Finding a “Space” for Fandom

Fandom exists all around us and can be found in many different forms of media. It is a feeling that everyone has or will experience in their life, whether it pertains to music, sports, TV shows & film, literature or even individual celebrities. Mark Duffett explains in Understanding Fandom An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture, “Media fandom is a recognition of a positive, personal, relatively deep, emotional connection with a mediated element of popular culture” (2)

Common forms of media fandom can be seen through live performance music, as it has been a popular experience that evokes such an emotional response that participants can feel they discover not only elvis presley concertthemselves, but their true passions and desires. Since the beginning of popular music in the United States, fandom has had its place.The birth of Rock n’ Roll perhaps presented the earliest fandom experience in relation to the image of the live crowd, explained by Duffett as “the energetic group of admirers who have assembled in one place to see them.”(3) The most notable early examples of music fandom would be the raging crowd of screaming fans at Elvis Presley concerts, or the large crowds conglomerating to welcome The Beatles during the British Invasion the early 60s.The-Beatles

Today, however, music fandom is largely seen at festivals, where hundreds of thousands of people can come together as a community based on their deep, personal, and emotional connections that the medium is able to evoke. A particular interest of mine having to do with live music fandom is EDM and Rave culture and how it has influenced our youth culture since the 1980’s. This genre of music has become so popular that its created a community based on Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, also well known as the term PLUR. It raises the question of whether or not one can become a fan of a “place” rather than of a specific “text”, person, or show. In my personal experience, I believe this is very much possible. Back in 2009, I attended my first music festival, The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio Valley, CA. This experience for me was very eye-opening, as I experienced being around so many people who have the same passion and interests as I do. As I spent the three days under the sun, listening to all different genres of music, I met many different people who all shared stories of their many different Coachella experiences. I realized at that point that this festival was about much more than the music. It’s about the experience, the people and the community that exists for this one weekend a year at the Indio Valley Polo Field. For me, the community and “space” was enough to want to go back. For the next four years, I returned to the same polo field to once again have the experience I so much enjoy and crave to experience again. I believe that as a physical space, Coachella is a great example of a fandom community as I myself identify as a huge Coachella fan, and although It is not an experience I have every year, I will always feel as though I am apart of that community.

Duffett explains on Page 6 that without fans, fame is not possible, however, without media, there could be no fans. It is a self-benefiting and appreciating system that both parties can benefit from. Another important example of a communal “space” that completely revolves around fandom and media is the popular event, Comic Con, happening every July in San Diego, CA.

Comic-Con-Crowd

This event is a spectacle, as it brings hundreds of thousands of fans together to appreciate the very mediums they love to love. As more than just an excellent marketing opportunity, Comic Con provides a space for these many fans to commune in their natural habitat without fear of outside persecution or influence. This is especially important as it gives more meaning and value to those who work and develop the products for fans to enjoy and for all those fans who finally have a communal space for appreciation. Other than in the online community, fans need to find their own space and thanks to organizations like Goldenvoice and Comic Con International, fans are finally able to find their home.

Duffett, Mark. “Introduction.” Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 1-34. Print.

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