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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Column: National Defeat Voldemort Day

Most people anticipate major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Earth Day. There’s that long process of crossing each box off the calendar leading up to those large gatherings. There’s also the anticipation of who’s going to attend and where the attendance will be.

I tend to focus on the smaller holidays like Chocolate Milkshake Day (Sept. 12) and Embrace Your Geekiness Day (July 13). Minor holidays are an excuse to act appalled when someone doesn’t understand why you’re suddenly talking like a pirate.

So when Facebook notified me that National Defeat Voldemort Day is coming up (May 2), I had to check it out. Often times, fandoms are what keep these “minor holidays” going.

Listed event location? The Forbidden Forest. Translation: It takes place in your head. Apparently, the other 73,367 Harry Potter fans didn’t realize this as they frantically typed wall posts begging for a specific, real location (in which they received “Hogwarts, duh” as an answer.)

Now, as a big Harry Potter fan, the active wall comments are engaging to see – it’s a nudge that the fandom is alive and well with continual silliness. But after several instances reading cries and chants to Voldemort, I had second thoughts. To an outsider, the passion of the fans could probably be read as psychotic.

That’s the funny thing about a fandom – you have to be at the center of it to think it’s cool. Even if you’re at the outskirts of a fandom (that situation where you’re a fan, but not a big enough one to be considered a “real” fan), you probably end up having the tendency to step out of the fandom for fear of being trampled.

This was true when a couple of friends and I just happened to be at Hollywood and Highland when the “Glee” tour stopped by over the summer. Two of us were already fans, but not big enough fans to know that they were even having a tour. The three floors of fans knew about it, though. They had all somehow obtained their “Gleek” shirts while posing with the now synonymous “L” gesture and waiting in a never-ending line.

It was almost a bit repulsive because although I enjoy watching the show and talking about it, I wasn’t consistently logging on to “Glee” forums or shamelessly singing to “Glee” music in public. Then again, that’s because I’m not at the center of the fandom wearing a Will Schuester shirt. If it were a Harry Potter event, I would probably be first in line with my lightning bolt scar.

A similar situation happened when a classmate started telling me about his weekend at Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. He was excited to the point of fidgeting and squealing. The instance was actually quite amusing yet endearing to me. But to a person who is uninterested in music festivals or the alternative music he was talking about, the reaction could have been a bit overwhelming and dramatic. The intense passion scares away some would-be fans.

Fandoms tend to get a bad rap from outsiders. Just look at Harry Potter. The Pope (and other extremist groups) have accused the books and fans of being a large cult committed to witchcraft. Maybe if the Pope did some Potter-reading himself, he wouldn’t be so condemning of it. Who knows? He might even become a fan.

It’s the excitement and devotion to certain pop culture icons that cause people to roll their eyes. It’s instances like having two kids – a boy and a girl – with the sole purpose of naming them Luke and Leia. That may sound idiotic to non-fans (and maybe even fans), but at least it’s not a boring pair of names like Dick and Jane.

There’s always an excitement built up throughout fandoms, even if the excitement may be for nothing much. Every convention of some sort, podcast or release date drives the fans to become even more enthusiastic and fierce, thereby causing others to squirm with repulsiveness.

To solve the annoyance of these seemingly stupid fandoms, just give in and be a part of one. Embrace it.

TIFFANY LEW still isn’t sure how she should celebrate National Defeat Voldemort Day. E-mail her at tjlew@ucdavis.edu if you have any suggestions.

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