Both Andrejevic and Jenkins address issues of fandom practices, emphasizing the political dimensions of fan involvement. I want to briefly discuss Andrejevic’s main ideas in relation to some general thoughts on AMC’s The Walking Dead’s Story Sync and Walker Stalker fan conventions.
When TWD airs live, viewers are encouraged to visit their second screen site. Know as “The Walking Dead: Story Sync,” viewers interact with such features as quizzes on whether that character should/not have made a decision, zombie kill predictions, and trivia emphasizing connections to previous episodes of the series (http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead/story-sync/). As such, Story Sync “reconfigure[s] the viewer’s relationship to the screen along the lines of the computer user who both watches and interacts” (Andrejevic 29).
On the other hand, fan conventions become, in light of Andrejevic’s article, seemingly sinister in comparison to the type of fandom Jenkins discusses. I personally have attended one of the official conventions, known as Walker Stalker Con (http://walkerstalkercon.com). The convention travels to several major US cities (I went in Dallas, TX), London, and now features an actual cruise trip. You are lucky if you get to see the most famous actors (Rick, Daryl, Carol, Michonne), but it is fun to get to meet actors and others involved with the show in person.
|Walker Stalker Con logo|
Of importance to me here is the cost of these fan interactions. For autographs, the cost is anywhere from $20-$150+ and photo ops (which are taken by a professional photographer) are anywhere from $250 to upwards of $1,000 as they can feature multiple actors in one image. Actors profit a ridiculous amount of money from doing these weekend-long conventions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Norman Reedus can pocket $500,000 in one convention weekend (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/stars-getting-rich-fan-conventions-933062). Is this fan exploitation? It’s an enormous amount to pay just to get in, let alone see the actors. The basic ticket price for 2-day admission (some people are only there certain days of the convention) is $90. This only includes admission—there are special tickets like the Platinum VIP which costs $1,400.
|Norman Reedus at Walker Stalker Con|
Overall, I personally spent way too much money at the convention and do kind of wonder what the political implications of fan exploitation are in this circumstance. Also, I also am curious about the feeling of fan capital in terms of being able to say I have collected these autographs and photos from the conventions--proving I'm a real fan, a "better" fan perhaps? Nevertheless, I love my autographed poster and still will be likely to continue attending these conventions that feature tons of zombie fans, merchandise, panels, and interactive experiences.
|My poster signed by actors that play Merle (Michael Rooker), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)|
|Michael Cudlitz (Abraham)|
|Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha)|
|Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman)|