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Rated: E · Essay · Educational · #1963126
A look at how web 2.0 has changed the concept of fandom.


         

Allen
         
10




Lauren Allen



Mary Trail



GSS 1056
Informational Intelligences



19 November 2013






Whovians,
Trekkies, Hunters and the Cult of
Rocky
Horror
:



How
has Web 2.0 affected what it means to be a fan?





"I'm
a fan." It's quite a simple little sentence; yet it carries with
it quite a burden. Fans are thought of as absent-minded morons who
fail time and again to separate reality from the world in which they
live (Baym, 2000).  They're stigmatized in the media as abnormal
shut-ins (Lopes, 2006), or as obsessed stalkers of the celebrities
they idolize (Rhein, 2000); for the most part these are archaic and
rude stereotypes no longer- if they ever actually were- true
(Duffett, 2013); fans are capable to think critically and scrutinize
their canons (Baym, 2000).


         Fans
have been around since the days of Shakespeare (Duffett, 2013), yet
within the past centuries the term has come into the common household
usage. It's a term we use to express what we love; whether it be
television shows, movie franchises, books, Broadway plays,
celebrities, vloggers (video-bloggers), bands, and even food, people
identify themselves based on these things, and they seek out other
fans to discuss and obsess with; these little clumps are called
"fandoms".


A
fandom can be based on anyone or anything, so giving an exact and
concise definition can be a tricky and complicated thing to do;
belonging to a fandom is an ever changing field, and new changes in
technology can shift things. The invention of the telephone gave some
fans hope that perhaps concerts and other public events may be able
to be broadcast to many; though this would not be recognized until
television and radio came into prominence (Neuman, 2013).


Fans
began settling in on the internet in the early 90's (Baym, 2000)
and currently, fans and fandoms have fully embraced Web 2.0.


Fandom
existed before the internet; so the question comes around: how
exactly has Web 2.0 changed fandom?


Let
us start by first examining a fandom that appeared before the
internet.


The
Rocky Horror Picture Show


"So
I do the time warp again...and again and again in the ritualistic
attempt to summon into being the promise that the movie extends to
its audience - to conjure up that which I lack, and which the other
always has - and in the end I will always walk away exhilarated,
but not quite satisfied" (Weinstock, 2007).


The
Rocky Horror Picture Show

is quite unique in nature; the film is the longest running theatrical
film, having been shown regularly since its debut. Setting the movie
apart from others is its status as a "midnight movie" (Weinstock,
2007).


Upon
its initial release in 1975,
The
Rocky Horror Picture Show

was far from the cult classic it is seen as now, and the reason it
has become what it is, is because of its fans (Weinstock, 2007).



         When it debuted,
Rocky
Horror

flopped. If you have actually seen the movie in an isolated setting
it is not hard to see why; the movie is quite bizarre; the movie
details the exploits of a young engaged couple, Brad and Janet, whose
car breaks down on a rainy night; they head off to a nearby home,
belonging to Dr Frank-N-Furter where the plot unfolds. It isn't
until you see it with its fans that you can begin to see the draw of
it. Fans interact with the movie in ways unique to the film: they've
inserted their own dialogue, forcing the cast to respond to their
comments; they spray water guns to simulate rain and throw rice into
the air during a wedding; they dance to the musical numbers
(Weinstock, 2007).


         The
exact beginnings of this phenomenon are unknown; though it's
believed to some extent it began in New York in 1976, when someone
felt compelled to start shouting back at the film (Weinstock, 2007).


The
traditions around
Rocky
Horror

have changed little over time, and do not appear to be changing any
time soon.


Doctor
Who


"Nobody
important? Blimey, that's amazing. You know that in nine hundred
years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't
important before" -Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol


         Doctor
Who

follows the life and adventures of a time-lord; his name is unknown
and his alias is simply "The Doctor". He travels through space
and time, gathering friends he calls his "companions", and
getting into all sorts of predicaments.


         A
large part of the canon is that the Doctor has the ability to die and
come back to life through "regeneration"; each regeneration has a
new face and a new personality.


         The
companions do not have such luck, and leave the show in varying ways;
in the new canon, five companions have come and gone in unique ways.


         From
its original airing,
Doctor
Who

has been a beloved multimedia series, spanning across television,
novels, audio dramas and a television movie. Despite its popularity,
the show was cancelled prior to its twenty-seventh season, and later
brought back by popular demand in 2005, though the series continued
during the hiatus in the form of audio dramas (Wareing, 2007).


