[because I’ve been doing more rewatches lately and there has been a distinct increase in my feelings about it]
It really doesn’t sem that odd that I would fall deeply, deeply in love with a show like I Made America. I already love (and am very vocal about my love for) US history and the dead white dudes who populate it. I know all the words to every song from 1776, I have a chosen side in the election of 1800 that you can’t change my mind about (ADAMS ADAMS ADAMS) and the Bunker Hill episode of Liberty’s Kids makes me cry my eyes out.
I’m the kind of audience that IMA was built for. When I first watched it, I knew it was something I loved, and clearly it’s something I have a passion for. I couldn’t shut up about it, and I forced my friends one weekend to sit with me in the art room and watch the show the whole way through, from the first episode to the last. And THEY fell in love with it. That might not be so strange either, considering my friends. And so we made a tiny fan community of our own, discussing our favorite founding fathers, wondering where Madison could be, yelling at all our other friends to watch it. Because of IMA, I got to share my favorite story in the world, which is the story of the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, with a bunch of people who could finally appreciate it. I got to be a history geek and instead of simply being tolerated as ‘that kid who is totally obsessed with history’, I got to be the source of more excitement amongst my friends.
But it’s not just the history that makes me love I Made America, although that is clearly a part of my love. Ultimately what it comes down to is the way that those behind IMA are so accepting of its fanbase. They follow you back on tumblr, and might like/reblog stuff you post about IMA. They will respond to comments on Facebook. When I explained via text that I wanted to bring a group of high schoolers to meet the Founding Fathers (well, Franklin and Adams) at Oberlin, whoever is in charge of Benjamin Franklin’s phone number worked incredibly hard to get information to me on a very short notice- we found out Wednesday, and were in the Ben Franklin Bookshop meeting them Saturday morning.
And really that meeting is what solidified my respect and deep appreciation for the people behind this show. Someone had coordinated this with me, as previously mentioned, and now this group of six teenagers ranging in age 16 to age 18 poured into the book shop and descended on these two guys. We were essentially vibrating with excitement- there were a lot of high-pitched whines coming from my throat that I am not proud of. I will never forget the both of them turning around, and Franklin saying “alright- let’s stay calm, we don’t want to cause a scene in this establishment” and every one of us let out this incredibly nervous giggle.
These guys are grown men. What they do is a job, but it’s not their job necessarily to be nice to every asshole who walks up to them, and it certainly was never in their contract to be nice to incredibly excited, incredibly nervous teenagers who can barely form a coherent sentence. There are bands whose music is aimed at age groups like mine who are assholes to fans like me; it’s perfectly acceptable. And yet these guys weren’t, in any way. They engaged us, willingly signing things and accepting the fanart we had done in the back of a school van. They engaged the teacher we brought with us, who asked all the questions as we tried to get a grip on ourselves. They engaged the weird old man who seemed determined to interrogate them into a corner as we all stood nervously, holding our breath. I remember thinking, as he bombarded them with questions about their stances on slavery and gun control, “Don’t break the spell, don’t break the spell”- and they answered each question with grace, and I could still believe.
In my initial texts, I had been told they were leaving Oberlin at 12:30. We got there at noon, because of class schedules that required us to stay as long as we could. And they could have left at 12:30, and we would have still been happy, but they didn’t- they stuck around until I THINK 1:15 or 1:30ish, if I remember correctly what time we ate. They stuck around and talked with us and signed our stuff. For a bunch of teenagers. And that, to me, is so amazing. In pictures from that day, I’m always grinning hugely; I remember afterwards repeating “I can’t stop smiling!” I refer to that day as the best day of my life, and I truly believe it is- and the people behind I Made America made that happen.
So thank you, I Made America, for everything you’ve done for me so far, and for continuing to provide me with opportunities to be a shameless geek and not be worried about it.
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