I was having an awesome conversation with Emily the other night about #womenonyoutube stuff and she said something that really stuck with me about why people weren’t paying attention to all of these problems, and indeed, being dismissive of them, when 70%-80% of their viewers are women.
And I said, well, it’s because they’re not real people. They’re “fangirls”.
Which is so ridiculous on so many levels and a huge part of why watching YouTubers talk about the problem with fangirls or whatever makes me cringe. It isn’t just because they pay the bills of so many YouTubers, it’s because fangirls seen as lesser viewers because for whatever reason you don’t vibe with their mode of engagement.
The sort of engagement I had with Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, Meg Cabot, J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter stars, and even, like, John and Hank (seriously, that first video of me meeting them is bizarre and a little hilarious because I was shaking so badly) thoroughly falls into the fangirl category. But the voices of dissent against that sort of fan weren’t there in that way. Was that because women’s presence was less felt on the Internet and therefore less threatening? Was that because their role in the conversation didn’t yet have to be socially dismissed?
Whatever it was, let me say that I wouldn’t be where I am right now without having once been what snarky people would probably call a seriously annoying fangirl. I wouldn’t have taken my enthusiasm for Harry Potter and ended up interviewing some of the greatest actors and filmmakers of all time on the red carpet. I wouldn’t have industry knowledge of YA in the UK had it not been for the Meg Cabot books I read when I was much younger and she was among the few teen imports. And I wouldn’t feel comfortable about performing or public speaking had it not been for the dance classes and talent contests I entered as a result of being such a huge fan of pop music.
So can we stop talking about fangirls as though they’re not real people, and can we start listening, truly listening, and talking about issues that affect the vast majority of people watching vlogs on YouTube, rather than seeing it as some sort of weird special interests issue?