Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture

By Henry Jenkins | Go to book overview

5

Scribbling in the Margins: Fan Readers/Fan Writers

[The signs of consumption] are thus protean in form, blending in with their surroundings, and liable to disappear into the colonizing organizations whose products leave no room where the consumers can mark their activity. The child still scrawls and daubs on his schoolbooks; even if he is punished for this crime, he has made a space for himself and signs his existence as an author on it. The television viewer cannot write anything on the screen of his set. He has been dislodged from the product; he plays no role in its apparition. He loses the author's rights and becomes, or so it seems, a pure receiver. (Michel de Certeau 1984, 31)

Four Quantum Leap fans gather every few weeks in a Madison, Wisconsin apartment to write. The women spread out across the living room, each with their own typewriter or laptop, each working diligently on their own stories about Al and Sam. Two sit at the dining room table, a third sprawls on the floor, a fourth balances her computer on the coffee table. The clatter of the keyboards and the sounds of a filktape are interrupted periodically by conversation. Linda wants to insure that nothing in the program contradicts her speculations about Sam's past. Mary has introduced a Southern character and consults Georgia-born Signe for advice about her background. Kate reviews her notes on Riptide, having spent the week rewatching favorite scenes so that she can create a "crossover" story which speculates that Sam may have known Murray during his years at MIT. Mary scrutinizes her collection of "telepics" (photographs shot from the television image), trying to find the right words to capture the suggestion of a smile that flits across his face. Signe writes her own explanation for how Sam met Al and the events that brought them together on the Quantum Leap project. Kate passes around a letter she has received commenting on her

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