Can fandom change society? PBS video

[Video Link] PBS has been making great videos about online culture. This one about fandom is especiall good.

Before the mass media, people actively engaged with culture through storytelling and expanding well-known tales. Modern fan culture connects to this historical tradition, and has become a force that challenges social norms and accepted behavior. Whether the issue is gender, sexuality, subversiveness, or even intellectual property law, fans participate in communities that allow them to think outside of what is possible in more mainstream scenarios. "Fannish" behavior has become its own grassroots way of altering our society and culture, and a means of actively experiencing one's own culture. In a sense, fans have changed from the faceless adoring masses, to people who are proud of their identity and are stretching the boundaries of what is considered "normal."

Can Fandom Change Society? | Off Book | PBS


    1. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it weren’t so often used to gloss over the erasure of women.  In the transformer lady’s spiel- especially in the part where she speaks about the dynamics of relationships between non-female robots  (and there’s a phrase I never expected to type)- I kind of heard echoes of that. Maybe I’m wrong. It just reminded me of another slash manifesto I came across, one that argued that the beauty of male/male relationships was that they were equal relationships, unlike male/female pairings. (They made no mention of female/female relationships).  And it was one of the most depressing things I’ve read. I think there are some interesting arguments for wanting to increase the diversity of sexuality in culture, or hell, just in “This is how I like my porn,” but I also think that there’s sometimes, for some people, a strong vein of internalized misogyny running through the whole thing. 

      1. Pretty sure appreciation of the beauty of female/female relationships is not the subject of neglect by heterosexual men, if my smut hoard is anything to go by.

      2. “I also think that there’s sometimes, for some people, a strong vein of internalized misogyny running through the whole thing. ”

        I’ve found the same. It’s probably my biggest disappointment with internet counter culture.

        1. Sad to say, this is very true. I’ve spent my time both within slash-heavy fandom (as a slash participant/writer/roleplayer) and without (I grew out of that phase of ‘tee hee dicks touching’) and… well, let’s just say I’m way more picky about my slash fic now because most of it serves to erase ‘problematic’ female characters. 

          And, frankly, most fandoms simply don’t have what it takes to convince me that their alteration of Dean and Sam or Kirk and Spock or whoever is anything but internalized misogyny most of the time. Not that a lot of those fandoms don’t have their own problem with having internalized misogyny already present (I’m looking at you, Supernatural, Avengers — hell, all of comics, if you get right down to it — and several other groups).You really can’t win for losing in fandom, when it comes to fair, accurate and unsensationalized or hypersexualized examples of homosexuals, male or female. It’s either the women are dumped as soon as possible to make way for hot man on man action, or they’re marginalized, most often by other women writers.

          We are our own worst enemies, some days. 

          1. Tonto: “You speak for your self White Man” (or girl, as the case may be…).

            Your kind of statement says more about you than it says about the fandom you were a part of.

            You were in a small, insular, niche fandom, lget out, then turn around, and complain that you niche fandom acted small and insular, while painting the rest the assorted related fandoms with a RATHER wide brush, here.

            “erasing women” Have you even looked at the moe~ side of the house, or rule-63 fan-foolishness?

      3. Hardly original on male/male relationships. The Greeks got there first. Intellectual equality amongst men and the possibility of love justified the necessity of one partner adopting a passive (female) role.

  1. I question the wisdom (and the meaning) behind including transformers porn and the fans of mass murderers in a video that’s positioned as explaining fandom and fannish activities and dynamics to a more mainstream audience. I’m not saying that discussing those things and trying to understand them is worthless, but it’s kind of like the master class level of analyzing fandom whereas the first half of the video is the intro 101 stuff. 

    And as a random, apropos of nothing comment: I am seriously impressed at the ability of the presenters to speak at auctioneer/car dealership-fine-print  speeds. Unless the audio was just sped up a bit. Then I guess I wouldn’t be impressed.

    1. I think your two thoughts are related, actually. All of the OffBook episodes seem to clock in around 7mins, so in order to fit that time constraint the production team needed to do heavily editorializing as well as speed up and cut close the audio of the talking heads. That is to say, each section of this video could probably have been it’s own 7 mins, or even a large portion of a feature length documentary on what fandom is. Since they didn’t have that luxury, you only get to see the most eye-popping stuff with the larger thesis present but somewhat glossed over.

      1. honestly, if i want to get an overview on a field im not familiar with i want a basic lexicon and then a quick briefing on what the current issues are. 

        though i think that may be giving the video a little more credit then it deserves, i cant quite make up my mind, the talking heads were saying good things, or at least a few second clip of some good things :/

      2. I thought this was a good high-level survey, but I agree that many topics touched on could be explored more in-depth and I also agree the time constraint shows. I felt like I was watching an angry VH1 Best Week Ever. I don’t know if it was the speed of the explanations but they started to seem overly defensive instead of enlightening.

  2. Realistically,  all of these tropes explored in this show as part of fandom were originally pioneered  in Science Fiction Book fandom, and it’s first major outgrowth, Star Trek fandom. SF Book fandom has been having conventions since 1936! It has it’s own lingo, publications, and all of the other sociological constructs that help build and cohere communities. This continued to grow until the premier of Star Trek, the first Science Fiction  TV show that attempted to do serious  SF in a continuing universe. And it was out of this that Star Trek fandom formed as a subgroup of Book SF fans. They then took all of the facets of Book fandom; Conventions, APAs, and Fanzines and grew them to the next level.

    I could go on, but I feel a thesis coming on…:-)

      1. Though not entirely unserious!  The best example of unabashed social relevance in Lost in Space appears in the series pilot, “No Place to Hide” (hence also in its first episode, “The Reluctant Stowaway”).  Indeed, it is the founding narrative, the plot foundation of the whole series:

        “Today, the first of what may be as many as 10 million families per year is setting out on its epic voyage into man’s newest frontier, deep space.  Reaching out into other worlds from our desperately overcrowded planet….”

        Yep, the population explosion — topicality, only few seconds into the series.  Although clearly not as sustained a treatment of overpopulation as, say, Star Trek‘s “The Mark of Gideon” (coincidentally co-written by none other than Stanley “Tybo, the talking carrot” Adams), the very beginning of the Lost in Space pilot could hardly be a more prominent place from which to send a message.  Other SFnal mainstays touched upon from the very beginning: cryogenics, AI, and of course space colonization.

        Conceded, that’s about as far as the show went as “serious SF”….

        And hiya, BD.

      2. His name is Tybo, buddy.

        And he was the defender of the vegetable kingdom from the depredations of the animal kingdom. Fairly relevant, particularly in the mid-1960s.

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