Can Fandom Change Society? | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

Can Fandom Change Society? | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

Fandom, at the very basic level, is one of
the dominant modes of engagement online. Fandom is something that has become really pervasive. Whatever your interest is
you can probably find a community of people into that same thing. We’re in a culture that “I read you, you read me.”
We’re all in it together. It’s a smaller community, much more personalized. If you
want to be in fandom, fandom wants you. Fandom is saying that I really like a much more active participation with my culture. That I don’t just see a movie and walk away
from it but I wanna discuss it afterwards. I want to write stories it. I want to draw fan art. What we had is a kind of aberrational hundred years of mass media culture where
the idea of how to enjoy stories has become really passive and that fan
culture and the internet is a return to the kind of previous culture that you saw
going through to the end of the nineteenth century where people retold stories to
each other because there was no mass media. Fans are drawn to texts and universes that are
really complex. Creative worlds where you get a sense
that what you saw was only the merest sliver of what was possible. And so one of the things that fans do is like to explore the cultural levels of a universe, adding different kinds of characters, more representative characters: by giving
bigger roles to women, by creating different kinds of roles for queer people
and racial minorities, for portraying disabled people. So all of these have
been really important loci for people to come together and to tell stories
that express political values, social values, cultural values that are very
different from what the mass-market can offer and so to self identify as a fan is to say
that you’re interested in engaging culture in this really broad and rich way. Bronies are males fans of My Little
Pony: Friendship is Magic. Generally between the ages of sixteen to twenty-five. And they fiercely love the show. For a man
in today’s society to tell someone you’re a fan of My Little Pony a lot of the times they might cock their head a little bit and be like well what’s wrong with you. One of the most appealing things is
how much it directly challenges our heteronormative expectations of what it means to be a man.
The bronies that I’ve encountered in real life have mostly been completely earnest, more than ready and willing to talk
about their favorite episode, their favorite pony. They want to bro-hoof and they want to welcome you to the herd. Men traditionally have certain societal expectations and really that
comes down to a larger problem with homophobia. Andrew W.K’s on your side, you’re
still masculine. I mean who doesn’t want to imagine a world with magic and happiness and awesome flying ponies. We’ve got this very heavily gender
segregated world we’re living in in America and I think a lot of women are drawn to
Transformers because we can step outside that. I write almost entirely in the Transformers fandom. Our canon has one gender, there is one female character. That makes everybody
who’s not female some sort of gendered- other and I like exploring the idea of
what does it mean if you are free of those dynamics that we see so often, like heteronormative. This is sort of a chance to push back against that. You can play
around with that idea of who is the receptive one is that really feminized in any way or is the one who’s using the male analog part, is that the
male, is that the sort of top emotionally in the relationship? To use the idea of domination and control
and sort of reinscribe those tropes. It really allows for that kind of thing when we’re
taking, in a sense, gender norms that we are living with. In fandom, we’re a
community. We’re no longer inscribed in that men do this and women do this. It’s everybody is, in a sense, gender equal. Holmies arose out of the Aurora shooting tragedy. After it happened, on tumblr, a group of people in their fan-ish engagement started to post strange photoshop stuff that seemed to be in support of James Holmes, who was the shooter. Within a few hours of that, Buzzfeed posted a listicle about look at
all this stuff that the holmies are doing and then suddenly it became a story. Originally it was about six to ten
people but the way that it was reported it sounded like there were tens of
thousands of people. The resulting media attention meant that more people
we’re gonna be brought to that space. And the media attention guaranteed that the holmie phenomenon would turn into
a trollish phenomenon. One of the great facilitators of
community is having an outside. You can only define a community in terms of
borders and so, with holmies, they were playing into that trope in an extreme way where
only a handful of people would get it. I would argue a lot of trollish behavior is actually a kind
of fandom. So where do we draw that line, how do we cordon off what’s faniish and what’s not? It’s really important to consider that spectrum
because it’s what people do online. Most corporations want to do a kind
of branding. They don’t want anybody to think about their product in a way that
doesn’t fit with their take on their product. The fanfiction that they’re objecting to the most
is the fan fiction that is most protected under law because it’s the most transformative. It’s a specific part of copyright which basically says that even though somebody has the right to control their
intellectual property, the rest of us have certain rights to respond to that, whether it takes the original work and
does something different, changes the meaning of it, changes the form of it, as opposed to simply copying. Most fanfic writers are not actually interested in
going commercial. They want to share their work for pleasure with other fans
and that’s the amazing thing that we want to protect. If you’re a fan doing this just for love and you get a cease and desist on Warner Brothers letterhead saying you were going to be sued, every
violations has a hundred fifty thousand dollar fine. You’re like “oh my god, I have to take all my
fan fiction off the internet. I have to erase my website. I have to vanish
completely.” Except, of course, these stories that entertainment corporations tell
enter our consciousness. You know, you can’t say don’t have Harry and Hermoine get together. You
can’t tell people not to have that thought. That’s why fan culture is important. To
be able to nurture creativity and share our stories and our art with other
people. Why wouldn’t we value that? Why wouldn’t we let people have this kind of expression? Fan culture really depends both on free speech and fair use. And free speech
means sometimes taking speech that you don’t like. It challenges people’s expectations of what they consider to be acceptable in society. Here’s this space with the rules are
different, the world is very different from the world I live in and there are set rules and there are set characters and we relate to each other on a different level. And it’s
something that someone can switch between; different fandoms, different communities, different platforms. It lets many more people have a voice and it lets many people tell
stories that would otherwise not get heard.

