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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The behavior is a blur between punk fashion and commune. Like punks, mass hoarders implicitly critique capitalist values by inventing a playstyle that elevates self-expression, personal goals, and nontraditional desires. But this practice is communally rather than rebelliously focused: they create a mutually supportive subculture in which the profit motive is derailed in favor of a rigorous sense of fairness. Through this combination, the fans turn an app designed to stress profit and acquisition and to minimize personality into a space where both clear identities and fair play can rule. They create pockets of humanity and humane behavior in a digital world where those sentiments were (perhaps intentionally) omitted.
Hoarding and community in Star Wars Card Trader | Jeremy Groskopf | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2dnIxye
When writer Lori Jareo self-published her novel Another Hope and listed it on Amazon.com (Amazon), she expected only her family and friends to see the page and consider purchasing a copy. However, the novel also attracted a great deal of unwanted attention: from mocking bloggers, outraged fans, and Lucasfilms’ lawyers. Another Hope was not a wholly original work, but rather an unauthorized Star Wars “fan fiction” novel: a story using characters and settings from Star Wars without the consent of Lucasfilms, which owns the copyright to the Star Wars universe.
Lucasfilms’ lawyers sent a cease-and-desist notice to Jareo, who then removed the book’s listing from Amazon. While that was the only legal consequence of Jareo’s obvious copyright infringement, the punishment that she received from the public was much more severe. When several well-known science fiction writers and bloggers latched onto the story, they all had strong negative opinions of Jareo’s actions. In April 2006, the story hit dozens of popular blogs, inspiring such mockingly clever titles as “The Stupid is Strong with this One,” and “I Bet She Finds Our Lack of Faith Disturbing.”
Were it not for the Internet publicity concerning the Amazon listing, Lucasfilms may not have ever noticed it. In fact, the book was published nearly a year before the scandal erupted. It was not intellectual property lawyers or the copyright holder that condemned Jareo; rather, it was her fellow fan fiction writers. Jareo broke a major rule when she tried to profit from her fan fiction, and other fans were there to point out her mistake—not only for the faux pas in the fan community but also for the potential attention she brought to the world of fan fiction, a world in which copyright law is largely untested.
The first 12 minutes of Backyard Blockbusters, a documentary on fan films. Contains some interesting discussion on what people think makes a fan film “fannish”, exactly. (by ZTeamProductions)
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’
We’ve already seen a similar frustration brew in the context of “fan fiction,” particularly around the Star Wars franchise. As with the Harry Potter story, Lucasfilm learned early on that there were millions who wanted to build upon Star Wars, and few who thought themselves restricted by the rules of copyright. Like Warner, Lucasfilm recognized that these fans could provide real value to the franchise. So under the banner of encouraging this fan culture, Lucasfilm offered free Web space to anyone wanting to set up a fan home page.
But the fine print in this offer struck many as unfair. The contract read:
“The creation of derivative works based on or derived from the Star Wars Properties, including, but not limited to, products, services, fonts, icons, link buttons, wallpaper, desktop themes, online postcards and greeting cards and unlicensed merchandise (whether sold, bartered or given away) is expressly prohibited. If despite these Terms of Service you do create any derivative works based on or derived from the Star Wars Properties, such derivative works shall be deemed and shall remain the property of Lucasfilm Ltd. in perpetuity.”
Translation: “Work hard here, Star Wars fans, to make our franchise flourish, but don’t expect that anything you make is actually yours. You, Star Wars fans, are our sharecroppers.”
But though the objective of profit is not a problem, the manner in which that profit is secured can be. The respect, or lack of respect, demonstrated by the terms under which the remix gets made says something to the remixer about how his work is valued. So again, when Lucas claims all right to profit from a remix, or when he claims a perpetual right to profit from stuff mixed with a remix, he expresses a view about his creativity versus theirs: about which is more important, about which deserves respect.