Status and Cultural Capital in Fandom

I've never been into cosplay, but I'm currently fighting the urge to go out and buy a Regency era gown and do some country dancing. It's all thanks to Deborah Yaffe's delightful account of Jane Austen fandom, Among the Janeites (2013). But then, I've only read Pride and Prejudice once and I've probably seen the 2005 film version way too often to be the "right" kind of Jane Austen fan. That might seem like a shocking sentiment coming from me, considering that I tend to take a "kumbaya" approach to fandom (the more the merrier). But status and hierarchy are very real issues in fandom.

Read More

The Anxiety of Fan Culture

I recently started listening to the Fansplaining podcast (which is fabulous and super smart, so go listen to it) and one of the most interesting episodes featured the hosts struggling to define "fan" and "fandom." Seems like a good place to start when talking about media fan culture, right? Well... Turns out this one's a bit complicated. If you've spent any time pondering these definitions, you'll quickly learn that it can be a thankless task. You'll always miss someone, and you'll always piss someone off.

Read More

Fan Culture as User-Generated Content: Hits and Misses

The big question these kinds of contests raise isn't "should media companies benefit from fan culture" -- you can argue that's already inherently part of fandom anyway. After all, fans buy the tickets, they collect the t-shirts or action figures or comic books. No, the big question is, how can media companies tap into fan culture in a way that respects fan activities, doesn't trample on independent fan communities, and recognizes that fan culture is more about personal expression than about trying to impress "the powers that be"? In other words, where is the win/win for media companies and fan culture?

Read More

Blockbuster Economics

I recently took a one-day course on the blockbuster, and it’s inspired me to dig a bit deeper into this topic. Blockbusters are one of those “I know it when I see it” phenomena that are notoriously difficult to define in a meaningful way: Is it about box office? Is it about production budget? Is it synonymous with “event movie”? Is there a certain look, genre, or story that signifies “blockbuster”? Yes, all of the above. 

Read More

Some Thoughts on Fandom and Changing the World

I got to see Joss Whedon at Comic-Con this weekend. I'd been wanting to meet (or at least see) him for more than a decade. Judging from the fan questions, there are many people who feel that one of his iconic shows changed their life. I had that moment when I was listening to him speak and realized that I can effectively draw a straight line from my Buffy the Vampire Slayer obsession in the early 2000s to my presence at Comic-Con that very day.

Read More

"Community" Fans and Lessons in Audience Value

When NBC’s quirky sitcom COMMUNITY was voted TV Guide Magazine’s fan-favorite comedy for a second year in a row in April 2012, the show’s fan base felt it had scored another victory. In 2011, the magazine even featured three collectible Community covers and highlighted the fans’ ongoing support of the series by featuring a photo spread of the cast thanking the fans. 

Read More

Breaking up with "Doctor Who"

I tried to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” over the weekend. And somewhere between Matt Smith’s prat-falls and an exposition snorefest through the middle, I just turned off. Now, one bad episode does not justify a break-up. We forgive a lot when it comes to love, but at some point you also realize that not all relationships are worth saving. Sure, we can try to stay friends. Casual acquaintances who check in once in a while. But for now, I'm breaking up with Doctor Who. 

Read More

When TV Conquers Comic-Con

You know what happens when TV conquers Comic-Con? The lines for Ballroom 20 get really long. The biggest venue at the San Diego Convention Center is Hall H, which seats about 6,500 people and hosts most of the movie panels. The second biggest venue is Ballroom 20, which seats 4,250 people and hosts most of the TV panels. Comic-Con has kind of a reputation these days for insanely long lines but I think this year must have been some kind of record.

Read More