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From Fandom to Artistry: A Personal Reflection on Fan Edits

I was born a fan girl. I have been consuming media since my parents put on Classical Baby, a show for babies showcasing classic art pieces alongside iconic classical music pieces. As a child given unsupervised internet access from a young age, the internet gave me access to countless streams of content I engaged with. This included but was not limited to: Tiger Beat Magazine (and other magazines catered towards preteens), Vine (R.I.P), VEVO music videos, and the ultimate culprit, Youtube. I was not capable of liking anything a normal amount; it was all or nothing. Obsession or nothing. At age seven, I had already attended a live concert and watched Justin Bieber’s documentary, Never Say Never, about eleven times. I had a Justin Bieber book, doll, shirts, necklace, and even a JB-themed birthday party. Even if I wasn’t watching edits yet, I was consuming from and supporting the artists I loved from an early age. 

I continued to express the same passion and love as I got older, but transitioned to different interests. Before middle school, I was really into the classic boy bands; One Direction, Big Time Rush, 5 Seconds of Summer, you name it. My series of niche interests varied, thanks to my older cousin Katelyn (the coolest person in the world to me at that point), who had a lot of influence over the things I liked but came to be things I loved. This included, but was not limited to, actors from the 1980s/’90s (River Phoenix, Corey Haim, Heath Ledger, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, etc). This also included all of the pivotal coming-of-age movies such as The Outsiders, Stand by Me, and The Breakfast Club. YouTube and Vine were also on the rise, and I became infatuated with some early influencers like MAGCON, O2L, Troye Sivan, Zoella, and Tyler Oakley. Although I had an avid appreciation for magazine posters and collages, I didn’t truly discover the “Fan Edit” until middle school.

Vine was where the Genesis of Fan Edits began in my world. This platform for six-second clips was an endless void for video content. While of course there were the iconic Vine creators and classic videos that people reference today, Vine also became a multifaceted app that housed a range of content. Besides funny content, some upcoming singers got their start on Vine like Shawn Mendes, and others who shared their talents. Like any other social media platform, people wanted to share what they loved, such as videos of their favorite creators, celebrities, or content at the time. As simple as they were, people edited six-second videos from clips of the things they liked, usually accompanied by music in the background. I specifically recall watching and liking these edited videos of YouTubers I watched at the time and the 80’s actors I mentioned previously. I desperately wanted to make some edits of my own. However, I was twelve years old at the time, and didn't have a laptop nor the knowledge on how to make them to the quality I would’ve liked to watch. As film scores do to movies, the music that accompanied these edits was able to bring out new emotions or a new perspective to the original media. Joshua, a consumer and creator of edits, gave his perspective, saying “Edits can, without a doubt, reinvigorate conversations about films and illustrate new things that might not be commonly thought of. A single movie can have hundreds of edits made of it, but all with a unique variety brought by the creator.” Whether it was to highlight celebrity funny moments or mourn a devastating part of a movie, I was able to further emotionally connect to the media I was consuming. 

Fan edits expanded beyond the realm of Vine, and honestly existed long before the app, but soon enough, I was seeing them everywhere. When Vine was shut down, most editors and creators shifted their focus to Instagram, and now TikTok. As technology has advanced, edits have become more expansive. There is an infinite amount of possibilities, with any combination of celebrities, movies, artists, shows, creators, or any piece of content that someone can edit. As a fan of many things, I found myself following many edit accounts, instantly bringing me into the fandom of many artists. The comment section was a breeding ground for fans across the world to connect on an interest of theirs, no matter how small. The internet created communities that didn’t always exist elsewhere. My friend Ava, who has made edits of her own, expressed to me, “people are looking to belong in fan communities. People are just looking for friends or a connection. It's like joining a club.” While the edit is the personal expression and interpretation of the editor, the comments are where the fans can express their love for both the art and the new artist of these edits. The celebrities or media that these edits are based on what things or people the fans found solace in, or things that often helped them through hard times, whether it was the message of their music, or movie, or just being a safe space in the constant discomfort that is adolescence. Fan edits created a space where everyday people could bond over the art they loved, by creating art themselves. They created art as a direct response to the art they admired. 

Everyone has a different taste in music, cinema, artists, and content that they appreciate, which makes fan edits so personal. Edits aren't often discussed publicly, or even among friend groups. There is something so intimate about consuming content from editors that feel the same sentiments towards a specific character or person in media that brings you daily bits of joy. Fan culture is sometimes dismissed as overly obsessive or trivial, which puts a damper on the joy and emotional connection that art brings to fans and everyday people. This pushes fans towards keeping their interests a secret, instead of sharing their love for things with others. I put a poll on my Instagram story asking if any people have ever made edits or had a fan account. Over 60% of people said yes; not even for just consuming them but making them themselves. My friend Abi states, “Fan culture is often dismissed as trivial, which has never made sense to me. I feel like we allow certain people to have fixations with certain things like sports but shut out others. There is an importance in finding a community within every fandom, and having that sense of belonging can be life-changing, in person or online.” The communities we create allow us to share our love of the things we enjoy with people who feel the same way, but we also can share them with people who haven’t been exposed to them yet.

Many of the shows and movies I have watched and come to appreciate have been from edits that I saw on Instagram or TikTok. During a conversation with some of my friends on the topic, my friend Sam said “Edits bring light to characters or media that I enjoy and deserve recognition.” Our friend Garrison agreed, saying “Edits can help push the message of the original media. They engage audiences and help keep films or movies relevant after they lose recency bias.” They really can help keep art alive. I often come across edits of a movie I used to love, and when I see them I fall in love all over again. In a way, they also feel like an archive or personal diary. When I look back at collections of them I’d saved in middle school and high school, I am transported right back into the time, the emotions I was enduring, my current obsessions, and what was culturally relevant to me at the time. While the original content will always be there, the edits and compilations of different media serve as a time capsule into what the fandom culture was like at that space in time. 

While I have never been an editor myself, I just want to tip my hat out there to all of the content creators who spent time (and money) on creating these intricate dedication pieces. While we always hope that our favorite artists, actors, or influencers love what they do for a living, they sometimes just have to film a movie or make an album for fame or money. What I do know, is that the fans who make edits, do it purely as a labor of love. Fans are what make the world go round. We love and support these artists emotionally and financially, by just having a deep-seeded appreciation for artistry. Many people with fan accounts don’t have anything to gain from these posts, besides the pure fact that they want to connect with other fans and spread their love of the things they love. As Hugh Grant says in Love Actually (a movie I have spent lots of time watching edits of), If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.


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