Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

The Value of Media Which I Mustn’t be Engaged With Enough

Posted by Sean Hull on March 1, 2017

The reading for March 2nd was quite enjoyable, but it has left me feeling like I’ve already seen most of it, since it draws so heavily from the articles from last week’s readings. Still, one point did stand out that I hadn’t considered before, and that was the notion of producers as curators of “acceptable” fan creations, thereby offering warped views of fandoms to casual observers.

Spreadable Media’s example of this fandom-curating behavior focused mainly on differences in gender demographics, describing an official Battlestar Galatica Video Maker Toolkit which offered fans the ability to remix a select number of clips from the show, with the clips given being biased towards a male demographic due to their focus on “masculine” behavior.

Though an excellent example of biased fandom curation, I wish I could find another outside Spreadable Media’s text. In the more general context of the “mainstreaming” of cult fandoms, I can think of plenty of anecdotal examples of fan discontent with popularization, though this is borne less from fandom misrepresentation than it is from a dislike of mainstreaming at all. In so many cases of fandoms growing, tribalism occurs between the original members of a cult fan community and those newly introduced, but in how many cases can I think of misrepresentation or curation on the media producer’s part causing fan ire? This shouldn’t be so difficult.

Well, for lack of any knowledge on this subject, I hope that this blog post will attract replies telling me how sorely out of touch I am with all the woes media producers visit upon their fandoms via misrepresentation and biased curation. The dynamic between fans and producers interests me, but apparently I’m just not engaged enough with any franchise to notice these issues when they arise; I can only hope that this blog and class discussions will help to bring me up to date.


5 Responses to “The Value of Media Which I Mustn’t be Engaged With Enough”

  1. jasendavis said

    I think that the extended universe of some of the more popular shows always benefits the producer. The realm of Star Wars novels written post prequel trilogy kept excitement high even as time passed and it seemed as though no more movies would be made. It seems to me a no-brainer to allow the fan-produced media to keep mouths watering until your product is ready to be repackaged and sold back to the hungry audience. It can become detrimental if the non-canonical productions take said product down an unwanted path, but before that point, it is extremely beneficial to producers.

  2. jacobkaraglanis said

    I completely agree with your point on the cult followers that get upset over their content becoming mainstreamed. I encounter this myself constantly with music. The biggest example that I can think of is from Twenty One Pilots, they were originally an unknown alternative band, then after their second album release they became frequently played on the “popular” radio stations. I also must add that I am very much this kind of person. I cannot stand when something that I “started” or “liked first” becomes popular months or years after my “first discovery.” So I can truly feel the pain of these cult followers.

  3. nathanpowers22 said

    I would argue that calling producer curation of fan-generated content a “warped” interpretation of said fandom a little too inherently negative, though I agree some sampling bias takes place to cater to the largest demographic(s). That said, I think “distilled” may be a slightly more appropriate descriptor. As for your request for examples of such producer curation, the first thing that came to my mind was the idea of fan art contests. I just Googled “fan art contest,” checked under the “News” tab, and found this article from Kotaku about one for the game Overwatch [1]. This case may actually be a foil to your Battlestar Galactica example in that the producers seemed to favor submissions with a more feminine sensibility. If you scroll through the “honorable mentions,” you’ll find one piece that garnered more retweets and favorites from fans than did both of the winners combined, but depicted a more traditionally masculine character, Genji.

    [1] – http://kotaku.com/japans-prize-winning-overwatch-fan-art-1788317878

    • Sean Hull said

      You are right to point out that I ought to use language with fewer negative connotations, so I appreciate the criticism.

      As for your example of curation, I fear I must have horribly misrepresented myself in my post, for I was curious about examples of significant fan backlash and criticism against it, not curation itself.

      Looking back at my post, I’m glad you responded to it. It makes me see how shoddy a job I did for this day, and how I need to be more careful trying to represent myself.

  4. nathanpowers22 said

    Hey, don’t beat yourself up, man. Looking back at your post, I see now what you were asking for more clearly. I think I was just overlooking the request for criticisms specifically because I was trying to frame things more neutrally.

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