1. Barbas, S. (2001). “Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and The Cult of Celebrity” FALGRAVE, St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition
The fascination of Hollywood started from the beginning. In 1910 citizens who went to the picture show were enamored of the stars on the screen and the behind the scenes stories of how to make movies. Barbas’ book explains fully the ideology of celebrity and fans. I really liked this quote in the introduction: “Fans not only consume mass culture but also appropriate and manipulate it.” Even back in 1930 when fans were writing the studios begging for a tough-talking hero, the studios delivered with the actor, Clark Gable. Barbas talks about how fans actually created their idols and how they manipulated studios.
One of the other big issues she shares is the dynamics of how the fans may have controlled Hollywood, but how Hollywood also controlled the fans by capitalizing on the fans interest in the stars. Hollywood urged the fans to see consumption as a way to participate and the fans gladly supplied their time and money to help the cause. They might not be able to sit next to Greta Garbo and talk to her, but by golly they could wear her lipstick.
Authenticity is another aspect that Barbas asks to consider. The fans wanted to know just who those stars were, for real. They wanted to discover who they were away from the cameras or if that hero in Clark Gable was just a façade, a character, or could he be a hero in real life? So this pursuit lead to fan clubs and fan magazines so fans could get closer to those stars.
Another interesting topic Barbas shares is the beginning of the Movie Star Fan Club, and how fans came from all over the world to discuss goals and objectives, activities and development. The first fan club convention started in 1933. Fans came together to share how they would promote their clubs and organizations for the upcoming year. All were volunteers. They started a cause called “Boosting” because they believed that in boosting the celebrity status of their favorite star or movie, it meant more perks for them.
This book is perfect for what I want to explain about how fandom began in Hollywood in particular and how the system of celebrity and fans is a give and take one.
2. Barton, M. and Lampley, J.M., (Ed.). (2014). “FanCULTure: Essays on Participatory Fandom in the 21st Century” McFarland and Co. Publishers. Kindle Edition
“FanCULTure” is actually a group of essays. The authors of this book focus on how fan cultures can become more like cults. The authors offer a brief fan history on the fandoms of shows and movies like, Firefly (Whedon, 2002), Dark Shadows (Curtis, 1966), Lord of the Rings (Jackson, 2001), and Harry Potter (Columbus, 2001). Each fandom has its own distinct group of members with their own hierarchy, culture, and even nicknames.
The book is separated into three parts. The first being the case studies mentioned above and how each show had their own fan “productions.” Serenity and the fans of the show Firefly (Whedon, 2003) proved that fan culture can make a show on the brink of cancellation become high profile and lucrative. Loyal fan followings can no longer be ignored; they are able to control much of what is seen in Hollywood.
The second part focuses on social media and how piety or the lack there of has played on the media of sports and television. Tim Tebow is the focus on this part of the essay and he explains how he used sports and social media to share his religious beliefs. It is surprising how religion has either held up or down the person who expresses their beliefs. Tim has his detractors, but it seems that his religious beliefs and the way he shares them are being accepted. This makes me think about how crowdfunding uses situations and emotions, or beliefs to market their platforms as well.
The third section of the book shares the idea of fan-influenced content. The main focus for this section was about the adult fans of LEGOs. Because of the adult fans of LEGOs, the toy company began creating more complicated kits for grown men and women who were collectors or fans of other media. They began by creating LEGOs for such fans as Star Wars (Lucas, 1977) and Lord of the Rings. LEGO realized the market for adult builders and created a whole new world of fan memorabilia. Again, the idea of marketing, crowdfunding, and fandom comes into focus here and makes me excited for my research.
3. Gregg, M., & Seigworth, C. (Ed.) (2010). “The Affect Theory Reader.” Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.
