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[LINK] Free online course of interest to fans: An Introduction to Japanese Subcultures – Keio University

ift.tt/2cF95LL

From the website: In this course, together with three other specialists, Professor Niijima, Professor Takahashi and Professor Ohwada, we will explore girls comics, boys comics, the Hatsune Miku vocaloid, cosplay, and J-pop idols, focusing on the themes such as Love, Battle, Technology and Fan culture, in which you’ll learn about the different cultural creations that underpin Japanese subcultures. With materials for cultural analysis, you’ll develop a basic knowledge of key Japanese subcultures, learning the recognisable traits of each.

[QUOTE] From A connected country: Sweden—Fertile ground for digital fandoms | Christina Olin-Scheller and Pia Sundqvist | Transformative Works and Cultures

In Sweden, older siblings are generally the ones who introduce younger siblings to various fandoms, such as digital games and fan fiction sites, thus further conflating online and real-life relationships (Swedish Media Council 2013a, 2013b; Olin-Scheller 2011).

(…)

Technological advancement, English proficiency, and fandom activities are all closely interrelated. However, being connected to the Internet and being heavily involved in digital fan activities do not necessarily imply that one’s main focus is international. Instead, digital activities are associated with closeness, both in terms of relationships (friends sitting on the same couch when going online) and geographical locations (attending local cosplay or gaming conventions). This way of being and acting as a fan is likely not limited to Sweden or Swedish fan communities; it is probably also the case in other areas with ubiquitous Internet access and English-language proficiency.

A connected country: Sweden—Fertile ground for digital fandoms | Christina Olin-Scheller and Pia Sundqvist | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2cBHqK4

[QUOTE] From “Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan” Kristina Busse, Participations 10.1 (2013)

If female fans are dismissed more easily, then so are their interests, their spaces, and their primary forms of engagement. Or, said differently, gender discrimination occurs on the level of the fan, the fan activity, and the fannish investment. There is a ready truism that enthusiasm for typically male fan objects, such as sports and even music, are generally accepted whereas female fan interests are much more readily mocked. Likewise, fangirls are mocked as is fan fiction, an activity more commonly ascribed to females. More than that, affect and forms of fannish investment get policed along gender lines, so that obsessively collecting comic books or speaking Klingon is more acceptable within and outside of fandom than creating fan vids or cosplaying. Even the same behavior gets read differently when women do it: sexualizing celebrities, for example, is accepted and expected among men but gets quickly read as inappropriate when done by women.

“Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan” Kristina Busse, Participations 10.1 (2013) ift.tt/1tr9CBz

[QUOTE] From “Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan” Kristina Busse, Participations 10.1 (2013)

If female fans are dismissed more easily, then so are their interests, their spaces, and their primary forms of engagement. Or, said differently, gender discrimination occurs on the level of the fan, the fan activity, and the fannish investment. There is a ready truism that enthusiasm for typically male fan objects, such as sports and even music, are generally accepted whereas female fan interests are much more readily mocked. Likewise, fangirls are mocked as is fan fiction, an activity more commonly ascribed to females. More than that, affect and forms of fannish investment get policed along gender lines, so that obsessively collecting comic books or speaking Klingon is more acceptable within and outside of fandom than creating fan vids or cosplaying. Even the same behavior gets read differently when women do it: sexualizing celebrities, for example, is accepted and expected among men but gets quickly read as inappropriate when done by women.

“Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan” Kristina Busse, Participations 10.1 (2013) ift.tt/1gQemxE

[QUOTE] From Nicolle Lamerichs, The cultural dynamic of doujinshi and cosplay: Local anime fandom in Japan, USA and Europe, p169

Doujinshi are thus considered to be primary fan objects in Japan that are worthy of attention, circulation, collection and preservation. Japanese buyers are selective and seek fan texts that suit their desire and that fulfill elements of the source-texts that appealed to them. These often female fans look for specific characters, ‘pairings’ (romantic couples) and genres, and take pride in having an extensive doujinshi collection that reflects their interpretations and imagination. Japanese fans collect these fan memorabilia as tokens of their affect and as ways to relive their connection to the source text. However, their activities are not fundamentally different from Western fans, such as fan fiction authors, who also collected and circulated fanzines before the prevalence of online text. Even today fans carefully bookmark texts, share them, and store printed copies in binders. While doujinshi circulate in a specific economic context, the purchase and collection of these fan texts has similar value as in other countries.

