Interview with a Fangirl: Sarah Cole
I am starting a series of interviews with fangirls that I met through social media. My first interview is with Sarah Cole!
Hello Sarah and thank you for offering to answer some of my questions.
1) When did you first see Star Wars and did you love it right away or did this grow on you over time?
I saw Star Wars at the end of August, 1977, about a week before I started high school. Admittedly, I had scorned the idea of going earlier – I was such a young snob! – because everybody else had seen it, and it seemed so… common. But then my father and younger brother decided to go, and I tagged along. With the first trumpet bast, I was hooked; and with “They’ve shot down the main reactor,” I was reeled in. For three days, my brother and I bored our mother with talk of the film. I soon wheedled her into buying me a copy of the novelization. In the days before home video, the novels were how we relived the excitement of films. And I was excited about it. Star Wars (because “A New Hope” wasn’t added to the title until the next year) was a grand illustration that freedom was worth fighting for; and that young, well-meaning amateurs (much like me) could overcome organized tyranny, and have fun doing it. As a teenager just starting to make my way in the world, it was an important inspiration. Within a year, my brother and I had acquired the soundtrack album, The Story of Star Wars record (from which we memorized, and would quote to each other, most of the dialogue), magazines, action figures, trading cards, autographs, and sundry other memorabilia. They still inspire me with a love for freedom and rightness.
2) What have you learned from the Star Wars community that has had a positive impact on your life?
Star Wars fans care about each other in some remarkable ways. Several years ago, I heard a popular broadcaster disparage the 501st. I confronted him via email with his ignorance of the kind of people who are Star Wars reenactors (they’re well-adjusted, often with families who also participate, with real, professional jobs). I also informed this broadcaster about amount of good that members of the 501st do, not merely while fund-raising or through public appearances, but even among themselves. I had, in fact, used stories of members donating organs to other members as examples of generous living in my Sunday School class. Although I didn’t hear it happen, I understand the broadcaster apologized.
Later, while watching footage of the first Star Wars Trooping event in Tunisia, I was struck by how people in an area best known for social and political tension could agree so beautifully on Star Wars. I’ve learned from fandom that, when people demonstrate they care about each other through their shared interest, they can come to terms with differences of opinion through reasoned discussion, because they focus on what unites them. Would that there were more things in this galaxy that similarly caused people to look out for each other.
3) How has social media helped or hindered you?
Social Media has opened a grand world of new friends and opportunities for me! While I prefer Twitter to Facebook, through both platforms I’ve gotten to know wonderful people I would never have reached without the borderless communication of social media! In fact, it was from following Star Wars celebrities that I learned how to use Twitter. Later, I used those insights to help promote the first Celebration of Worship, held at Star Was Celebration VI in Orlando. Even today, Twitter has proved to be a quick and efficient way to pass links to useful information, to keep up on current affairs (I had a lot of fun following the events of Cerebration Anaheim on Twitter), and to encourage fellow tweeple.
One thing I’ve noticed about the way people use Twitter is that they appear to be afraid to talk to strangers. I use Tweetdeck to follow several saved searches, and, in them, I see little interaction among tweeple. Somebody posts, somebody comments, and that’s the end of the conversation. Some of my best experiences have resulted from inquiring about interesting or clever posts. Sometimes the tweeple expand on their comment, sometimes they don’t. Ah, but the ones that do are fine people to know. They give you someone to look for when you’re in the Twitterverse. If you’re out and about, do look me up!
4) When did you begin to realize you were a Fangirl?
You know, until you suggested it, I never really thought of myself as a fangirl. I’m flattered at being considered one
I do have an affinity for light science fiction since reading Lester Del Rey’s speculative picture book about traveling to the moon, and, later, his delightful story The Runaway Robot. I also enjoyed the Oz books and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories. Somehow, I never acquired a taste for comics or superheroes, though.
This was why it never occurred to me that I might be a ‘fangirl’: I’ve rejected many of the conventions of fandom, and thus felt like I wouldn’t belong; yet my collective interests are similar. My perspectives may be unconventional, but they are defensible.
The perception of enforced orthodoxy might be what keeps other girls from enjoying what other fans enjoy. I am the proof that a woman, of any age, can enjoy science fiction, comics, adventure movies, technology, science, and such, and can enjoy them /her/ way. She doesn’t have to approve of super powers and stiletto heels, or be proficient with a lightsaber, or look good in a HerUniverse tank top dress. But, if she likes it, she can read Asimov or comics in public, debate Jedi philosophy, or wear an eleven-foot scarf (I’m dating myself with my Dr. Who preferences, aren’t I?). Like what you like in the way you want to like it, and be respectful of others who enjoy something different. Your fandom will then be a true fandom, and as orthodox as the Anabaptists’ faith proved to be.
I may be what you call ‘an unconventional Fangirl’!
Sarah you may be an unconvential fangirl, but that just makes you special!
Thank you so much for answering these questions and sharing your thoughts with us.