiday festivities had wrapped up, we went and saw the new Star Wars movie. When we came home, there was a lot of discussion of what we liked, what we didn’t like, comparing it to previous Star Wars movies, etc.i-m-a-nerd-md

I could go into the specifics about our discussion, but I won’t. And it’s not because I’m afraid to spoil you. I just wanted to talk about fiction and fandom in general.

When I was a student in school, I was taught how to structure an argument about something from a work of fiction using various skills. I learned to clarify what I was reading, summarize, make predictions, ask questions about it. I learned to compare and contrast; cite my sources; describe and evaluate; interpret the meaning of a passage; and organize my thoughts, mostly in writing. And while I’m sure I do these things in my everyday life — like comparing and contrasting prices in a grocery store, for instance — the times when it is most obvious to me that I’m using what I learned in school is when I am being my absolute nerdiest. Specifically, when I am being both nerdy and socializing with other people.

We had dinner with friends the other week and spent a huge amount of time discussing the character development on the new Muppets show (I am particularly interested in what they’re doing with Miss Piggy). In the car on the way here, I turned on the Hamilton soundtrack to demonstrate how the freshness of the hip hop music distinguishes the newness of certain ideas in Hamilton’s time, even though now we take those same ideas for granted as old and part of history. Even as I write, my niece is on the couch next to me, acting out a story with her Lego people, which is a way for her to make sense of things.

Fiction matters, because it can help us make sense of the world. Fandom matters — fandom is being part of a community of fans, and a community can help us grow and shape and challenge ourselves and our ideas. (Online fandom is where I first felt comfortable disagreeing with others, and also where I learned to disagree in constructive ways.)
It’s very likely that I will start using this blog to explore some ideas that come from fiction and fandom. Why? Because I’m the “teacher off topic.” Just because the school day is over and I’m home enjoying my favorite hobbies, doesn’t mean I’ve turned off my brain and stopped learning.

Expect more nerdiness in the future!

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