Fans, Fandoms and Tumblr, Oh My!

I seem to always find a way to wiggle in participatory culture into just about any topic that could possibly involve social media. There is no way that talking about Fandom could exclude the idea of participatory culture. Fandoms are way for fans to connect and communicate about literature, films, games and other entertainment that interests them. In Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis’ book Fangasm they explain:

Fans themselves are quite aware of the therapeutic value of fandom, and that their ‘use’ goes up or down depending on how well their lives are going, Some fans ‘use’ by posting on message boards and discussing plot twists; some express themselves through writing or commenting on fanfiction, creating fan videos, or making fanart, or interacting on Twitter or Tumblr; others watch the show or read the book or buy the movie and lose themselves in the fantasy (23).

Fans use a multitude of platforms in order to bond and discuss the different fictions that they are passionate about. Tumblr is one of the largest platforms that engages fans with images, gifs, video, and fanart in order to connect and participate in the fiction that they are not directly apart of.

4267923219_827bd48882_oWhen fandoms feel threatened, they come together to attempt to overcome the force that they are threatened by. When there was speculation that Yahoo was going to acquire Tumblr, fans began rallying on Tumblr together. Not directly writing to this incident, Larsen and Zubernis write, “But rather than abandoning their ‘safe spaces,’ fans found ways around the invasion. In the end, uniting against a common enemy served to bring the virtual fandom community closer together. At the same time, our own sense of community intensified, and our determination to keep researching the ‘real story’ of fandom intensified with it” (37). Tumblr is ‘safe space’ where fans relate to each other. With the Yahoo purchase of Tumblr, fans had quite a lot to say. The possible “meddling” of Yahoo frightened fans because of the way in which Tumblr is used to create community. They felt that if Yahoo were to acquire Tumblr, the freedoms of their content would change. An article in The Daily Dot titled, “Why Yahoo Can’t Buy Fandom on Tumblr” explains the stress that Tumblr users felt when Yahoo made the deal with Tumblr. The articles states, “…Tumblr culture is fandom culture. There are still plenty of other spaces where fandom exists, but we have never had such a megalithic and central social platform so visibly united under one umbrella” (par 2). Later in the article, there is a numbered list of why acquiring Tumblr will have an affect on fandom culture.

Tumblr-logoLarsen and Zubernis continue to explain, “Clearly, if we’re including online interaction as well as in-person encounters, fandom is anything but isolating. Twitter, Facebook, Live Journal Dreamwidth, Tumblr: each day there are more social networking sites, and every one of them becomes a home for fans. Fandom is the antithesis of isolation- it’s all about community” (21). There is even a Buzzfeed list of most popular fandoms on Tumblr. The fandoms listed are discussed in Larsen and Zubernis’ book, Fangasm such as Supernatural and Teen Wolf.

There are even Tumblr blogs about fandoms that exist on Tumblr. This Tumblr page called, “All Fandoms United” blogs and reblogs omages, gifs and fanart from various blogs that exist on other Tumblr pages. Fans are able to submit fanart, gifs and images as well as submit questions and comments. Pages such as this one on Tumblr serves as a space for fans to engage in what they are currently watching, reading or have watched and read in the past. For the most part, the comments are positive and fans communicate with one another, using each other’s ideas as a jumping off point for even more fanart and fanfiction. It seems as if even though Yahoo has acquired Tumblr, fans have been even more united. They want to preserve their community and maintain its authenticity.

 

 

Larsen, Katherine, and Lynn S. Zubernis. Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls. Iowa City: University of Iowa, 2013. Print.

Images from Creative Commons.

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  1. […] (which is particularly interesting since there were only 14 episodes), internet communities (see Sam’s post on tumblr as a type of fandom), fanfiction, and even annual conventions. Even before […]

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