Media Fandom

In the late 1970s the term "media fandom" was coined to describe the study of the fans that stars from television shows and movies have. Later on many academics used the word to extend to computer and video games as well as to science fiction.

Media fandom actually appeared in the early 1970s as an outgrowth of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek shows. Fans began to zero in on relationships and not so much on the science fiction. As it continued to grow and become more popular, media fandom grew into a culture.

The birth of Star Trek fandom came about due to a dispute of what the show Star Trek really is. There were those who claimed that it was nothing more than creative television, while others claimed it was science fiction at its best. The outgrowth was a science fiction fandom and creative television fandom. Science fiction fandom had a clear influence on media fandom with the creation of fan conventions, fan labor and the creation of the word "fanzines."

Many people began joining the media fandom craze when they discovered it online as opposed to getting it from personal contact. With the advent of the Internet, a lot of people joined various types of fandoms such as soap opera fandom, celebrity fandom and comic fandom.

Media fandom is used to describe the sharing of one's favorite books, comics, movies and TV shows. This is done either by communicating via the Internet, talking to other fans by telephone or by meeting them at conventions. One of the largest conventions of media fandom is the comic book convention where comic book diehards meet to buy, trade and talk about comic books. People can also be part of media fandom all by themselves in the privacy of their own home. Fandom can involve creativity such as costuming, writing and drawing. It does not require any type of creativity, any more than just purchasing a book.

Media fandom is probably one of the most dynamic, creative and most interesting groups online. It joins together people from all walks of life, people who like to read or write, people who are creative and people who just like to imagine and fantasize. As an offshoot of media fandom, the Organization for Transformative Works -- a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve their own interests -- was inspired and developed.

Media fandom has expanded beyond its original intent. Many issues such as community, space and identity are discussed and bring together many Internet communities who share common interests. Creating new links between cultural, media and Internet studies, media fandom began discussing the class, gender, nationality and sexuality of many television characters. It tries to understand and make meaning out of those characters by maintaining and creating online community relations.

When people hear about this loose network of subculture organized around relics of old popular culture called media fandom, the first thing that comes to mind is trekkies. There is actually good reason to believe that. When Gene Roddenberry, the producer of Star Trek, began producing the film, he had second thoughts and worried if people would come to see the film. He showed an episode of the movie at the 1966 World Con (the science fiction convention). He received a standing ovation for his work. This way he forged an alliance between Star Trek and science fiction fans. This was the first example of media fandom, for ever since Star Trek fans have created a friendship and affinity for the film and each other.

A branch of media fandom has been the advent of video and movie fandom. Unlike media fandom, video fandom is not limited to science fiction. Video and film fanzines focus on the collection of little-known low budget films with a cult following.

Since media fandom operates as an information environment it functions under its own rules and will not necessarily spread out into other broader contexts. Media fandom operates independently and differently than any other group or sub-group. Many have tried to expand media fandom to join with other types of fandom, but they have not been successful.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World
Jonathan Gray; Cornel Sandvoss; C. Lee Harrington.
New York University Press, 2007
Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture
Henry Jenkins.
New York University Press, 2006
Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture
Henry Jenkins.
Routledge, 1992
Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth
Camille Bacon-Smith.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992
Fan Cultures
Matt Hills.
Routledge, 2002
Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek
John Tulloch; Henry Jenkins.
Routledge, 1995
Charisma's Realm: Fandom in Japan
Yano, Christine.
Ethnology, Vol. 36, No. 4, Fall 1997
Tramps like Us: Music & Meaning among Springsteen Fans
Daniel Cavicchi.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Creating a Pocket Universe: "Shippers," Fan Fiction, and the X-Files Online
Scodari, Christine; Felder, Jenna L.
Communication Studies, Vol. 51, No. 3, Fall 2000
Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature
Donald Palumbo.
Greenwood Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 15 "Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines"
Payment in Credit: Copyright Law and Subcultural Creativity
Tushnet, Rebecca.
Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 70, No. 2, Spring 2007
Whose Stories Are They? Fans' Engagement with Soap Opera Narratives in Three Sites of Fan Activity
Beilby, Denise D.; Harrington, Lee; Bielby, William T.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 43, No. 1, Winter 1999
An Anatomy of Appreciation and of Viewing Amongst a Group of Fans of the Serial "EastEnders."
Middleham, Glen; Wober, J. Mallory.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 41, No. 4, Fall 1997
"No Politics Here": Age and Gender in Soap Opera "Cyberfandom"
Scodari, Christine.
Women's Studies in Communication, Vol. 21, No. 2, Fall 1998
Signifying Female Adolescence: Film Representations and Fans, 1920-1950
Georganne Scheiner.
Praeger Publishers, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Female Movie Fan"
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