Fan & Content
The relationship between an individual fan and content (movies, macrame, motorcycles, music, etc.) is the one whose narrative is the simplest, most known, and most portrayed in media. Basically we’re looking inside a fan’s head. Why Do They (singular) Like The Thing? How Do They Like The Thing? Each person’s story is going to be different of course, and I’ve got 15 to prove that.
Content draws a fan in by some means. Regardless of the method of discovery (of which there are many, according to several of my interviewees), why and how long and to what intensity they stay interested in the content depends on… innumerous factors, really. Jenkins describes in Participatory Culture (as I mentioned in my Nancy Drew Self-Doc) that a balance of fascination and frustration keeps a person engaged in content and fandom, and that’s really it. That “fascination” can take several forms, but the most prevalent that I’ve seen in my experiences is relatability. Finding representation in a story, in a song, in a content creator’s life experiences… Not to just let this point be a throwaway, but, it really could be anything. And it could be inexplicable to the fan themself. “Why do you like ____?” Don’t be surprised to get an “I don’t know, I just do,” because sometimes… you really just do.
Sam’s interview will cover this model more completely, so head on there for that explanation, but the image of the bullseye was poignant enough to warrant a discussion on the topic of fan intensity. With the thing or the content in the center of a bullseye, where does a fan fall in relation regarding emotional “closeness” or intensity of “connection” to it? ... Does that sentence make any sense at all? Anyway. The topic could go down two paths, I think. 1) At what point on the bullseye does a fan “cross the line” from fan adoration to unhealthy obsession? (A topic discussed in my K-Pop Self-Doc and, more explicitly, in an old final project on fandom and obsession.) 2) Anywhere a fan is on that board, whether they’re a casual fan or diehard, whether they like one song or follow a tour… well, in Arya’s words, “if you are a fan, you are a fan. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.” And that is something some, more gatekeep-y fans often forget.
With the boom of social media, fandom has thrived on a global scale. Jei points out the ease of “finding stuff” and how security has kind of tightened over the years due to increase of minors online. Which is a whole other deal. Before you pass judgment, though, peep Tim’s interview, and know that mature content creators in fandom do go to lengths to set barriers for their art/writing/etc. But that’s fan content, and that is not what we’re talking about right now. Measures to bar minors from mainstream mature content (movies, video games, etc.)... that’s more on the parents. Something I lowkey went off about for a sec. Long story short, is that the internet makes it easy to access content from around the world (i.e., anime, K-Pop) and participate in the content’s online fan community.
Fictional Content vs. IRL Content
This. I think this might be one of the more interesting aspects of this project. To me, at least. Because I’m a nerd. Just to clarify, fictional content = made up stories and characters in books, movies, shows, etc., while IRL content = real-life people, events, things, stories, etc., like celebrities or musicians. Since joining a fandom of IRL content (K-Pop), the dynamics of its fans compared to my fiction fandoms past have been pretty similar, but with added perks and… let’s call them higher stakes. Perks being that you could have the chance to see the artist or celebrity in real life. Higher stakes being that, on the celebrity/artist’s side, the threat of negative (and rare, I would like to stress) aspects of fandom are very very real. I go in-depth (ish) about this back in that fandom and obsession project I mentioned earlier. If you haven’t checked that out yet, wow look, another chance to click the link on this page alone. But anyway. Main point: there are distinct differences between being a fan of fictional content and IRL content. Several interviewees touched on these distinctions, but feel free to check out Abbie’s and Jei’s, specifically.