Publication details

Fan Activism: Between Transformative Fandom and "Ordinary Viewers"



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description Both fictional and non-fictional media texts play an important role in everyday life of many people. Even if they have different tastes and preferences each of them can (and usually does) create some sort of relation towards their favorite movies, music, TV series etc. Those relations are based on the intensity of individual engagement with the media texts which is the reason why existing audience studies literature uses different terms that indicate and differentiate the amount of this engagement (e.g. consumer, viewer, user, fan, produser etc.). However, due to the accessibility and widespreadness of contemporary media it became hard to theorize about clearly distinctive categories of recipients and producers which is for example manifested in terms produser or prosumer, both of them suggesting category merger. Similar ambiguity is connected to fans. Fair amount of existing literature portrays fans as specific, active and powerful media users who negotiate about meanings of media texts and even have the possibility (and power) to change them. Even if this view is quite techno-/user-optimistic, there are some fan practices that manifest such characteristics, fan activism is a prime example of those. My conference contribution is focused on those fans that are trying for a certain change within media content (or media representation in general) by using “tools” of fan activism. With the help of a few examples of successful and unsuccessful fan activism campaigns I will show what is (not) working in the negotiation about meanings of favorite media contents or negotiation about their whole existence (e.g. continuation/cancellation of TV series). The importance of the theme is apparent as certain strategies of fan activism (and fan practices in general) are becoming commonly used by “ordinary recipients” and are also very similar to strategies of political activism of public (mainly those concerned with representation of marginalized identities). In my conference contribution I am drawing from four case studies (focused on 4 different media fandoms) conducted from 2014 to 2018 which were part of my PhD thesis which I (in some instances) additionally supply with the data from more than 70 qualitative interviews conducted from April 2018 to April 2019 with selected 18+ Czech audiovisual (AV) consumers. By connecting partial results of both inquiries I would like to point out the existence of similar practices (aimed at AV content) among fans and non-fans which indicate that not only fans are active and activist when it comes to their favorite audiovisual content. Few selected cases of fan activism should also serve as an example of motivations for fans (and possibly non-fans) to become engaged in debate with creators of media content and their resulting form.
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