Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TV as Addiction: Good or Bad?

Remember when the A-line bob hairstyle popular in 2001? For some it was simply a fashion trend, while for others it was a pop culture phenomenon: The Rachel Green hairstyle simply called “The Rachel." I was only six at the time, the extent of my hairstyling knowledge was being forced to have a tight spiral perm without hair gel, and I had no knowledge of  Friends, but I remember some of the older girls at school talking about the Rachel Green hairstyle. Apparently, it was a big deal.

Todd (2011) suggests that fans of television shows tend to recreate the experience of the show through viewer interpretation and meaning: “As fans engage in television texts, they reproduce the original broadcast: applying their own perspectives to enhance the program’s social image and making meaning out of their own experience” (pg. 3).

The Rachel isn’t the only way fans try to reproduce their favorite television show. There are hundreds, even thousands, of fandoms in the world where fans are constantly reproducing their experience with their shows. As I suggested in my previous post, fandoms have a stigma attached to them since people correlate fandoms with nerds and geeks. But these stereotyped groups aren't the only fans, as we see with The Rachel hairstyle.

Through these fandoms, viewers and fans are able to find communities with shared interests as well as purchase memorabilia from their show or take on characteristics from their favorite character. There are many positive outcomes of fandoms, but how much is too much? How far is too far?

Is it wrong to spend thousands of dollars on Harry Potter memorabilia? Is it wrong to have posters of Ed Sheeran covering someone’s bedroom walls instead of wallpaper? Is it wrong to buy expensive comic books and action figures? Or to style one's hair like you favorite character?

The media has become such a part of our daily lives that fan reproductions of their favorite shows is everywhere, because, “Audiences recognize their own lives in the experiences of familiar television
personalities. In this way, television affirms, authenticates, and reflects fans’ social experience” (Todd, 2011, pg. 2).

In previous readings authors talked about television as an addiction, much like drugs. But can fandoms be a good addiction, and this is the side that I am usually on, in the sense that communities are built and social interaction can be a result. However, this addiction can become the equivalent of substance abuse in terms of time and money wasted on watching television and memorabilia, giving up social activities to spend time watching television, thinking about cutting watching time but never acting on this thought, etc.

So for a discussion, I would like to know:
What do you think are the positives and negatives of fandoms or fan bases?
How much reproduction of a show is too much?
What do you think are the challenges of fandoms and fan bases, and how do we overcome them? 

1 comment:

  1. Good questions, Katie. Just yesterday, I was with a bunch of middle schoolers on a field trip to a tech school, and one of the stops was in the veterinary section, but the tour ended on a low note when our guides took us past the washroom and showed us a wall with written messages to a vet teacher that had passed away. There were plenty of "we love you"s and student writing their own names adding to the list of people who cared. Before leaving, though, I noticed two names: Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester. I don't know if anyone else picked up on the Supernatural reference, but it put me in a weird place mentally. Was I angry that someone would make light of a serious situation? Or was I supportive knowing all of the trials the characters Sam and Dean went through together, to know that they would do anything, even accept death, for the other? Perhaps, to that person writing the names on the wall, that was the deepest connection they could offer, the deepest meaning to themselves. It doesn't matter if it comes from a semi-cheesy paranormal television show; it shouldn't matter if other people don't get it. If it has true meaning to ourselves, then why not be a fan and promote reminders of your connection? I'm sure there's a line somewhere for what is too much, but that line is going to be different for every person, especially for those looking from the outside. To be honest, I have no idea where that line is because I'm reading Sam and Dean Winchester on a dead man's memorial and thinking that no matter what judgement I have of it, the names are still on the wall.