         The
fans of
Doctor
Who

call themselves "Whovians", though they are sometimes factioned
between "Classic Whovians" and "New Whovians," in respect to
which incarnation of the show they started watching. " Whovians"
also come from all ages, backgrounds, and cultures. 


         The
popularity of the show around the globe is evidenced by the sheer
volume of posts to sites such as Tumblr every day; to keep up with
the popularity,
Doctor
Who

even has its own blog on the site, (BBC, 2013) and interacts with its
fan base through the networking site.


         The
site Tumblr allows fans of the show, amongst many other things, to
discuss and talk with other fans from around the globe; this feature
is not new or unique as it has been around since the very dawn of the
internet (Baym, 2000).                     In this new era of its canon,
Doctor
Who

has begun interacting with the audience around the globe via the use
of networking sites such as Tumblr. 


Star
Trek


"Please
Captain, not in front of the Klingons"- Star Trek V: The Final
Frontier


Perhaps
one of the best known fandoms out there is the "Trekkies";
they've been around nearly as long as "Whovians", but are much
more common to hear about this side of the pond.


The
first episode of
Star
Trek

aired in 1966, and was not a well-liked show; because of this, the
show gathered a cult following to it, the "Trekkies".          


"Trekkies",
in general, are portrayed in the media poorly, and stigmatized as
being unable to separate the show from reality (Duffett, 2013). The
stigma associated with "Trekkies" however links only to
themselves as a fandom (Lopes, 2006); in American culture, the show
and its franchise are not the problem; it's its fans.


"Trekkies"
have also been thought of as the pioneers of fan-fiction (Verba,
2003). This began with their fanzines, appearing as early as a year
after the show started, and continues in the current Web 2.0 (Verba,
2003; Helleckson, 2009).


On
the internet, fan-fiction has thrived (Helleckson, 2009). Fans
interact with each other through the stories they write, and are
rewarded with "gifts", sometimes called art-trades, from their
fellow fandom members (Helleckson, 2009).


         Before
the internet, fan trades occurred mostly through fan videos (Duffett,
2013).


Supernatural


"This
is why. This book. This is Dad's single most valuable possession.
Everything he knows about every evil thing is in here. And he's
passed it on to us. I think he wants us to pick up where he left off.
You know, saving people, hunting things. The family business,"
-Supernatural: Wendigo


         Supernatural
has gathered a very dedicated fandom; they refer to themselves as
"hunters", likening them to the protagonists of the series. The
show portrays the life of two brothers who hunt the supernatural. The
show aired in 2005; the highest ratings being in their first season,
and declining slightly in the years following (ABC Media Net,
2006-2009).


         The
fan base for it has not declined; they remain active and have even
influenced the show itself.


         The
main example of this is a meta episode that was the fifteenth episode
of the sixth season, titled
"The
French Mistake"
;
the characters are transported into an alternate universe, in which
they essentially play themselves through their characters; to
explain, the character of Sam Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki,
is put into our universe only to find out he is a character on a
show, and must play the part of Jared Padalecki (Kripke & Edlund,
2011).


         Conclusion


         Fans
and fandom have existed for a very long time (Duffett, 2013), and the
arrival of Web 2.0 has allowed them to interact with each other in
novel ways (Baym, 2000).


         Looking
back onto the
Rocky
Horror

fans, it is theorized that perhaps, they reacted the ways they did
because they could not change the story and could not alter it in
anyway (Weinstock, 2007); so they resorted to desperate measures to
try and change it, and started to interact with their film.


         Compare
this to "
The
French Mistake"
;
the "Hunters" were able to cause such an impact with the writers
that they felt compelled to create and entire episode about how fans
respond to their show (Kripke & Edlund, 2011), and perhaps to
make light on the "fans cannot separate real from fantasy" theme
pervasive in all discussions of fandom (Baym, 2000).


         "Hunters"
have what the
Rocky
Horror

cult can never have; the ability to directly interact with how their
story turns; their feedback can reach the ears of the writers and
alter the storyline.
Rocky
Horror

is set in stone, and the only ways fans can alter it are by throwing
rice and making light of the characters (Weinstock, 2007).


