Can Fandom Change Society? PBS Off Book Investigates.
I’ve been on a bit of a kick about fans and fandom this week so taking the idiom “in for a penny in for a pound” for all it’s worth, here’s Off Book’s latest video that discusses the place of fandom within overall society.
What’s the really important thing to take away from the video?
Is it that fans encompass all sectors of society? Is it that they can come in all shapes sizes and (literally) colours? (For you Rainbow Dash bronies that are paying attention out there.) Or is it that the cultural engines of our society are capable of creating effects that ripple through the rest of society outside of their initial splash, both good and bad?
It’s really a combination of all of them. Everyone is a fan of something, it doesn’t have to be an entertainment creation and you certainly don’t have to be called a fan either. Need an example? Just think about any time there is an election going on. Anyone who’s canvassing for a candidate is a fan of that candidate, right? It’s the same premise, just slightly different.
Aside from changing society (e.g. Bronies challenging the notion of what a guy can and cannot enjoy) fans are also what sustains their chosen subject. Without fans, things tend to disappear and get forgotten and lost in the cultural timeline (think of any one hit wonder).
Animated shows are no different and it takes fans to keep them running.
TV series are especially dependent, less so the kids ones, but even then, there are examples of fans making a difference. Kim Possible getting another season is just one example. There are many others, but there are also plenty of gems that either lose or never garner a large enough fan base, leaving behind a small but extremely devoted fanbase.
Why is all of this important? Well as I’ve said before and will do so again, the entertainment landscape is changing from the “push” model we’re used to today to the “pull” model of tomorrow. In other words, we’re shifting from a model that tells us what to watch to one where we demand what to watch.
Things are already moving in that direction (such as DreamWorks with their Ptch app) but as it progresses, fandom and fanbases will become essential, almost strategic assets to entertainment companies. In other words, if you thought the San Diego Comic-Con was commercial now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Can fans change society? The answer is yes, and their going to be doing it even more in the years to come.
Now, as a bonus, check out their video on animation!