Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 7 Core Response

As I was first reading Henry Jenkins' "Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten," I really liked it. I found his nontrivializing aims of the fan of mass culture departure from the academic literature same time period. Instead, Jenkins promised to treat the fan with agency. As I continue to reading however, I found that I was quickly dismayed by Jenkins overwhelmingly simplistic arguments regarding the female fan, who according to Jenkins and his gratuitous non-evidence based statements accounts "almost exclusively" for fan writing. While I might be able to rationalize the gendered and divisive reading Jenkins gives of popular culture fandom and writing as being part of the time period Jenkins is writing in (though his lack of evidence is quite glaring), I have a hard time over looking Jenkins' attempts at understanding the reasons behind this division of genders in the realm of fan writing and fiction. Instead of presenting reasonable claims followed up by evidence, Jenkins' approach seemed to revel in popular misogynistic portrayals of females at the time and seemed to me to be of a shallow attempt at knowing the woman.

All of that said, I do find some merit in Jenkins' article and wish to contribute to and interact with it with my own knowledge of a largely female-based fan fiction culture surrounding a show. One of my friends worked for many years on the now-defunct TNT show Rizolli and Isles. Though I have never seen it, an abundance of commercials have given me enough of the ingredients to figure out the general structure of the plot: each week, two female eponymous detectives work together to solve crimes, while also relating to each other personally as they work to keep their personal lives intact. It's a buddy cop dramedy, but with two white heterosexual women instead of two white heterosexual men or a white heterosexual man and a black heterosexual family man. Given the inclusion of Angie Harmon (after her Law and Order days were over) as on the the two leads, the show, in its inception, was banking on a certain level of fan culture.

Though the show portrays two heterosexual females, since the beginning, the show has received considerable fan attention surrounding the chemistry between the two leads. In addition to fan fiction being posted on blogs, websites, and chat rooms, the show received many letters from fans who were hoping for the potential of a depiction of a queer romance between Rizolli and Isles. So pervasive were these requests that, according to my friend and source, the writers started to take this into account and, while the show ended without the two lead characters ever explicitly stating their homosexual/erotic desires, they were put into situations time and again that helped foster this hope in the fans. Simply stated, the writers were using this fan fiction to-if we’re thinking positively-foster a stronger following of the show or- if we're thinking negatively- to exploit and manipulate the fan. Either way, the fan fiction writer (of either gender) of Rizolli and Isles whose fiction was dedicated to a romance between the two leads was in fact informing how the show played out. Here, the fan is not simply rereading and rewriting, the way that Jenkins points to, but the fan is also helping to contribute and produce, and all in a cop show.

1 comment:

  1. Some critics would call the change of the writing to hint at a gay relationship in Rizolli and Isles "Queer-Baiting," but I have never watched it, and it sounds like the writers may have been ramping up to something. It's interesting how strongly the fan base can influence writers. I wonder if the show had continued on if there had eventually been a "reveal" (Maybe season 8 or something), or if the producers of the t.v. show would blatantly disallow it. It would sure change the dynamic of the two leads forever, but would that have been a bad thing?