Yes Curtis, we are pretty well on the same page. I believe we are actually on the same page. Yes, we do come from different disciplines, however you are not merely coming from a purely religious perspective, or that of a religious leader. You are coming from a more religious scholar perspecitve, one which has a good deal of social science grounding. I find that to be the most intriguing aspect of how you view Trek and fandom. We , you and I , seem to have been converging to this point from two different backgrounds, which is also intriguing. I think that alone legitimizes Trek as myth, more appropriately, progressive myth.
I would certainly expand on what I had posted to Ian. I beleive humans do consciously and subconsciously hide aspects of their identies as they fear rejection in society. This is the reason we can list an infinite number of subcultures globally. Trek allows for expression of these aspects of human personas that are not normally allowed to be expressed. It is indeed an attraction to a sub-narrative in that particular groups / characters are chosen to identify with and emmulate, but also I would agree that there is that need to full express one’s "true self" so to speak, which is often prohibited in mainstream society.
I also agree with both you and Ian in that further study is certainly needed to determine which groups are more often identified with and which characters the most emmulated, the fans assimilating archetypes.
Thank you Ian.
To respond to your question, I don’t know to what extent budget is a concern to fans. I have seen some elaborate Borg costuming as well. But I do feel there are reasons why we see more of a particular group than another being represented in costuming.
Fans are tied to their mainstream cultures and bring that identity with them, as well as their own individuality. That individuality is seeking out something they are lacking perhaps in their own lives, or that they feel may be lacking in mainstream culture. They want to connect with not only the progressive myth messages of Trek, but are seeking out even deeper meanings that can enhance their lives, and perhaps the lives of those they interact with daily in mainstream culture.
I have heard many fans state they identify with the beliefs of Klingons or Vulcans. They are attracted to "honor" or "logic". They see themselves or they see what they would like to be in these groups and characters. In order to better incorporate this into their lives, they dress as those characters / groups with which they feel such a connection. They find a sense of security and a sense of self improvement which is often also applied to what they may do at home, the community, or on the job.
Fans are doing far more than participating with the Trek myth, they are participating in the cultures and the myths of those cultures with which they feel a stronger connection. These are what I refer to often as sub- narratives. All groups combined represent the main, progressive , narrative, while maintaining their own, sub-narratives or the stories of each culture in Trek.
Great post Curtis. We certainly do come at this from similar perspectives. I think the anaology you make between fandom and religion helps solidify the claims that there are deeper issues - that Trek is indeed progressive myth. Fans, like religious followers, or members of any culture who play out their lives based on their past mythologies, need to perform certain rituals in order to access the myth. Trek as myth certainly requires participation in order to fully comprehend the myth and access the messages. Trek differs in that it is again progressive myth, meaning , fans are seeking something outside of mainstream culture, on a global scale. They not only reach out to Trek for this, but also go so far as to identify with various cultural groups within Trek - ie the Bajorans as you mention. Fans find ideologies within Trek that they identify with and incorporate into their own lives. By dressing as these characters, they are able to better access those which they more closely identify with. They are able to more fully participate in the narrative, or more specifically, perhaps the sub-narrative, again, analogous to religious groups and practices.
I’m so glad Matt Hills chose the clip he did; a very rich artifact, to say the least. Very much looking forward to seeing your continuing work on this subject, sir!
I’m wondering if something like fan “WEKurtz2019”s work here exists somewhere in the middle ground between “mimetic” and “transformative”; check out some of the description on YouTube (“Blade Runner: Testing the data monitor of my spinner,” posted 1/11/08, last accessed 9/10/10):
“This little GIF animation I created for my car GPS navigator recreates *accurately* the "ENVIRON CTR / PURGE" data screen from the movie Blade Runner (the one that appears where Gaff and Deckard lift off from Sector 4 abord a police spinner). I made it to shock the fans of the movie who get into my car… :)
There are, however, two segments of the animation which come from my own harvest. The first one is the screen where you can see the power graphs from the three propulsion engines present in these flying cars. The other is the final screen which informs the pilot that the spinner assumes the control (‘auto-pilot’). I added these segments to cover the moment in the movie where the camera interrupts the vision of the monitor for some seconds.”
