Hello, welcome to the new home of "Fangirling!" on the interwebs. I'll still be posting fun stuff over on the tumblr and tweeting up a storm, but this will be the new destination for all you fangirl blogging needs. My hope is that this site eventually becomes a platform for many voices and perspectives on female fandom, not just mine. But that's the future. Today I want to talk about the past.
As you might have notices, Fangirling! has a face on the web that's not mine. That face comes from a photograph taken at a Beatles concert on October 13, 1964 in Wigan, England.
Here's the original:
I found this image on Tumblr. It passed over my dash several times, usually in a version with the following tag commentary added by another tumblr user, whose URL is lost to history: "#i don’t know what i like more; vintage lesbians or the lady in front going fucking ape$*^" Indeed, that's what I loved about the picture as well, and the aspects which makes this an image that perfectly sums up being a fangirl.
On one hand, you have the blonde in the foreground, who exemplifies the mainstream view of fangirls. She's hysterical, overcome with emotion at seeing The Beatles, who were I at that time, the most amazing and important band in the entire world, at least to her. This girl is the exact person that comes to mind at the mention of "Beatlemania." Out-of-control, loud, unhinged and maybe even a little dangerous because of this sudden obsession that has allowed her sexuality and passion to be displayed so openly. That's what fangirls do sometimes, make the mainstream uncomfortable with the volume and ferocity of our uniquely female devotion.
And then there are the girls in the back. I love these girls. Among the noise and furor of fandom, in a place that is both extremely public and exceedingly private, they are sharing a moment to celebrate and explore some very taboo feelings (well, taboo for the time). Fandom is a place of queerness, of otherness, where we come together to find other people who are different, who are alone yet who love the same things we do. They too are the face of fangirls, the other face that people outside of fandom rarely think about or see.
The question of course must be asked: are those girls really about to kiss? Is this photograph legitimate? I spent a lot of time trying to find the original photo, but had no success, so it's very possible it was doctored, or that the women in the photo would tell us that the story we have written for them isn't at all true. But in fandom, that doesn't matter. Fangirling is about taking works and transforming them to fit our own stories and needs. Much like #TheDress, how others see something or what "really" happened are immaterial, because what matters to us is how we see it, and nothing else.
When I decided I wanted to use this picture as a representation of Fangirling, I knew I couldn't just use it without changing it. Transformation is the essence of fangirling, after all. So, I ran it through photoshop, softened the focus and filtered it to change the color from just black and white to a nice female skewing and queer coded pink/lavender. I also tried, hopefully with some success to use texture to emulate the work of Roy Lichtenstein, whose pap art painting of weeping women, done in an almost comicbook style were both an icon of the sixties, and touched on the emotionality and pop culture connection I wanted to convey.
Here is an awesome Lichtenstein cosplay, if you want to see what I'm talking about. The Lichtenstein estate does not allow his art to be used widely, unfortunately. but give him a google.
So, the image I'm using is very much meant to be a transformative work of it's own; drawing on parallel influences to tell a new story, as it were. One day I'd love to find out who these women were, and learn their story, but for now I'm happy with the head canons I have and the story of "The Fangirl Picture."