Posts Tagged ‘media fandom’

Can LadySybilla and Russet Noon hang on long enough to change fandom?

April 20th, 2009

I’ve been following the Russet Noon situation with a lot of interest; it’s like the Star Wars book situation meets RDR that’s been crossed with a Harry Potter Lexicon with a bit of CounsinJean mixed in.

I’m really curious how this will turn out. The author of Russet Noon, LadySybilla, has done herself no favors in some regards by using Wikipedia for self promotion, engaging in alleged socketpuppeting and alleged  trying to sell the books behind the scenes to bloggers. This falls pretty much into the realms of what happened to CousinJean and the Star Wars writer. Their actions might have fallen into a legal “gray zone”, but fandom pressure came to bear and both were punished so much by fandom that they largely left the fandom field of battle before they could get sued.

So far in this case, it doesn’t look like LadySybilla has been threatened with legal action. Why? I’m not certain. She might have been and we might not have heard about it. Or the intellectual property owners could be hoping that fandom makes the situation go away, like they did with the CousinJean and the Star Wars book. Or, the intellectual property holders could be scared of LadySybilla having lawyers, like Steve Van der Ark and RDR had at the Harry Potter Lexicon. The last one is the big worry potentially because if LadySybilla has lawyers and is willing to go to court, she could win and then things could become really difficult for the entertainment industry.

If LadySybilla isn’t pushed to take her book off the market by fandom and if she isn’t sue, she could open fandom’s pandora box. The conventional wisdom is that the Twilight fandom is feral where people aren’t grounded in media fandom’s historical traditions. If they see that some one can get away with this, they might be willing to try to do similar. The flood gates might swing wide open with this and fandom could very well change in unexpected ways.

So I’m taking the wait and see approach because this is all fascinating to watch play out and think of what might be if LadySybilla can deal with fandom pressure long enough to get her story published.

WHY HELLO THAR BASEBALL! I MISSED YOU!

April 9th, 2009

Baseball season started this week.  For me, it started yesterday with the first game of the season that I attended.  I saw the White Sox play the Kansas City Royals at US Cellular Field with a friend.  The game surprisingly didn’t have that many people.  I thought after last year’s performance, they would have sold more seats.   That and my efforts to get tickets to Cubs games have been loads of no fun because so few seats are available.  In order to save some money  ($4 a bottle of water, $4 for a funnel cake, $3.25 for a large hot chocolate that is a small at McDonalds, etc) and resist the urge to eat my way through the game, my friend and I went out to eat in China Town before the game.  This was a very smart decision.  I could appreciate the baseball game food with out spending huge amounts on food and feeling totally icky and disgusting afterward. I was sitting on the lower level so I didn’t have that fear of falling that I have because of how awful the upperdeck is at The Cell. (It seems like it is almost an attempt at deterring the poor people sitting up there from getting truly rowdy by making them scared of exactly that so as to limit their alcohol consumption, lest they lose their balance and fall off. Except White Sox fans in that deck drink possibly more than people on the bottom.)


The above paragraph sounds like I didn’t have fun, but I did! I did! (I’m just more Cubs fan than Sox fan.) I love baseball. I love going to games. Going to a game is unlike any other fan experience I have as part of say media fandom. With sporting events, I feel like I’m part of a community. I’m sitting there with a few thousand other fans. You can yell at the players, scream at the coach, mock the umpire, boo with everyone else. It is very much a communal thing. You’re very passionate in the moment but you can let it go when you leave. Everyone around you can get your angst regarding what is taking place on the field. When the team wins, there is collective joy and ownership. When the game is done, you can come back again and relive it. The cycle can go on and on. I love that after the game, while I’m walking around Union Station, people will randomly talk to me about the White Sox because I’m wearing a White Sox jersey. With television and movies, so much of the experience is so much more internalized. It is a solitary viewing experience or limited to a small group. Yes, you can find communities for it to discuss a show but you aren’t sharing that experience when you watch with several thousand people and after the movie ends, random people aren’t going to ask you about it.

I love baseball. I missed baseball. It just feels like a way of connecting to a larger community that can be hard to find in our society at the moment. I love it. I can’t wait to see more games this season.

Fandoms and their musical tastes & trends

January 23rd, 2009

So, I have recently fallen in crazy love with Last.Fm. Not only is it a great service for discovering new music, but also tracking my own listening habits, and now, I see, for examining fandom trends and looking at what connections there may be between certain anime, media fandoms and bandoms. This is possible as Last.fm allows users to create “groups” of any kind, and statistics will show what are the weekly top artists for that group.

So what are some popular musical artists within certain large fandom groups right now?

Let’s first look at Twilight. There are currently over 1,200 members of the Last.Fm Twilight group, and their Top 10 artists currently are:

1. Paramore
2. Muse
3. Linkin Park
4. Carter Burwell
5. Katy Perry
6. Coldplay
7. Britney Spears
8. The Black Ghosts
9. Iron & Wine
10. Blue Foundation

Not surprisingly, 7 of those 10 artists have material on the Twilight soundtrack cd, explaining their popularity.