         The
digital age brought about Web 2.0, and Web 2.0 in turn has allowed
fans to interact with their shows, in some cases directly with the
actors playing the characters they love; the
Doctor
Who

Tumblr in the past hosted an event called "Who & A", where
the leads, Matt Smith and Jenna Louise-Coleman answered questions
from the fans (BBC, 2013); actor Misha Collins of
Supernatural
regularly interacts with "Hunters" on Twitter (Collins, 2013).


         Thus,
we can glean that the Web 2.0 has changed fandom by changing the ways
in which fans interact with each other and their shows.


         Prior
to Web 2.0, fans could generally only talk and discuss their shows
with people near them, or at conventions (Duffett, 2013). Now, they
can interact digitally; a fan in Britain can produce art work for a
fan in Canada (Helleckson, 2009). Not only this, fan works can be
appreciated by others (Flegel & Roth, 2010).


         Take
for example, fan fiction; these are stories utilizing characters from
serials and reworking them into stories of their own. Anyone can
write fan fiction, and they can do any sort of novel thing with it.
They can even defy the canon (Flegel & Roth, 2010). Fan fiction
is not new or unique to Web 2.0 (Verba, 2003), but the ease with
which it can be shared around has been greatly improved (Helleckson,
2009).


         Sites,
such as Twitter and Tumblr, now allow fans to interact directly with
the actors that portray the characters they so love (Collins, 2013).
They can also gather some information from these sources; the
Doctor
Who

Tumblr regularly updates its followers with information about
broadcasting times, as well answering questions asked by the fans,
amongst many other uses (BBC, 2013).


         Writers
can now take into account the feelings of the fans and incorporate
them into the shows they create.


         Fans
are no longer the passive observers of their canons they were forced
to be during the days of
Rocky
Horror
;
Web 2.0 has allowed them access to the people creating their stories.
Fans have some control now, and they're learning quickly that they
are not alone anymore (Baym, 2000); they can interact with others
regardless of geographic location. Their ideas and hopes for the
characters are shared through fan fiction, and they can read the
stories of others with like-minded thoughts (Flegel & Roth,
2010).


         So,
how has Web 2.0 changed what it means to be a fan? It has given fans
greater agency over their canon; it allows them to socialize across
the globe without the travel costs; it allows them to express
themselves with less worry over the thoughts of non-fans (Duffett,
2013), because they know now they aren't freaks (Lopes, 2006).
They can see that they aren't alone in the world, and that it's
okay to like things.  Web 2.0 has given fans a wonderful gift: it
allows them to interact with, discuss, express, and revel in what
they love (Baym, 2000).


Works
Cited




ABC Media Net.
(2006-2009).
I.
T. R. S. Ranking Report.

ABC.


Baym, K. (2000).
Tune
in, log on: Soaps, fandom, and online community.

Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.


BBC. (2013).
Doctor
Who
.
Retrieved from Tumblr: Doctorwho.tumblr.com


Collins, M.
(2013).
Misha
Collins
.
Retrieved from Twitter.


Duffett, M.
(2013).
Understanding
Fandom: An introduction to the study of media fan culture.

New York, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.


Flegel, M., &
Roth, J. (2010). Annihilating love and heterosexuality without women:
Romance, generic difference, and queer politics in Supernatural fan
fiction.
Transformative
Works and Cultures
,
doi:10.3983/twc.2010.0133.


Helleckson, K.
(2009). A fannish field of value: Online fan gift culture.
Cinema
Journal
,
113-118.


Kripke, E., &
Edlund, B. (2011, February 25). The French Mistake.
Supernatural.
WB Television.


Lopes, P. (2006).
Culture and Stigma: Popular culture and the case of comic books.
Sociological
forum
,
387-414.


Neuman, W. R.
(2013).
Media,
Technology, and Society: Theories of media evolution.

United States of America: The University of Michigan Press.


Rhein, S. (2000).
Being a fan is more that that: Fan-specific involvement with music.
The
World of Music
,
95-109.


Verba, J. (2003).
Boldly
Writing: A Trekker Fan & Zine History, 1967-1987.

Minnetonka, MN: FTL Publications.


Wareing, A.
(Director). (2007).
Doctor
Who: Survival: Endgame

[Motion Picture].


Weinstock, J.
(2007).
The
Rocky Horror Picture Show.

London, England: Wallflower Press.






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