Teenagerobotlove: Serving the MLaaTR Fans

MLaaTR_Approved_Press_Art_by_Frederator_Studios

While many current and upcoming shows have devoted fans, just because a show has ended does not mean the end for the fan community. Far from it. Fans have been instrumental in keeping shows such as Star Trek alive for decades after the show wrapped up and it far from alone in that respect.

Fans currently have a remarkable set of tools at their disposal to help keep memories and interests alive. In years gone past, there were fanzines, clubs and conventions. Today many of these tools continue to connect fans and have been joined by new tools, such as message boards, blogs and social networks like Facebook.

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Maintaining the interest is imperative if fan communities are to continue to exist, and that relies upon continued upkeep of any sites and also moving beyond just the show itself; hence the reason many message boards have off-topic threads or ones in areas of similar interest to members.

Today we’re focusing on one fan blog for My Life as a Teenage Robot. Long ago, there was a traditional, official blog that was created and run during the series’ production. (If memory serves, it was one of, if not the first ever production blogs for an animated show). While it continued to run after the show ended, it has been dormant for a number of years.

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The rise of Tumblr as a fan-friendly platform has not gone unnoticed thanks to its emphasis on particular post types and easy sharing amongst the site’s many members. The proliferation of fan creations on Tumblr have been nailed down to the ease with which people can create, post and share content in addition to the ease with which Tumblelogs can be maintained. Combined with a submission feature, it becomes easy to see why so many fans and fandoms use Tumblr as a tool to serve their interests. (In a coincidental twist, Tumblr emerged from the same office as Frederator; the creative studio responsible for My Life as a Teenage Robot.)

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Hence blogs like Teenagerobotlove that serve to perpetuate fans love for the show as well as providing a focal point for things like fanart. I’m glad that such blogs exist and that people are willing to create and maintain them. They provide enjoyment for those of us who simply do not have the time to undertake one themselves and serve as a reminder that fans still exist for the show.

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Oh My Disney: When Fandom Goes Corporate

Oh My Disney screenshot

Sprung up over the past month is a new website that deals with everything Disney, and in ways that are familiar to many fans out there. GIFs, top 10 lists of things, and other silly posts that appeal to the funnier side of Disney characters and films (for example, Damsels Not In Distress). However, for all the joviality, there is something that appears slightly off about Oh My Disney, which is not surprising since it’s the corporation itself that’s calling the shots.

The Indicators

If you visit the site, everything appears innocently enough:

Oh My Disney Lion King ad screenshot1

Sure the Disney Company makes no attempt to hide the corporate signage, but it doesn’t display them as prominently as you might expect them to either.

The posts themselves look appealing, even enticing with such titles as:

and

But what’s this, right at the top?

Fantasy Bachelorette: The Lion King Edition

O…K… Maybe a contributor is a bit of a fan of that godawful show?

Nope:

With another round of The Bachelor coming to a close today (at 8|7c on ABC), we found ourselves asking the question on everyone’s mind: Who would win if all The Lion King men were pitted against one another on The Bachelorette?

Hmmm, that’s an all-too-subtle-yet-painfully-obvious “hint” that the show is on ABC tonight isn’t it? How many fan sites do you know crow about other properties within the Disney empire in such a blatant display of corporate synergy? Well, uh, none. (No, the ‘advertisement’ flags don’t count, they’re so ubiquitous on the web these days, they blend into the background.)

A bit further down the page we get the marketing schtick for the latest Oz movie that [oh so conveniently] just hit cinemas here in the US.

These blatant promotional posts are not slammed down users’ throats, but they are dispersed just enough to make them appear to be of similar thread than the less serious ones.

The Problems With The Oh My Disney Model

It would be all to easy to point out and discuss the rash of commercial posts on the site, but that would be the obvious (and therefore, easy) choice. No, what Oh My Disney represents is a company attempting to subvert the very fan culture and trust that sustains it.

You see, fans and fandom help support studios, but more often than not, they reside outside of the studios control. Sure, there is some communication (one-way most of the time) but if a studio tries to pull the rope, fandoms can react in the most unpredictable ways (just look at how many ‘reboots’ have been needed over the years.)

With Oh My Disney, the company is attempting to, not so much manufacture, but certainly to control how fans interact with the company and its content. It is trying to not only dictate which content is appropriate, but it is also attempting to dictate how fans react with it.

Just look at the Lion King post, who the heck isn’t going to click on that? Everyone likes the Lion King (except me). The same goes for all the other ‘original’ posts that give fans a few golden nuggets of joy.