Nicolle Lamerichs, The cultural dynamic of doujinshi and cosplay: Local anime fandom in Japan, USA and Europe, p169

[QUOTE] From Forrest Phillips, Captain America and fans’ political activity

When the Tea Party rose to national prominence in 2010, the movement’s cosplay of American icons, including the Founding Fathers, immediately made news (Walsh 2010). One of the most remarkable costumes worn by Tea Party demonstrators was that of the Star-Spangled Avenger. As Nicolle Lamerichs (2011) argues, when fans cosplay they are expressing their fondness for, identifying with, and making statements about the narrative associated with the character whom they are playing. The statement made by political Captain America cosplayers is that Cap would agree with their point of view. For instance, at a 2011 Tea Party rally, a man dressed as Captain America personalized his shield with a bumper sticker that read “Please don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion” as a way to assert that his support of limited government is the sole authentic American perspective (White 2011b). Similarly, the Star-Spangled Avenger waved the star-spangled banner at a March 24, 2011, rally in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Shelly 2012).

While in both these cases Captain America’s iconography was used to support right-wing causes, his use in political action transcends partisan boundaries just as the character does in the comics. In October 2010, the Sentinel of Liberty showed his support for “reasonableness” at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (Calhoun 2011). A year later he defended labor unions at a protest in Madison, Wisconsin (Mills 2011). Furthermore, Cap’s iconography has been used at multiple Occupy rallies: one protestor wore a makeshift Cap costume and flashed the peace sign while another attached a figurine of the Star-Spangled Avenger to the top of a sign bearing a handwritten anticorporate slogan (Moscamaurer 2012; jamie nyc 2011). Additionally, an activist advocating for homeless veterans addressed Occupy Oakland clad in the costume of the Sentinel of Liberty (addio33 2012).

(…)

While Captain America was first created as a fervent nationalist who wanted American children to “free our country of our traitors” (Yanes 2009, 58), he has developed into a very different character. Fans have embraced the modern incarnation of the Star-Spangled Avenger because he is one of the few embodiments of an Americanness that encompasses a wide swath of the nation’s political spectrum, from the most conservative Tea Party member to the most liberal Occupier (Johnson 2010; Mroczkowski 2011). This near-universal American appeal renders any political use of his image inherently divisive and questionable, yet makes his political appropriation irresistible.

Forrest Phillips, Captain America and fans’ political activity

[QUOTE] From Matthew J. Costello, The super politics of comic book fandom

Transformation is a political act. Whether it is slash fiction’s challenge to heteronormativity, cosplay at political rallies, or editorials that question the white male privilege of fandom, whenever fans appropriate cultural artifacts they transform them for rhetorical purposes. Fandom thus becomes the battleground through which cultural meaning is constructed and as such is always contested terrain.

 

[LINK] New fan-themed issue of the journal Participations

The tenth issue of Participations, an online open access journal for audience studies, has a section full of new articles about fan culture. The section was put together by the Fan Studies Network, a network for fan studies researchers.

I haven’t had time to read any of the articles yet, but it sounds like there’s some very interesting stuff in here about many fandoms and fan practices – from Doctor Who, Glee, and Star Wars to Tumblr, kink memes, fandom and politics, and dojinshi. Here’s a list of all the fan-themed articles in the issue (all links go to PDFs):

Bennett, Lucy & Tom Phillips: ‘An introduction: The Fan Studies Network – new connections, new research’

Booth, Paul & Peter Kelly: ‘The changing faces of Doctor Who fandom: New fans, new technologies, old practices?’

Busse, Kristina: ‘Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan’

Chin, Bertha & Lori Hitchcock Morimoto: ‘Towards a theory of transcultural fandom’

Ellison, Hannah: ‘Submissives, Nekos and Futanaris: a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Glee Kink Meme’

Hills, Matt: ‘Fiske’s ‘textual productivity’ and digital fandom: Web 2.0 democratization versus fan distinction?’

Lamerichs, Nicolle: ‘The cultural dynamic of doujinshi and cosplay: Local anime fandom in Japan, USA and Europe’

Pett, Emma: ‘”Hey! Hey! I’ve seen this one, I’ve seen this one. It’s a classic!”: Nostalgia, repeat viewing and cult performance in Back to the Future

Proctor, William: ‘”Holy crap, more Star Wars! More Star Wars? What if they’re crap?”: Disney, Lucasfilm and Star Wars online fandom in the 21st century’

Sandvoss, Cornel: ‘Toward an understanding of political enthusiasm as media fandom: Blogging, fan productivity and affect in American politics’

Whiteman, Natasha, Joanne Metivier: ‘From post-object to “Zombie” fandoms: The “deaths” of online fan communities and what they say about us’

Bury, Rhiannon, Ruth Deller, Adam Greenwood & Bethan Jones: ‘From Usenet to Tumblr: The changing role of social media’

McCulloch, Richard, Virginia Crisp, Jon Hickman & Stephanie Jones: ‘Of proprietors and poachers: Fandom as negotiated brand ownership’

