You might remember that last week we posted a quote by Nicolle Lamerichs from Creative Business (HU Utrecht) from her conversation on the state of fan studies. Because we are super clever and on the ball (or possibly through sheer serendipity), we managed to yoink Nicolle and ask her to give us a more personal, behind-the-scenes view of her work on affect, fandom, and cosplay. Think of this as the things that she can’t necessarily say as an academic but can say as a fan.
Doing research on cosplay has made me aware of how much bodies, affect and identity matter in fandom. Offline spaces are still relevant to fans. Conventions are for instance spaces where social interaction, hierarchy and connectivity within fandom take place. We form meaningful connections with each other both online and in the flesh. In my research, I love speaking about affect and characters. One thing that I find hard to speak about though, is how visceral this affect in fandom can be. As a fan, I often fall in love with characters falling in love. I use the word love, because that is truly how it feels. A good portrayal of characters slowly falling in love makes me sing. I feel it in my heart, body and soul. My OTPs raise sensations in me – I long for them to be together so much, that I feel it deep down in my gut, and in my throat. In fact, it feels more like love than many of the relationships that I have been in. Shipping is my thing, but I have never been able to truly voice the importance and sensation of it in my academic work. How I feel about Roslin/Adama, Janeway/Seven or some of my oldest OTPs like Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd cuts to the core of my fandom, passions and even sexuality. I fall in love with the idea of love, and its ambiguity. What I edit out of my work, and find hard to have a true dialogue about with my informants, is this deep relationship with characters. In my studies on affect and cosplay, I got a glimpse of how deep this goes, but I would love to talk much more with fans about what it means to have a one true pairing, and how we represent this pairing in different media, which range from cosplay to fan fiction. When I have time again, this is something I would love to dive deeper into. Shipping is an important phenomenon in fandom, and beyond it. Mass media are aware of it, adapt it and make jokes about it. Fandom and shipping are very related to me. We are all voyeurs, in a way. How can we capture these emotions, dynamics and sexual responses? We feel connected to characters and relationships so intimately and sincerely. If research could somehow capture these feelings, fan studies would progress immensely in its analysis of fandom.