Recent Comments

November 30, 2016 - 22:34

My favorite black hole of the internet, is where you find the different names that fans have created for these type of relationships. For example, JohnLock or Wincest. Fans create these "ships" (or relationships), and will defend it at all means, they may even go down with their ship. So I find it totally believable that there are fans who will continue to read into the subtext of the show, even when told by many that it is not possible. I do find it interesting that the creator of Sherlock are toying with their emotions, could it be their way for engaging their audience and forcing them to come back for more?

November 30, 2016 - 22:22

I was hoping that someone would talk about the role of the "angry original viewer/fan." While I am open to change, I just wouldn't see some of my favorite films adapted to modern times. For instance, the Back to the Future franchise or Ferris Bueller's Days Off. I personally, place so much value in these films that it would be impossible for me to enjoy them any other way. I'm not saying that a remake/reboot wouldn't shed light on newer issues or target a group that it didn't before, I just like being apart of something from the beginning. I wear it as a badge of honor.  

November 30, 2016 - 21:53

Hello Ashley, 

I really enjoyed when you said, "we want to insert ourselves into worlds we love," because that is exactly what fan art is. It is expressing how these characters made you feel and predicting possible outcomes. That is the thrill of being a fan, being able to immerse yourself into this "brand." It is both something that you create, but also something that you are apart of. You can share your ideas with other fans and know that they understand what you are describing. It is being able to be be yourself and enjoy it. 

I have also never seen the Cinderella video that you describe, does the cast being POC change the story at all? 

November 30, 2016 - 21:41

So, I've been thinking a lot about your question. Do you think that onscreen tags, such as the watermarks shown at the bottom of the screen during a show, would count as a strategy to linking the producers and the fandom together? For instance, Pretty Little Liars' fanbase is full of teenage girls, who most likely have twitter pages. They would then use the tag that appears on their twitter accounts which would link them to other fans of the show, in which they can develop a conversation. Also producers/cast members can also join in and respond with their fans. 

November 30, 2016 - 12:28


I'm very interested in your vision of the expert fan and the corporatized tastemaking practices which drive our current reboots.  I think you're right that there is an ideological risk in feeding the desires of fans back to them as a new canon of retrospective - one which perpetuates the most oppressive systems by feeding audiences expected, low-effort morsels of "change" which changes very little.

I am thinking very specifically here of the "gay Sulu" dust-up for Star Trek: Beyond, in which "expert fans"—including writer and star Simon Pegg—forwarded a progressive revision of Roddenberry's universe by changing the orientation of a main character.  The original actor, George Takei, spoke with great passion about maintaining the continuity of Roddenberry's utopian galaxy, arguing that to have had the character closeted for 50 years of the series would reveal a Federation wherein it would even be necessary to be closeted or ashamed of one's sexuality (LINK).

What strikes me as more dangerous here is the revision not of Star Trek's queerness, but how this morsel of progressive values conceals a much more dangerous ideological shift to a Trek universe populated by violence-as-prime-solution, product placement and corporate consumption, and a veneer of Apple-esque polish to make such things palatable and more appealing.

Is it any wonder, then, that avowed expert fan (and fan servicer) JJ Abrams famously claimed originally not to be a fan of Star Trek because "it always felt too philosophical" for him (LINK)?  What might this aversion to complexity in corporate products tell us about the future of genre-centric media (and a possible transition into more overt ideological positioning for future texts and films)?  What is the role of the fan in embracing, or rejecting, such changes?

I can't help but wonder to what extent fan studies is prepared—while it is perfectly comfortable giving fan cultures "ownership" over their respective texts—to likewise grant ownership over the ideological problems of production to those same groups.

Thanks so much for your post!


November 27, 2016 - 16:59

First, these are common threads that emerge from these responses are: the tension and synergy between fans and producers, affective motives and profit motives, a fan as an individual and fandom as a community, and the temporality of fans.

Shameika Harris describes the process of how fandoms build over time through social media. It is clear that fans form communities around icons and texts, however Harris also points out the processes by which fandoms structure themselves internally around themes important to their community through implicit social influence. This might take the form of contemporary fans of Sherlock en masse coming to privilege relevance over fidelity in their interpretation of the series, as described by Anna Kozak. Kozak notes that the showrunners of Sherlock refuse to explicitly confirm Sherlock and Watson as queer yet participate in queer-baiting, demonstrating the power of producers despite the significant attachment of fans. However, Glenn Jellenik's discussion of Braudy's characterization of remakes as "unfinished cultural business" enables us to take a longer view: it is fans going up against the defensiveness of producers who begin unfinished cultural business.

Fans and producers are engaged in an infinite cycle of becoming, where the fans of yesterday are the producers of tomorrow. Often cultural producers had been fans who entered the industry to finish the unfinished business posited by their generation of fans. However, as producers, they often defend their work as finished, and fend off the next generation of fans who posit new questions. This can be seen as another factor in Karen Hellekson's distinction between a producer's desire to close the text and a fan's desire to open the fandom. Even though cultural producers have tried to keep up with the sheer expansiveness of fan engagements by opening the text to multimedia adaptations and launch entire franchises as Hanna Klien and Klaus Tiber  describe, as producers constrained by a budget and profit motives, they must at some point set firmly established frames; fans are not limited by the same factors. To me, a producer who still retains a fannish self would position herself similarly to Ashley Hamouda's take on the new Beauty and the Beast - applauding that the unfinished business of feminism is being addressed, yet also acknowledging that there remains the unfinished business of a more expansive diversity.


