Presented by Stacey Adams

Until recently, the word ‘fandom’ had a toxic whiff of ‘nerd’ about it. To be part of a ‘fandom’ was to admit you were a sad devotee of some lame, long-canceled sci-fi show. An overweight convention attendee, with low emotional maturity and zero dating prospects. How things change. Today’s fandoms are lively online communities – vibrant extended families who bond over their shared obsessions through sharp observations and witty content.

Do you like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, or Succession? You’re in a fandom, buddy! Do you follow your favorite singer on Instagram, or take a passing interest in the private lives of the Kardashian clan? You’re in a fandom too!

Fandom, put simply, means any community that coalesces around a given personality or piece of media. Sports is an obvious one, bands are another. You mom, and your grandma, were both in fandoms, back in the day. 

Even then, they were nothing new. In Victorian England fans of the original Sherlock Holmes wrote fan fiction long before the internet was invented, purely because they couldn’t get enough of the fictional detective’s brainy pipe-smoking antics. 

Even more astonishingly, when Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan-Doyle eventually decided to kill off his most famous creation in 1893, there were actual honest-to-god protests on the streets of London.

Fandoms were always about the community first, and the content second. When you’re in a fandom – about JLS, or Star Wars, or Honey Boo Boo, it doesn’t matter – what really matters is that sense of belonging it gives you. 

The internet supercharged fandoms, because suddenly anybody, anywhere on earth could be part of the fun. All you need to do is join the group. And once you’re in the group, all you need to do is join in the conversation. 

And this is where the memes come in. 

You can participate in drab little text-based conversations with your fandom on Reddit. Or… you can create vivid, hilarious in-jokes that resonate on a deeper level. 

Nothing binds a community together like a good in-joke. A subtle reference, delivered with impeccable timing, attached to an image – better yet, a GIF – of a much-loved character. 

They say a picture paints a thousand words. If so, a wittily deployed GIF is an entire library. There’s already some great tools out there to help make memes – Memix, for instance, is lightning quick and interacts seamlessly with all your messaging apps. 

In a few short years, memes have become the very lifeblood of online fandoms. Whether your obsession is Doctor Who, or the New England Patriots, or The Beatles, there’s a plethora of communities out there. 

And the best conversations – also the juiciest drama, for that matter – happening within these communities, is happening through the magic of memes. 

They’re quick. They’re funny. They’re instantly relatable. And if they strike a chord with the audience, they’ll get shared to a massive ready-made audience of fellow obsessives.

Best of all, they’re an incredible outlet for creativity. Take the Simpsons community, and the ‘steamed hams’ phenomenon. A few years back, a classic scene was dusted off by the community. 

It spawned dozens, hundreds, thousands of creative reimaginings among the meme community, from this musical version, to a Grand Theft Auto-themed edition, to this frankly bonkers rolling 24/7 AI-generated non-stop performance of the meme. 

Simpsons writer Bill Oakley became aware of the meme, and joined in, sharing a picture of the first draft of the script. Has a fandom ever had such a profound impact on the creator? And it’s all thanks to meme magic, baby. 

These in-jokes can also allow fans to express displeasure at the direction of a show, like when Game Of Thrones fans told creators exactly how they felt about the show’s underwhelming finale.

With the help of tools – like Memix – fans like you can air your opinions to a much wider audience. Beats whining on some godforsaken Tumblr thread, or crying to your friends at work about it. 

Star Wars fans have even made an art form out of the movies they don’t like. Head on over to r/prequelmemes, where arguably the brightest meme minds of their generation have been cooking up ironic memes about Episodes 1-3 – movies (be honest) nobody actually enjoys – for like a decade now. 

In this way, memes have brought fandoms closer together. Through humor, a set of shared common references, and the magic of the right image paired with exactly the right combination of words, communities are built.

Friendships are made, and strengthened. And the art – whether that’s shows, books, movies – are either celebrated, or mocked, according to taste.

What is important is the coming together of people, through online connection and creativity. A simple, powerful sense of community and belonging. With dank memes. 

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