The definition of “affect” and its meaning is encased in the pages of this book, which I vaguely knew to begin with. I like this particular definition of affect at the beginning of the book: “Affect, at its most anthropomorphic, is the name we give to those forces-visceral, forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing, vital forces insisting beyond emotion—that can serve to drive us toward movement, toward thought and extension, that can likewise suspend us (as if in neutral) across a barely registering accretion of force-relations, or that can even leave us overwhelmed by the world’s apparent intractability.” I really could not have put it as eloquently as this. We are all guided by affect or our emotions, and those stimuli that spur them on are emphasized throughout this book. Reading this book was kind of mind boggling with its philosophical theories of ontology. Yet, there were a lot of ideas I found that supported my thesis.
The book goes over the metaphysics study of ontology, which is the study of being. Reality, existence, other worlds are not quite what I was looking for in my research. But, then I discovered chapter four, “Cruel Optimism.” This chapter goes into the “object of our desires,” and how those desires are really a cluster of promises we are hoping to fulfill with an attachment and close proximity to the object. My research on fandoms resonates this idea of these kinds of desires. Fans willing to do anything for their favorite media object would be considered a cruel optimism. I think of it as more of a vicious cycle.
Reading further I found that chapter five, “Bitter After Taste,” reviews the “ideal” and how it is not always as good as we think it is. How often do we get close to something to find out that it was not what we supposed and we are let down and disappointed. Fans arguably do the same. One can be a fan of a television show, but if a favorite character dies, or does something a viewer was not expecting, that fan could become unhappy and lose interest in the narrative. Chapter five reviews the idea of social aesthetics. Social aesthetics is considered to be a deep-rooted passion mixed with minor and major affect emotions such as envy, shame, surprise, embarrassment, etc. Aesthetics can become a moral improvement, where the improvement focuses on sensation, perception, and sentiment.
When I began to read this book, I did not think it would be very helpful for my thesis, but now, after reading, I find it has a great wealth of explanations for how the human spirit reacts to certain stimuli and emotions, as well as how it will be an excellent reference for why fans react to stimuli.
4. Gross, M., (2005). “Starstruck: When a Fan Gets Close to Fame” Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition
It is safe to say I love media, fandom, and the art of celebrity. A true fan much like myself wrote this book. The only difference between he and I is he took what I would only think of doing and did them. He is someone who was able to get the “in” on celebrities. He went inside the fan and celebrity private circles and decided to write about what he witnessed, which was quite a lot.
Gross’ book delves into the underbelly of fandom and the lengths fans go for a particular celebrity. He talks about how all this has become a business, and it isn’t always a good one. He shares the idea of reciprocity, if a fan will do something for the star, the star should do something in return. Many times the stars don’t even realize the way in which the fans treat them or vise versa; a fan can use the star to elevate the fan in his or her own inner circle. It seems that everyone uses everyone else to get the notice that they want.
The fans use celebrity to make money or notoriety, and it is depicted well in several case studies Gross shares with the reader. He mentions the shop lifting incident with Winona Ryder, and the fans who waited outside her courtroom, and the trial of Michael Jackson just to name a few. With each case, a fan or several of them did just about anything and everything to be near those stars, with no concern for their own person or that of the celebrity. They spent money, slept on the streets, and waited in long lines just for one second of notice, or even, dare I say, a one-on-one conversation with their favorite celebrity.
The story of the author entering into a celebrity party for Larry King was particularly interesting because it was for the journalist’s 70th birthday. Many people came who were not invited, and they were not kicked out. The main reason was to give Mr. King more attention/publicity and also allow fans to get closer to him and the other stars that attended. Stars knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate this fan frenzy mentality. It is a win/win right? Not necessarily, fans become abused and exploited and in the same turn Hollywood and the art of creating celebrity becomes more elevated and revered.
5. Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., et al. (2013). “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” MIT Press. Kindle Edition
This book is not a book per say; it is actually a report by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Digital Media and Learning, and Henry Jenkins leads the report but there are many other contributors. The report on participatory culture shows how it is evolving to become more than just a place where people can hang out but also a place where people can learn, develop, grow, and share their creativity. The other contributors have added to the report with their thoughts on digital youth culture, approaches to media education, participation, and why it is important to teach this topic and finally the challenges ahead for participatory cultures.