The problem is that OMD remains a corporate entity, and thus, it also retains the one-way communication. You can share posts wherever you want, but if you disagree, you won’t be able to air your dissatisfaction on Disney’s website.

Ultimately, Oh My Disney subverts fandom because it strives to prove that the company itself can do it better. That they can create better, funnier posts and that they can sneak in some advertising while they’re at it. That’s a betrayal of fan’s trust, who have already been doing so for years without any help and still remaining loyal to the company.

How are they expected to feel when they learn that not only is Disney muscling in on their turf, they’re trying to sell to them as well? You know the answer as well as I do. At the end of the day, it’s dishonest, but then what else are we to expect from Disney these days.

The Alternatives

These should be pretty obvious, but just about everywhere not connected to the Disney Company. They’ll even be real fans, just like you on the other side of the computer screen doing it for the love, not a marketing employee doing it for the money.

Is Oh My Disney a corporate wolf in sheep’s clothing? Let us know with a comment!

This Post Contains A Serious And Important Discussion About Bronies

Via: Total Media Bridge

It’s true, this post does contain a serious and important discussion about bronies. Although they are sometimes vilified by folks, they nonetheless represent a very special kind of fan that a lot of animated TV shows are sadly lacking.

Let’s be honest, there have always been fans who reside outside a show’s intended audience. This is nothing new and should come as no surprise to anyone, fan of animation or not. What is surprising about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is that the show’s producers have not shied away from acknowledging the existence of bronies.

Why would they do this? Why would the choose to break with unofficial tradition, which states that you shouldn’t engage with anyone outside the target demographic lest you alienate the intended audience? The answer is straightforward and simple, such fans are what shows like MLP need in order to grow.

Yeah, you could say that it’s really the little girls that are lapping up the toys, but at the end of the day, that is small potatoes to what fans with real disposable income can do. Now you could say, and I do agree, that such fans are not nearly as common nor as numerous than the targeted one, however, they do tend to:

  • buy more merchandise

  • buy more expensive merchandise

  • tune in regularly

  • participate in online/offline discussion.

All of these things are oxygen for a show like MLP for a number of reasons:

  1. It is broadcast on The Hub, a brand new network with no real audience to being with (it was a replacement for Discovery Kids).

  2. MLP as a TV show was as dated as ever and might as well have been a new show as far as its target audience were concerned

  3. Even though it had the might of Hasbro behind it, The Hub still needed viewers and consumers to watch its shows and buy its merchandise. Marketing and ads will only get you so far.

Arguably the greatest boon to the entire show was the now famous (infamous) post by Amid Amidi on Cartoon Brew. That brought the show a lot of mainstream media attention and focus. Not only did this bring this formerly obscure group of fans into the public consciousness, it also brought MLP and The Hub a lot of free publicity and attention that it never would have received otherwise.

All of this was undoubtedly beneficial to the show and network, however, it is outside of the show that is the most interesting; even though Bronies were tuning and and buying merchandise, they were also forming their own extensive ecosystem both on and off the internet.

Numerous (and I do mean numerous) fan sites have popped up. Yes, they are all the usual kinds you expect to see from a show, but they were all that and much more. They cater exclusively to fans, they help newbies get acquainted with the show, they run competitions, they have downloadable content, they post fan-fiction, they link to merchandise (both official and unofficial), they actively discuss whole aspects of the shows universe, they organise real-life meetups and conventions and yes, they run personality quizzes (that actively embrace new fans):

similar to Applejack.”]

And what is the one truly, unique, magical, fantastic thing about all of this?

The Hub embraced it! All of it!

They didn’t stand there and say: “Hey, there’s a whole bunch of 30-something year old guys watching our show. They’re going to give it a bad name, or worse, make it seem like its for “old people” or something.” No. Instead they said: “Hey, we’ve managed to gain a whole bunch of fans they we never thought we would have. We can’t openly cater to them for fear of skewing the perception of the show, but let’s be nice to them anyway because we’re gaining a benefit!”

Via: Daily Billboard

Via: Daily Billboard

That’s right, while the network was in a bit of a bind in that it was never going to actively cater to Bronies in the mainstream public’s eye, they at least had the wisdom to actively court fans in ways that would be construed as friendly. Examples include the parody ads for season 2, and the exclusive figurine sold at the San Diego Comic Con in 2011.

The very existence of the Brony fanbase has benefited those on all sides of the show. The creators know that they have created a product that is superior to what they were tasked with, the network got a lot of free publicity as well as extra viewers and consumers, and fans got a show that they really enjoy and relate to which gives them a sense of satisfaction.

Every show should have some Brony fans.

For the record, I am not a Brony.