I will be interviewing Mekhi Phifer and Maggie Q (Max and Tori from Divergent) tomorrow!
What should I ask them?
January 24, 2014
MIT bad ideas!
This picture may or may not depict the moments before a large group of MIT students came to enjoy the rescued-from-a-dumpster infinite amounts of Odwalla smoothies….. *Raises freshly sterilized plastic bottle of strawberry goodness* “To the future.”
Let’s Hope My Advisor Will Go For This
21F.301— French I
15.301— Managerial Psychology Laboratory
CMS.100— Introduction to Media Studies
6.903— Patent Law and Intellectual Property
CMS.621— Fans and Fan Cultures
21W.750— Experimental Writing
CMS.400— Media Systems and Texts
CMS.309— Modern Science Fiction: Transmedia Storytelling
Oooooh. Also I am taking a ceramics class through the student arts association!
[accidentally cares more about tv shows and fictional characters than education and academic success]
let’s hope that my vampire diaries addiction doesn’t get to this level….
Fandom: The Lifeblood of Media
My Final Paper for CMS.701 about fanfiction and fan derivatives. I will post a less formal reaction to the topic eventually— I have a lot more to say about it than this paper could have contained (page limit and time limit combined).
Fandom: The Lifeblood of Media
“Patterns of media consumption have been profoundly altered by a succession of new media technologies which allow average citizens to participate in the archiving, annotation, appropriation, and recirculation of media content. Participatory culture refers to the new style of consumerism that emerges in this environment.” (Jenkins Tarantino’s Star Wars, 552).
Wherever there is media, there will be fans. Fan culture used to be limited to a select group of people creating fan magazines and attending conventions. However, with the rise of the Internet, it is not surprising that fan culture has grown and thrived online. Fans can now participate in and engage media without leaving their computers. With this new scope of fans and audiences, an interesting dynamic exists between media producers and media fans. As a book, movie or television series gains popularity and success, it gains a fandom. Members of fandoms often show their support, loyalty and love for media by creating things like fan fiction, fan art, music videos and other amateur fan content. One could see how this might bring up questions of copyright. I will argue that once a media creator releases content —his story, characters and plots— they shift into new forms of media for audiences. Fans take these and transform them, giving them new meanings and messages. Furthermore I will argue that media companies have and will continue to benefit from embracing fan behavior particularly this creation of fan fiction and fan art.
Fandom is the price of popularity. If a book, movie or show gains popularity, a fandom and fan created content is inevitable. Media producers can rest assured that merchandise will sell, viewers will tune in, and box offices will report record numbers in sales, if they have gained a fandom following. However, while media producers appreciate these effects of fandom, the other side of the coin, fan participation, may not be so well received. As Jenkins mentions in Tarantino’s Star Wars, the Star Wars franchise sought to eradicate any fan fiction that promoted ideas and pushed storylines that they did not endorse (558). The argument and key issue is that the Star Wars franchise holds rights to Star Wars characters, stories and plots. With this in mind, should fans be able to write fan fiction using these characters, stories and plots or is this a violation of copyright laws?
The answer currently seems to be that most fan fiction falls under Fair Use because it is considered “transformative” (PBSoffbook). Fair Use protects transformative uses of copyrighted material and transformative uses are defined as “uses that add new insights or meaning to the original work, often in ways that copyright owners don’t like. For instance… a retelling of a story that offers the villain’s point of view sympathetically or adds explicit sexual content, can be a transformative fair use”(Gray, Sandvoss, and Harrington 62). This idea fits in perfectly with the appeal of fandom and fan created content. The general attitude of fans is that fan fiction gives fans the opportunity to include more of themselves in the story, not necessarily by writing a fan fiction starring themselves, but rather making a story more LGBT friendly or giving the female lead a stronger role. It seems that what makes fan fiction a transformative piece of writing in the first place is usually what fans appreciate about fan fiction most. It should also be recognized that fans aren’t trying to snub media companies by writing fan fiction, in fact
“…fans who create derivative works tend to be sensitive to the interests of copyright owners in getting attribution for the original, canonical versions of their characters….fans acknowledge copyright owners’ legitimate economic interests, but maintain that their activities do not hurt and even help revenues from authorized works, by increasing loyalty to and interest in the official versions.” (Gray, Sandvoss, and Harrington 64)
Regardless of the type of fan fiction fans create; they are all aware and reverent of canon, the original story and its contents. It is understood by fan fiction writers and readers that canon supersedes anything written in a fan fiction. Fans will create content simply because they love their fandom and the shows, movies and books associated with them.
