We’re all familiar with fandom. I’m sure at one point or another in your life you have come to know and love a particular fictional character or place. This love is so great that it evolves into an obsession. We devote days, weeks, months, and even years to watching a TV series or collecting memorabilia that is a must-have, new release. Even if your bank account is drained because you spent all of your money on another collectible that came out last week… You get my point.

By now, you’re probably curious as to when the aforementioned love becomes something greater. Allow me to try to explain to you the inner workings of fandom and obsession; trust me, I speak from experience. I am a massive fan of The Simpsons, and in particular the Simpson family and how they interact with the other residents in Springfield. I have seen almost every episode, and have collected a large amount of figurines and posters. In other words, if you name it, I will most likely have it. I can also quote many of the classic episodes (the better ones, might I add). I know what it’s like to be consumed by fictional characters and places.

But how does it come about? Why are we sometimes so deeply obsessed with our favourite superhero or game character? How do we become obsessed? In the case of fictional characters, we may aspire to be like them, or the character could have something that you want, but can’t have. Loving that character is the closest thing to owning that possession. The same can essentially be applied to fictional places. A superhero may have an awesome house. You envy it so much that you wish you could live there. You collect photo after photo of the house, in hopes that one day you might have the chance to live there or somewhere like it.

So that’s the why, but how do we fall madly in love with fictional characters and places? For starters, gaining as much knowledge as possible about a particular character can lead to obsession.  So can watching an entire TV series or every movie the character has featured in. Perhaps it started back about 40 years ago; before fandom exploded into what it is today with children dressed up as their favourite superhero while reading cherished comic books. However, in 1970, Comic-Con (in America) had just started to blossom thanks to fans of comics, movies, and science fiction. Due to the convention growing each year, fandom, and for that matter, obsession, has grown much larger. There are many more things out there now for fans to get their hands on, feeding their wants and needs.

I’ve come to realise through writing this article, that over the years maybe I’ve become too obsessed with The Simpsons. Is there even such a thing as being too obsessed? Honestly, I don’t know, but one thing I do know for sure is that fandom, unlike the fictional characters and places we fall in love with, is real. Fandom and obsession are all around us. Some might say that once it starts, there is no stopping. One day you will find yourself dedicating your life to a certain character or place; there is no escaping it.

On second thought, I think I may need help with this obsession…

Words by Sarah McLean