Social Media is the Anti-Hero in the Story of Fandoms

            Social media is the reason fandoms are alive and thriving in a world that may have completely forgotten about them. Snail mail and newsletters just were not up to snuff with the rest of society, which had switched gears to a faster way of communicating. People not only couldn’t leave the house without their cell phones but e-mail engaged the thoughts of the entire world, becoming a popular medium for individuals, businesses, and institutions but also for fandoms. Technology and Web 2.0 saved fandoms from extinction and, according to Jon Accarrino in his article “How Social Media Revolutionized ‘Fandom’ Forever”,  “Social media has changed fandom forever”.

 

But with the shift of celebrities going from just a celebrity to becoming their own “community manager”, fandoms can be a little trickier to maintain and control. Being a celebrity in this new digital age has its benefits and repercussions.

 

In class, we talked about how celebrities on various social media platforms can be trampled over simply for tweeting about their opinion on a film they were or were not a part of or because their fans suddenly realized just how anti-feminist their writing was for a massively popular science fiction series like Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s new show runner and an acclaimed screenwriter underwent some flack from fans who appreciated his work but didn’t appreciate the way he wrote his female characters. Instead of taking stock in his fans comments, however, Moffat retaliated with arguments that backfired in the only way digital communication could – he didn’t mean to say this-or-that that way. After fans challenged him to more and more debates, eventually, Moffat closed his Twitter account completely.

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What can one learn from this? Can you blame social media on the demise of the reputation of one celebrity? Or do you blame the fans for sticking out their necks and proclaiming their opinions simply because their faces and voices couldn’t be heard, just read? In class, we’ve also discussed how people find it easier to blast others with heir opinions and start fights online than it is to speak about issues in real life. But, even if social media gives fans a way to communicate easier and others the ability to share their opinions safely, how safe is it for celebrities? Minorities?

 

Social media utilized by a celebrity can go an alternative way: a representative employed by the celebrity acts as the head of the communication online. For example, when actor Dominic Monaghan first came on to the Twitter-sphere, a personal assistant or publicist was the first to tweet a message about how she/he would tweet regularly about Monaghan’s life and career. If Monaghan had time to tweet himself, he would end the tweet with his initials “DM”.

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While I don’t see any fault in this manner of using Twitter both for fans and to establish a presence online to publicize a celebrity, I can see why many fans might disagree with the method. Fans, now satisfied by real tweets from celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, were longing for the same relationship with a popular actor such as LOST star, Dominic Monaghan. In their eyes, if a personal assistant was the middleman, there was no relationship at all.

 

Do you agree with the fans? Would you feel cheated out of a fandom if a celebrity never tweeted what he/she would actually say? Are social media platforms appropriate for fandoms where people’s love and attention can be flipped at the tweet of an opposing opinion? I say onward with web 2.0 in fandom communities! Just like Accarrino said, “Mass communication with a niche community, or even the entire planet, is now direct, easy and instant” making my daily dose of news about my favorite celebrities faster and easier. Who wouldn’t want that?

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2 thoughts on “Social Media is the Anti-Hero in the Story of Fandoms

  1. I think it’s a little sketchy or misleading when a celebrity isn’t the actual person tweeting. Even more so when it’s just a character and not a real person. I’m a big How I Met Your Mother fan and I follow Barney Stinsen on Twitter and he always tweets weird and silly things but some of them don’t even seem like something even the character would say. I understand the idea behind having a character tweet. To build publicity and gain fandom. I just think they should go about the process a little more efficiently.

  2. I think web 2.0 and social media sites have more or less simply brought out the fan in all of us. I definitely agree that new technology and media have revolutionized fandom but I don’t think it saved fandom. Fandom existed for a very long time, and it wasn’t dying out. A great example is E3 the video game expo.

    It started off with a group of people just talking and discussing games they like and trading games between each other. It lived in obscurity like that for years, until only a few years ago it started getting attention. I can’t say how much the Internet or new technology and media had in making it into what it is today, which is a full blowout that most gamers mark there calendar for, but I can say that as a fandom it was existing without any help from social media or anything else

    The key to fandom is community and obsession. A community can be as big as a nation or as small as two to three people. Obsession doesn’t actually require anything but something to obsess about and a person to like that something enough to do that. Now what web 2.0 does and social media sites do is it gives any user those two things in abundance. You can find whatever you’re interested in online, and if you can find that you can probably find a community for it. With it being so overwhelmingly easy to become a fan and at least find a community, web 2.0 and social media have simply n=made the barrier to entry for fandom almost none existent and so there for it draws out the fandom in every one.

    E3 was a small fandom community. A fandom community may thrive better if it’s bigger, at least it will draw more people into it much easier if nothing else, but in the end a fandom community is a fandom community. It’s just a person craving to share and discuss something that they really like with someone else. Everyone has that, and now everyone can.

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