Although much of this book is about youth and how they learn, there is vital information and data that explains why participatory culture is so popular. There is a section that talks about “affinity spaces” and people who are part of these spaces seem to learn and develop at a faster rate. The report argues that affinity spaces offer powerful opportunities. I would say that this goes with fan culture and even the hierarchy of a fan culture. The quote on p.133 is an interesting comment and something I believe can support the idea of crowdfunding becoming one of those affinity spaces. It says, “Affinity spaces are also highly generative environments from which new aesthetic experiments and innovations emerge.”
Crowdfunding has only been around for five years; this is a highly experimental area for fan culture’s participation. Many crowdfunding campaigns, especially those designed by Hollywood and the entertainment industry offer a new place for fans to go and a new way for them to participate. Although fans have been contributing to their favorite stars, shows or movies for years, it is interesting to note that the platform of how they can contribute has changed, and I believe that is due in part to crowdfunding.
6. Larsen, K. & Zubernis, L., (2013). “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls”
University of Iowa Press. Kindle Edition
This is a fun and informative book on how two professors became fangirls over a television show called Supernatural (Kripke, 2005). In the beginning, these two women “fell down the rabbit hole,” as they titled their first chapter, into a labyrinth full of joy and disappointment. They started out as regular folk, two college professors who focused on their academia, and eventually went into the trenches of fandom to follow the Supernatural conventions around the country. Their goal was to try and meet and intimately know their favorite celebrities from that particular show. They went on to validate their fan status by writing a scholarly book about their adventures.
Larsen and Zubernis mention how the idea of fandom can be mocked. Using the documentary “Trekkies” as an often-misguided film that showed more of the outrageous side of fandom than the sweet and sentimental ideals of the show’s fans. Even sharing that the minute a person states, “I am a fan” they are ridiculed. It is almost like a guilty pleasure and oft times hard to admit even for these authors. Larsen and Zubernis run the gambit of all superficial and deep emotions expressed on the how’s and why’s of being a fan.
The last half of the book I believe to be a good fit for referencing in my research; these chapters relate several stories that happened to the authors while visiting the set of the show and becoming fan writers. They share what happened to them afterward and how the experience basically left them a little jaded, perhaps cynical and left a bad taste in their mouths.
The final chapter is very telling in how the media, namely the company that runs the Supernatural conventions, took advantage of these fine ladies and their love for the show.
Interesting enough, they hold no animosity toward the show or its producers but they came away with a better idea of how fans build up shows and how the shows they love can tear those fans down.
7. Levy, P. (1997). “Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace” Persius Books, Cambridge Mass.
Pierre Levy has a positive outlook on what the future holds because of the collective intelligence within digital culture. I do like the way Levy uses angelic and theological terms to share what he sees as an ideal utopia, if only we as humans allowed it.
Levy shows us how all that information and exchange in the cyber world can liberate us from those social and political hierarchies, which have stood in the way of advancements. He is a true historian who gives insight to the future of cyberspace. Levy shares what the post modern and modern aspects are on culture, and where the digital world will be taking us as far as how we can communicate, live, and share with one another. What is important to note for my research is the fact that Levy speaks of digital culture and the hierarchy involved and that plays right into the way fan culture has evolved.
Levy explains the social bonds of a collective as well as how that collective relates as a community. In chapter 10 he explains the semiotics of merchandise and the commodity space, and how it is an illusion, which also shows parallels with my research on crowdfunding and how the commodity space or market space redistributes indefinitely and is unfolding into the collective intelligence, or in my case fandom. I find it interesting that Levy sees this marketing space and how it could corrupt the utopian culture he speaks of.
