A ringer for fandom

I watch a lot of TV. If I find a show I like I am usually up to date or finished within a fortnight (or less). However after I have finished the episodes I don’t tend to delve into the depths of its makings, characters or plot. For me, when the show finishes it finishes. My job is done. Now for some, this is the complete opposite. When the credits roll the task is only just beginning. Fandom is a term used to refer to a subculture that is composed of fans that share a passion or camaraderie with others of a common interest. Henry Jenkins enlightens this emerging culture; “Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users” (Dueze, 2010).

Fans always seem to be on board with new media technologies, maybe due to their fascination with fictional universes. Whatever the reason, fans are generally the most active members of the media audience and it seems nothing can stop them from participating (Jenkins, 2004). One thing that is certainly helping them to become full participants is the Internet. With all nodes created equal the net has allowed for low barriers of artistic expression and engagement, as well as a support for creating and sharing. Members believe that their contributions matter and communities are creating. As a result Fandom is thriving.

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An example of a huge international Fandom is the community of Tolkien fans. A ‘Ringer’ is a term for a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan or ‘Hobbit’ fan, while a Tolkienist is somebody who follows and studies the works of J. R. R. Tolkein. Participatory culture is exemplified in the Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the alternative universe of Middle Earth. A growing number of active or participatory fans are exhibiting a sense of ownership and connection that includes an investment in the creative development of the universe in which ‘Lord of the Rings’ is set. Online fan sites and clubs provide the venue for such developments and usually involve social gossiping, debates, artistic production and even political activism (Shefrin, 2004).

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Dueze, M 2007 ‘Convergence culture in the creative industries’ International Journal of Cultural Studies 10: 243, pp. 243-259

Jenkins, H 2004 ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence’ International Journal of Cultural Studies 7: 33, pp. 33-42

Shefrin, E 2004 ‘Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Participatory Fandom: Mapping New Congruencies between the Internet and Media Entertainment Culture’ Critical Studies in Media Communication 10: 3, pp. 261-262.

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1 Comment

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One response to “A ringer for fandom

  1. rainingcatsandblogs2

    I’m fairly similar to you in that once I watch something, that’s it.So I’ve never come across the term fandom, but it’s an interesting stance on convergence and participatory culture. Jenkins states that “Warner Brothers has been aggressively asserting its rights over the Harry Potter franchise to shut down fan websites.” How can they be doing this in this age of participatory culture and prosumers?

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