The Fandom panel took place on Sunday at Summer in the City 2016. It featured creators such as Ricky Dillon, Jamie Jo, and Tom Ridgewell. It was chaired by Evan Edinger.
Over the course of the hour, the panellists discussed the fandoms they associate themselves with, the ones that have formed around their own channels, and the pros and cons of fandom life in general.
“Have you ever heard of religion?” asked Tom, when tasked with defining the word “fandom” to someone who may not be familiar with it. “It’s like that. It’s a lot of people who get very excited over one guy. Or one girl. I’d be like, ‘You know the holy wars that happened? It’s like that – but with YouTube covens’.”
“It’s like a cult around a person or a band or a musician,” added Luke Cutforth.
The question was then put to the panel whether, if you’re the leader of a fandom (as is the case for the panellists, some of whom have followings in the millions), you can be a fan of something yourself? “I was fans of my half of the people who are my friends now,” admits Ricky. “It’s a weird but cool position to be in.”
“This is super awkward and I apologise,” started Luke. “But, I would say that I spent rather a lot of time, years ago, in the TomSka fandom. I never told [Tom] that.”
“It all makes sense now; the phone calls, the crying, the rustling in the bushes…” said Tom, cuddling into Luke.
“Okay, so, how can fandoms be a force for good?” interjected Evan, redirecting the conversation.
“Fandoms can be a force of good if they are directed to be a force of good,” answered Tom. “It’s all about the message that you send. What if I did, let’s say, make this the ‘TomSka soup kitchen day’ and we’re all going to go out and give to charity? I mean, I haven’t done that yet but I could.” Ricky agreed, adding that although fandoms, and by extension fans themselves, can do bad things, he tries to act like a role model and promote positivity.
However, with so much passion and unconditional love driving these communities, the panel agreed that issues can arise – both within fandoms and between them.
“I think when there is a new fan. people get mad,” observed Ricky. on the sometimes less-than-welcoming environments fandoms can become. “It’s cool that they are so passionate, but it can be hard to join a fandom because they are sort of like, ‘Okay, but where were you ten years ago?’,” he added.
The panel discussed the mob mentality that can crop up within these communities when they feel attacked, and how cyberbullying can be a big problem. Tom said that he has made a conscious effort to start off his videos with “Hey you” instead of “Hey TurboPunch fans” in order to limit communal tension and try to create an individual relationship between his content and the viewer.
He also went on to say that having blind faith in someone you don’t actually know can be dangerous: “YouTubers are totally unpredictable. Stick with fictional characters, fictional characters don’t wind up in masterposts.”
Anna Brisbin pointed out that sometimes, being in the centre of a fandom can be a bit intimidating. Although support is valued and appreciated, seeing Twitter profiles pop up with a username like “BrizzyFan” can be a bit shocking. “It’s sort of like they are identifying themselves first, and really only, as a fan,” she said. “I don’t even know their names anymore.”
Photos by Rachel Kiki.
Want more from Summer in the City 2016?
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You might also be interested in:
- The Creator/Viewer Divide Panel at Summer in the City 2016
- #YouTubeHonestyHour Panel at Summer in the City 2016
- Mental Health Panel at Summer in the City 2016