The word “fan” is one with a plethora of negative connotations. No, I’m not talking about this kind of fan…I’ll save that for another post.
Prior to my research on this topic, my idea of a fan was a screaming 13 year old with a crippling addiction to One Direction. Whilst there may be millions like this, I discovered a huge online world of diverse fandoms, branching from K-Pop communities to Fifty Shades of Grey fan clubs.
The Internet has allowed a culture of online sharing and collaboration to flourish. Not only do we, as an audience, receive information about the things we love, but also we, as prosumers, use that information to create content and share with the online community.
K-POP is a genre of music that started in South Korea that is now also a culture of fan fiction and fashion, specifically amongst teens and young adults throughout Asia. This fandom, whilst still primarily based online (especially for fans in Australia) due to its geographic restrictions, is unique in that fans are just as active as real-life fans as they are online. They express their interest in the genre by dressing up, attending events and imitating the art itself.
But what did fans do prior to the Internet? The Beatles had “followers” (not the twitter kind) before the Internet became commercially accessible like it is today. I find it interesting that the Beatles, a band that had no reliance on re-tweets, Facebook likes or YouTube views, remained unrivaled in popularity and fan frenzy for nearly 50 years. Now, it seems that history is repeating itself, with ‘One Directioners’ (One Direction fans) rivaling the hysteric scenes of the early 1960s when Beatlemania swept the globe.
A prime example of fan collaboration and self expression can be found at ‘Supanova’, a pop culture expo that provides fans with a real-life platform to interact with their idols and share their own content with others with the same interests. The convention is not limited to one specific fan, with the global event boasting celebrities and entertainment from the Sci-Fi, Gaming, Pulp TV/Movie, Animation/Cartoon, Fantasy, Comic Books and trading card communities…just to name a few!
Henry Jenkins mentions in a video on participatory culture, “…in a folk culture, media is produced not to make money. People produce media to share it with each other”. I think this is the best thing that the Internet has offered us as fans, the opportunity to share our interests with the world and perhaps connect with those who enjoy the same things.
I started this post with a Beyoncé fan video and I will leave you with another. Enjoy it as much as I have.