When thinking about fan culture usually the first thing that comes to mind is that fans are hurting the producers of the show/movie/book/etc. that they are creating content of. The fans are stealing the original author’s ideas, characters, worlds, etc. and making their own material with it and this can sometimes result in lawsuits and issues of copyright infringement and authors generally getting upset about their ideas being used (usually this only happens when the fans start making money off of the fan works).
However I would say that the fan culture that people build around these works only make the original producers/authors more popular, and more profitable. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery – fans create their own works based off of their favourite shows and movie because they love it so much that they want to be a part of it. If it weren’t for the fan culture that grew around some shows there wouldn’t be events like ComicCon (which bring in about $180 MILLION for San Diego), the merchandise and DVD copies of movies and TV seasons wouldn’t sell as well and shows and movies wouldn’t gather as many fans.
Think about the shows that you’ve maybe seen a few episodes and then given up on. Would you tell all your friends how great it is, that they should watch it? Would you go out and buy yourself the complete DVD set of all the seasons with the director’s commentary? Would you buy the merchandise and posters? Dress up as that character for Halloween? The intense fans that constitute fan culture and fandoms are the people that do this. And while with all of that engagement often comes stealing (or borrowing) of ideas and characters authors should take it as a compliment – realize that these people love the work and want to be a part of it, and because of this they become more engaged and ultimately buy into the product and help it to succeed.
In this case citizen media is feeding back into the capitalist system of mainstream media. But the fan culture still creates strong communities, encourages sharing and interactions, and amateur production of media and cultural artifacts. Its a balance between the fans and the original producers. Ultimately big media producers allow this kind of engagement, as they figured out pretty quickly that serving lawsuits to your fans is a good way to lose them, though there is always a fine line and when it is crossed and the fans step too far the mainstream does not hesitate to shut it down.
4 thoughts on “Benefits of Fan Media”
I would totally agree with this idea of fan culture or fan media being the highest form of flattery, as well as getting the original product more attention. Fan creations allow for audiences who maybe have never heard of the original to look into it, or to get more discussion formulating around the film, book etc. Fan culture is such a unique and interesting section of citizen media when it comes to the conversations of copyright, and law suits coming into play. After all…suing your fans is not optimal if you wish to keep them, so companies can sometimes get into a bind there. Yet, cannot exactly do too much because there will always be fan creations made if it inspires someone!
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Great post, it is true that fans increase the popularity of movies, and if the government established law or term that protect those fans who only use “borrowing work” for positive and non-profit purposes, there would not be so many unnecessary lawsuits in the first place. In my opinion, it is difficult to keep the balance between fans and original producers because there will always exist a group of people using producers’ work to make profit instead of truly loving them, and it is also hard for producers to recognize which of them are these “real stealers.”
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I just recently wrote a post similar to this and I definitely agree that fan culture is the only real reason TV shows, movies, book series do so well.. somebody has to read/watch/engage with it for it to be successful! I would also agree alongside Merlot that fan culture is very flattering to creators and it confuses me why they would feel it is stealing their ideas. The fans merely bounce off the ideas of creators to show the love they have for their work. I would say copyright in this aspect is completely unnecessary and I agree with your statement that if you really want to piss of your fans, that would be a good way of doing it! All in all, the success of these various forms of media would cease to exist if there were not any fans and for that, the creators should be thankful.
It seems that I agree with the common consensus within the comment section – fan culture is great! I can’t say that I am an avid reader of any fan fiction, but in a few cases I have read through entire fan made scripts. One example that comes to mind is a fan-written episode of Seinfeld that I read a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, I was suddenly watching Seinfeld again! A show I hadn’t touched in quite a while was back on my screen. This meant I was telling the jokes to friends, and possibly creating a domino effect by reminding other people of this great show. I also think that when a piece of fan fiction is written, it speaks to the depth of the characters. When outsiders are able to dive into the minds of the writers, it means that they have done a great job making the characters three-dimensional.
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