Gone are the times when being a fan of someone meant: going to concerts, buying CDs, buying action figures and cosplaying them on Halloween. The fans have packed up their printed tees and newspaper clipping. It’s a new era of fan culture. There are new components of a typical ‘fandom’.
The fan letters change by tweets.
The autographs have been by selfies.
The colorful posters and action figures exchange by talent virtual ‘fan art’.
The silent adoration has been replacing by brazen ‘shipping’ and ‘fanfiction’.
One may owe a certain part of it to better marketing and the idea of ‘selling’ the idea of a person/show or band. But it is also a result of more opportunities for interaction and more personable entities involved in the fandom.
Today, people are less likely to be gullible and passionately devoted to a person. The fan culture is more relaxed and self-oriented with both components involved aimed at satisfying the needs of the consumer. The word ‘Die Hard’ hardly sticks around as the level of dedication is much lower and the fan following is highly transient. If you were a fan from back in the day, you will come to notice that the present day fan culture is almost unrecognizable with new terms and activities.
So here is a comprehensive list of what makes up a fandom in the Internet Age.
1. Fan accounts
Fan accounts can appear on a variety of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Youtube. Some even open up separate blogs and websites to commemorate their obsessions. These fan accounts are basically analogous to your ‘box of memories’. They contain the individual’s real time response to everything concerning their fandom. It is curated with their favorite fanart, fanfictions, and interviews. It is also a common place for fans of the same entity to meet each other and make friends. A more worrying form of these accounts is ‘update accounts’ which provide a real time updates of the activities of the person concerned.
While a vast majority of these are harmless and just fun oriented, their power cannot be undermined.They often decide the outcome of many award ceremonies (like Teen’s Choice Awards) by persistent voting and trending. Further many of these are handled by multiple users and some even have over a million followers! Many fan accounts have surpassed the 100K follower mark and are hence very influential in the cyberspace.
Parodies are no longer a demeaning way for someone to undermine a book/show or song. Many fans lovingly make parodies which are instant hits on youtube. It is a very easy way to get recognized for one’s talent and hence even build a career! A functional example of this is ‘A Very Potter Musical’ which is a hilarious parody of the Harry Potter books performed by students of the University of Michigan. On being uploaded onto Youtube, it quickly gained millions of views. And thus gave the performing company StarKid a platform to tour and showcase their other work. Further Darren Criss, who plays the lead Harry Potter, attain much fame and went on to star in the hit tv show Glee and is now friends with the Actual Cast of Harry Potter!
Shipping is a curious component of Fan culture which involves many sub-terms. Often the characters that end up together (are ‘Cannon’) at the end of a book/tv show/comic/movie is not satisfactory for many fans who think other characters would be a better romantic fit. Thus to satisfy their quench there are many ‘Ships’ which ship characters who are not together in the real script. Out of all ships that one person ships, the best is often familiar as ‘OTP’ which stands for ‘One True Pairing’. These ships may be highly unusual or blatantly obvious like:
CaptainWidow: Captain America/Black Widow (Marvel)
Larry Stylinson: Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson (One Direction)
Phan: Phil Lester/Dan Howell (Youtube)
Harmonie: Harry Potter/Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
Often when people oppose a ship, it is familiar as a ‘NOTP’ which often leads to ‘Shipwars’ which is all in good humor.
Fan-fictions are somewhat extensions of shipping. When the main content leaves a person unsatisfied, there are many who write their own alternative endings or apply the characters in different situations to form new stories. While many are highly creative and help foster a passion for reading and writing creative literature, many borders on erotica. Like the Twilight fan fiction ’50 Shades of Grey’ which gain enough traction to get the issue as its own book. Many of these fanfictions easily cross the one million mark and have a passionate following of their own on sites like Tumblr/Archive Of Our Own/ Fanfiction.net/ Wattpad.
Just like fan-fiction, fan-art too is often an extension of shipping where an artist envisions the characters in different situations and scenarios. It also helps foster a passion for art and is a good practice. The artists who gain recognition are perform by other fans or even major marketing entities to make custom fan-art. And hence earn for their art. It thus provides a wide platform for them to exhibit their artwork and gain a staunch following. Many art majors are born this way.
Cosplays are no longer limit to shaggy Halloween costumes but are now occur quite professionally. Whether it is for conventions or proms or themed parties: Costumes have a whole new level. One can order professional costumes from merchandise stores or even select websites online. Many cosplayers recreate the costume to the T.
Conventions are fetus summon where fans gather to celebrate their fandoms. The celebrities involved often hold Q and A panels and book signings. Cos players and sale of merchandise is rife at such conventions.There are summon for a wide variety of fandoms and all over the world. While ComicCon is the most famous convention summon around the world, the other mediums are not behind. The Youtube convention name as VidCon. Broadway Conventions calls BroadwayCon and Anime expos are also establish frequent.
In summary, it can note that the fan culture has got less intense in the 21st century. But it is still very vibrant and thriving. It has got healthier with active participation from both components of the fandom and is more personable and productive than ever before. But it also gets bizarre as it ages: it is probably an inherent property of Fan culture.
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