Fandoms allow a fan to be a part of more than a typical audience member; it allows them to be a part of a community with others who share their same passion and excitement for one fandom. There are fandoms everywhere: Twihards [Twilight fans]; Pottheads [Harry Potter fans]; Gleeks [Glee fans]; the Beyhive [Beyonce fans]; the Navy [Rihanna fans], and much, much more. It’s clear to see that social media has had a tremendous effect on fandoms in multiple ways. A social media site in itself, has allowed fans to become closer to their favorite entertainers and play a big role in whatever production [music, television, and film] as well.
One example is the television show The Office. The show originally started in England and because the fan base was so large there and Americans were going on line to watch it, the show was then brought to the States. I actually got into the show because I saw several memes on Tumblr and Twitter that I found funny, and the rest was history.
More serious fans of the show have created a fandom newsletter called The Scranton Times, [which comes from the show’s setting], which allows fans to take the roles of different characters such as Dwight Shrute, Jim Halpert, or Pam Beasely, and write stories in the voice of their chosen character. Social media also allows for quick distribution to several thousands of people; in some cases, this ease of distribution allows the audience/fans to play a role outside of the fandom, and into the actual realm of the production. A user-generated video of a wedding party dancing down the aisle was distributed so much, that it was recreated for a wedding episode of The Office. A lot of fandoms also participate in live-tweeting while watching their preferred show using hash tags as a way of identification and uniformity. Scandal, is a prime example of this, as its fans, known as Gladiators, live tweet with each other, the creator of the show, and the actors as well. Gladiators have also been so active that t-shirts have been made that goes along with the plot of the show.
Just like for television and film, social media has changed in the music world as well. When you once had to write letters to your favorite artist and pay money to subscribe to a fan club where the most you received was a copy of an autographed picture, now, a simple tweet is all that is needed. Sites like Twitter remove the troubles and uncertainty of letters and fan clubs without exactly taking away the fan clubs. Musical artists all over have their own fandoms from Beliebers [Justin Bieber fans] to Monsters [Lady Gaga fans] to Katy Cats [Katy Perry fans]. I recall when Rihanna took to her Twitter account during the recording/production phase of her album Loud, asking her fans who she should let be featured on her song “Only Girl In The World”. Her millions of followers responded to her with their choices including rapper Drake, who was eventually revealed to be the one featured on the song. Her survey brought millions of people all over, whom have never met before to become one, and make a very important decision for her that could have been successful or could have been a fail [luckily, the song was a big success]. This is a clear example of how social media has and will continue to shape fandoms and its users.
Since technology is forever changing, I am curious yet excited to see how fandoms will change in the next 10, 15, even 20 years from now. If social media were not in the picture, would the traditional fan club be prevalent? Would fandoms themselves be a ‘way of life’ like it is today?