Some companies fear that fan fiction and other fan created works interfere with their official branding. They argue that perpetuating unofficial stories is damaging to their franchise and reputation. For example, erotic fan fiction being spread around the web relating to Harry Potter, which is a PG/PG-13 series, may not be favorable for a franchise with a largely young fan base. Fortunately for fans, not all media companies share this sentiment. Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, made a statement regarding fan fiction, saying “there is no more profound way in which people can express what Star Trek has meant to them than by creating their own personal Star Trek things” (Schwabach 9). Schwabach argues that Roddenberry’s support of Star Trek fan participation contributed greatly to the success and longevity of the series (10). Furthermore, fandoms and fan created content amplify the popularity of media, effortlessly attracting and sustaining an even larger audience for media companies. For media companies to continue to be successful they need to be more accepting of and responsive to their fandoms.
A recent example of a media company who has embraced the idea of fandom and what comes with it is the Swimming Anime fandom. The Swimming Anime fandom seemed to emerge out of nowhere, forming before there was even a swimming anime series. In March 2013, YouTuber CureSumika, an amateur animator and anime fan, posted a thirty-second long trailer for an anime project he had in mind. The trailer featured a group of swimmers racing around a pool, there was electronic music playing over the scene— no dialogue whatsoever. For some reason, fans went crazy over this short video, a fandom rising overnight creating fan art and writing massive amounts of fan fiction around these unnamed characters. What was so appealing about this short clip? I’d wager it appealed to many teenage girls interested in watching a show featuring five or so perfectly animated swimmers. Or perhaps it was the potential for a story behind the swimming action—the clip really only showed what went on in the pool. Maybe fans wanted to know what drove the characters to competition and what their friendship and comradery could do to give life to the swimmers. Eventually, fans organized petitions and finally convinced Kyoto Animation to take on the project. The Swimming Anime became known as Free! Iwatobi Swim Club and is currently on its twelfth episode. This example supports Ian Condry’s argument that collaborative creativity (in this case, the animators, fans and anime companies) is crucial to the success of anime. On a larger scale, this example demonstrates the increased power that fans have in the media world today. CureSumika could not have predicted that his small project would be seen and embraced eagerly by a huge fan base that would eventually make his idea a reality. It is clear that “media companies act differently today because they have been shaped by the increased visibility of participatory culture: they are generating new kinds of content and forming new kinds of relationships with their consumers”(Gray, Sandvoss, and Harrington, Jenkins Fandom 362). The producers at Kyoto Animation benefited from fandom behavior as the fan fiction and fan art created by fans brought a popular idea to their attention and allowed them to market a new anime series.
Because the Internet allows for easy communication and perpetuation of ideas, fans and media creators can interact effortlessly. Producers can easily gauge want fans want to see by what they are talking about online, what sorts of concepts and characters they include in their fan fictions. This allows for a dialogue between fans and producers rather than a monologue— it allows fans to participate in media culture.
We are not going to stop producing media and fans are not going to stop gathering around media that they like and forming fandoms. With new technologies being produced almost constantly, fans certainly aren’t going to stop using them to create their own works and responses to professionally produced media. It is clear that fans will continue to develop and spread their ideas, using popular movies, books and television series as media to do so. It is accepted by many that fan creations are generally protected by Fair Use and offer insightful transformations and reactions to media. Media companies need to embrace their fandoms, recognizing them as the lifeblood of their popularity and the audience that keeps them in business as well as a predictor of the next popular topic or media. Current fan productions are only the beginning; there is a vast untapped creative potential waiting to be discovered in fan communities. Fans should be encouraged to participate in media now that we have the technology and means to share ideas of all kinds and to shape our culture collectively, not commercially. After all, “fandom is the future” (Gray, Sandvoss, and Harrington, Jenkins Fandom 361).
Bancroft, Christine. “Into The Hive Mind: The Fandom That Did The Impossible | Neon Tommy.” Into The Hive Mind: The Fandom That Did The Impossible | Neon Tommy. N.p., 06 Feb. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
Booth, Paul. Digital Fandom: New Media Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. Print.
Can Fandom Change Society? Prod. Kornhaber Brown. PBS Offbook, 2012. YouTube.
Clarke, M. J. Transmedia Television: New Trends in Network Serial Production. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print.
Condry, Ian. The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story. Durham: Duke UP, 2013. Print.
Eisenbeis, Richard. “If You Like Shirtless Anime Boys, Watch Free!” Kotaku. The Gamers Guide, 05 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
Gray, Jonathan, Cornel Sandvoss, C. Lee Harrington, and Henry Jenkins. Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. New York: New York UP, 2007. Print.
