READING RESPONSE for 10/13/2010

Felschow – Praxis

I have never experienced cult fandom of a medium, as I have not found something that has inspired me to become so emotionally attached that I am thrown into a fictional world. Still, I have experienced fandom of certain films and television series to the extent that I have tried to push a lot of my friends to watch shows like The Wire and Community and to watch movies such as Amarcord and Singin’ in the Rain. What I found most interesting about this article was the connection between cult fandom and religion. Since I have never experienced this “excessive” fandom, I do not know what it feels like, but the passion and fervor shown by the most arduous fans is similar to that which I have seen by some ultra-religious individuals.

I have a friend at home who LOVES the Lord of the Rings series. She was one of the youngest writers for the Tolkien society’s website, she started the club at our high school, she has a tattoo of a meaningful leaf from the series on her hip, and she speaks Elvish, among many other elements that prove her fandom. She lives out the rest of her life, but she lives the book like a religion. She is not religious, and therefore LOTR has become a religion for her. Her room is covered with paraphernalia from the films and the books, and is even insulted when people state that they dislike or have mixed emotions about anything to do with Tolkien’s literature.

What is most connected between this girl’s love for Tolkien and Hills’ argument is the fact that it gave her a community. She was a very social person at school, but she made many friends solely through her obsession with LOTR. By perusing the Internet for forums and sites affiliated with her favorite series, she gained new connections and even got a job offer when she graduated college. A lot of the time people think of cult fandom as a negative, reclusive activity, but in her case it gained her social connections she would never have had were she not so excessively involved in the fan scene. And this isn’t even with new movies, television shows and video games. This is a fan community of books written decades ago that are still popular and maintain a fanbase through the new media available today.

Kelly Rowett – They’re Letting You Write Your Thesis on That?

One thing that this article mentions that I haven’t thought of too much is fan fiction as an outlet for withdrawal during off-seasons. Since I have never been a participant in online fan communities besides the sparse observation, I cannot speak for myself in this phenomenon. What I do know is the torture of having to wait for another episode of a show in which I am emotionally involved. I have taken two classes now where we watch consecutive episodes of a television series every week. With all of the technology we have at our fingertips today, it is extremely difficult to remain patient when we can always access the shows on the internet. Right now, we are watching R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet and are only watching two episodes a week. The wait is killing each and every one of us that hasn’t watched the series. We know that the episodes are on YouTube, but we try to show some sort of restraint. If you haven’t seen the series, try watching the first two and then stopping:

Part 1 :

Part 2 :

I know that Trapped in the Closet is not a normal, weekly series, but it is equally difficult to wait between episodes when the next episode is at our fingertips. When the article by Ms. Rowett was written, in 1998, technology wasn’t close to as convenient for the impatient viewer like myself, but now that we know that we can watch what we want and when we want it, telling us to wait is like telling someone with a bad habit like nail-biting to stop. It just somehow makes us want to do it more.