Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Final Project Analysis

Posted by emmaeled on May 12, 2017

Emma Donaldson, Taylor Belcher, Mackenzie Brown

For our final project we chose to focus on user generated content, the importance of audience participation, and active versus lurking fans. We chose to display these by narrowing down and focusing on two big franchises we felt that had utilized their fan base the most: Marvel Comics and Entertainment and Harry Potter.

Marvel Comics & Entertainment and Harry Potter both started out as simple series. Some may argue there is nothing simple about them, because they are so loved by so many and have became multi generational and for all ages. However, they still started out as just comics and just books. Both franchises began to utilize and really involve their fans when the digital, social media, age came into play. Without involving their fans and paying attention to their user generated content they wouldn’t have been any more successful than Matthew McConnaughey’s romantic comedies.

User generated content to us was increasingly important. Without feedback these conglomerates would not know what their audiences wanted. Obviously because the movies are based on books they have to follow a set story, however, this does not mean the audience cannot give feedback or be involved in the telling of the study. There are whole blogs dedicated to the debates of which superhero is truly the alpha and who should have their own set of movies over Ironman. Harry Potter fans were so dedicated they got a play write and spinoff book and movie.

Audience participation and user generated content fall under the same umbrella, as user generated content is a branch of audience participation. Audience participation can be along the lines of anything from liking a Facebook page for the next Marvel movie, or creating a Professor Dumbledore twitter account. This is part of the pyramid of participation. Those who are “lurkers”, like those who just like pages, are at the bottom. Then there are more active fans who share behind the scenes footage, follow and reblog user generated content from other fans. At the top there are those who are the creators and those who run the big blogs and create fan theories. Each level gets smaller as they go up. Some at the top say those at the bottom are not real fans because they do not actively seek out more for their fandom.

When creating the fold and deepstream projects on our final project, we wanted to communicate the idea that fandoms are vastly different but also similar in a certain way. Even though two fandoms can be as different as the Harry Potter and Marvel fandoms, they still have some similarities, such as a movie being released based on a previous book or a comic. When doing these projects, it was very noticeable that many Harry Potter fans, or “Potterheads,” had mixed feelings about the movies and the books. They were either a fan of only one or both, and if it was the books, they hated the movies or vice versa. It was evident that the main reason Harry Potter fans who enjoyed the books did not like the movies because of the noticeable differences that took away from the value of the content created by J. K. Rowling. Along with the Harry Potter fans, we discovered that Marvel fans had similar reactions with the characters from the comic books compared to how they were portrayed in the movies. Like all fandoms, there are different levels of opinions and therefore not all agree. Some people were okay with the character changes, while others were not and spoke, or ranged, about it in blogs, articles, tweets, etc.


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