PR, Films and Fantasies

Fan culture

Posted on: April 22, 2010

We had a really nice online lecture today (our lecturer is still stranded abroad so we left Perry Bar and enjoyed some very interesting theories from our comfortable coaches). Recorded lessons and chat rooms seemed a boring way to spend 3 hours but it was actually a lot of fun.

The theme: fan culture!

A lot of things we talked about are common sense ideas like the gender stereotypes of the violent male football fan (associated with excessive masculinity), the geek male (with failed masculinity – aka comic book addict, WOW and Star Wars stuff) and obviously the screaming teenager girls (with hysterical femininity).

Also, we discussed the opposition between active and passive fans and about how mainstream media fans are many times viewed as masses of silly monkeys while the niche fans become cooler each day (it rocks nowadays to like something that others have no clue about… makes one look smart).

We had a bit of a trouble to determine what actually plays a role in the fan hierarchy in fan communities (we settled for knowledge and connections aka cultural and social capital).

Now, one thing I had no clue about (I mean I knew the phenomenon but I never actually believed its amplitude) is “shipping”. The term comes from relationship and it refers to the fans’ habit to match characters together even if they are or not compatible according to the writer’s opinion. For instance Harry Potter and Hermione or Bella and Jacob/Edward or Buffy and Spike versus Buffy and Angel. They look for reasons the pairs belong together and try to convince others that their arguments are the best.

The most exciting part was when we got to the ‘slashes’ meaning Harry and Draco or Jedward (yes, Jacob and Edward). It seems that there are many fans out there who consider the men in the stories are meant for each other.

What we tried to find out is why exactly do fans get to these conclusions? What is it that makes them waste time and energy to discover pieces of fiction that would link the two together. One word or one scene is all they need to stick to their theories. I said it’s the desire to have the ultimate power over something, the wish to be the God and do what you want with a character’s destiny. We all wish we had the ideas to write these novels so maybe that’s just a way to show we could have done it better. There’s also the opinion of putting their own reality and dreams into fiction.

If you want to know more about fans and fan culture try Matt Hills’ book.

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