I have recently become addicted to the musical Hamilton. I haven't seen it, as I can't possibly make the trip to see it in person and bootlegs are hard to find and strongly discouraged. Nonetheless, I've listened to the full (roughly two and a half hour) soundtrack three times this week and my favorites several more times, and I'm trying to convince everyone I know to do the same.
(Which can be difficult, persuading someone to listen to almost 150 minutes of Broadway songs about the founding father who invented our financial system.)
The point is, I've been involved in a fair few fandoms–frequently to the point of borderline obsession (okay, full-on obsession)–and since I'm currently re-living the stages of that complete envelopment in someone's creative output, I figured I'd share the stages of the addiction. (Not the stages of recovery, though. I'm afraid there is no twelve-step program for this one.)
STAGE ONE: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?
So you're just hearing about this thing. Maybe, as in the case with my current obsession, it's just been all over social media, like a giant "inside joke" that everyone is in on but you. You're surrounded by references and allusions and people having emotions over this thing you know nothing about.
Or maybe it's just a thing you found in passing that sounded cool, or maybe it's a thing some friends of yours really like and you're debating giving it a chance.
Regardless, the first step to becoming utterly obsessed with a thing is hearing about it and not having a clue what the hell it is.
STAGE TWO: THE FIRST GOOD LOOK
This is the first time you watch the movie, listen to the band, etc. For my current addiction it was my first listen through of the full Hamilton soundtrack, but you can apply this to whatever situation fits.
It's that moment where you finally look into the thing enough to know what it's about, and walk away going OH MY GOD THAT IS SO COOL I NEED MORE OF IT.
You know that there's more to it. You know there's more for you to glean from this beautiful new discovery you've made. And so you dive in further.
STAGE THREE: LOOKING FOR MORE
Maybe this is the part where you watch the movie again and look for foreshadowing and little glimpses of things you hadn't noticed before. Or the part where you listen to the band's albums again and catch harmonies you didn't hear the first time around. You pick up on all the subtleties of it.
(By the way, this is not limited to only a second play through of the object of your obsession. It can include a third, fourth, fifth, twelfth, etc. round.)
Whatever it entails, you need to take in everything this marvelous new thing has to offer you.
STAGE FOUR: CRAVING THE CONTEXT AND CULTURE
It's not enough just to have The Thing. Now you need everything related to The Thing.
You look up the significance of the songs/scenes/etc., learn how they were written, get into the artist's process. Read up on the influences of the thing you love so you can figure out where it came from. Find all the things that the thing you love alludes to and pat yourself on the back for catching all the references.
This is also the part where, in the name of understanding the context, you start researching the actors, writers, etc. Following them on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, getting to know the personalities of these beautiful angels who invented this perfect thing that you realize now your life had been so empty without.
Maybe you start creating your own new contexts in this stage too. If you're a fanfiction writer, usually that comes out around this time. Now that you've thoroughly researched the thing you love, you're ready to invest your own creative output into furthuring its culture.
You've officially hit obsession stage.
STAGE FIVE: TRY TO MAKE EVERYONE ELSE LIKE THE THING
For me, this was the part where I made my poor husband sit down with me and listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack all at once while he was trying to play Grand Theft Auto, repeatedly nudging him and going, "listen to this part, I love this song, this line is SO CLEVER, listen to all the SASS!"
Not only are you showing The Thing to anyone who will give you five seconds of their time, but you INSIST that they understand ALL the best parts of it. They have to hear your favorite lines. They have to understand the best subtle references. They have to love it like you do–why don't they love it like you do? Why don't they understand?
It's okay. In your endeavor to make sure Everyone Sees The Thing, and in your quest to share your enthusiasm with literally anyone who will listen, you'll find a lot of people who have Seen The Thing to share your excitement with.
And that, my friends, is how friendship is born.