I have such a moon face.
Take the Manic Street Preachers. I mean, not literally. Don't take them away from me or I'll break you. BREAK YOU, I TELL THEE. Aherm. Healthy fandom.
I've written about my love for the band before, so I won't eulogise too much about why they mean the whole world to me, but they do. I love a lot of bands - Blur, Kaiser Chiefs, Green Day and several others - but the Manics are more than just my favourite band. They're a part of my life. A part of me (literally, seeing as I have their lyrics tattooed on my person).
Being a massive fan of the band for half my life has given me experiences I would never otherwise have had. I've met people whose paths may never have crossed my own, had it not been for our mutual love of the Manics. Yes, I've had bad experiences as a result of meeting some of those people, but that's just life; sometimes good things turn sour. Crucially, the four most important friends in my life are all there as either a direct or indirect result of the Manic Street Preachers. I met my best friend Lydia on a Manics internet forum (thus proving that you can meet nice people online). I also met my amazing friend and gig buddy, Kirstie, on a Manics forum too. Through Kirstie, I met her sister Lizzie, who is now one of my closest friends and someone I frequently go away for mini holidays with. I also met Kirstie's oldest friend Kate, who again, is now one of my dear friends and who I went abroad to Prague with last year. Those four girls are friends I couldn't be without and in one way or another, I met every single one of them because I'm a Manics fan.
So, thanks for that, boys!
Being a Manics fan is also rather unique, in as much as it indulges my love of dressing up. The band were known, in their early years at least, for the striking visual appearance. As a result, many fans still opt to dress in a variety of weird and wonderful outfits when they go to see the band live. From glamour-puss to military chic and everything in between, there's nothing quite as exciting as planning what I'm going to wear to see "my boys" in concert. And in the interest of sharing (and, to a degree, showing off, here are a few of the outfits I've graced gigs in):
But you do that sort of thing happily and without the slightest hint of embarrassment when you love the reason you're doing it. I don't tweet the band every day (actually, I rarely ever tweet them at all), nor would I send messages to individual members telling them they're gorgeous or that I love them or anything like that, because I don't know the band and I have no desire to appear stalker-like. But will I dress like an idiot for them? Hell yes. Will I defend them against criticism? You bloody bet.
Being a fan of something can be wonderful. You can feel as though you're a part of something; there's a sense of community that you get from talking to other people who love a certain kind of music as much as you do, or who watch the same TV show and love analysing the plot arcs as much as you.
You don't have to ever feel ashamed of being a fan of something, when you're expressing your love of it in a healthy manner. I express my love for the Manics by going to see them in concert, or by buying and listening to their music. And yes, by having a lyric that means a lot to me tattooed on my skin. I have Manics in-jokes with certain friends and I use their songs to get me through hard times, when I need to. All of it is fine. I wouldn't dream of stalking their houses, or sending them inappropriate gifts, or making out like I'm in love with the band members. I've no desire to tweet them, telling them they're gorgeous or sexy or anything like that. And you know what? Although I would cry if they announced that they were splitting up, I'd have years and years of memories to thank them for. I'd still have their songs for the rest of my life. What I'm saying is, when the end comes, I'll live.
I have other healthy obsessions, too. I'm a Whovian. Indeed, I blogged about my love for Doctor Who on this page last year, just in time for the 50th anniversary. I have long, rambling conversations about characters on the show, or interesting plot twists that have taken place. I collect anything Who-related. I slept in a TARDIS onesie last night, for crying out loud...
I feel no shame.
What I'm saying is, I indulge my love of all things Who on a pretty much daily basis. You'll be unsurprised to hear that my ring tone is the show's theme tune. When I get a text? Yeah, you've guessed; my phone makes that whooshy noise that the TARDIS makes. I'm totally unashamed of my geekiness over Doctor Who and always will be. It means something to me and it gives me an enormous amount of joy. An enormous amount of sadness at times, too. If you can watch The Angels Take Manhattan and not cry then, rather aptly, you must be made of stone (and yes, I just made an in joke that only fans will get). And as for Matt Smith's final episode... Well, he's my Doctor and I'm not embarrassed to say that I pretty much lost my body weight in tears when he uttered his last lines.
But it's all good. These things are a part of us. They're part of what makes us tick. They can inspire us. They can encourage us when things look bleak (I genuinely thought of the Doctor's speech from The Rings of Akhaten recently, when I was feeling very low about stuff and it made me feel tough enough to shake off my malaise).
I can't hear these words without getting goosebumps. Oh Matt. I bloody love you.
The thing with having something you're passionate about is that it gives you fire in your belly. It makes you want to go out there and do something, even if it's just putting a silly outfit on and travelling somewhere you've never been to support a band you've loved your entire adult life. And that passion is great. To believe in something - to want to be a part of something - is a beautiful thing.
A passion for a band/artist/show etc can be truly brilliant. It's something that's yours. Nobody can take it away from you. As long as you're not allowing it to overshadow everything else in your life and as long as you're not deluding yourself that a celebrity crush will magically fall in love with you if you just stalk them hard enough, being a fan is something you have every right to cherish. And cherish it you should.
You know what I feel, when I hear a great Manics song, or watch a brilliant episode of Doctor Who? Pride. Enormous pride.
Which is ridiculous on some levels, because I've not done anything and I don't actually know any of the people involved in making that song or that episode. But I'm emotionally invested in them. I'm supporting them. And I'm proud to be so.
Yes, people get scary. Yes, crossing the line from fandom to dangerous obsession is something that shouldn't happen and should be warned against. But when there's none of that scary stuff and you just love something... When you're happy to simply listen to an album and let the music take precedent over anything else? When you watch something that genuinely moves you as well as entertains you? That's bloody brilliant. That's when you get that swell in your chest. That burst of pride that makes you think "yes. I LOVE this."
That's when being a passionate fan of something is absolutely amazing. And we should never be ashamed of it. We just have to remember to stay sane about it.