Second, the question of this issue asks about fan motivations on the one hand, and the significance of these motivations when taking a long temporal view of fandoms on the other. Moving from an overview of all the responses, here are a number of new avenues related to the issue's question generated by individual responses and by pairing select responses:

1) Taking Hamouda's post together with Kozak's, it occurred to me that someone might defend the lack of diversity in Beauty and the Beast by saying that the story takes place in France, and thus it would be wrong to show, for example, any people of colour. Kozak's post gives us one way to ask them to reconsider - why is fidelity their primary motivation, rather than contemporary relevance?

2) Hellekson's distinction between self-perpetuation and self-interest can help us think about the difference between a fan and a consumer. It seems to me that a consumer follows the logic of profit-driven self-interest, eg someone who feels the need to buy a new cell phone model every time one comes out is following the industry's drive towards planned obsolescence. In contrast, a negative stereotype of fans is that they are people who remain attached to a text or icon beyond the time or scope that the producer intended.

3) Klien and Tieber's points about retro culture can also help us think about the role of fandom self-perpetuation across generations. Despite having lived in North America for a long time, my immigrant status becomes clear every time I do not recognize pop songs from the 60s and 70s in malls, whereas my born-and-raised-in-America friends do. In most cases, their recognition comes from their parents having been fans, who played these songs as they grew up; they have subsequently become fans despite never having watched the bands perform live. Too often we think of popular culture as cutting-edge contemporary culture, and Klien and Tieber enables us to think of nostalgia as a factor that helps fans (literally) reproduce other fans in the form of their children.

4) Scholars of fandom can be characterized as being fans of fans, in which case we also need to examine our motivations for being interested in the fan. It seems that fans allow us to find individual and collective agency and identification in a world where the culture industry is disproportionately powerful to push ideologies and exploit consumers and representative democracy might not be so representative. However, multiple responses discussed how fans have influenced cultural production over time, and this reminds us that while fandom studies is a relatively new field, we would do well to recognize that fandoms have always existed. Accordingly, we should also be open to seeing fandom in action in the past and in different societies, even when their motivations are not our motivations of today. 

October 18, 2016 - 10:19

Thank you for this response, Stephanie. I was thinking of these same questions when I taught on 'plagiarism' through copyright this week in my writing courses. I used the meme below as a way to start talking about issues of production and power. We talked about many of the issues your discussing here, particularly that there are people behind any creative work they find online (including photographs) and that they will assume different roles within these systems at different times (users of other's work, creators of work, distributors…). When we talk about writing through IP, we open up an understanding of the reasons behind rules we follow in the class outside of learning a system of rules.


October 18, 2016 - 08:25

I think that this is a very useful way to consider IP in the Writing Center - using a ground-up perspective of how we teach and tutor ethically, from source use all the way up to the ethics of authorship.  While your overview of this challenge is grounded in the structure and reality of the Old Dominion University Writing Center and how the QEP has driven this issue to the forefront, I do believe that many institutions are currently witnessing the same.  I believe that writing support services of all kinds will have to grapple with the complexities of authorship earlier and more broadly in coming years.

The approach of the ODU writing center strikes me as particularly fair and well-grounded.  It provides a great model for how educators struggling with Intellectual Property can often find a solution by returning to their pedagogical ethos and the theory that drives it, as you and your center did with North.  Practical perspectives and models such as this help the writing studies discipline build a body of practices - and literature - to move forward with these increasingly difficult IP and authorship questions.

October 14, 2016 - 19:11

Thanks for this terrific article, Jason! I'm especially glad to hear someone bluntly addressing the challenges of streaming media for fair use. This is a minor note, but my understanding is that violating terms of service actually *is* technically a criminal offense under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and has, on rare occasions, been prosecuted as such (e.g., US v. Drew). This is problematic, as you point out, because violating TOS means the source material is not technically "legally obtained," which is a prerequisite for any exercise of fair use. The EFF has been supporting legislative reform of the CFAA that would decriminalize TOS violations but as you point out, even if it were legal to do so, it's nearly impossible to rip a high quality stream anyway!

October 12, 2016 - 14:19

As a graduate student at ODU, we now have to pay a significant cost in order to ensure that our Thesis is our property. Otherwise, it is the property of Proquest. So I feel very frustrated in which the way that companies will allow us to use their service, at the cost of taking the intellectual property of the creator. I personally feel very alarmed that we are heading towards a path in which the creator within academia could  lose their rights. But at the same time, without these types of agreements, many of the platforms and services we take for granted would not be a resource. 

I think it's a balancing act and I think that our rights need to not be as convoluted as they are, but more clear and concise. I think that research institutions, like ODU, using PAAS and SAAS should have an information session as to what our rights are and what we lose in using the services. I also think it would help to ask students what would be the best option for their studies, rather than making the decision for them so as to avoid any ideas or works not being unknowingly being lost by the student.

Security is also another issue. The firm that is providing the service or platform needs to ensure that their security is state of the art. As we could see on Dropbox, people's accounts and personal information were compromised. When institutions use services, they should be forthcoming as to what information is being used, the security, as well as liability in order to seek damages if one's personal property or identity is taken.