Jenkins, Henry. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print.
Sandvoss, Cornel. Fans: The Mirror of Consumption. Oxford: Polity, 2005. Print.
Schwabach, Aaron. Fan Fiction and Copyright: Outsider Works and Intellectual Property Protection. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2011. Print.
"Swimming Anime." Know Your Meme News. N.p., Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
IAP is upon us here at MIT— for the uninitiated that is Independent Activities Period which lasts the month of January. IAP is a time that most students love more than any other during the school year. Students can use the time to study abroad, take classes for their majors, take classes for fun, and even take classes taught by other students. IAP is a great time to learn any skills you may want to possess but don’t have time to pursue during the semester or time to devote to projects.
I had been planning to use my IAP to listen in on a few programming classes, however that fell through because I didn’t really end up caring too much about programming and because the last fourth of my IAP will be devoted to a program called UPOP (but more on that in a future post) so I wouldn’t be able to really complete any classes anyway.
So what have I been up to this IAP? In short, writing.
As many of you know, writing is my absolute favorite thing to do. Poems, fanfiction, short stories, tweets, emails, essays and articles— I’ve been writing plenty of each. *Perhaps I will even get around to posting some of the many opinion/review/other random thoughts pieces that I have saved on Google Drive, who knows.
For those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking— I’m seriously considering law school! I spent a lot of time this past semester preparing a final paper for my Debates in Media class and the topic I chose to write about concerned fanfiction and other fan derivative works (fan art, music videos, etc) and copyright laws (which again is a post for another time). Not only did I get the chance to remember how much I enjoy slaving through the library stacks and databases and writing essays, I discovered that I am actually really interested in Intellectual Property Law.
Just this past week I attended a presentation given by an MIT alum about his career as a Patent Lawyer and he also gave us a brief overview of patent law which I found fascinating and actually amusing in some ways. Anyway, I am really excited about this direction— I’ve even ordered some LSAT books because I am a dork who actually likes standardized tests….
I have also registered to teach for MIT’s Educational Studies Program once again, this time for Spark. Spark is a weekend long teaching extravaganza for middle school students to come and attend classes taught by MIT students. So far I have registered the following classes:
A Brief History of Information
History of The Beatles
How to Dress Like Harry Styles
Nerdfighteria: Vlogbrothers Marathon
Tropes and You
Reenact Your Favorite Fandom/Movie/TV/Book Scene
This past fall semester I taught several classes for ESP’s Splash program, like Spark but for high schoolers. The classes I taught then were:
SAT Vocab Fanfiction Writing
Defend Your Ship: Calling All Fangirls and boys
I’ve also applied to teach a class to high school students during the summer. I had to design the class myself submitting a syllabus for a 46 hour course. The tentative title I gave the course was: Communication Through Pop Culture and Media. I will be very excited if I am selected for an interview to teach this.
-I am moving to a new floor on the 31st so expect a virtual tour/cool pictures to come then.
- UPOP blog post
- Various other ramblings
3 Down, 5 to Go
Semester #3 is now over! I am typing this from the comfort of my bedroom at home. I arrived in Lansing on my birthday this past Thursday and so far break has been great. This fall my family adopted 2 cats and I got to meet them for the first time this break— I’ve been spending quite a ridiculous amount of time chasing them and giving them cat treats.
This semester has been one of the most successful I’ve had. I started out the year as a chemical engineer with 3 jobs and a research position. Then half way through the semester I decided that I really wasn’t interested in chemical engineering and was finally brave enough to declare a humanities major, Comparative Media Studies. Comparative Media Studies, or CMS, is a program unique to MIT. I’ve asked other CMS students and professors “what exactly is CMS?” and the answer we’ve concluded so far is some mixture of internet culture, video games, civic media, journalism, film, web design and interaction and storytelling. Kind of a lot to take in. I am not so sure what I want to do with the degree after undergrad, but I will sure be researching options and speaking with advisors.
This semester ended spectacularly for me grade-wise—- STRAIGHT A’s!!!!!! I’m feeling pretty good about things which is a complete change from this time last year.
Right now I am in the midst of figuring out what to take/work on this IAP and Spring, so more on that later.
Congrats MIT EA Class of 2018!!!!
I’m Karleigh, a 2016 Comparative Media Studies major (yes humanities majors do exist!) . Ask me anything about MIT and life here or whatever you want. I’m super friendly, I live in East Campus and I run a tea store.
So yeah! CONGRATS you are awesome! Ask me things!
And I couldn’t resist adding these GIFs…..
Awesome Ender’s Game hack at MIT!