The fan is both duplicating *and* creatively inbetweening, as it were, to fill in gaps from the original text.
There’s even more to discuss; the “PURGE” screen was used previously in Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, for example. What a great example of Hills’ own “endlessly deferred hyperdiegesis” (FAN CULTURES, p. 142).
Oh my, what a fantastic way to close out our week. Tremendous post; thanks to Matt Hills today, and another thank-you to our other great curators!
More to come from me presently.
I agree with Ian: this is a very fine post, Matt.
I particularly like your desire to highlight these aspects of fanwork that, as you note, go unnoticed in academia, but are oh-so-present within fan communities. While a well-known writer or artist gains cachet, a master builder gains a visible reputation within their community, both as a craftsperon, but also as a potential mentor or partner, someone who can easily teach others who are interested.
Prop and costume making are often get viewed by civilians in news footage, on social media, etc., and thus get far more play outside of the fan communities, which is a nice way to perhaps pique people’s interest (or just cause eye-rolling that someone would spend that much time (and money!) on a prop gun or on a costume). Even if non-fans don’t recognize the text, they can appreciate the attention to detail that comes through in a well-made prop or costume.
Do you think that with the rise of new open media, like YouTube or Flickr, that fan builders are able to gain more recognition and attention? Does this help them organize panels at conventions?
This is an absolutely fantastic post. As you pointed out, there has been far too little discussion surrounding prop creation, and it is an area that is rich with unique examples that are just begging to be explored further. Blade Runner is the perfect example of this since it is such a visually rich and complex film (which in some ways makes fan-produced props even more impressive due to their ability to hone in on specific details and recreate them). In many ways, these activities are some of the best examples of fans bringing these fictional worlds to life on a large scale (as you say, through fan labor). Do you think that this sort of analysis could be applied to fan films? Star Trek: Phase II (formerly Star Trek New Voyages) springs to mind since the sets and props are constructed from the original blueprints of the 1960s series. However, the difference there is that these fans may instead be following a more concrete "recipe" than Blade Runner fans who construct these props without a guide beyond the visual reference.
This was an enjoyable read, and a lot of interesting points have been raised. I’m particularly interested in Kayley’s comment about fan relics and how they fit into the ideas you raise, Curtis. A quote of David Duchovny’s, talking about the internet and its role in bring X-Files fans together, seems rather fitting in this context:
"My initial response — and I still hold this to be true — is that [the internet] takes the place of some of the functions of a church in a small town: A place where people come together, ostensibly to worship something. But really what’s happening is you’re forming a community. It’s less about what you’re worshiping and more about, ‘We have these interests in common.’…When I was at Comic-Con it felt the same as the small-town church thing. I’m not denigrating ‘The X-Files,’ but that fellowship isn’t essentially about the show. The fans came to Comic-Con to honor us but I think they’re honoring us because we inspire them to have a certain kind of fellowship."
Certainly, as an X-Files fan, I’ve found being involved in fandom very much like being a part of a community. Even if the show is the only thing we have in common, there is a sense of fellowship and acceptance. And the rituals that some (if not most) fans have - like watching the episode How The Ghosts Stole Christmas on Christmas Eve and timing it so that the midnight chimes in the episode go off at midnight in the ‘real world’ - foster that sense of fellowship and connectivity. While that is usually an individual ritual, it offers a connection to the wider community of fans in that I know I’m not the only one watching that episode at the same time.
Thanks, Daryl, for an interesting post and clip.
I’m really enjoying the interplay of comments among this week’s curators; what a great week!
Well, as usual, you and I are pretty much on the same page even though we come at this from different directions and disciplines. I am intrigued by Ian’s question on why we choose what characters to emulate. Do we go with like-minded characters and alien species or do we allow something hidden within ourselves to come out? Why do the aggressive Klingons seem to produce such a resonance with fans who otherwise seem mild-mannered and law-abiding? Certain characters or species appear consitently to push Jungian archetype buttons and it might make for a fascinating psychological analysis to see how different fans assimilate those archetypes.