Looking next at Harry Potter, which has a Last.Fm group of over 1,500 members and a fanbase with some similarities in age and makeup to Twilight, we discover some close similarities in musical taste:

1. Coldplay
2. Muse
3. Paramore
4. The Killers
5. The Beatles
6. Britney Spears
7. Linkin Park
8. Katy Perry
9. Radiohead
10. Fall Out Boy

6 of the Harry Potter Top 10 are the same as for Twilight, including artists such as Britney Spears and Katy Perry, not on the Twilight soundtrack but popular performers within the teenage/20-something age group. How exactly The Beatles and Radiohead fit in I’m not sure, unless they reflect some of the wider age-range and fannish make-up of Harry Potter fandom? I’ll be curious to keep comparing the data on these two fan groups in future weeks.

Let’s also look at Naruto, a popular anime which also has a large (1,400+ members) Last.Fm group. Here’s their current Top 10:

1. Linkin Park
2. System of a Down
3. Metallica
4. Muse
5. Coldplay
6. Toshiro Masuda (Naruto soundtrack composer)
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers
8. The Killers
8. Rammstein
10. Nightwish

Again we see some familiar names, such as Linkin Park, Muse, Coldplay and The Killers, but there are also some more metal and hard rock acts such as Metallica, System of a Down and Rammstein. So is there a connection between Naruto and metal fandom? I’m curious to know! Has a lot of metal been used in Naruto songvids? Can anyone explain this more?

Finally, let’s look at the Top 10 artists this week for an older fandom: Star Trek. The Star Trek Last.Fm group is smaller than the others we’ve looked at so far–about 350 members, and the Top 10 artists are quite different from the other groups looked at so far:

1. The Beatles
2. Nine Inch Nails
3. U2
4. Pink Floyd
5. The Cure
6. Depeche Mode
7. Radiohead
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. The Rolling Stones
10. David Bowie

The skew is certainly towards much older musical acts from the 60s & 70s (Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, David Bowie…), 80s & 90s (Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, U2, The Cure…) Musical tastes for the fandom match quite closely with the time periods when Star Trek itself was perhaps at its most popular. Though there are The Beatles and Radiohead again. Maybe they’re just popular all across fandom? Will the release of the upcoming Star Trek movie bring in a younger fanbase and skew the musical taste of the group more towards currently popular acts?

Anyway, such are the things I find interesting to look at on Last.Fm currently, and what it may or may not say about the connections between different fandom communities.

Women don’t write fandom history?

January 18th, 2009

Fan History’s sports section is pretty awful. Really awful. It is downright pitiful. And that’s really sad as I’m a huge sports nut and I know my Chicago Cubs sports fandom history fairly well. I and Fan History’s other admins have just not invested time in improving it because really, sometimes, why bother?

Sports fandom has traditionally been dominated by guys and they’ve done a lot to document the history of fans. Heck, there is a whole cottage history dedicated to documenting the thuggery that goes down in soccer (football) fandom. This academic work has traditionally been done by guys. It is really well done.

Media fandom has traditionally been dominated by women and they haven’t done much to document the history of fans. There have been a few things done here and there but most of the research focuses on the product itself. If fans are looked at, it is from perspective of how they interact with the product rather than how fans interact with each other. It is totally different from sports fandom. So women aren’t writing fandom history and aren’t writing the history of their own communities.

Of course, this could be something that isn’t a gender issue. It could be a product issue. In sports fandom that tends to be historically dominated by guys, the product and fans aren’t really separate; they share an identity. You can’t really talk about the Chicago Cubs with out talking about its fans. (And if you’re a Sox fan talking about the Cubs, you can’t do it with out slagging on us.) Sports owners encourage that and really crank out the merchandise so fans can brand themselves as fans of a team. Our culture totally supports that by having “Support your team dress day!” type days at work. My local Jewel does that when the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears and employees are encouraged to support their team. Sports fandom also continues on and on. Teams generally don’t collapse/disappear over night and many have histories that are 20+ years old. They have a product you can get behind and have the time to get behind as the background for your life.

Media fandom is different. The producers frequently don’t encourage that sort of relationship with the source. In a number of cases, they treated their most loyal fans as thieves or belittled them, telling them to get a life. When we think of Harry Potter and Twilight, most people outside of fandom don’t immediately think of the canon as batshit insane because the fans are batshit are insane. Most fans aren’t flaunting their relationship with the show in a way that a whole town could relate to and have special dress days for. Media fandom’s products also lack the time lasting factor. When Sex and the City went off the air, women picked a different show to watch or found another way to identify.

So women generally aren’t writing fandom history. There are a few notable exceptions. Fan History is one but our major contributors early on came from spaces dominated by guys or from educational backgrounds where the approach more systematic, quantitative, regimented. Some of the other exceptions came out of competition with other women.

Will this pattern radically change ever? Probably not. Women might write sports fandom history (And they do. Some have found walls that their sisters in media fandom haven’t encountered because of their gender.)  but they will probably remain in the minority for a long time. Women are so closely identified with media fandom and the source code has those identity issues that I see it as a huge barrier to overcome, and that won’t ever be overcome in terms of similar participation by men in sports fandom history documenting.

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin