Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fan Culture and Social Networking

Media Convergence creates and enables Fan culture. Social Networking sites provide an outlet for fans to connect and interact, easily and conveniently, at high volumes. These fan cultures consist of people who are passionately committed to something and through various media forms are socially networked together. Internet fan sites, Youtube, and Twitter are a few of the ways these fans display their devotion and love for what they are a fan of. For instance, Twilight which first started out as a novel series, is now a motion picture, soundtrack and a phenomenon. Fans of Twilight produce and purchase T-shirts, books, posters, fan websites and blogs, as well as Youtube videos and photo montages. It is a whole new culture created by fans for fans; a culture consisting of mostly females, surrounding the love story between Bella and Edward, their love for Edward and Vampires.

With the rise of the internet, open forums, blogs and networking sites such as Twitter, fans of a certain show are able to unite and interact. Also, since pretty much everyone has to be a fan of at least one thing, the internet and these sites allow for more citizens to participate in social media. These fans can discuss anything from the shows spoilers, to recaps, to sharing videos and creating photo montages of their favourite characters. The show I personally am a fan of right now is How I Met Your Mother, so that is what I’ll be using as my second example to show how the convergence of these media forms (fan sites, TV show websites, blogs and Twitter etc.) provide an outlet for the fans to create their own culture surrounding the show.

Twitter is used interestingly through an account called the ‘’Brocode” (if you watch the show regularly you know the importance of the brocade and what I’m talking about, if not the Brocode is a code of conduct created by the character Barney, a womanizer, outlining the conduct every best friend should live by). The twitter account of the Brocode, found here: http://twitter.com/brocode, posts daily codes that bros should follow. For instance, ``a Bro never reveals the score of a sporting event to another Bro unless that Bro has thrice confirmed he wants to hear it``. This is not a real code of conduct, only one that was made up on the show from the character Barney; that now has its own twitter account which people follow. It is interesting to see how these fictional characters and ideas are incorporated into the ‘real’ world and society. Also, just by googling the show one can find many fan sites with open forums where people discuss their favorite characters, create photo backgrounds and videos of their favorite characters or scenes, and compare spoilers and episode recaps. Here`s an example of an interactive networking site for fans by fans: http://www.howimetyourmother.us/how-i-met-your-mother/forum/

So, good? Beneficial? Useful? Positive? Absolutely! Fan cultures, though it creates revenue for the big corporations who create these fan products (dolls, posters, t-shirts etc.), it allows for citizens to be apart of and share with others a common interest. Networking sites help connect these fans further, and allows them to participate in the fan culture without having to go out and purchase the Twilight poster or Calenders. Social Networking sites and social media provides fans with the opportunity to voice and create their own opinions and own fan products (such as youtube photo montages); without having to support and create revenue for the big corporations.

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