Sunday, February 19, 2017

Core Response #4 (Week 7)

I was super excited when Professor McPherson said the screening would be Star Trek. I’ve been a Trekkie (or Trekker, I’m not too fussy) since childhood and reading Jenkins’ article was a strange experience since the people and ideas he was talking about are so personal. Jenkins’ talks about early zines (though he doesn’t call them that), about how the majority of fanfic writers are female (which is true in my own experience, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fanfic written by a man), and I think I’ve even read the fan novel Demeter Jenkins uses as an example of feminist writing repairing canon storylines (474, 476, 481). It’s strange to see something you enjoy recreationally be talked about in an academic setting.

On the other hand, Seiter and Andrejevic focus more on interactive audiences as a whole. Seiter’s article was particularly dense, covering ideas of ethnographic research methods, different schools of thought, and how these studies connect to society/politics. While her mention of the ways The Crosby Show only perpetuate harmful racists tendencies, there was one quote about the usefulness of studying interactions within groups that I found most concerning: “Throughout the group interviews, boys and girls interact with each other, and individual children become leaders within groups. In analyzing videotapes and transcripts of these discussions, it became apparent that in many instances boys silenced girls, adults silenced children, and interviews silenced subjects …” (bolding my own, 476).

This idea combined with the fact that the majority of people in fandom are women but it often seems like the voices that are heard loudest in the mainstream are often those of male fans. The concept of the whiny nerd boy, think Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, is usually what comes to mind now when we try to depict fandom in the current mainstream, though this is changing. This contrasts dramatically with my experience in fandom which is dominated by women who are more than happy to share headcanons and facts about characters to mutual online squee-ing. 

One of the things that stuck with me the most from Andrejevic’s article was his concluding idea about the “savvy viewer” who has “an insider’s skepticism toward the notion that real insiders are paying any attention to the boards combined with a sense that understanding the insider’s perspective sets the savvy viewer apart from the rest of the viewing audience,” which is how I felt as we watched Star Trek during class (40). While everyone now knows about Kirk’s very fashionable green wrap shirt, I don’t think many know that it was introduced in that episode as a response to William Shatner’s weight gain. 

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