Freund, Kathrina & Dianna Fielding: ‘Research ethics in fan studies’

Jones, Bethan & Lucy Bennett: ‘Blurring boundaries, crossing divides: An interview with Will Brooker’

Delmar, Javier Lozano & Victor Hernández-Santaolalla & Marina Ramos: ‘Fandom generated content: An approach to the concept of ‘fanadvertising”

Sturm, Damion & Andrew McKinney: ‘Affective hyper-consumption and immaterial labors of love: Theorizing sport fandom in the age of new media’

 

[META] Thoughts on AnimeExpo

After eleven years of being an anime fan, I finally made it to Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention in the United States, held in Los Angeles, California, this past weekend. I’m a veteran of Otakon, the second-largest anime convention in this country; I’ve actually blogged about that con for this Symposium before. I went to Anime Expo (which this year was co-located with the X Games, for some amusing convention center logistics) to co-present our article “Even a monkey can understand fan activism” in the convention’s academic track with my friend Alex Leavitt. Perhaps inevitably, wandering around AX led me to compare the two, although the last anime con I’ve attended was actually Otakon 2010 two years ago. AX has long had the reputation of being the “industry” con to Otakon’s “fan” atmosphere, and I found that to be largely true – compared to Otakon, there didn’t seem to be quite as much cosplay (though there was a lot of it, and a lot of it very good), and the panels were mostly put on by anime- and manga-related companies and people involved with them, perhaps neatly symbolized by the fact that our badges put us down in the “industry” category and staff kept offering to let us jump the massive queues for panels. One of the people I was hanging out with asked me at one point whether I’d seen anything truly mind-blowing at the con, and I was hard put to it to think of an answer. In the United States as well as in Japan, it seems, this has been something of a fallow year in the production cycle for anime and manga. But the overarching lesson I drew from AX, actually, was the realization that anime/manga fandom doesn’t need the industry. This might sound counter-intuitive, since over the last four to five years the bottom has basically dropped out of both the anime and manga industries in the United States, leaving only a handful of scrappy companies in near-monopoly positions after the exit of some of the scene’s former titans. But this winnowing has left a lot of empty space for innovative partnerships across platforms (such as those Tokyopop has put together to continue publishing Hetalia, or that Fakku.net is putting together to publish hentai manga in print), and it will be interesting, to say the least, to see in what directions these partnerships develop in the future. In particular, I’m glad to see companies beginning to finally harness the full power of digital content delivery tools. (Although I have to admit I thought it was more than a bit rich for Stu Levy of Tokypop to cite “piracy” as one of the causes of his company’s recent near-death experience, since I know for a fact that Tokyopop routinely relied on scanlation groups to pick out new titles to license.) More than that, however, my pilgrimage to AX taught me that anime and manga fandom is not only alive but doing well, well enough that members of a Christian group (I don’t know which one) took it upon themselves to protest outside and pray for the souls of the sinners for the convention’s first three days. In all seriousness, though, when I went to Otakon two years ago I was a little taken aback at how thoroughly it had been transformed into a subcultural convention rather than a convention for just anime and manga. AX has not been transformed to any similar extent, although I did see one or two people cosplaying as raver-style Pikachus, and the number of Homestuck, My Little Ponies, and Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra cosplayers was quite remarkable. This seems to me to reflect not only a broadening of the fanbase of anime and manga, but also the new strength and richness of the American animation scene. I found myself telling someone at a party several weeks ago that I didn’t think that it would have been possible for Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko to create the show that they did in A:TLA, which wears its Asian-American storytelling colors with all pride and also is remarkable for the number and variety of its strong female characters (a trend epitomized in the fact that the eponymous protagonist of Korra, the current Avatar, is also a girl), if it weren’t for the success of anime, and realizing that I believed it wholeheartedly. Similarly, I can think of several newer authors of SFF who are obviously anime-influenced (N.K. Jemisin most prominent among them), and I know for a fact that a lot of manga fans have become enthusiastic Homestuck readers. I don’t know that all those bronies would be such enthusiastic Pony fans if shows like Sailor Moon, Utena and Powerpuff Girls hadn’t proven that girls could be awesome a long time ago, either. In a way these developments make me feel better about the disappearance of Japanese-language manga from the AX and Otakon dealers’ rooms of now compared with those of the early ‘Naughts. It’s a lot easier to get manga in multiple languages now than it was then (I can take a bus to Kinokuniya, for example), anyway, and in any event, I’ll gladly trade shifting merchandise availability for the broader influence that anime is beginning to have, and for its broader availability. Now if only Japan could put out some truly stellar shows again. Well, in the meantime, at least there’s Evangelion 3.0.