Fan culture and politics

While doing this week’s reading I was reminded of this tumblr post I saw a couple months ago. The post discusses transformative fan work and tries to hypothesize its appeal. It discusses how the majority of fanfiction writers are women, and that a pretty good amount of those women also identify as LGBT+, and basically makes the argument that these writers “create personal fan interpretations in order to see themselves represented, or to correct/ameliorate stereotypical portrayals”. This isn’t the only post I’ve seen that makes this argument, that part of the purpose of transformative fan work for many writers is to change the elements of well-loved source media which are influenced by harmful stereotypes created and facilitated by harmful politics into stories that reflect the lived realities of the people writing the fanfiction. I’ve also seen posts discussing how transformative fan work can be a tool against capitalism, such as this post, which describes the culture of fanfiction by saying that “women have created a community where they don’t need to buy anything to get what they want”.

I just thought it was interesting that in Fuchs’s discussion of fan culture and politics, he doesn’t talk about the political implications of transformative fan work. The perspectives expressed in the posts I quoted are debatable, of course, but Fuchs overlooks transformative fan work and gender dynamics in fan culture completely in his conclusion that there is basically nothing political about online fan culture and I think that’s an oversight worth challenging.

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One thought on “Fan culture and politics

  1. Serena – you are spot on with your critique of Fuchs rather dismissive view of the political possibilities of fandom culture. We’ll try to have a more nuanced discussion of how the participatory culture of fandom often does engage in productive political discourse more than Fuchs gives it credit for.

    Liked by 1 person

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