100 thoughts on “Can Fandom Change Society? | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

  1. Haha brilliant. I came to this video from some random website and before I'd even opened the video I knew the comments were going to be filled with brony and anti-brony comments

  2. i'm not even part of the my little pony fandom and I want to smack you i am SICK of people who bash people simply because they are different and because they have a negitive steryotype applied to them, so please for the sake of my sanity could the hatefull people stop? please? your worse than those really anoying anime fans( you know the ones that like one anime and think every thing else sucks)

  3. ooooh ME!!!!!!!!!!!! hi total anime nerd minor gamer love books and can't stand main stream music. if you check around at librayrs and stuff they might have an anime club (i'm part of 2, 1 at school and another at a library) and most of them are into this stuff (from my expirence) so you might have some luck there! GOOD LUCK!

  4. I think the same argument about fanfic writers exploring gender flexibility in Transformers fandom could apply to fanfic writers in the Homestuck fandom. Trolls (the alien species in Homestuck) have a gender/sexuality flexibility quite similar to what's being described with…. errrmmm… I don't really know what the specific species name for Transformers is, sorry. But what I'm saying is it's quite a similar situation.

  5. Transformers Fandom all the way C: Slash and ship them robots. hahaha It's not really slash though since they have no genders.

  6. I kinda may form part of almost all of the fandom shown in the video…. I'm proud of them all XD
    I saw the homestuck trolls in there lol they looked funny!

  7. You got to be kidding, bronies community are a lot more homogeneous (confused rejected geeks), furries on the other hand are very diverse, I myself like female furry art but its mainly because as a man I love women, and I love art… and it extends to all women anthropomorphic representations (feminine traits). But I have to admit, there is a LOT of wicked people in furry fandom, the difference with Bronies is that there is at least a small portion of the furry fandom whose totally respectable.

  8. I'm going to take a moment to make the comments look nicer:
    Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Avengers, Merlin, Supernatural, Hunger Games, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Walking Dead.

  9. Less people hate Bronies because they think they're/the show is gay or stupid, but moreso because Bronies tend to be a plague upon everything and often drown out other things. (For example, there is a reason why they have their own containment board.)

  10. @lavoie84qc look all bronies are NOT furries here take a look at this short video called Let's Go and Meet the Bronies by Jananimation or if you want grab some popcorn and watch Ballad of brony by Saberspark

  11. I feel like this entire video is very lacking, and it also does not represent the fandoms that are ACTUALLY popular these days. I saw brief mentions of Doctor Who, but I'm almost 100% sure Bronies and Transformer fans do not represent the fandom community in the slightest.

  12. Hit the nail on the head. Its those fans that are just so god damn loud all the fucking time. We get it, you like ponies.

  13. Technically all bronies are furries. Furry = fan of anthropomorphic animals. Pony = anthropomorphic animal (they talk and do human stuff). Therefore fans of ponies = furries. It is a subgroup of furries, similar to Lion King fanclub, although that one is not so well expressed.

  14. "apersonwithaname1819" so you forgot your name and you were born in 1819 making you 194 years old with Alzheimer's and you wanted to be a kid for 180 something years…

  15. Cybertronians. It may be similar, but it's not the same. It's not just flexibility- most of the fandom has this idea that they have no concept of gender whatsoever, except perhaps as a (rare) form of aesthetic preference.

  16. Much as I love TF fandom, this video is the sort of thing that would make most people afraid to admit to even having a passing interest in Transformers. It makes it sound like the whole fandom is just one giant den of perverts who have the hots for robots. Even the MLP segment shows a better representation. Also, where the hell is the Homestuck segment? That's a much larger fanbase, with arguably a lot more weird social issues to poke at.

  17. One last thing about gender issues in TF fandom: There was a LOT of backlash from the fandom when writers decided to go the way of "they have no gender!" in the IDW comics, and made the only "feminine" character the homicidally insane result of some mad scientist's social experiment. And let me tell you, most of us would like to forget that it ever happened.

  18. As a TF fan, I would agree with you. Ours has always been a smallish fandom, if a somewhat long-lived one. And the segment only focuses on the "shipping" part of the fandom, which is very misleading.

  19. It probably was. So were those Robot Chicken episodes. You know the ones. The fandom itself has been making those jokes since the 80's. And I can't help feeling that you'd have probably been better off not knowing about those fics. They're a small part of a small fandom and should stay that way.