One of the loftier goals that Levy has for digital culture is this aspect of getting away from the marketing space and living qualitatively in the digital world. I thought of Star Trek and how the value of money was no longer an issue in that narrative. Roddenberry’s world saw us communicating with small handheld devices, so maybe Levy’s idea is not so far fetched, but with crowdfunding platforms the commodity space is alive and well.
8. Spirer, G. (2014). “Crowdfunding: The Next Big Thing. Money-Raising Secrets of the Digital Age” CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Kindle Edition
Crowdfunding has grown within the last five years. Kickstarter was one of the first to gain popularity especially among Hollywood producers and creators. This book explains the basics of crowdfunding; it is kind of a play-by-play on how to raise money on digital platforms like Kickstarter and get the money you need for whatever project you want.
The author goes into detail on how a design and pitch can make or break a sale. He also delves into the marketing aspect of crowdfunding and the importance of a project’s campaign strategies. It sounds rather political, but it seems to be the nature of the beast. The focus is on successful business models, because crowdfunding is just that, a business, and a business that can take a project from the beginnings of an idea to development, to layout, to the final concept, and strategies for whatever product that may be.
This book will help me explain just how a crowdfunding campaign plays on the heartstrings as well as the pocketbooks to get people to donate money. In Chapter 12, Spirer discusses how crowdfunding with equity should be the user’s end goal, even saying how they need to learn to mine the veins of gold. He goes on to explain the reward and gift system and how that plays into more equity for the Crowdfunder’s pockets.
Spirer also discusses the negative aspects and risks of crowdfunding and how there are repercussions for a badly launched campaign. Not only could it be bad, it can also cause a user the money he or she is hoping to gain. He even quotes Malcolm Gladwell and explains the importance to put in the hours and keep on trying, because a good campaign can make you rich.
After doing some research on several of my case studies for my thesis, I believe this book can help me explain how crowdfunding can be deceitful and take donations from unsuspecting people just to make a lot of money without regard to others.
Five articles on Crowdfunding:
9. Bannerman, S. (2013). Crowdfunding Culture. 2013: VOL. 7 NO. 1. SOUND MOVES. Retrieved from http://wi.mobilities.ca/crowdfunding-culture/
This is the article that got me thinking about crowdfunding and fan culture to begin with. Jeff Howe, a journalist for Wired magazine coined the phrase “Crowdsourcing” and in the time he wrote the word it has taken flight. This article explains the change over from the word crowdsourcing to “crowdfunding” and how the platform is creating a metamorphosis.
There are new crowdfunding platforms emerging that are hopefully more influenced by community and for the greater good. One of the focuses was on a new funding platform called Kiva. Kiva offers loans from donators to those in need. It is interesting to note that Kiva also expects those being funded to repay the loan so the money can go back to the funder who may choose to donate funds again to someone else. This is one platform that I plan to use as a case study for my research on new emerging crowdfunding platforms.
10. Galuszka, P., & Bystrov, V. (2014). “The Rise of FanVesters: A Study of a Crowdfunding Community” First Monday, Volume 19, Number 5
This First Monday article focuses on the empirical study of a crowdfunding community. It also explains whether the motives and motivations of the fanvestors in supporting recording artists on MegaTotal, the oldest Polish crowdfunding site, was spurred on by the reward based system of crowdfunding. I believe this might be a good case study to support the other case studies I will be blogging about. MegaTotal was created in 2007 and is considered one of the oldest crowdfunding sites online. This study was important because it was found that what drove the fans to donate was not typical of them in times past.
11. Griffin, Z. (2012) “Crowdfunding: Fleecing the American Masses” Case Western Reserve Journal of Law, Technology & the Internet, Forthcoming. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=2030001
Crowdfunding is a business, and this essay explains how crowdfunding is all about capital gains, losses, and securities. Not that I want to write about all that taxation and legal material that crowdfunding can provide, but it is important for those who fund a campaign to know just what they are getting themselves into as far as their money goes. This is a good essay that helps explain the models of crowdfunding and how they work.
