Monday, April 16, 2012

Melancholia and Fangirls

Because I have done nothing but throw a ton of theory out here for the past several posts, here's a quick recap of what I've been yammering on about. I, of course, am not saying it's all valid or that I agree with it all, but it's a framework I'm used to using and it's incredibly helpful.
  1. We're in a "post-modern" age, in a society culture that might hate our guts. Yay.
  2. I am a feminist. And probably a hipster. Hate on the hipster, not on the feminist.
  3. Melancholia is everywhere.
  4. All of this involves fangirls.
So, now comes the daunting task of trying to tie all this together. Right. I can do this.
I've mentioned before that many fangirls on Tumblr have shown expressions of low self-esteem and depression. On a website like Tumblr, it's easy to see how this can become a big deal. As fan bases are created around movies, TV shows, celebrities, books, etc., so too are fans of dangerous things - cutting, anorexia, suicide. One person I follow (well, maybe followed is a more appropriate term; you can read about the specifics here) reblogged certain images about wanting to commit suicide. There's a reason why I see a lot of posts about being there for your followers and sending out depression and suicide help hotline numbers at least once a day. Because just as much as the internet and online forums can help someone find support to work through depression, it can also convince them that suicide is the answer.

It is because of this that I want to begin to emphasize the role melancholia is playing among young women, specifically fangirls. I've mentioned before the sexism that still exists in our society, a 21st century world that was glorified to have put this all behind us. We live in a culture that judges us by our appearance and, no matter what, it is never right (I'm being reminded of a post I saw about Jennifer Lawrence and how, even though people generally freak out about how skinny actresses are in Hollywood, she received criticisms for being "too big." And even girls who are skinny - not because they force themselves to be, just because they are - get heavily criticized as well). Women are encouraged to work outside the house but when they do so and still want to have families, it suddenly becomes a problem. Housewives are criticized, working women are criticized, women who don't want to have children are criticized. Men who speak out for women are criticized. Men are criticized for not being muscular enough, handsome enough, manly enough. Oh yes, men, you deserve a post on this - and you most certainly will have one. You're placed into gender roles just as much as women (but at least jokes aren't made about you being sandwich makers. You've got a certain advantage). And throughout all of this, we feel alone, abandoned, doubting ourselves.

And often, it leaves us here:

This girl is one of my favorite bloggers on Tumblr (probably because she reminds me of me. And she loves Vincent Van Gogh, U2, and Sherlock). So whenever she posts something downhearted, I feel tremendously sad; especially because she reacts similarly to how I would. How many times have I felt so terribly small, not in a good way like looking up in the stars, but in a terrifying way, like no one cares? Far, far too many times.

Okay, I need something to cheer me up before we continue. Hipster cat!
Perfect, feeling better. Now where were we? Ah yes... feeling small. You know, in a world of 7 point some BILLION people, when standing in a crowd can make us feel more alone than connected to the human race, this is understandable. Compound these feelings with whatever else is happening in your life (family issues, romance issues, school problems - especially bullying, and the list goes on) and you can see how complicated and dark life can become. And when things get dark... well, people yearn for an escape. As the movie Brazil and Sucker Punch was described to me by a professor, it seems similar motives were at work - although it doesn't sound as if things really work out too well for the protagonists. At least for the modern fan, their escape lasts as long as they are watching their show or movie, or reading their book, or participating with other fans. And yet an odd thing happens - they feel less alone while being alone while talking with people from all over the world. Does the feeling last? Jury's out on that. But there's a reason stuff like this pops up all over the place on Tumblr:

More to come from this vein, I'm sure. Next time, join me as I wear my feminism on my sleeve and tackle body image issues and self-esteem. That's what this post was supposed to be about, but it didn't get there. So hang tight, and here's more hedgehog related nonsense for your troubles.

*sigh*... I can't even process this right now. Martin Freeman does not look like a hedgehog watermelon carving. However, he is like a watermelon in the instance that he is cool and sweet.


  1. Check out this on "thinspo" :(

    1. :( That is so sad. Thanks for sending it to me; I'm going to include it in another post.