"If you take away 'Twilight' and put in a football team, this doesn't look so much different from what guys have been doing for decades," says Baym. "They stay up late at night looking at statistics and playing fantasy football. You could just as easily say they've lost touch with reality or that they're addicted. 'Twilight' is just a story women are engaging with passionately, so people say it's dysfunctional. On the other hand, maybe men's relationship with football is dysfunctional as well."
I've made that point about football fans before, though in my case I illustrated it with a story about a guy I met who'd driven from Long Island to Sterling, Virginia, to meet members of the 1997 Washington Redskins.
I think the problem is that casual genre fans are largely invisible. Everyone knows dozens of people who like football, who watch their local team every week and maybe own a replica jersey, but are not completely obsessed with it, so the guys who are completely obsessed are rightly viewed as outliers. The same is true of certain other media properties, like Harry Potter or American Idol. Most media properties, however, are not so massively popular as football or Harry Potter, and there's often no good way to know if your co-worker or neighbor watches Big Brother or Supernatural or reads the Twilight books. It's only the people who are pretty much all the way out of their entire damn minds about them who attract public notice, so the outliers become the baseline.
And not to excuse the author of that LA Times piece, but I'm guilty of it too! I mean, I probably know several people who watch Big Brother, but the only person I know for a fact watches it is fox1013, and she's, well, sort of crazily obsessive about it. (I mean that only in the most affectionate way, of course.) And sometimes I'll read one of her BB posts and I can't help thinking, man, Big Brother fans are nuts. I've been involved in fandom long enough to know better than to make a generalization like that, but it's just human nature to think that way.
Incidentally, speaking of crazy and obsessive, I may as well mention that the fourth paragraph contains a direct quote from the Community episode "Advanced Criminal Law." I have spent much of my free time since the season finale repeatedly rewatching the entire season, reading and occasionally writing fanfic, watching fanvids, downloading fanmixes (which is how I came to be listening to a Kelly Clarkson song as I wrote this), and generally being a big ol' crazy person about the show in general and Jeff/Annie in particular. Also note that I am using an icon demonstrating my continued support of a romantic relationship between Harry Potter and Susan Bones, which pairing I've remained faithful to for about two weeks shy of ten years, despite conclusive and irrefutable proof that it will never, ever happen. So don't think I'm trying to claim I'm above such fannish excesses.