“Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
– G. K. Chesterton
To some people, books and movies are just books and movies. A way to entertain themselves, maybe use their imaginations for a short time and then go back to normal life. That’s not how it works for me.
If I’ve just finished a good book or movie, I’ll be imagining further adventures in my head, or listening to the music from it, or mentioning it to everyone I come into contact with. I enjoy having deep discussions about them, and even friendly debates sometimes. My favorite ones I know I will never forget. Usually, when people see a new trailer for something or their favorite show is less than a week from returning, they think “Oh cool! Yay!” They don’t jump up and down, make strange noises, or spend hours thinking about it like I do. Some people may see this as strange, but I love being this way! I was trying to picture what life would be like without all the stories and characters I love so much, and how I would tell someone who isn’t a fangirl or fanboy why I believe they are important. Here are a couple of reasons I wouldn’t want to live without my fandoms:
My first reason isn’t all that different from how other people may feel about fictional adventures. I love getting out of the world for a while and forgetting any worries I have at the moment. I can see life from so many people’s views, and experience so many different things I’d never be able to. Life can often get a little boring, and reading or watching a movie is one way I can make it less so. But after I’m finished, I don’t normally stop thinking about the story. I’ll go through my usual routine while thinking through the smaller details or imagining parts of it in my head. Other times, I pretend whatever I’m doing at the moment is something in the book or movie. Take scrubbing the floor for example. Before Rogue One came out, I would pretend that it was my turn to clean the base at Yavin IV. Ok, that sounds really strange to admit, but it did make it a little more fun. Whatever book or movie I’m thinking about lately is usually what I’m pretending. I can’t imagine not thinking about at least some of my fandoms every day – life would just seem different somehow, less exciting. Not only can I disappear into a good book or movie to escape normal everyday life, I can also use it as a way to calm down if I’m frustrated or upset.
Another reason I love fictional adventures is that they mirror my own life in certain ways. The characters face challenges of all kinds, they learn, they make mistakes, and they keep going. Where the story starts is so different from where it ends. This is encouraging to me when I feel like I’m facing something I’ll never get through, because I know it’s just one part of my story. Stories show a little of the bigger picture, of how everyone’s lives and choices impact each other. They show ways small acts and conversations change people’s entire lives, even when you can’t begin to imagine how. They also mirror real life by showing that evil never ultimately wins. Sure, it has some victories, or at least seems to, but in the very end, it isn’t triumphant. That’s how it will be, evil will be defeated forever, and that Truth is embedded in every story created.
Being a fangirl is SO SO much fun for me! I love every part of it, even the sad parts like when my favorite character dies, or a book series comes to an end. I love getting overly excited whenever there’s a new piece of information, even if it’s just as small as an episode title. I love reading fanfics, seeing fanart or cosplays, contemplating all the little details, and acting out scenes. But most of all, I love to fangirl with others! We talk about our opinions, theories, ships, favorite moments, favorite characters, and a whole bunch of other things. I wouldn’t be as much of a fangirl if it wasn’t for the others I share the excitement with. I love seeing what other people in my fandom are up to and their reactions to things. It’s like this big, crazy, awesome family! I am not an extremely talkative person in real life, but I’ll talk for hours about Star Wars with people, even if I don’t know them. Being a fangirl is my hobby, my “thing”. Some people love music, some people love sports, I love my fandoms. I think if I hadn’t found that out, a big part of my personality would be missing, as well as what I like to do most.
As you may know, I love finding the lessons in stories. Not just the main themes of them either, but also all the smaller ones along the way. I feel that, while it’s certainly not wrong to read or watch something just for fun, it becomes more important when it changes me or teaches me something I can use later. We all seek meaning in entertainment, that’s part of the way God created us and it’s irremovable. I also find that lessons stick with me better in story form, where I’ve seen how the characters lived them out, and what happened as a result of that, rather than just hearing “If you do this, then such and such will happen.” The challenge of figuring out exactly what lessons each character learned, and how they learned them is fun for me. I like that it’s not always spelled out, and everyone can have their own interpretation.
Sometimes I don’t always remember everything that happened in a book or movie, or maybe I don’t find everything I could possibly learn from them, but what always sticks with me are the characters. They’re so real to me, everything they go through, the emotions they feel, it never once crosses my mind while reading or watching that they’re fictional. I learn from them, too – their courage, loyalty, and perseverance. Characters that I see the entire journey of, their feelings, thoughts, and struggles, can be a little easier to relate to than the heroes I hear about in a history book. Not because those heroes aren’t great examples for me to learn from, but because I only see a small part of their lives and not their entire struggle to get to that point. Because things are often shown from more than one person’s point of view, even the characters I wouldn’t get along well with if I met them don’t seem as hard to understand. Sometimes when I meet difficult people, I’ll imagine they’re a character in a story and be able to empathize a little better with them.
Lastly, I love stories because they encourage and inspire me. When I forget why I’m here, they remind me of the most important things, and that I have a part in the Greatest Story of them all. They help me remember that someday I’ll start “Chapter One Of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Why do you think fictional stories are important? Would your life be any different without them? What have your own fandoms added to your life?