Weekly Readings

The Very Merry Un-Gangs of Disneyland

I love that the gangs themselves cover a varied set of demographics; it plays into the exclusivity needed to join a fandom, but there isn't a barrier in terms of age, gender, etc. I would consider Disney fans relatively not stigmatized though, but Disneyland itself feels pretty exclusionary being oriented to younger kids and families. It makes sense that they still feel like outsiders, and I admire that they wear it pretty proudly.

What I'm blown away by is the MiceChat transcript about the first reference to the crews. It's almost a utopian response to them: people ask about it, there's confusion, but there's no... judgment. We've seen that no fandom exists as a utopia, but in the age of the Internet I expected a more virulent response. Is it because the subject matter is Disney? Because it was novel then? The article talks about the complaints about the social groups later in the article, but that seems to be attributed to later groups popping up with a less stringent code of conduct. 

We talked about this idea of trying on an identity, but the social clubs of Disney - at least, the kosher ones - seem to take it as a lifestyle, doing charity work and making the experience more magical for other visitors. They're spreading the ideas they've learned from it around to make people feel less like outsiders around them, deflecting the feeling of alienation they themselves feel, and I think that's why it's a good move that Disney hasn't made a move either for or against them. IKEA screwed up big time by messing with the top of the social hierarchy when they came down on IKEA Hacks, but Disney seems to smartly realize that some of the bad eggs may come down to a few lone bad groups or the public perception and complaints about these groups. 

The Clothes Make the Fan: Fashion and Online Fandom when Buffy the Vampire Slayer Goes to eBay

I'm going to try very hard not to aggressively sing the theme song (or the soundtrack of Once More with Feeling). It's actually a little hard to not quote Giles' line "I've got a theory, that it's a demon [...]" though when I read through this article. For starters, Buffy dressed exceptionally well  given her economic standing, especially when she goes to work for the Doublemeat Palace. How she afforded those clothes and could stand up to Cordelia's fashionwise is pretty baffling, something that I hadn't realized when I was watching the show. But I disagree though with the assertion that the Scooby Gang becomes 'cool' in the end; they're certainly more comfortable in their own skins having saved the world many times, but they're still looked down on by the mainstream society of that universe. True, the Trio is a group of nerds as well, but I think it creates an interesting foil for Willow and Xander demonstrating the bad side of nerddom, which every social group in high school has. But that's off topic.

Clothes! New clothes! (gosh I miss Cordelia, they just don't make good female characters like that recently)

In class when we discussed the Veronica Mars and Zach Braff Kickstarters, I disagreed with the Zach Braff one based on the pitch the actor was making in his video; it felt very... oily to me. The cameos by Jim Parsons and Chris Hardwick, the commentary... it didn't sit right with me. I felt like I was an opportunity to be capitalized on, and I think that the eBay auction of Buffy's clothing feels very similar. eBay, much like Kickstarter, feels like it belongs to the people - regular ordinary folk go there to sell their goods, not corporations. On a corporate level, it's certainly a brilliant move: why not take advantage of all the demand for BtVS paraphernalia? They were all going to be disposed of anyway after the show ended, so why not make some extra cash? People want that custom item that's unique to them alone, that they can point to and enjoy the social capital of owning that item. As a fan though, it stinks. Then again, I place value on actually meeting the actors from my favorite shows and seeing them live at conventions; I don't understand the psychology of it but it's a valid form of fandom. It's why the Comic Con booths selling already signed posters do so well. 

The creep potential is also very real; the fact that the signs of 'use as collectors item, not for the smell of <Actress/Actor' were needed is mildly terrifying. Imagine being Sarah Michelle Gellar and a fan buys an item just to smell her? EEK. But I think that the point of people wanting to be like her is very valid. The Limited has a Scandal collection inspired by Olivia Pope on the show, so you  can feel like her by dressing like her. Imitation is one of the core fan activities.

The criticism of Fox (not that I ever say no to criticizing the network that CANCELED FIREFLY) about trying to promote it for fans but ending up playing to people who have the money is one that still exists today in convention circuits and other fandom marketplaces. I went to the Supernatural convention last year and watched people outbid fans to buy fandom paraphernalia only to turn around and sell it for a markup. When there's money to be made, anyone can take advantage of the fan demand, which is sad and wrong. And yet here I am as someone who had the financial capability to pony up to go to these conventions and meet the actors. However, in this case, Fox made the money back instead of donating to charity. That was a foul move, and though I imagine there are some fans who still would have purchased things no matter where the money was going it was still a bad move because the fans cared about it. They upset the social contract they had with the fans, and with all the following moves they've made now it's generally well known that science fiction shows on Fox will inevitably end up canceled. They shot their reputation in the foot, and this article really should not have surprised me as much as it did.