Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Day in a Fangirl's Life: The Fanboy Quest

In books, movies, TV shows and videogames there is always something that the main character strives to find at all costs but discovers that it is close to impossible. In the daily fangirl life, there is a similar quest: find a guy who reads the same book as us. Do fanboys - guys who read books such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Mortal Instruments - exist or not?

If someone were to use the word fanboy outside the fandom world, it would be taken as an insult. Often, people are called Apple fanboys (when they support Apple products no matter what) or Nintendo fanboys (someone who thinks that Nintendo consoles are superior to PlayStations and Xboxes) with the intent of implying a negative characteristic.

The Italian Wikipedia for fan (to which I was redirected from fanboy) describes the word fanboy as a "derogatory term which [...], literally, signifies 'fanatic boy'".  The English Wikipedia, similarly, uses the words socially inept person, obsessive or exclusive dedication. This does represent what we talked about before: who hasn't seen Apple being defended in a very aggressive way (excuse my oxymoron) by faithful customers or someone saying a console is better than another by personally offending another person who has a different opinion?

This also matches the description of fangirls on the same page: "Fangirls are often portrayed as teenagers obsessed with something to a frightening degree. The term is often used in a demeaning, derogatory fashion to describe the fans that give 'normal' fans a bad name."

Entries on Urban Dictionary really give a great idea of the negative connotation the word fanboy has for most people.

But in relation to fandoms, English Wikipedia says, "they are typically associated with comic books, video games, science fiction movies or television series [...]". And that's exactly what I want to talk about. I'm talking about boys who watch the same TV series we are passionate about, who worry about the way Allegiant ended, who wish they could be honoured with Alaska's presence, and so much more.

A fanboy in this context is the equivalent of a fangirl but is male. But we never see them: or, to be more accurate, we rarely encounter boys who are fans of YA, especially when the main character is a girl. Boys are more likely to read series such as Percy Jackson or The Maze Runner because they identify with the male character more than they would with, say, Bella from Twilight. For example, a classmate of mine has read both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but hasn't dived into YA series with female main characters.

Most guys are fans of comics, which, on the other hand, seem to be read by a minority of girls. They share the same enthusiasm we have for books and it is clear to see when a movie is made from a comic. Who can deny the hype for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie or Ant-Man this summer? It is exactly the same as the one for the impending Mockingjay, Part 2 movie and Insurgent (from the Divergent series) which both caused excitement in the fandom world.

So now that we've established that a comic and video game fandom are designed for mainly boys (the same way YA fandoms are aimed at mostly girls), are there fanboys for books? Of course there are! Just look at any reading forum or website and you will find, though in a smaller number than girls, a significant number of boys. Pottermore is a great example for a single fandom, while Goodreads perfectly represents every single fandom.

Next time you enter your favourite bookstore or library and see a guy hanging around the YA section, hanging around casually or just ignoring the curious looks from anyone else, you'll know exactly who he is: a fanboy.

Do you have a fanboy partner in crime?


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