Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Core Response #1: Who Governs the Realms and Content of Fandom?

Henry Jenkins article Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching really interested me in the reading of Stark Trek super fans being active viewers and participants in the ever-growing and maintaining of the popularity of Star Trek.  I must admit that I found the documentary we watched, Trekkies, downright hilarious.  As someone who really gets into being a fan, I’ve cried twice upon seeing Celine Dion and finally getting her autograph, the level of fandom shown in the documentary was definitely much more intense that anything I’ve ever experienced.  What I found most intriguing about Jenkins' article was his grounding in the fact that simply being a fan, even a “crazed Trekkie” is not sufficient in explaining and understanding the intricacies of fan culture.

Jenkins concept of super fans/fan culture “poaching” was fascinating, especially in relation to the Kirk/Spock fiction stories, the ideas about character rape, and the kind of fan cultivated erotica that was mentioned in the documentary.  I am a fan of Star Trek, I use to watch Next Generation with my mother and I love all the Next Generation films.  However, I had never even heard about this kind of erotic fan fiction based on the characters of Star Trek.  I think it’s a bit strange, especially since it’s based on a projection of meaning and experience that was not really a part of the show, but if it makes people connect with the characters and the show more then ok. I mean, is it that much different than say those Fabio romance books?  However, I was honestly taken aback by the use of the term character “rape” as being indicative of a violation of the true nature of a character based on the show.  It’s such a loaded word, with malice, pain, and violence attached to it that I find it hard to believe that any re-imagining of any set of characters could really constitute using the phrase.  What is also interesting about this idea is that it’s based around the concept that no fan has the authority or agency to assign qualities, actions, or characteristics onto the characters that were never a part of the original series because it gives fans too much freedom to essentially reject what is part of the actual aired material.  However, what makes this erotica so uncomfortable compared to say people further developing one of the “alien” languages that goes on to express and use much more vocabulary than was ever created for within the context of the show?  And if fandom is all about participation and taking a series or subject matter past it’s original creation then what makes the erotica so off-putting and taboo? Is it simply because it’s erotica or because there are roots in homo-erotica? Not to stay too stuck in this whole “erotica” discussion but it definitely has me wondering why there are limits on where extensions of fan culture are allowed to exist and who makes those limitations?

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