The word fan refers to someone who has an intense, occasionally overwhelming liking of a person, group of persons, work of art, idea, or trend. The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889, a shortened version of the word fanatic in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team. (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1525, means "insane person". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired". The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place (Latin fanum, poetic English fane). The modern sense of "extremely zealous" dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650.)Fans at a Soccer match (SC Heerenveen)
Supporter is a synonym to "fan" which predates the latter term and as such is still commonly used in British English, especially to denote fans of sports teams. However, the term "fan" has become popular throughout the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom. It is also used in a political sense in the United States, to a fan of a President, political party, and a controversial issue.
Although modern fans sometimes display irrational or uncritical admiration, most resent any association with the more extreme term fanatic because of it's negative connotations.
In addition to sports fans, other types of fans who have formed clubs, held conventions, and engaged in other forms of "fanac" (fan activity) include the science fiction fan, the Star Trek fan, the anime fan, the comic book fan, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and the Dark Shadows fan.
In trendy speech, fans may coalesce collectively into a fandom or a "fanbase". They may start a fan club, particularly when they are fans of music artists, actors, or television shows.
When expressing interest in an organized or consistent manner, fans can sometimes effect changes, especially in the media's portrayal of their subject, or in their own subject's behaviour. Some fans enjoy creating fanzines.
When fans write fan mail to the objects of their interest, they expect a positive response; this can create considerable burdens for celebrities, who may react by fostering commercial fan clubs for admirers.
In a few cases, individual fans may become so obsessed with the objects of their infatuation that they become fanboys/fangirls (see below). These fans engage in behavious that are considered extreme or abnormal. This includes idolatry or other forms of worship, such as creating a personal shrine dedicated to the idol at one's home, and can sometimes extend to the point of the fans become stalkers.
There are certain common characteristics to be found in fans interested in different topics and that these characteristics influence the behaviors of those involved in fan behavior (Thorne&Bruner 2006).
Those common characteristics include (Thorne&Bruner 2006):
There are several groups of fans that can be differentiated by the intensity level of their the level of involvement or interest in the hobby (level of fanaticism) (Thorne&Bruner 2006).
The difference between a fan and a fanatic is that while both have an overwhelming liking or interest in a given subject, behaviour of a fanatic will be viewed as violating prevailing social norms, while that of a fan will not violate those norms (although is usually considered unusual).(Thorne&Bruner 2006)
Fanboy or Fanboi is a term used to describe a male who is utterly devoted to a single subject or hobby, often to the point where it is considered an obsession. The term originated in comic book circles, to describe someone who was socially insecure and used comics as a shield from interaction, hence the disparaging connotations. Fanboys are often experts on minor details regarding their hobbies, and they take these details extremely seriously. The term itself is often used in a derogatory manner by less serious fans of the same material. Nevertheless, self-labeling usages of the term have been noted; in the songs of the fannish parody musician Luke Ski, many characters proudly consider themselves fanboys. The term is usually applied to people in their teens or 20s. Within this group, common objects of deference for fanboys are TV shows, movies, anime, cars, video game consoles, video games, operating systems, MMORPGs, and software companies.
The term fangirl can be used to describe a female member of a fandom community (as opposed to the masculine "fanboy"). Fangirls tend to be more devoted to emotional and romantic aspects of their fandom, especially shipping. However, it is most often used in a derogatory sense to describe a girl's obsession with something, most commonly a male teen idol or an aspect of Japanese pop culture.
Fangirl behaviour is believed to vary in intensity. On one end of the scale are those that, while harbouring a crush on a particular actor or character, are perfectly capable of understanding that the fulfilment of the crush is never going to happen. On the other end are the girls who are said to be obsessive in their claims on a fictional character. Fangirl behaviour can fall anywhere between these criteria, but the closer someone is believed to be towards the obsessive end, the more derogatory the use of the term 'fangirl' to describe them is perceived to be.
These fangirls will commonly hold a crush on a major male star, athelete or celebrity (common examples include Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, see teen idol). This can range from a simple crush to the complete belief that the male celebrity is either madly in love with the fangirl, or will fall madly in love with the fangirl once he lays his eyes on her.
These fangirls will often follow a particular aspect of Japanese pop culture, sometimes broad, but sometimes as focused as a single anime/manga series or even a fictional character.
In the cases of particular anime or manga series, the fangirls are believed to hold less interest in the storyline, being more interested the potential for romantic relationships between the fictional characters of the series. In more extreme 'cases', the fangirl will claim that a particular character is in love or married to her, despite the physical impossibility of such a relationship.
These relationships will often be removed from the canon context of the series, and are often expressed in fanfiction. Examples of series' commonly claimed by fangirls include InuYasha, Saiyuki, Sailor Moon, the multiple Gundam series' (in particular Gundam Wing), and Full Metal Alchemist.
Fangirls are believed to be the largest contributors to fanfiction websites, often disregarding the canon storyline or altering it to fit either their own favoured romantic pairings (known as shipping) or themselves into the continuity (termed self-insertions or Mary Sues). Another aspect of Japanese pop culture that has been dominated by fangirls is that of music- particularily rock and visual kei. It is far too common to find an obsessed fan of Gackt or any of the thousands of artists in the Japanese music scene. This too may lead fangirls to write fanfiction, make ridiculous claims and generally obsess about said artist.
A Big Name Fan is a term for a fan who has achieved notoriety and respect within a fandom, usually for their fan fiction or fan art contributions. Big Name fans may have fans of their own and be asked for autographs.
Otakus are fans focused on anime and manga.
Trekkie are fans focused on the Star Trek science fiction franchise.
Gaming fans (gamers) are fans focused on gaming, usually role-playing games, board games, miniature wargames, collectible card games or computer games.
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