Buying In: The Pretty Good Problem
T-shirts are some of the cheapest clothes you can get until you stick a brand on them. But then, branded T-shirts are the easiest way to identify as a member of a group while also being an individual within that group if the design is unique. I'm guilty of this; my Keep Calm and Call Ms. Marvel shirt is something I wear to identify as part of the Ms. Marvel fandom, and it was sold at Comic Con as a Marvel exclusive merchandise item. Yet the actual cost of production is probably much cheaper than that (and if I really wanted to I could possibly make the shirt myself - figure out hex values of Kamala's costume, find a vector of the logo online, make the shirt, and the rest is history), but I paid the premium price for it because of what it represents both to me and my fandom. But if I made the exact shirt, would that make it less authentic? Who is around to verify that my made shirt has the Marvel brand on it? (Of course, it'd probably be copyright infringement, but is that the case if I made the shirt just for myself?)
I didn't know the history of Hello Kitty until now, and I find it interesting that Sanrio avoided attributing anything personality wise to Hello Kitty. The fan object then becomes meaningful on an individual basis, but is the symbol the only thing tying that fandom together? We've found that there are cultural norms within fandoms based on the fan object - the Tom Petty fandom for example. But what is there for the Hello Kitty fandom if the symbol itself is up to interpretation?
From Smart Fan to Backyard Wrestler - Performance, Context, and Aesthetic Violence
I'll admit that I had some skepticism when I first started reading this, and I'm glad that the article addressed this outright: professional wrestling is very theatrical. It's not fake at all, I don't believe that for one second because from what I've seen those drops and moves look very painfully real. But the personas of the wrestlers, the feel of the matches, the smack talk, it feels less serious than other televised sports. Which is not to say there aren't any shared traits - the Seattle Seahawks actually have a flag for the 12th Man aka the fans and have coined the term 'The Legion of Boom' for their secondary, I won't pretend for a minute that football or any other sport doesn't have theatricality. Wrestling has just seemed very over the top.
Backyard wrestling originated as classic impersonation of professional wrestling, but I don't know that I agree with the analogy of backyard wrestling/professional to garage bands/rock bands. I don't know much about garage bands or their success though, the name seems to imply they don't get an audience beyond the garage. I would have likened backyard wrestling to something like college sports based on scale and the amount of organization.
Smarts and Marks definitely are the marks (sorry!) of hierarchy within the backyard wrestling fandom. It sounds like everyone in the backyard wrestling subset of the wrestling fandom is considered Smarts.
The backyard wrestling fandom seems like a pretty standard fandom to me, I think that the fan object is what puts people off. It is more violent than even pro wrestling at times, but that seems to be reserved for the very occasional moment and if the plot demands it.
(Also I find it hilarious that both these groups in the reading started in what's basically my backyard)