12. Lawson, R. (2013). Anyone Know of a Better Charity Than the ‘Veronica Mars’ Movie? The Wire, Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2013/03/kickstarter-kind-of- annoying-isnt-it/63060/
Lawson is very candid about his dislike for the way entertainment mediums are now using crowdfunding campaigns to produce new creative work. He believes that people are being suckered into these crowdfunding campaigns without realizing how much the studios and creators are exploiting them. He believes the person who ends up paying for it all in the end is the fan, and the fan needs to be aware of this before investing.
13. Valanciene, L., Jegeleviciute, S., (2013). “Valuation of Crowdfunding; Benefits and Drawbacks” Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania http://mechanika.ktu.lt/index.php/Ekv/article/view/3713/2499
Along the lines of the article above, this essay shares the SWOT analysis of crowdfunding. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Crowdfunding has all of these issues, and this is a great paper on how to understand these categories within crowdfunding. I believe the data from this essay will help my argument that there are drawbacks to crowdfunding and that it is not always the best way to go about asking for donations or funding.
Five Articles on Fan Labor:
14. Baker-Whitelaw, G., (2014) Inside the Corporate Fandom Marketing Machine. http://www.dailydot.com/geek/inside-fandom-media-campaign/
Magazine articles abound online for fan agency and exploitation, this article focuses, in particular, on the fans of Star Trek and how those fans perpetuated the legacy of that franchise. The article goes on to explain the “machine” of geek culture, which is a new concept within participatory culture. Tweeting and re-tweeting or using blogs like Tumblr for a media object can only help one’s own profile online, so there is that “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” kind of mentality within geek culture. They know that perpetuating a media object will be good for their business and online persona. This type of culture makes the object seem to be more real and approachable and therefore makes the fans want to participate all the more.
15. Chin, B. (2014) “Sherlockology and Galactica.tv: Fan sites as gifts or exploited labor?” Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol. 15. Retrieved from http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/513/416
I really enjoy reading Bertha Chin’s papers, and this one is no exception. This paper explains the ways in which fans have become more vested and producers of their favorite media object, but at what cost? Chin herself did a study of two different fan sites and their ideas of fan labor and exploitation. She also gives some good examples, which I hope to use as case studies, in particular the cases of Firefly and Supernatural.
16. Chin, B., et. al. (2014). “Veronica Mars Kickstarter and Crowd Funding” [dialogue]. In Fandom and/as Labor, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 15. Retrieved from http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/warner_bros._sets_up_official_petition_email_for_ veronica_mars_film
Chin’s interviewed article is about the Veronica Mars (Thomas, 2013) movie campaign and how it was the first big Kickstarter campaign that broke the records, and it was funded completely by fans. I plan on using this article to support one of my case studies. The Veronica Mars movie campaign was one of the first to show a backlash for fans, this article showed how much it made, and the ramifications it caused the fans of the TV show and movie. It is about fan agency, labor, and exploitation but also how fans can demand to be heard and the expectations of Hollywood to answer.
17. McMillan, G. (2012). Kickstarter Queen Amanda Palmer, Meet Your Internet Backlash. Social Media, Digital Trends.
Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/kickstarter-queen-amanda-palmer-meet-your-internet-backlash/
Graeme McMillan shares the events leading up to Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign and how she somewhat tricked musicians to come and play with her for free. Well, she promised to pay them in pizza and beer. McMillan also shows how Amanda Palmer took advantage of her fan-base with promises of a new album so that she could fund her own personal expenses without an album to show for it.
18. Spence, J. (2014) “Labours Of Love: Affect, Fan Labour, And The Monetization Of Fandom” University of Western Ontario – Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 2203. http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3906&context=etd
Spence is a PhD student whose 112-page dissertation is on film and fan studies. Her paper explains the “labor of love” fans perform for their favorite objects on a regular basis. She compares fan activism with fan labor and differentiates the two. She explains how even back in Dickens’ time fans helped create the content. She also shares that fans do not know the power they wield, and that there is a fine line between fan agency and labor.