11:00 am EDT, September 4, 2014

My first fandom: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

How I participated in the fandom community

As I mentioned above, one of the reasons why Pirates of the Caribbean is so important to me is because it introduced me to the concept of fandoms. Before Pirates, I never knew that I could interact online with people who enjoyed and obsessed over the same things that I did. At first, it was baffling! And, since it was around the time when parents still thought that all online interactions would lead to abductions and murders, it felt dangerously good!

But, since none of my family members or friends felt nearly the same way about Pirates of the Caribbean, there was no better place to go to sort out all of my feelings and theories. For the first time, I had somewhere real to go to to share my interests. That’s not a feeling one soon forgets.

Fandom things I consumed

Pirates characters banner
Fan-created banner via http://piratesofthecaribbeanandmore.webs.com

Like any great event, my introduction into fandom life happened slowly and then all at once. One of the first things I remember doing is searching for fun facts and Easter eggs about the movies. I just really wanted to learn everything I could. I also felt compelled to search for any chatter of a sequel. I mean, the movie was so well-received and well-loved that it couldn’t possibly be a stand-alone. To a 13-year-old girl like me, there just had to be more. After all, the monkey at the end of the credits seemed to imply as much!

I would also read maybe one or two fansites (namely “PotC Fandom,” which has since disappeared *tear*) for their theories on certain aspects of the movie and the universe, as well as go through and save a bunch of their fan art, collages, edits, and banners to my computer as my own sort of personal collection (at this point, I didn’t think of the legality of such actions). Then, I began bookmarking fansites like crazy and had a top five.

Pretty soon, I was reading fanfiction for the first time in my entire life, sharing those glittery and sometimes gif-like 100×100 icons, and changing the layouts of my social media profiles on Xanga and Horseland (yes, Horseland). My life had never been better thanks to the fandom community that had embraced Pirates of the Caribbean like I had.

Fandom things I produced

Face in Hole PiratesI’ve never been much of a fandom art or product creator. I’ve always been more of a consumer. One of those people who lurks in message boards for hours just to read people’s opinions without ever once responding, even if it means I had to rant to my computer screen. In fact, before Hypable, I never really left comments anywhere.

But I did try once to create something (besides the “Face in a Hole” photo pictured) that I could share pictures of with the fandom. That was a Halloween costume. That’s right. At the wise old age of 13 or so, I decided that I wanted to create a Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired Halloween costume. But I didn’t want to go as a pirate. Oh, no! Before I even knew what cosplay was or the hard work that went into it, I knew I wanted to be Miss Elizabeth Swann. In a giant fancy 1800s-era dress. I mean, by age 13, I had gone through two sessions of sewing class in Home Economics at school. If I could make a monkey pillow, I could certainly sew myself a beautiful floor length dress. Complete with lace.

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What I was envisioning was Elizabeth’s gold dress from the beginning of the movie. The one that her father gave to her. The one that was so big and heavy that it made her sink to the bottom of the ocean. That dress.

Now, the idea that I would fail never entered my mind. Not even the fact that I was starting the costume less only two months before Halloween. Sure, I didn’t know how to properly measure myself for a sewing pattern and couldn’t understand half of the instructions on the pattern, but that was ok because I was making an Elizabeth Swann dress and I was SO excited. I had to make a few compromises of course because Joann Fabrics didn’t sell the actual pattern or material for the dress, so I chose a beautiful periwinkle blue fabric and some white lace. I would be Elizabeth-fancy and it was going to be great.

To help me out (because she didn’t know the first thing about making clothes and wanted me to be happy), my mom asked my neighbor to work with me on the dress. So she came over a couple times for a few hours and helped me pin everything and stitch it correctly.

Elizabeth Swann Halloween Costume FailAfter two sewing sessions, things were really starting to come together. We had put together the dress’ corset-looking front and those poofy ovular pieces of material that sit on the sides of the skirt (see? I still don’t know technical terms). But, I went to try on the front part of the dress and realized that I was making it a size or two too small. All my hard work and I had mismeasured or grown in the time it took to sew a few pieces. I was so sad. I couldn’t even finish the dress.

To this day, the finished pieces and some of the fabric (and all of the lace) is still sitting in one of my sewing boxes in the basement, a reminder of the dream I once had.

The only real fandom-like thing I produced was excitement for the sequels. I talked about them so much and knew a ton of information about both movies beforehand that I got quite a few people to go during both opening weekends. That counts, right? Maybe?

How I feel about ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ now

Pirates of the Caribbean selfieLooking back, I don’t regret a single moment (or year) of my fandom obsession. I would say that I was hardcore into Pirates of the Carribean for a solid three years, from the first time that I saw The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to a bit after At World’s End came out.

I would say, though, that my most intense fandom immersion and inclusion occurred between the time when I first saw the first movie until right before the third movie came out. By then, I was in high school and didn’t have as much time as I used to to devote to my online searches and graphic hunts.

Pirates of the Caribbean showed me exactly how much I could care about something that entertains me and how fun it could be to share that love with other people.

Pirates of the Caribbean is still one of my favorite movies all time and not just because of my obsession. My obsession and my introduction to fandom in general just make it that much better.

What was your first fandom? How did you get involved?

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