  20. Trust me, you aren't. There's a usually pretty stark divide between the side of the internet where they keep the robot slash and the side of the internet where they keep the rest of the TF fandom, and it's pretty easy to just ignore the former part. Which apparently the people who made this video didn't care to even mention because "GENDER ISSUES YEAH MAN".

  21. So it IS hellkitty/antepathy. Thanks, I was kind of unclear on that. Why does she get to be the voice of the fandom, though?

  22. That's just it: They didn't! Alexa's writing is actually pretty good, even if I'm not a fan of the subject matter, but she should not be the face of our fandom. She's nowhere near influential enough, nor is her stuff representative of the majority of fan works. They would've done much better getting somebody like James Roberts, a long-time fan and fanfic writer who is now writing for the canon IDW comics, to talk about how fandom can influence the franchise it comes from.

  23. This was so incredibly fascinating to me, and so very relevant today. I am proud to say that I am part of fandoms, but I find that a lot of people like to judge and that isn't cool. I loved how adults analyzed fandoms and brought their beauty out for the world to see: it doesn't make you weird, because all a fandom is is people getting together and loving something. Don't we need more love in the world anyway? I know that personally I have made many new friends that I have met through my fandoms

  24. And that is incredible to me. One point that people who are quick to judge or people that don't understand say is like "you're wasting your life watching that show," or "You need to do something better." But my question is, does it really matter? Participating from a fandom isn't dangerous or reckless, but it is giving people something they can escape to and find joy in. Sometimes we all need to escape, and a fandom could be a great way to do that. Although it is mainly through the Internet,

  25. > Serious thought provoking video
    > Explicitly references Transformers Erotic Fanfiction

    you caught me off guard there, PBS.

  26. I'm glad and regretful to say I still don't know what it is. I want to but then I don't think I want to because I don't know if I can't mentally handle requiring that information, I am unsure of what it would do to me….

  27. omg! omgo! gomgomomg! *throws up* Those are my favourite movies. This is the order of which you should watch them. If you like fantasy go with 4, 5 and 6 if you like tragedy before the original trilogy go with 3, 4, 5, and then 6. or 456123 or 123456.

  28. hmm. interesting video. i like the whole legitimizing of fan culture and its portrayal in a predominately positive light but its also really easy to come off as negative especially with the whole holmies shit. most fans aren't involved with any of that and it kinda misrepresents them but i guess that how it is. the especially loud and stupid few ruin it for the majority of awesome fans.

  29. The only problem is the government side of star wars. The emporer used trillions of tax dollars to make death stars and now that the rebels blew them up and they are the ones in charge they have to figure out what to do with all that lost money

  30. K-popper fo' LIFE! Now, k-pop has a lot of fandoms, so these are the one's I am:
    V.I.P (Big Bang)
    Blackjack (2NE1)
    Boice (CN Blue)
    BBC (Block B)
    Hottest (2PM)
    I'm proud of my fandom! (even if it isn't one of the main ones)

  31. I remember that in history, Christians were really fanatic with their god, and this drove them to crusades, and important plots in human history. OF COURSE THEY CAN CHANGE SOCIETY! this has been done years ago… sorry If I sound angry, but this is nothing new. And another thing, don't be selfish and also think of the authors creations, you are allowed to think of it. But respect their work, the last thing the know is that some character got married and had a alien baby. Is not funny for them.


    i have a gold earring on my left ear just to be clear 3

  33. MLP, Doctor Who, Halo, COD, Legend of Zelda, a lot of animes, homestuck, even Magic the Gathering im in so many fandoms I love it 😀 idc what society thinks of me, go ahead call me what you will im just doing what makes me happy 😀

  34. I love Fanfiction! I write Maximum Ride fanfiction, which is a really small fandom but has the 6th highest number of fanfics on fanfiction. net. Not a lot of people have read the books, but they are absolutely amazing. 

  35. But really, that fan fic should have said "you're" and that bothers me.

    Other than that, this is brill.

  36. I see no wrong of a fandom since your talking about fandoms here are two accounts i created that are apart of the fandom
    Animeboy4496: Otaku and Gamer
    WhOiStHaTpErSoN20: Brony and Otaku and Gamer

  37. I love anime and I can't name all of em XD anyway Homestuck, mlp, creepypasta, Furries, fnaf, Harry potter and POKEMON!

  38. What about other book ransoms like hunger games, divergent and the maze runner? I am in the maze runner fandom and i love to create fan art

  39. kpop fan culture so crazy how involved get goes beyond just loving them never knew fans in kpop actually pay attention to company, contract , stock, ceo, investments and sales. than fandoms provide catering for idols and offically applying to fandom including register number to apply. fandoms even get involved in charity work on there own amazing crazy

  40. im having a finals next week, one question is about cultural trends and new fandom theories. this video taught me more than research in like 3 publications. thanks a lot for illuminating a topic! great job

  41. In the future so near we might not even know if it has alrady past our era, the definitive opposite of Fandom might actually be a simple Apathy.

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