Some days, it feels like I’ve been involved in fandoms for forever. After all, I’ve been invested in TV, movies, and books my whole life. However, I never would have become the fandom-savvy person that I am today if I hadn’t stumbled across The Pirates of the Caribbean when I did.
Like loads of other kids, I grew up on Harry Potter and loved those books to pieces. But, for some reason, the series never really pushed me in the fandom direction. Sure, I browsed MuggleNet a bit but I had first started reading the series before I became an internet addict. So while I definitely include myself in the Harry Potter fandom now, it wasn’t the medium that pushed me into the world. That privilege came years later with the DVD release of The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and I’m so happy it did.
How it all started
I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t see The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearlwant to see the movie. I actually really did. I had heard such great things about it from my friends who had seen it, including a boy I had a giant crush on (so you best believe I had really wanted to see that movie.) But, like my experience with most other movies I’m always wanted to see in theaters, it just never came to be — possibly because I wasn’t a superfan of any of the actors in it. Yet.
So my first interaction with The Pirates of the Caribbean came on Christmas Day, 2003. My brother got a copy of the movie in his stocking that morning even though he had never seen it either. None of my family members had, in fact. So, because Christmas Day is traditionally a lazy day in our household, we decided to watch the movie that evening because we had all heard such good things about it.
While I don’t remember what I was thinking as I watched the movie, I do remember being in awe once it ended (and that was even before I knew about the post-credit sequence). The characters were all so wonderfully different from anything I had seen before and the plot was the perfect mix of action, adventure, romance, and supernatural elements. That and Orlando Bloom’s face was a definite plus.
Needless to say, I was plotting ways to steal it from my brother moments after it ended. In fact, the day that he got it, I nabbed the junior novelization that came along with his DVD. I don’t think he ever noticed because it’s still sitting on my bookshelf today.
It wasn’t all that hard to swipe the movie from my brother. At that time, he was obsessed with playing video games so he didn’t have much time to watch movies. Once I got my hands on the DVD, I played it nonstop for days. And that was just the beginning.
The extent of my obsession
My obsession was intense, let me tell you. But in the best way. In the early days, I’d have the movie playing as I got ready for school in the morning and then I’d finish it while I did homework in the early evening. Then, I’d watch it a second time through before I went to bed. The cycle would then repeat itself the next morning.
But after a while, that just wasn’t enough. While I loved living in the world of the movie, it was much too short for my liking. I wanted more. So, I turned to the family computer (on which I had previously only ever used the paint program and signed on to AOL to IM friends). This was (appropriately) uncharted territory for me, but I just needed more. But more on that later…
My obsession was all-consuming. I slept, breathed, and even ate (yes, ate; I found Pirates of the Caribbean cereal!) Pirates. There wasn’t an hour that passed that I didn’t think about the movie and how much I loved it. Pretty soon, everyone else was able to easily see how passionate I had become.
How I showed my love for the series without fandom influence
Believe me when I say that my room was covered in Orlando Bloom’s face. Covered. There was a bit of Johnny Depp here and there, but it was mostly Orlando. You see, the side effect of my passion for Pirates of the Caribbean was an intense obsession with Will Turner and then Orlando Bloom himself. My room was pretty much a shrine to his face and pirate ruggedness. I’m not even joking a little bit. I still have some of the posters that were on my wall in a box in my headboard.
My prized piece of art, though, was a print of Will Turner on the Black Pearl overlooking the ocean (circa Dead Man’s Chest) that I bought from a cart at the mall for $20. I hung it on the wall next to my bed where I could easily see it and would always show it to people.
All of my family and friends knew about my Will Turner/Orly obsession as well. They gave me heads up about Hot Topic merch, got a “I <3 Orlando" visor and shirt (you know, from the same line that had the Ashton Kutcher merch too), bought me a shirt with Will Turner's face on it, and even photoshopped my face onto Elizabeth Swann's in a promo picture for the first movie. It wasn't even through FaceinHole.com (although I did one of those on my own later; see next page). She photoshopped my face onto the photo below and made the photo into a banner for whatever site I wanted to put it on, complete with one of my favorite Will/Orlando flubs, “Swash swash buckle buckle.” I can’t even begin to describe how much I regret deleting that photo because I wish I still had it. So badly.
Anyway, other ways I showed my love for Pirates of the Caribbean (in no particular order):
- Recorded bits of the movie with my handy dandy tape recorder so that I could take the movie with me wherever I went. (These were the days before iPods and tablets and all of those fun things, people!)
- Bought and listened to the soundtrack all day every day.
- Memorized the dialogue that went over the soundtrack (especially the dialogue from the blacksmith shop swordfight scene).
- Fell asleep every night with the soundtrack playing.
- Cut out every newspaper and magazine clipping/article that I came across that was about the movie or any of the actors, including just random small photos from magazines like Disney Adventures (holla if you remember that one!). I kept all of my clippings in my Pirates of the Caribbean cereal box and would just shuffle through them once a week or so. Which reminds me…
- Found a Pirates of the Caribbean cereal at the grocery store and ate it in a day. It was like Count Chocula, but BETTER.
- Once the age of Apple began, I downloaded sound bytes from certain sites so that I could play the best lines from the movie on demand, whenever I wanted. I was a crafty little bugger.
I’m sure there were more things that I did to celebrate my newfound fandom by myself and in my own personal spaces, but I can’t remember them at the moment. But I definitely do remember my first taste of interactive fandom.