This will probably come as a surprise to no one, but I have always had a very obsessive personality. When I decide I like something, I make my whole life about it. I’ve gotten better about it as I’ve gotten older, but it’s still a core part of my personality. Today I’d like to take you back to my childhood and teenage years and talk about the fandoms I joined before the invention of fandom internet (and before my discovery of it, in some cases). I will not include things I am technically still part of the fandom for, so you won’t find Harry Potter or The Lion King (I used to watch that movie on repeat as a kid. And this was during the age of VHS, so you know I was hardcore on this shit. It’s still my favorite movie.) on this list. So, take a peek at my psyche over the years through the lens of the things I loved.
1. Barney & Friends: This is what I often refer to as my first-ever obsession. I never missed an episode and had mad Barney merch. I had a stuffed Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop. I had Barney sheets. I always used to run and hug my mom during the “I Love You” song. I saw Barney Live and saw the Barney movie in theaters! Alas, I never got the chance to be a Barney kid, but I’ll always be a Barney kid at heart.
2. Pokemon: I am proud to say I was part of the OG Pokemon generation. And I was obsessed. Every day when I came home from school, I’d go to my friend’s house and we’d watch Pokemon. I played Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Silver on my even-then ancient Game Boy. I had countless Pokemon toys, from a giant Pikachu pillow to character figurines to miniature sets. I had Pokemon clothes and bedsheets. I had a Pokemon binder filled with— what else?— Pokemon cards. I watched every movie and even saw the live musical! In my games of pretend, I was Jessica, the greatest Pokemon Master! I even wrote a mystery story with Pokemon as the characters (Jigglypuff lost her voice and there were three different Pokemon named Shrek because that also existed). Even though I eventually grew out of my obsession, I still sometimes dream of catching them all.
3. Hannah Montana: When the show was first coming out and I saw previews, I though it looked like the dumbest thing in the world. And then I watched an episode and I was gone. I wanted to be Miley. I thought the show was hilarious and the music was great. I had several— several— Hannah Montana dolls and two of Miley Stewart. I watched every episode premiere live. I had Hanna Montana clothes (because I was still just small enough to fit into a size 12/14 in kids) and a Hannah Montana purse. I had a Hannah Montana poster on my wall. I even had the damn wig! When they made a 3-D movie of the Best of Both Worlds Tour with a limited release, I went to a theater an hour away to go see it. And then I snuck into another theater and watched it again before we (my mom, sister, and then-best friend) left! That summer, I had a sleepover with the aforementioned best friend so we could watch its premiere on TV. I was a Stan™. By mid-season three I was far less into it, but I still watched that bitch to the end and saw the movie in theaters. Even though at the time I fancied myself hardcore, this show was still my favorite. I guess you could say, in that way, I also had the best of both worlds.
4. The Jonas Brothers: The original JB. As with Hannah Montana, I initially didn’t like them. But then “Year 3000” came out and I immediately bought their sophomore album (even by that point, It’s About Time was nowhere to be found). I bought all their following releases as they came out. I watched Camp Rock because of them. I even saw them in concert for their Burnin’ Up Tour! I had posters and clothes with their faces on them. I wrote self-insert fanfiction including them. I watched their short reality series Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream when it would air between shows. I even watched JONAS and JONAS LA! And JONAS was terrible (though I didn’t think so at the time)! For years, I was a proud Jonas Brothers fan. And you know what? I still am. And I still will be in the year 3000.
5. The Vampire Diaries: When Twilight was the biggest thing on earth, I was vehemently anti-Twilight. I think it was due to that that I picked up this series. I wanted to read the YA vampire series that came first. And I fell in love with it. I read the first six books over and over (though I admit to usually skipping book four since it sucks and really doesn’t even have Elena in it). I could never decide if I was Team Stefan or Team Damon, both for Elena and for myself. I named my YouTube channel (which I have long since abandoned) after the series (ItalianVampire64— don’t look it up!). I did try to watch the show, but never made it through the full first season. I vastly preferred the books (although I did have a show poster and diary). I never did make it past book six, since by the time the next one came out I was over it. But still, I can’t pretend this series wasn’t my everything for a good period of time. I would buy jewelry because it looked like lapis lazuli (the one stone that protects vampires from sunlight). And, even though I know it won’t hold up, I still want to reread at least the first three, if only to relive that Influence all over again.
And there you have it! My pre-fandom internet fandoms. What fandoms were you a part of as a kid? Let me know in the comments!