Apparently, fandom is the future (361). It’s becoming a normal part of life; “this kind of fandom is everywhere and all the time, a central part of the everyday lives of consumers operating within a networked society” (361). I appreciate Jenkins’ call to his fellow academics to be in conversation with academics in other fields who are talking about these same issues, though perhaps “using a different language” (363). I like especially his acknowledgement at the end that “there is no typical media consumer against which the cultural otherness of the fan can be located. Perhaps we are all fans or perhaps none of us is” (364). And if this is the case, then the normalcy of fandom requires an adjustment in the lens through which we view culture. But what does that look like?

I found this article oddly fascinating. Two very different sets of parents, two very different childhood experiences that shaped them, and yet the very same response (albeit described in rather opposite terms). We cannot shelter from media. It’s prolific. Ubiquitous. And it’s unwise to raise children without the proper tools to deconstruct their culture, media messages, etc. You can’t capture, relive, or replicate the past. You just can’t. But we can propose new ways forward. Interesting, by the way, that neither family thought to challenge the commercialization of TV, though both were clearly displeased by it and sought to shelter their kids from its negative effects.

Amusing article. I’m not sure what there is really to comment on. I loved the suggestion at the end about inviting celebrities to phantom charity events and watching them look confused. I was offended by pretty much the whole section on erotic capital. Only a man would write stuff like that and think he’s inside the female mind, even a mind like Paris Hilton’s. I do think it’s interesting the distinction between “young Hollywood in all its narcissistic stupidity [and] regular working people condemned to a life of eternally nonfabulous boredom” (336). We love to hate celebrities like Hilton precisely because we both envy and despise them for being so rich, so nonchalantly wasteful, so…very, very rich. Our lives seem petty in comparison, until the moment of self-pity passes, and we realize that we do not serve Mammon. Suddenly, my heart breaks for Paris Hilton, with her millions, her amassed stuff, her famous for being famous for being famous public image, and her subsequently empty, empty life. Jesus talks about abundant life, not big bank accounts. Let’s not forget the difference.

I remember the intensity of our high school rivalry, going as far as some on-campus pranks that got the cops involved!  Our biggest moment was half-time at the homecoming game.  No one really cared about the beauty contest; we wanted to know who had raised the most money in that previous week’s madness of fundraising.  Every year we raised a little bit more, and every year we lost to the rich high school with their (stinking) corporate sponsors.  Our grassroots mobilization just wasn’t enough to beat out “the man.”  But that didn’t stop us from trash-talking!  Apparently, I have been and always will be an anti-fan of the Greenville Raiders simply by virtue of being a Mann Patriot (M-A-N-N-PATS-Go Pats!)

I was most intrigued by the shift in opinion throughout the article. People bashed Stewart for whatever their differing reasons were, and then they defended her when she was being in relatively the same way bashed by the judicial court and the media hype. People are fickle. Remember Jesus’ magnificent entrance into Jerusalem, and days later his exit under the weight of his crossbeam? We like to see people fall from their pedestals, only then we feel sympathetic toward them, too. Which might be a good thing considering how many pastors fall from glory (oops, surely I mean grace!) and get dragged through the mud…never to return? If people can accept Martha Stewart’s homemaking advice after her trading fiasco, why can’t people accept pastoral advice about life-living after proving they, too, may not be taking that advice to heart?

Interesting (or rather, not so much really) the on-going battle between fans and corporations: “Fans attack and criticize media producers whom they feel threatened their meta-textual interests, but producers also respond to these challenges, protecting their privilege by defusing and marginalizing fan activism” (298). Whatever that means. I suppose people have a right to think whatever they want about a storyline, and if they want to be upset, let them be upset. Maybe they’re right and should be acknowledged. Of course, if I were writing a show and made a decision other people didn’t like about the way the plot should move, I would not be inclined to take their petty and ill-informed opinions into account. Oh, there’s that superior attitude again!

I never understood the addictive draw of video and computer gaming. The authors paraphrase that “the value of gaming is not to be found in the game text but in the way it is performed within a social context” (277). I remember many times walking into my brothers’ room growing up to see them immersed in “conversation” with people they were playing online war games with. They would talk about the games together and get help from their friends when they got stuck, always coming up with new “cheats” to help them advance levels. Who knew this was a part of forming social context? I thought it was a waste of time, sucking your life away in front of a screen (instead of buried in a book like I always was!). I still think it’s not the best use of time, but I have to acknowledge the validity of the authors’ assertion “that even individual gamers bring their social, cultural, and psychological selves to the games they play” (280).

I just discovered Pandora Radio this summer. It’s been a great opportunity to explore the largely unknown realm of popular music with my limited experience. But I noticed that I get bored quickly and keep switching stations. It’s true that we get a simulated shared-music experience without actually getting to speak into each other’s lives in any really meaningful and life-shaping way. Even if we’re just talking about music. The authors write: “In real communities, whether in physical space or cyberspace, members share affinities, interests, and needs; this commonality is recognized and mediated by the members themselves” (269). I was just talking to my co-worker the other day about Wikipedia, how it is actually a very reliable source of information and has only a slight increase in error over edited encyclopedias (4 errors to their 3). It was never expected that people would share reliable information and volunteer their time for editing and upkeep for something open-source like the Wikipedia project, but it’s happening. Where did our faith in people go? Why turn to automated servers when a world of real people are (literally, these days) at our fingertips, just aching to connect and share?

Not being a female sport fan myself (well, maybe soccer), I really don’t care. But I am the only female in my family who does NOT care about sports–any sports, all sports. My mom disowns me every time I groan about having to watch some random sport on TV instead of a good movie. The ATTITUDE concerning the exclusion of female sport fans, now, that one will get my back up. One thing that bothered me: “English men are very unsure of their sexual identities and, consequently, have to reaffirm themselves as real men by talking about women in a way that is derogatory” (qtd. 253). That is not a healthy coping strategy, and it certainly is not a solution! If men don’t know who they are, degrading women is not going to help.

I found this article really interesting in light of a class I took in the Spring with Barry Taylor on pop music. We talked about some of these same issues, especially regarding the changing experience of music with the entrance of technology and the ability to buy music to listen to over and over whenever you wanted to under any conditions. I like that we can trace fandom (at least in music) further back than merely the entrance of the internet or the TV. That tells us it’s not just a technology-driven phenomenon (though it is certainly technology-enabled). The negative in the article was the tracing of the commodification of art and performance (and people, and personalities, and public personas). We sell everything these days, even (and perhaps especially, or rather essentially?) ourselves. Which means on some level we buy each other. So identity value decreases, self-image decreases, oh my. What a dark path I’ve started down.

I was most interested in this article’s description of the changing attitudes about acceptable masculinity in Asian (or at least Korean) culture. Kan was on top of the world with his portrayal of the “traditional” valued traits, but when the wind shifted, his fandom nearly evaporated. The rise of “a more masculine feminine,” the “male antihero” and the “flower boy” raise disturbing questions about gender issues surfacing all over the world (truly a global issue?).

A good question: does “cultural identity in any way determine the performance of fan identities” (211)? Although the article does not offer an answer. It was interesting, however, to consider the difference between TV characters and film characters in terms of longevity. The more background or “meta-text” a character has, the more attachment to that character. People tend to attach more to film stars and TV characters. That’s an interesting phenomenon and I think goes back to the fact that fandom is about emotional relationship, which is hard to build with a character who appears over two-three hours and then vanishes forever.