Fanatic is a strange word to be using in the current climate. The words has become scarred and beaten by its association with acts of terrorism. Fanatics are people who harm and kill other people. Fanatics have no place in this world.
It's wrong for us to tar a word with such labels. Just as we shouldn't label people, words and phrases shouldn't be used just to express a negative headline. The words “fans” possibly derives from fanatic, as in someone who is passionate about a certain subject. While the history is murky, “fandom” is probably a combination of the words “fanatic” and “domain”, i.e. a place that fans of a particular film, band, TV show, book etc congregate.
I fell into the Megadeth fandom in about 2008. At that point I'd been following them for the best part of ten years. With the growth of the internet, I was able to find like-minded people to reminisce about shows and talk about what the future would hold. That was my music and they were my people. I felt accepted and was loved the people that had fallen into my little circle.
Little did I know that, a few short years later, I'd be uprooted and placed into another group. A group that, for a while, felt very much like walking through an alien planet.
For me, Foo Fighters represented footnotes in UFO books. They weren't a band; they were a part of World War II lore. They were balls of light, seemingly under intelligent control, that interacted with fighter pilots. They weren't a band out of California. When I discovered the band that shared their name, I had little interest in the music.
The people that surrounded them fascinated. They were friendly, funny, passionate people who loved their band just as much as I loved mine. They went to the shows, bought the merchandise, and added the logos and lyrics to their skin. Speaking to them sometimes made me feel that I was an alien, someone who didn't know the language. Yet we shared a common bond in that we all loved music from one band or another.
Over time they taught me the language, and the songs, and the things that I should be looking out for. Despite my constant protests that I wasn't a fan, I was accepted and taken in. That's a huge thing for any group of people to do, to see a complete stranger who may have the slightest interest in what excites them and take them in. I've run across so many groups that are closed off, cliquish, and unaccepting. The Foo fans have been a breath of fresh air and have made the past few years a lot more interesting.
There are major differences in the two fandoms just as there are major similarities. I switch between the two, keeping in touch with friends from both, while feeling like a little alien who sits on the fence and takes it all in. I quite like it being that way. It gives me a chance to watch and observe and, occasionally, turn out a book on the people who've gone from strangers to friends.
Let's reclaim fanatic. For the music fans, and the film fans, and the TV fans, and the sports fans. It's your word; scream it loud and proud!