ArCATypes: Shit Hit the Fangirl

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Have you ever repeatedly Googled Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s GQ photo shoot? Do you frequently hashtag “#unf” when you reblog pictures of One Direction? Chances are, if you’re really into something, you’re a Fanperson. You know who you are, which is all of you. I would know because Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend has kwassa-kwassaed his way onto my iPhone lock screen.

Urban Dictionary defines a Fangirl as a “Fan with an obsession over (fictional) characters, or over real people like the Orlando Bloom or the guys in simple plan (sic). Some may go as far to create cults, fanlistings, and shrines. … (F)angirls have a habit of glomping (i.e. enthusiastic hugging).” The mentality behind the Fanperson is to take in as much of the object of fandom as possible. There’s no shame in it because it’s not quite stalking — but that’s only because they conveniently have no access to do so.

Instead, there are Tumblrs that exist that accommodate all of a Fangirl’s needs. The culture of Fandom has spawned a cartoon series called “Fanboy and Chum Chum.” Even the likes of “Firefly” creator Joss Whedon admits that, “I am — and always will be — the biggest Fanboy. I write from a Fanboy place.” ( )

I know, the Internet has made it hard to connect with people in real life. So we latch onto the assumed personality types of these famous people because they don’t require actual human contact. But the objects of our fandom are made more intangible as a result of fanpersoning. The sad thing is that once we’ve fanpersoned ourselves into emotional attachments to our idols, we automatically remove ourselves from the pool of their potential lovers or friends or acknowledged living beings. Like, why would they want to hang out with someone who sighs longingly over their Tiger Beat posters all the time? Answer: not people worth fanpersoning over. We long for what we’ll never have, which is an excruciatingly pleasurable experience. Why do we do such seemingly pointless things?

Fanpersons are the reason I’m analyzing archetypes in the first place. They circulate the economy of celebrity, which is pretty lucrative given how widespread Bieber’s sagging pants are. Now, I might be influenced by the existentialism that has inundated my “Pulp Fiction and Film Noir” class this semester — as well as my lack of sleep — but I’m just going to say that Bieber’s sagging pants are not innately meaningful. It might be a stretch, but the truth is that things are meaningful because we attribute meaning to them. That’s why breakup albums and songs you share with loved ones and pant sags hold special places in our collective heart.

The whole purpose of this column was to point out patterns in the types of people that society upholds. And the process of fandom is an exaggeration of pattern-making as Fangirls play a big role in the creation of archetypes. Archetypes don’t concretely exist — they’re just organizational constructs. By projecting ideals onto some ultimately arbitrary celebrity, Fanpersons create a meaningful archetype out of an empty husk of an image. That’s not to say that the celebrity doesn’t contribute to the development of the archetype, but the Fangirl processes already existing characteristics into the archetypes’ final form with logic like, “Oh, Harry Styles has a nice facial structure. Therefore, he must be my boyband husband.”

Archetypes provide insight into societal values — which apparently include party rocking, being divalicious and having the cynicism of a curmudgeon. In a way, we have many of the same characteristics as the rock stars, divas and curmudgeons of our pop culture — so, Fangirling is really an indulgence in our own ideals. I guess that’s why Gordon-Levitt is always on my dash.

Contact Caitlin Kelley at [email protected]. Check her out on twitter at @misantherapy.