#302

From audiences sitting in the dark of the theater, to impassioned fans at conventions, there are many ways for us to engage with media. Popular culture inspires our passion, our anger, and sparks public conversation. 

This class explores different ideas about audiences, viewers, and fans. The class will look at a variety of film, television, and digital media texts, including: Hard Days Night, The Blair Witch Project, Battlestar Galactica, and the Harry Potter franchise. We’ll also check out what’s happening on YouTube, play digital games, and look at remix projects like Wizard People Dear Reader

The class asks students to take an active role in discussions by reflecting on their own experiences as viewers and by producing their own creative/critical digital projects in response to different media texts.

more info & registration ]

The relationship between slash fan fiction and comics fandom is problematic not only because of the shift of medium from source text to fan text but also because of the shift of fan community. Comics fandom is often viewed as consisting of heterosexual white men and comics are often explicitly marketed to them, excluding and othering the rest of the audience. Comics fandom online subverts this expectation of audience because the majority of fan authors and creators are women. While canon plots privilege action and conflict, and the problematic depiction of women characters in them is so obvious it hardly need be discussed, comics fan fiction reverses these trends: stories privilege emotional arcs, and female characters are depicted as more recognizably human even when they are secondary to the male characters.

Comics fan works thus become completely transformative because of the shift in both fan space and fan audience: texts that are homophobic become homophiliac, authors and readers who are male become female, and that which had previously been other becomes the new norm. For these reasons, the fans are not just aware but indeed hyperaware of their own identity as subaltern and subversive practitioners.

Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom (via fanhackers)

Hmm… I have such mixed feelings about the idea that any area of fandom is “completely transformative.” I don’t think any area of fan culture can fully transform and escape from problematic texts. Fans often carry the problems of the source texts with them into fan work. Sometimes they make efforts to address issues and sometimes they don’t. 

The relationship between slash fan fiction and comics fandom is problematic not only because of the shift of medium from source text to fan text but also because of the shift of fan community. Comics fandom is often viewed as consisting of heterosexual white men and comics are often explicitly marketed to them, excluding and othering the rest of the audience. Comics fandom online subverts this expectation of audience because the majority of fan authors and creators are women. While canon plots privilege action and conflict, and the problematic depiction of women characters in them is so obvious it hardly need be discussed, comics fan fiction reverses these trends: stories privilege emotional arcs, and female characters are depicted as more recognizably human even when they are secondary to the male characters.

Comics fan works thus become completely transformative because of the shift in both fan space and fan audience: texts that are homophobic become homophiliac, authors and readers who are male become female, and that which had previously been other becomes the new norm. For these reasons, the fans are not just aware but indeed hyperaware of their own identity as subaltern and subversive practitioners.

Catherine Coker, Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom (via fanhackers)

Hmm… I have such mixed feelings about the idea that any area of fandom is “completely transformative.” I don’t think any area of fan culture can fully transform and escape from problematic texts. Fans often carry the problems of the source texts with them into fan work. Sometimes they make efforts to address issues and sometimes they don’t. 

The top 10 most influential fans of 2012

The Top 10 Most Influential Fans of 2012

Daily Dot Article – 12/16/2012

With the increased mainstreaming of fan practices, lists like this seem somewhat inevitable. Despite that reality, this list makes me very uncomfortable. First, I’m uncomfortable seeing different fans ranked in order of their influence, Second, I start to wonder how this ranking system is constructed and what value systems it reinforces.

What types of fan practices are valued here and how is influence being quantified? For example, Noelle Stevenson is a wonderful artist, but the emphasis here seems to be far more on the number of followers Stevenson has on Tumblr and her ability to score a book deal. Similarly, E.L. James and Matthew Inman’s “influence” is linked to their ability to  direct flows of money. I don’t question that these are significant fans, but I think we need to ask some careful questions about why and how certain fans do (or do not) gain wider recognition inside and outside of fan networks. 

The top 10 most influential fans of 2012

We often do not realize that beyond the dichotomy of proactive or passive consumer of popular culture, especially media culture, that we are contained within sometimes loose, sometimes strict borders of fandom, and yet most people are fans of something. Are we afraid to confront the reality that scholarship of fandom translates in its entirety to a study of our complex interpersonal and social relationships and construction of personal identities? Does the field challenge academics’ identities, formal disciplines, and scholarly norms?

– Douglas Kellner and Heather Collette-VanDeraa (reviewing Gray, Sandvoss, & Harrington’s Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World)

We often do not realize that beyond the dichotomy of proactive or passive consumer of popular culture, especially media culture, that we are contained within sometimes loose, sometimes strict borders of fandom, and yet most people are fans of something. Are we afraid to confront the reality that scholarship of fandom translates in its entirety to a study of our complex interpersonal and social relationships and construction of personal identities? Does the field challenge academics’ identities, formal disciplines, and scholarly norms?