Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vacation in Another Nation.

On Friday, J and I took off for the Twin Cities to partake in some much-needed R&R. I distributed the diss to my committee on Friday (oh yeah, forgot to mention that!), and she finished up her hellish teaching semester. Conveniently, one of our favorite sports teams, the good ole' Boston Red Sox, were in town for a four game series against the Minn Twins. Of course, if you follow sports at all, you know how the BoSox did. Not so much, but that's okay. It was just great to be in the actual ballpark with them, cheering them on, seeing all their preparation ticks live, shouting "Yoooouuuk!" in person, and seeing Manny hit home run #498! Besides, even though they didn't do so hot, they put up a great fight, and the games were anything but boring.

But I also experienced something else for the first time, in that I actually got a glimpse of what Red Sox Nation is all about. All weekend I kept having interactions (some very brief) with other individuals purely because I was visually a Red Sox fan (I wore my jersey and well-worn black Sox cap). And Sox fans were out in force in The Cities this weekend. In fact, I would estimate that there were almost an equal number of Sox and Twins fans in the Metrodome each night. This, of course, did not make the Twins fans happy, and they kept reminding us of it all weekend (booing our cheers of "Let's Go, Red Sox!," throwing Crisp's and Lowell's home run balls back on the field, taunting us anywhere they could find us, etc.).

But, this only seemed to make Red Sox Nation feel closer and more obligated to acknowledge each other in this hostile foreign "Twins Territory". For instance, there was the guy at the bus stop, who offered us help with navigating the public transit (he was wearing a Sox cap) and asked if we were in town for the games. Then there were all the other "visually Sox" fans at the games, who would either smile, nod, or even greet me as I passed them in the corridors. This happened at venues outside of the game as well, such as the mall, museums, and restaurants. Our hotel also appeared to be a common residence for many of the out-of-town fans, and we often would briefly greet each other in the hallways. And just to point out - I am not jumping to conclusions, this does NOT normally happen to me! People generally ignore (or are rude to) me.

It was a cool feeling to connect with others over our common interest, and of course, the academic in me was reminded of Henry Jenkins' theories on fandom and knowledge communities. In his most recent book, Convergence Culture, he talks about how popular culture fandom sometimes brings very different people together, who would otherwise have no reason to interact. He believes that if we could find other ways to do this over more serious social and political issues that we might harness a very powerful resource.

This weekend I more concretely visualized what Jenkins was talking about. Many of these people would never acknowledge me in my normal daily life, but suddenly in this moment, they found it important to not only greet me, but align themselves with me. Did it matter that I was a radical, lefty, queer academic? Nope - I was a Red Sox fan!

If only the rest of life was this simple...

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

that is too funny - i've only cheered a visiting team once and it can be scary!

Jenkins is so right - I've made pretty good "friends" on LJ bonding over fandom.