Media fandom and audience subcultures


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This presentation should be used in conjunction with Chapter 8: Media Fandom and Audience Subcultures from the book Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions and Power, by John L. Sullivan ( Its purpose is to outline what fans are and to delve into a little bit of their culture, mainly focusing on Science Fiction fans.

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Media fandom and audience subcultures

  1. 1. Fandom and Audience Subcultures What is a fan and how do they impact the media?
  2. 2. What is a ‘fan’? Think, Pair, Share.
  3. 3. The geeky, socially challenged, but ultimately benign and lovable fan:
  4. 4. This notion of the sweet but socially awkward fan exists alongside a much darker view:
  5. 5. Fan Stereotypes Defining what a fan is… Short for “fanatic,” the term originally referred to religious membership “of or belonging to the temple, a temple servant, a devotee”. TASK: Read the section entitled Fan Stereotypes and give a summary of all of the negative associations with fans.
  6. 6. Audience to Fan A common scenario of the progression Audience Views & Interprets Text • Audiences actively interpret media content by producing meaning out of the signs and symbols that make up the media text. Interpretations linked to larger social context • These interpretations are also closely connected to both the immediate and larger social contexts of audiences. Connect with other fans • The “transaction” between the medium and the audience goes beyond a single interaction with a television program, movie, or book. You might subsequently turn on your computer and find a fan website or forum dedicated to the text. Become involved with ‘fan fiction’ • You may find that some fans enjoyed the narrative so much that they inserted its characters into their own “fan fiction” writings, which would be posted on online bulletin boards and websites for other fans to read and discuss.
  7. 7. “…our interac-tions with media texts today rarely have any clear boundaries. The expansive, malleable nature of the Internet and the declining cost of computers have allowed audiences to easily extend their media experiences beyond the reception of the original text. Texts can be reinterpreted in many new and contrary ways: through connections to other audiences online, creation of new media texts based upon the source material, and—thanks to the power of inexpensive computers to achieve professional-quality video and audio editing— even alteration of the original media text.” - John L. Sullivan Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions and Powers (2013)
  8. 8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Where would these people be on the continuum?
  9. 9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Participation Guide Task: Take a look at the audience participation guide for cinema viewings. What do you think of it? ation/
  10. 10. “The unique social environment surrounding Rocky Horror points to some of the fascinating ways in which fandom alters and even creates new cultural experiences out of popular media texts. These unique interactions between fans and media place theories of fandom squarely in the sights of audience scholars.”
  11. 11. Consumers, Enthusiasts, Fans, or Producers? • Think, Pair, Share: Where do these people sit on the ‘Continuum of Fandom’?
  12. 12. Task: Start reading and answering… Media Fandom and Audience Subcultures.pdf
  13. 13. The impact of fans… TASK: Discuss what impact you think fans can have on a media text. Positive and Negative.
  14. 14. Fans Cultures… “The difference between watching a [television] series and becoming a fan lies in the intensity of their emotional and intellectual involvement.” There are two elements to fan cultures: Social Aspect Interpretive Aspect • Media fans band together in either informally or formally structured groups (e.g. fan clubs) to share their mutual interest with others. • Fans act as interpreters and producers of media content, thus have a far more intense viewing experience than other consumers of the same product.
  15. 15. Impacts of Social Element Fan Activism “The social interaction among fans is not merely to spur a deeper appreciation of the original text. Close-knit communities of fans can also offer direct challenges… Fans can be mobilized to press producers and media corporations for change."
  16. 16. Fan Activism Challenging Institutional Producers TASK: Find out what the Star Trek letter writing campaign was and the impact that it had. • What was the campaign? • Who was involved? • What were the instructions? • What was the impact of the campaign?
  17. 17. Impacts of Interpretive Element Adapting own interpretations Fan internalise these mainstream cultural materials (films, tv series etc.) into their own personal lives. “Media fans are members of subcultures in the sense that they adopt their own linguistic codes… and symbolic forms… the delineate them from the rest of the population.”
  18. 18. TASK: What are the linguistic codes and symbolic forms of these fans?
  19. 19. Impacts of Social and Interpretive Elements Read ‘Fans and Media Texts: Protecting Continuity and Canon’ (Pg10 – 11) to answer questions below: • How can the social interactions and interpretation of texts impact on the production? • What causes this?