Fanicures: When Geeks Paint Their Nails

One manicure to bring them all, one manicure to bind them. And other mashups of fandom and nail polish.

May 7, 2012 at 4:45pm | Leave a comment

It’s not like I’ve been hiding my nerdery. So, really, it was only a matter of time before two of my favorite things collided. That’s right -- manicures and fandom. Because when geeks paint their nails, things HAPPEN.

Actually, what fascinates me about this merging of fan expression and nail art is that a lot of nail artists don’t identify as geeks. They just… happen to like painting their nails like Star Wars.

A conversation on Twitter left me with the term fannicures to describe the effort that people sometimes make to display the things they love on their fingertips. From "The Hunger Games" to "The Avengers," people who paint their nails are also expressing how into things they can be.

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To boldly polish

I love this so much, y’all. It’s a great injustice that I absolutely suck at nail art. If I didn’t, I think my nails would always be a signpost to whatever has captured my enthusiasm at the moment.

I’m particularly interested that fannicures don’t actually seem to count as fan works. A fan work is a work created by a fan -- isn’t that simple and circular? Fan works include fic and vids and fan art. Filk -- rewriting the lyrics of popular songs to be about a fannish thing -- is also pretty cool. But AO3 doesn’t seem to be capturing fannicures in its archives. I don’t know if that’s because the people doing fannicures don’t identify as fans or if it’s because fannicures are so ephemeral.

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One manicure to rule them all.

Most manicures don’t last more than a week or so. A specialty manicure, with hand-painted details, might take several hours to perfect. It’s a whole lot of effort and most of the payoff is in personal satisfaction. Though, for people posting their nails on the Internet, there’s a fair amount of cheerleading going on from the audience.

Pretty much anything can be the subject of a fannicure. The Star Trek and Lord of the Rings manicures don’t surprise me -- because Star Trek and LotR fans are hardcore. The other day, at work, we decorated a friend’s cubicle in LotR and Hello Kitty mashup style. I’m serious when I say that LotR fans can put Golem just about anywhere.

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Meme as nail art - what's not to love?

What’s more surprising is stuff like the Paint All the Nails manicure -- that’s based on an Internet meme based on a blog entry with an accompanying web comic. (A totally amazing web comic, by the way, if you aren’t familiar.) It’s absolutely a web geek reference that is hopefully funny even if you don’t immediately place the reference. 

Nail bloggers even participate in themed challenges. Everything is up for grabs as a topic, including Disney villains and different techniques.

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Can you name all the villains?

It’s kind of easy to dismiss these challenges as people having too much time on their hands. After all, “it’s just nail polish” -- but I think that’s the kind of gross dismissiveness that’s always applied to fun activities dominated by women. Yeah, polishing our nails is not going to lead to world peace. But neither are a whole lot of other things we think of as worthwhile activities. Nail polish, especially nail art of this degree, is fleeting and sometimes really quite amazing.

I couldn’t keep looking at fannicures without trying one myself. I am not being falsely modest -- I really do suck at actual nail art. But I was determined. I was dedicated. I was also persuasive.

That’s right, I enlisted Ed’s help.

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Scrappy little droids make for awesome manicures.

I haven’t been to see a movie in the theater since May of 2009. I went to see the reboot Star Trek movie and, yes, actually, I did tear up when the score swelled and the logo flashed on screen. I’m bad at going to the movies because I’m not very good at sitting still. Also, I have issues with modern Hollywood’s effect on narrative structure but that’s a whole other subject.

But I’m going to the movies in June. I’m going because Ridley Scott has made a new movie, a conceptual prequeal to the Alien franchise. It’s called Prometheus and you can hear my squealing from space every time I watch the preview.

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They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.

 While reports indicate Scott is retiring his iconic Alien model (we’ve all seen it, the theory goes, so it isn’t scary anymore -- I beg to differ), previews showcase the traditional and unmistakable H.R. Giger design. There’s going to be something terrifying in this movie and I cannot wait to see it.

And in honor of that sense of anticipation, I barraged Ed with links to the Alien Queen. He freehanded this little alien for me, on a background of silver. Look at her precious little teeth! 

It’s not much, but it’s what I’ve got -- a burning love of the psychological horror of aliens laying their eggs in our chests and bursting free. Well, that and a lot of nail polish.