Fandom is amazing. I shamelessly admit it and embrace it. I am a believer in the power it has to unite a group over a common media (a TV show in this case) for whatever reason: it creates a community and a conversation. And the internet has made these discussions more and more available to viewers ( and perhaps even non viewers). As Andrejevic put forth fandom is: savvy but domesticated interactivity" (44) and I could not agree more with that notion.
I have seen the Trekkies documentary a few times now, and while there are many moments that make me LOL very hard every time (I'm sure the filmmakers had a field day with all of their footage), there is something to be said about the gathering of people across many different communities, cultures, backgrounds under a common purpose: their passion for a story.
I had never heard of the site Television Without Pity before the readings, and I kind of wish I HAD known back before life happened (i.e work and grad school) so that I could have contributed to some of these forums. I agree with Andrejevic in that "TV should be more viewer driven" (p.26), especially as a writer this feels like a romanticized notion; but it is one that seems to make sense. There has to be some kind of conversation between creators and content. Andrejevic stated "Work that used to be the providence of producers is being redefined as that of the active consumer, who is increasingly booming responsible for developing a unique demographic profile and relaying that information it contains to producers" (30). Does this mean the passive viewer does not exist anymore? I'd like to think not.
I was a HUGE fan of the show Veronica Mars (way ahead of its time) and was even late to the party in discovering it-- but it touched on really tough issues for adolescents and did quite a job representing a wide array of demographics. In turn, a large community grew around the show to discuss issues portrayed on the show ( such as class, drugs, sexual and domestic violence to name a few). I was devastated to learn it was cancelled after season 3. No more. And thus a petition circulated around to rally the troops and bring it back:
Granted, another season never rose forth... but a movie did almost ten years later. But I think what the important thing gained from this petition was a rallying around protecting a story from network clutches. I'm wondering now what would have happened if a show like Veronica Mars (and future shows like it, that have a giant fan following) ended up on an Amazon or Netflix -- would the story have lived on?
Lastly, I would like to proudly admit-- fandom is what brought me to USC. No joke. The reason I wanted to write for the screen was because I was (and obviously still am) a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I was the president of the HP club in my high school called, Muggles in Denial. We had the most members of any club on campus (in a school of 1000). We met to celebrate book releases, films, and yearly trivia.
I knew the books by heart, and thus when the movies started emerging, I got a little weary... especially as my understanding of story grew. I saw the Prisoner of Azkaban for the third time in theaters (yes) by myself cause I didn't want to see a dumb movie with my brother... and while I was watching it... I realized the magic of the story I loved, was somehow lost. What I saw on screen was, to me, some strange doppelgänger of the one I knew by heart. And in that theater when I was twelve, I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter so that I could control how to create story, and how we (the audience) see it. And I committed to that notion, all the way through college where I wrote a few scripts, and then realized I loved writing them. And thus a year ago, I sat down and wrote my application for USC.
As mentioned in Trekkies, fandom creates possibilities beyond that of the story-- for me it, inspired a career choice ( a faint version of the Trekkies who are now astrophysicists :) ) but it inspired me to dream. And that is a valuable gift of story. And I think also, of all of those Trekkies coming together for conventions, and I fondly recall waiting in line at midnight for the Harry Potter book releases, and feeling connected to hundreds of people I didn't know, or would never meet in everyday life, but because of a story we did. And I am glad.
As a side note, and especially relevant to the current Bachelor season (shout out to you fans out there, you know who you are!) Andrejevic mentioned that " if TV is low quality, unentertaining, or unintelligent, the view can take on the duty of making it more interesting, entertaining and intelligent" (34). Need I say more?