As films like Star Wars become more prominent, and with the growing importance of Chinese audiences, these kinds of marketing strategies that capitalises on the official and special edition merchandise will become more common. Fans as consumers will be normalised, as rather than participating in practices that often challenge the readings of the text or (Asian) societal norms, consumption advances the capitalist sensibilities of Hollywood studios that produce franchises like Star Wars.
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Upon the appearance of Web 2.0 sites like YouTube or DeviantART (and especially their explicitly Japanese counterparts NicoNico Dōga and Pixiv) one might think that Comic Market as a physical and costly event would suffer from losing its monopoly on being the center of Japanese fan art. But once again Comike was the beneficiary of a new fan praxis: attendance reached new heights in 2007 (well over 500,000 people), a year without any outstandingly popular property to attract new visitors. It seems that dōjinshi circles are not switching entirely to the Internet but rather are using it as an informational and marketing platform for themselves and their creations, spreading the knowledge of and fascination with Comic Market to new spheres. The best example of this phenomenon is the already-mentioned Tōhō Project, which became popular mostly through Web 2.0 outlets.
Fan-Yi Lam, Comic Market: How the World’s Biggest Amateur Comic Fair Shaped Japanese Dōjinshi Culture, p243 ift.tt/2b3bhsP
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?’
Chin, Bertha & Lori Hitchcock Morimoto: ‘Towards a theory of transcultural fandom’
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’
Can Fandom Change Society? (by PBSoffbook)
Before the mass media, people actively engaged with culture through storytelling and expanding well-known tales. Modern fan culture connects to this historical tradition, and has become a force that challenges social norms and accepted behavior. Whether the issue is gender, sexuality, subversiveness, or even intellectual property law, fans participate in communities that allow them to think outside of what is possible in more mainstream scenarios. “Fannish” behavior has become its own grassroots way of altering our society and culture, and a means of actively experiencing one’s own culture. In a sense, fans have changed from the faceless adoring masses, to people who are proud of their identity and are stretching the boundaries of what is considered “normal”.
Here’s the paradox: to be desired by the networks is to have your tastes commodified. On the one hand, to be commodified expands a group’s cultural visibility. Those groups that have no recognized economic value get ignored. That said, commodification is also a form of exploitation. Those groups that are commodified find themselves targeted more aggressively by marketers and often feel they have lost control over their own culture, since it is mass produced and mass marketed. One cannot help but have conflicted feelings because one doesn’t want to go unrepresented— but one doesn’t want to be exploited either.