To break this week’s topic down to its basic form, what is fandom? I mean we are all fans of something and we may like this or be interested in that, but how do we know what fandom we are part of? In Nancy Baym’s article “The new shape of online community: The examples of Swedish independence music fandom,” she says that while it is not clearly defined, most people seem to agree that it involves “a collective of people organized socially around their shared appreciation of a pop culture object or objects.” It is a place where we can be a convergence culture in which we also have shared identities.
So, how have we gotten to the fandom communities that we have today? The answer to that is simply fan activity through the advances of the internet. Because we all have a smart phone or a computer, we are able to instantly look on our Facebook or Twitter feed and connect with what/those people we are fans of. The accessibility is at our finger tips. While it used to take weeks for a new newsletter or package to arrive from your N*SYNC fan club, you can now find out information (and then some) about them. While your “behind the scenes” set pictures of Friends might have taken weeks to arrive in your mailbox, (almost) anything and everything about the show can be found on the internet. Are you curious how the writers came up with the idea for smelly cat? Well, had you written this question to your Friends fan club in 1998, you can now Google it and it’s a quick find.
For the Friends fans out there:
Because everything is so accessible and fast paced today, we can look something up we are curious about, be it a band or TV show, and the answer is somewhere out there online. Not only that, but bands and producers of TV shows and movies are creating Twitter accounts and making Facebook pages for fans. Baym states about the Social Networking Sites, “most interfaces encourage people to list or friend the bands they like in constructing their on-site identity.” I know that for me, this is quite helpful. I am one of those fans that gets excited seeing new information posted from a TV show or band. I think it’s the sense of insight I get and that it helps enhance my brain’s database of the show or band. I mean, we all (on some level) want to know all that we can about the things we are interested in. If not, you come off as unintelligent on the subject and maybe even a n00b *gasp*. But as I mentioned before, it’s also a place of shared identity.
Although, with this close connection to [that of which you are a fan of] you can feel a close bond to what you find to be so dear and important to your life. I know that I have made some connections with bands and actors that would not be possible had it not been for MySpace and Twitter (and people’s kind hearted souls). Being friends with the Carter Hulsey band and Erik Griffin (Montez from Comedy Central’s Workaholics) not only lets me interact with the music and shows that I like, but can help with my career as well. Being a RTVF major it’s evident that being a fan of music and movies has led me to the career path that I am on. So with the accessibility of all these fandoms I am not only able to gawk about the third season of American Horror Story and connect with others about it, I am able to connect with people involved in its creation and production.