Fan Age and Fandom

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And then sometimes having older fandom friends is like when you go home for the holidays and your grandma says something racist. And it’s like … you love your grandma … but she just said something racist … what are you supposed to do now? So you’re sort of left with the feeling of “thank gods your friends aren’t here to hear grandma being racist.” But when this happens on tumblr and “racist grandma” is “racist older fandom friend” all your friends can hear grandma being racist. (Or sexist. Or homophobic. Or biphobic. Or transphobic. Or anti-Semitic. Or ableist.) [snipped] And like how much nastiness are you supposed to put up with from the older generations for the sake of bonds in other areas, whether it’s racist grandma, or a close friend who shares media recommendations with you in a small fandom. [1]


On December 14, 2014, Anonymous asked a Tumblr user:
You're middle aged and still have a tumblr? LOL [2]

Some responses:

[drgrlfriend]: I always wonder what people who make these comments think middle-aged people do. Like, sit around, doing their taxes and talking about escrow 24/7?

Do they really expect not to have any fun or waste any time after age 30? Or maybe they think that people are just not awesome enough to be able to have a professional job, a family, and still waste time on Tumblr.

Well, I’m here, friends, to tell you that it is possible! You can have it ALL — the career, the family, and the incredible time-suck of fandom! [3]
[sertetlen]: Oh middle aged WOMEN in particular are just… not allowed to have fun, I think? We’re supposed to be past it, pathetic and devote the remaining dregs of our time, energy & attention to caring for others, and studiously avoiding anything that someone might find worthy of mockery. Then we die (or become invisible). (I mean, maybe we’re allowed to have fun if it’s APPROPRIATE fun. Like, a small sherry after an age-allowed exercise class? A couple of hours of watching BBC2? Not fandom. Never fandom!) This post has reminded me I still need to do my tax return. But that’ll take an afternoon, not my whole 40s. [4]
[labelleizzy]: Also middle-aged (because I don’t figure on living much past 90) and here reblogging and yelling at stupid people on Tumblr, sharing beautiful art and writing. I wanted this when I was a teen and I’m SURE gonna enjoy the hell out of it now! [5]
[labelleizzy]: Wow, I am middle-aged now? Who knew?

Yeah, I have a Tumblr, too. I do Tumblr when I am not casting spells, watching Marvel movies, or talking to my Beast Herd.

Seriously! [6]

In the spirit of clarification I would like to point out that I am not middle aged but rather a ageless and deathless dread-beast of the underdark, which is entirely different. But I do have something to say, and it is this:

Time is an anchor. Time is a weight. Time is a dog that has picked up your scent. Time is a vampire. Time is a screw. Time is the god that you don’t choose to worship, but you are the flesh that is burned on his altar.

You are not young. You are a visitor. You have lingered in this country, but your visa is expiring.

You are standing on the deck and you are in the sunlight. You are watching the coast go by, the castles on the bank. Do you see the flowers, darling? Do you see the children waving? Wave back at them, darling. Wave as they pass. The current sweeps one way. The current runs downstream.

You will never return to the school bus, the board-books, the faith in the wisdom of your elders. It has passed. It has gone. You saw it as you fell, and you are still falling. There is no return, darling. There is no falling up again.

You will grow old and your body will be a stranger’s. You will grow old and men’s eyes will pass over you. You will grow old and you will learn what you’re made of. Will you know yourself, darling? Will you love who you have become?

You can lay back, darling. You can let yourself be carried. You can sink to the deep with the anchor round your neck.

Or you can decide that you don’t give an everloving fuck and reblog a bunch of GIFs if you damn well feel like it, because one of the benefits of not being a puerile youth is that you’re not hysterically concerned with what other people may or may not think about your hobbies. [7]
[elfwreck]: I grow old, and I stand with the power of decades in my blood and the legacy of centuries of women behind me, and I can look at the delightful shifting passions of youth and think, glad someone has the energy for all that, and also, when you have a moment to rest, sit beside me, and I will tell you of your foremothers and their passions… how they paid for the right of two women to kiss in public with blood and pain; how they built entire technologies to show their friends the thoughts that burned in their hearts when they saw the tv shows where the only true trust and love was between men; how they shared stories and songs and art with each other when all these things were hard and took irreplaceable resources–not just the fic and filk and pics, but the sharing itself.

