Since the beginning of the internet media authors have never doubted its importance as a tool to link the masses. with the inception of web 2.0 the internet moves from a one way source of information to a two way tool for communication, and with this discovery spawned new methods for marketing and story telling.
One of the first examples of this was the Blair Witch Project. Commencing its marketing scheme over 12 months before the release date of the film, the movies creators scripted an entire website that amplified the tale behind the movie, thus enforcing a sense of originality and heightening the experience for the fan.
Starting a historical reference to the events from 1785 – 1997 the website gained the ability to promote the film 12 months before its release, thus securing a vast fan base – much more than if they relied on a 30 sec trailer. It gained notoriety as one of the highest grossing low budget movies ever made.
One segmint of fan culture is fan fiction. Fan fiction is a new breed of Fan culture spawned via the internet where fans can pen their own version of stories or tales of their heroes.
On the flipside of fan fiction I was introduced to slash fiction -a medium where people who pondered if there was actually more to the stories of heroes than the writers let on.
Slash fiction features well known heroes like Spock and Captain Kirk and usually included some kind of homo erotic theme as avid fans attempt to ‘remix’ the tales of old.
Members of online fan culture use the internet as a tool to display their adoration for their interests and thus earns them the title of super fans .Combining the energy of an 11 year old and been gifted with the freedom and access that accompanies internet users the adoration of these fans is amplified and propells them into the status of superfans.
The trend of fans remixing their adorations, as witnessed in fan fiction, is seen by Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, as part of a ‘convergence culture’ in which the consumer becomes the “producer”
In Convergence Culture Jenkins writes that fandom, as displayed within convergence culture, is characterised by these five things:
- Appropriation – A person appropriates in their own life a particular text, work, and practice relating to their fan object. Often these objects are reinterpreted in their own life.
- Participation – There is an openness for people to participate at all levels within the community. They are so inspired by it they write music, create events, etc.
- Emotional Investment – People become really invested in this this object, topics, etc. It is something they are really into and something they want to talk about.
- Collective Intelligence (rather than the expert paradigm) – There is room for everyone to have something to say and contribute to the collective understanding of the group. Collective intelligence doesn’t need credentials, degrees, etc., experiences and insights are beneficial to the community and conversation.
- “Virtual” Community – These are communities that are not necessarily built around face to face meetings. Some of these people know each other and some are unknown, but more often than not these groups will have times to meet face to face
- Although some forms of fandom to me seem strange, for the fans it is completely normal behaviour. This is based on the chalk and cheese principal
- Adoration leads to amplification
- The internet has given fandom a new life. it no longer is confined to a a fans own world, it can be incorporated into other fans lifes top. thus leaving the stereotypical view of a fan idolising an act via posters/pictures hanging on their bedroom walls
- Combining motivation and energy, the new super fans utilises all the tools of the internet
- Fans are usually between the ages of 11 and 14, and generally are early adaptors
Examples of fandom within society today.
When I was growing up I listened to a music genre dubbed heavy metal. Compared to some of the commercial tripe playing in today’s charts it seems music has evolved a long way from when I was young. Sligo is not exactly a hotspot from buying music albums, so most of the tapes I possessed I had to order from America.
Expressing a fans level of dedication for their favourite artists generally came down to quantity.. meaning, how many band badges I could fit on my jacket , how many posters I had displayed on my bedroom wall, how many copies of metal hammer I posessed and how many albums, singles, EP’s, LP’s and tapes I could amass for my chosen artist.
Today, in a digital world the vast majority of these methods have become left behind. Owning an entire range of an artists albums simply means pressing ‘discography’ when downloaded them, rather than searching through endless publications for songs, even sitting by the radio with a blank tape in the player, ready to record my favourite track.
Today fandom levels are recorded on a different scale. To show how fandom has changed through out the years I want to profile the “artist” ( I use that phrase lightly) Justin Beiber and highlight some amazing stats showing how fandom has almsot become obsession
- Justin gets about 60 new mentions on twitter per second whether he tweets or not.
- He has sold over 6Million albums to date