25th Celebration Survey Results
I was honored to be offered the opportunity to comment on the survey administered during the September celebration. Being accustomed to survey research in my previous life, how could I resist!
Usually one begins framing a survey to answer research questions. This survey was just for fun! Still, we can glean interesting insights if we are patient enough to read through responses and ponder common themes and threads among the answers.
To begin, let’s look at the question: Apart from Vincent or Catherine, which character from the show would you most like to be? When we pick a character, we are revealing something about ourselves; whom we are most like or whom we most wish we were like. Which character stood out? By far it was Jamie (15). Those who qualified their choice mentioned self-assurance, spunk, bravery, and being a tomboy. For me, Jamie had an independence about her combined with loyalty to her community. All of these are worthy qualities, indeed.
Apart from our favorite character, how important are the actors of the show to us? I detected three main themes in these responses. One, and in the minority, was not very important. The characters spoke to these respondents, not the actors. A second theme saw the actors as very important, and that the careers of these actors were followed after the show. In this group, they were pleased to recognize an actor from B&B in other movies or shows. A third theme acknowledged the importance of the actors to creating the characters, yet these respondents did not follow the careers of the actors subsequent to the show.
Mixed in with the answers to this question were several who added that they enjoyed seeing/meeting the actors at cons and several others who commented that it was not as important to them now as it was earlier to see actors. To which, on a personal note, I will admit my thought was, ‘easy for you to say after having heard several actors in person!’ This aspect may certainly be a function of the number of years experienced in fandom. Those newer (like myself) wish to meet the talented individuals who brought the characters to life; those who have been in fandom longer and attended many of the cons who had actors as guests are able to enjoy cons regardless of guests present or not. (Although I’m willing to bet no one would turn away a chance to hear and meet Ron or Linda!)
I was next interested in the question: What do your friends and family think about your B&B habit? Let me admit that I struggle with this myself, recent addition to fandom that I am. While I am not totally in the closet about it, I am not shouting it from the rooftops either. So the survey says? A lucky group has supportive friends and family who may not totally understand our fascination but at least don’t cast aspersions. More of the group keeps their love of B&B under wrap, and perhaps endure a bit of ribbing from those who know. Personally, I look at this good-natured (I hope!) ribbing as a lesson in tolerance! Is it a bit of irony, though, that a show that is all about tolerance, accepting differences, looking beyond has fans concerned about revealing their love of being a part of fandom and being considered ‘different’ by others. At least, I suspect this is one motivation for keeping quiet. It is for me. Interesting topic I think!
How do you stay in touch with fandom? Answers range from as little as WFOL to every available venue all done by the one person! Facebook is becoming more popular, even since the short time I’ve been in fandom. The yahoo chat groups (email) were mentioned by many, and websites for viewing, reading, and discussing made the roster. Compared to when the show aired, there is more opportunity to be connected to others who love the show. Who knows where the show would be, and fandom itself, if the internet was available back when the show aired. The survey did not ask age of the respondent. I wonder if those of us who are older are not as immersed in the latest social media as those who are younger. One concern I have is what impact social media will have on fandom itself. Interesting topic I think!
If we all find the time to do what everyone wrote to ‘What do you like, or what would you like, to do for the other fans?’ we will be a rich community in all sorts of ways: more zines and stories for reading, art, music, videos, sharing of knowledge, and encouragement! A talented and generous group of people. I look forward to the riches to come!
The survey asked if we had a story about what the show did for us. For those who had stories, they reflect the depth of what the show had to offer. Quite a few mention identifying with Vincent, the idea of being different, and finding that different can be accepted. Some found the show inspirational at a time when inspiration was needed. Others found validation in love. Love of literature, and sometimes careers, was fostered by the show. Learning to help others, to change the focus from ‘me’ to ‘we’ engaged others. And quite a few mentioned the friendships formed around loving this show. What a wonderful legacy this show has created! For inspiration, read the results of what B&B means to people. It will make you feel good.
There are many more questions, too many to comment on in this brief piece. I found overall a lot of commonality among this group which is not surprising given our mutual love of B&B. Yet within the commonality, interesting differences occur. Perhaps the differences are what can keep our fandom vital and alive.
Sept 25, 2013 celebration page
B&B year page with past celebrations