fans versus fandom

I agree with Jenkins that convergence culture brings in another level for the engagement of fans.  It is particularly interesting to contrast the fans of American Idol with more hard core fandom like Star Wars and Harry Potter.  While all these fans are more actively engaged in media convergence than our culture would have imagined them even 10 years ago, I think there is still a divide between what really defines fandom.  While the American Idol fans are interacting with the program to vote, it feels a lot more like corporate driven fan culture.  Fox is trying to build brand loyalty and their sponsors are trying to build fan loyalty with the main goal of producing purchases:  album sales, Coke, and Ford.  However, the Star Wars and Harry Potter fans are actually producing their own media products (videos and newspapers) and expanding upon the existing universe of the product.

There’s the conundrum.  How much do you want to encourage fans as a corporate media maker?  American Idol fans are more “appropriate” as the literally buy into the brand, whereas those other fans (Star Wars/HP) aren’t necessarily going to be bringing in a profit for the corporate creators.  From and industry perspective that seems like a liability, however, from a cultural studies perspective, that sounds fantastic.  Jenkins analysis of HP fans learning to take control of their own means of production is hopeful, that fandom can train people to gain skills and in the case of  Photoshop Democracy use it to become actively engaged in politics.  However, how much of this kind of fandom exists?

2 responses to “fans versus fandom

  1. Mike Davis

    I think the big difference you mentioned is that some people make money off of their fans and some people enjoy the creativity and collaborative nature of their fans.

  2. rwhnewton

    Is there really that big of a Matrix Fan base? I see slight nods in the form of parody and homages. And I see the ancillary media. But isn’t the pervasiveness of the Matrix a huge product of the WB as a conglomerate and their ability to flood the multimedia market with adds and allusions to their three-film product?