Monday, February 20, 2017

Core Post 2: India Wilson_TV Audiences

Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching, provided a very intriguing and in depth look at fan culture's roots and production. The article was an enjoyable read with a well-thought out examination of the way in which different groups of people, particularly women in this case, interact with Television Media as fans. After such an interesting look at these worlds and the ways in which they are considered legitimate and illegitimate (both between fans and between fans and the external audiences) The conclusion, refuting Modleski's claim, falls flat for me. 

In the conclusion, Henry Jenkins writes, "Fans are not empowered by mass culture; fans are empowered over mas culture" (491). I personally love much of Jenkins' work on fan culture and subcultures, but this seems to be a somewhat blanket negation of the ways in which popular culture can have subversive elements built into it. For instance, Jenkins writes, "Resistance comes from the uses they make of these popular texts, from what they add to them and what they do with them, not from subversive meanings that are somehow embedded within them" (491). In considering this statement, one might respond that while materials may be produced within a commercial system that often does reflect and replicate popular capitalist mechanisms, there also can be certain things that slip through the cracks and that work towards actively counteracting elements of mass culture. 

In fact, it would be fair to say that much of what Jenkin's points out regarding the specific appeal of Star Trek to large fan worlds actually reinforces Modleski's view. For instance, the ability to raise issues of women's role in the home/professional world and how it influences their relationship. If the show's base material did not in some way counteract mass culture, then why wouldn't every show yield this type of debate and cultural production? Furthermore, I would argue that Jenkins' statement that "Nobody regards these fan activities as a magical cure for social ills of post-industrial capitalism. They are no substitution for meaningful change, but they can be used effectively to build popular support for change" downplays the actual realizable influence of fan-produced texts. This may be in part due to the time of Jenkins' writing. In the internet age, when fan texts can be so much more widely disseminated and engaged with, the effects of these materials seem much more real and concrete, particularly because the fan texts/materials in question now often influence the commercial mechanisms behind television as well as popular discourse in the news etc. 

In conclusion I think it's worth considering that Modelski's view of fans empowered by certain forms of mass culture, like Star Trek, may have more validity than Jenkins sees within it. 

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of queer-baiting in shows, which is how fan bases are also lured into watching particular shows because of the hints and winks that certain writers/producer's put in. Queer baiting is "when people in the media (usually television/movies) add homoerotic tension between two characters to attract more liberal and queer viewers with the indication of them not ever getting together for real in the show/book/movie" Although it was stronger in the 70s and 80s with shows like Police Woman or All in the Family, we still see forms of it in shows like Supernatural (between Dean and Castiel). However, more recently, t.v. shows have attempted to subtly "make cannon" certain queer relationships that writers hinted at during the course of the season instead of shutting it down. Examples like Legend of Korra, which ended with the two female leads holding hands and leaving everyone else to travel (after seasons of growing together, shows of intimacy, lingering looks, etc). Although this seems like a small move, it's important to consider it is mostly a children's show, and even the show creator confirmed the relationship after the series ended. Maybe the turn from queer-baiting to creation and validation of real queer relationships in television and film is because of these fan-bases that overtime have demanded more intersectionality and overtly diverse and non-straight characters.