August 2, 2013

Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Description: Once upon a time not long ago, two responsible college professors, Lynn the psychologist and Kathy the literary scholar, fell in love with the television show Supernatural and turned their oh-so-practical lives upside down. Plunging headlong into the hidden realms of fandom, they scoured the Internet for pictures of stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and secretly penned racy fan fiction. And then they hit the road—crisscrossing the country, racking up frequent flyer miles with alarming ease, standing in convention lines at 4 A.M.

They had white-knuckled encounters with overly zealous security guards one year and smiling invitations to the Supernatural set the next. Actors stripping in their trailers, fangirls sneaking onto film sets; drunken confessions, squeals of joy, tears of despair; wallets emptied and responsibilities left behind; intrigue and ecstasy and crushing disappointment—it’s all here.

And yet even as they reveled in their fandom, the authors were asking themselves whether it’s okay to be a fan, especially for grown women with careers and kids. “Crazystalkerchicks”—that’s what they heard fromSupernatural crew members, security guards, airport immigration officials, even sometimes their fellow fans. But what Kathy and Lynn found was that most fans were very much like themselves: smart, capable women looking for something of their own that engages their brains andtheir libidos.

Fangasm pulls back the curtain on the secret worlds of fans and famous alike, revealing Supernatural behind the scenes and discovering just how much the cast and crew know about what the fans are up to. Anyone who’s been tempted to throw off the constraints of respectability and indulge a secret passion—or hit the road with a best friend—will want to come along.

My Review: I’m no stranger to fandoms--my first fandom was ‘N Sync, and I just HAD to own all the albums (including import CDs), put dozens of posters on my wall, set the VCR to record all their TV appearances, and go to their concerts every time they were in the Midwest. I remember visiting fan websites and waiting impatiently for pictures to load (back in the dial up internet days). I read fanfiction and even tried writing it once. I bought all kinds of ‘N Sync merchandise, but my most prized item was a towel that I caught when they threw it into the audience. Only my family and closest friends knew the true extent of my fangirling--I tried not to let too many other people see that side of me because I was worried they’d judge me or make fun of me.

Nowadays I am more willing to let my fangirl flag fly. I go to midnight premieres of movies based on my favorite books, I get to book signings so early sometimes that I’m first or second in line, and I even go to my favorite artists’ concerts by myself if none of my friends are free because I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity. Life is too short to be embarrassed about the things you enjoy, you know? (And while I don’t have posters covering my walls anymore, a quick glance at my Pinterest boards will tell you that I still have music, books, TV shows, and movies that I’m very passionate about!)

I was really excited when I first heard about this book. Even though I’ve only seen a few episodes of Supernatural, I knew I could relate to the topic of fandom! Fangasm touches on many aspects of fandom, including reading and writing fan fiction, making fan pilgrimages, attending fan conventions, becoming part of a fan community, and so much more. It examines the negative ways we react to fan behavior, even from within the fandom itself sometimes. 

For those unfamiliar with the language of fandom, Fangasm includes a Glossary of Terms so you can learn all the relevant lingo (for example, “shipping” and “OTP”). The authors share some research from the field of fan studies as well as anecdotes from their own experiences as Supernatural fans. While many of their stories made me smile or laugh, they also made me think critically about what it means to be a fan and the relationship between fans and creators. This book challenges fan shame and shares insights from the perspectives of both the fans and the creators. It's also a fun read that a lot of people can relate to. 

To read more about this book and their other works, visit:

Just for fun, I'll leave you with some thoughts from a few of my favorite vloggers on YouTube: 


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