Find me when your ex-best-friend has called you a pervert for imagining a particular romance, and I will tell you of the letterzines where the very existence of slash was cause for shock and outrage. Find me when a teacher berates you for the “frivolous waste of time” of writing fantasy stories, and I will remind you that JK Rowling was a single mom on welfare. Find me when someone calls you a “fake geek girl” for liking costumes more than collecting action figures, or for playing Portal and not Call of Duty, and I will share my stories of playing Dungeons and Dragons when schools and libraries were trying to ban it for being “Satanic”–and everyone assumed the girl would always play the healer. (Guess what? If you play a dark elf cleric with no healing spells, the rest of the party gets really upset. You’re the girl; you’re playing the priestess; HEAL ME DAMMIT. Heh.)

And in return, you can show me the fics buried in quizzes, and the vids that show up overnight when a new fandom appears (so quickly! it all moves so fast now!), and the way that twitter conversations and text messaging can create stories and art with an immediacy we never had, when I was young and fandom was new to me.

Fandom belongs to neither the young nor the “old” (for some of you, that’s anyone over 25, which makes me giggle–Google didn’t exist when I was 25; we found our fic through web rings…); if you let it, fandom will be a home and an adventure all at once, for the rest of your life.

But you’re going to miss a lot of the good stuff if you waste your energy–which is limited, I assure you, and you’ll figure that out soon enough–telling other people we don’t belong in this fannish location, or should not have that fannish hobby, or must not create some particular kind of fanworks.

We may not have speed and agility anymore, but wow do we have stamina. And patience. And time is on our side… we can wait you out, but that doesn’t work the other way around. If you wait, you’ll eventually join us. [8]
[eeyore9990]: Lol, I read them all through the power of notes, heh. And the thing is, it’ll go MONTHS with no likes or reblogs and then suddenly get a thousand new, wonderful stories in a single day. I love the way a little bit of fandom history gets added with each iteration.

I actually have more to say: Every person on this thread… We need to go ahead and build our retirement home. A place we can go when our eyes have failed and our arthritic fingers can no longer type or draw. When age really has taken our ability to do this thing we love so much.

We will sit in our rocking chairs, eating our jello, and shriek at each other – because hearing aids only do so much – about what a nice, round ass that boy on the television has. Or what gorgeous lips that girl has. Or maybe we’ll just discuss the fanfics of old. We’ll reminisce about fandon wank we survived. We’ll hang our favorite, framed fan art. We’ll watch holographic fanvids of the newest iteration of Sherlock or the Harry Potter reboot or WHATEVER.

But this is my dream. To live and die on the Fannish Road. [9]
[animatedamerican] quotes a filk ]:
So let us all gather at ConValescence,
The fannish retirement con,
And true to our habits, like drumming pink rabbits,
It keeps going on and on …
Where the Art Show has pictures of Dorian Gray,
Where the Tully and oxygen’s pure,
And where we will party, flirt, filk, shmooze, and SMOF
Till the Con Suite runs out of Ensure.
- Tom Smith, “ConValescence” [10]

Age Disclaimers and Legal Issues

Ageism in Fandom

Some Related Topics

Further Reading


  1. Older fandom friends, Archived version (November 2015)
  2. eeyore9990.tumblr
  3. drgrlfriend.tumblr
  4. sertetlen.tumblr
  5. labelleizzy.tumblr
  6. labelleizzy.tumblr
  7. spitandvinegar.tumblr
  8. elfwreck.tumblr
  9. eeyore9990.tumblr
  10. animatedamerican.tumblr