Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's a bard . . . it's a plain . . . it's Superfan!

Every now and then some media outlet does a feature on something they call "superfans." I don't know that I've ever met such a creature, despite having spent decades around Sherlockians, Trekkies, and comic book lovers. It seems to be a creation of those outside a given fandom to express the feeling that someone has just gone too far, whether it be about Twilight or the Green Bay Packers.

Why do I suspect it's a term mainly used by outsiders?

Because I don't know if a real fan of something thinks you can go too far, if it doesn't involve crime or harm to others.

Spend years building a room in your house as a replica of 221B Baker Street? That's not too far, that's a life goal!

Dress in Victorian costume and make a pilgrimage to a particular waterfall in Switzerland? Who wouldn't want to do that?

Collect everything and anything to do with Sherlock Holmes to the limits of your storage spaces and available funding allow? Who hasn't done that?

"Fan" is short for "fanatic," and once you've gone fanatic, there seems no need to add "super."

Okay, okay, I know, you're not one of those people. Some Sherlockians don't like to be called "fans," even when there entire life history might have every appearance of a total fandom immersion. And we're into self-identification now, so that's cool. But does anyone out there self-identify as a superfan? Is there any perceived status to be had there?

I have heard fellow Sherlockians discuss whether or not they were functioning at the level of a "good Sherlockian." And a non-Sherlockian friend might want to designate you "a Sherlock Holmes expert," whether you're feeling it or not. You can be a top collector, a  rare specialist in some aspect of film, art, or an important figure in the history of Holmes. But to use those designations, you actually have to be interested enough in someone's specialty to actually know what they're about.

"Superfan" seems like a generalization from those who don't really want to acknowledge accomplishment. Anyone who knew the Sherlockian turf would look at an accomplished writer, collector, or creator and admire the skill or work that person put into their hobby. If they're a superfan? Well, that's just some weird brain thing they were born with.

Maybe I'm thinking too hard about this one, but I know it never feels good to see someone I know referred to as a "superfan" in a newspaper headline. And I like superheroes. A Sherlockian with actual super-powers would be the coolest thing ever.

But "superfans?" No, thank you.

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