Farewell to Fandom; Hello to Nostalgia

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.”

It has been exactly two years since I last posted on this website, this labor-of-love, this space devoted to fandom and “all things fiction”. I am writing now to say that, after eight years (much of that time on hiatus) and after 255 posts, this will be my final post. I am also hoping to explain why I have been so absent.

My “new life” is partly to blame, because I “settled down”, as the saying goes. In the last two years, I met the love of my life, married her and adopted a dog with her. Yes, it sounds like a whirlwind, but it has been the greatest whirlwind to happen to me. Also in that time, I resigned from the “Main Stage Front of House Coordinator” position with Mischief Management. It was a really difficult decision to make because, though my experience with Mischief Management, I met some incredible people (especially my closest “convention” friend, Olivia Dolphin, without whom this entire segment of my life would not have happened) that I knew I would have to say goodbye to, without knowing when (or if) I’d be seeing them ever again.

However, after six years and seven conventions, it was time. It was time for me to focus on my new family. It was time for me to focus on my “day job” as English teacher and attend some summer workshops (which help me be a better teacher), as well as help expand the theatre program at my school (I started an annual summer musical for elementary and middle school students last summer). It was time to pursue other endeavors and let go of some hobbies that weren’t giving me the fulfillment that they used to. That included fandom conventions as well as fandom websites.

To be honest, I haven’t had time to even watch the movies that have come out in the past year from my favorite fandoms, much less write about them… Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. All of these new movies I still haven’t seen. However, if I really, truly cared to see those movies and write about them, you’d think that I’d find time somewhere to watch them, and yet, I haven’t. I’ve re-watched the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions maybe half a dozen times in the last two years. I’ve re-watched the first three Harry Potter movies almost as many times. So why don’t I have the time for new movies?

Part of it is I’m often busy with or working on something while I’m watching those older movies; I merely put them in for the background noise. I’ve seen them so many times that I don’t feel I need to actively watch them. The other part, which I think comes closer to the heart of the matter, is that I miss the “old fandom”. I miss the old days. I miss the smaller LeakyCons with the “core” group of fans. I re-watch and re-read the “originals” of all my favorite fandoms (especially Hary Potter) because I want to relive the magic and know the wonder that I felt back then. I miss that magic and wonder so much some days.

Recently, I’ve been trying to find a way to play the old Harry Potter PC games (especially the first and second) on my Windows 10 computer, but it just won’t work, no matter how many ways I adjust the compatibility settings. Why try so hard to play an old game that was released just after Windows XP? Once again, because I want to relive the magic that I felt when I first played the game. I still remember getting the Sorcerer’s Stone PC game for Christmas (I was 15 at the time) and staying up late for many nights over winter break playing it. I still remember the snow falling outside my dad’s office window while I was sneaking through the library trying to avoid Filch, or trying to find my way to Herbology class. I also remember introducing the game to my cousin the following summer, and how we re-played it together so many times.

I remember not wanting to get the Chamber of Secrets PC game right away because I thought there was no way it could live up to how awesome the previous game was in my mind. And yet, when I finally did buy the game on an impulse at a video game store in the mall when I was 16 or 17, I remember feeling the same nostalgia for the first game, but at the same time, feeling excited because it was “something new”.

However, 15 years later now, with each “something new” that comes out within my favorite fandoms, the nostalgia that I feel for the “old magic” wears off even more. When Cursed Child was announced, my first thought was, But what about “All was well“? Why reopen the Potter story after Deathly Hallows finished it so beautifully? To this day, after some internal debate, I don’t even think of Cursed Child as canon because it doesn’t make me feel the same nostalgic magic (wonder) that the main series does.

With each “something new”, I’m also more keenly aware that the only reason (or the biggest reason) my favorite fandoms continue to produce new movies or books is because of money. As long as the fanbase is there, and as long as they are ravenous for more, studios and publishers will keep producing more because they know that they can make money from the fans.

As for me, I’m really not ravenous for more from my favorite fandoms. I am perfectly content with what I have, with what I can relive for the sake of nostalgia. However, there is one notable exception: there is something that I’ve wanted from the Harry Potter fandom for a long time that has still not come to fruition, and that something is an MMORPG, like Lord of the Rings Online. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery came close to fulfilling my desire for a “create your own character” Harry Potter game, but I still want one that I can play on my PC, online. I keep hearing rumors that it’ll happen, but I don’t have high hopes.

If it does happen, and if it’s everything I want and more, maybe then I’ll leave this permanent hiatus to write about it. My biggest regret as far as making this my last post is that I never got to review Hogwarts Mystery, which I do take the time to play every day and love playing a lot. It does have its shortcomings, but for a new game like this to make me feel the same nostalgia and wonder for the “old magic”, and yet while still being new, that is quite a tall order for me.

This apathy that I feel towards modern fandom extends beyond computer games. It extends beyond the movies I choose to watch. My goal every year for the past several years has been to read at least fifteen new books. This year, however, I read three. Yes, it was a busy year for me, but I re-read more books this year than I read books for the first time, which is also telling.

In the end, I hope that I can cure this apathy that I feel towards modern fandom because you miss out on so much when you refuse to try new things (or watch new movies, or read new books) and live in the past purely for “nostalgia’s sake”. Sometime soon when we both have time, I plan to sit down with my wife and watch these new movies that have been sitting on our shelf unwatched for months. I also plan to carve out a few hours every week to read new books that have been sitting on my Kindle unread for years so I can make my annual goal of fifteen new books this year.

Am I going to be tempted to write reviews of these movies and books when I’m done with them? Sure. However, after a while, I realized that writing my thoughts down here was never really about reaching an audience because FictionRow never really had a huge following. The act of writing my thoughts down was really more for me than anything. It didn’t matter to me that few people commented on posts. However, I now have an audience in my wife who can respond with her own thoughts, which I prefer. I really prefer the conversation with her versus the writing for my own sake.

So it’s unlikely that FictionRow will ever return, even though I plan to keep online. And that’s okay. Because as I just said, and to paraphrase Dumbledore: “It does not do to dwell on the past and forget to live.”