Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Still Kissing Their Posters Goodnight: The Shift from Individual to Communal ‘Bedroom Culture’ as Pop Idol Fandom Goes Online

Many young women experience a stage during adolescence when the private world of their imagination is overtaken by a celebrity teen crush, often a pop music idol or band. As early as Elvis and The Beatles, every generation has embraced its own version of the teen pop pin-up. Girls have historically exercised their fandom within the confines of their bedrooms, employing a ‘bedroom culture’, where they listen to music, browse teen magazines, and hang posters (McRobbie 1991). But now with the Internet, this practice has changed. Where pop fandom used to be mostly private, fans can now conduct these activities online and communally, ‘drooling’ in unison (Clerc 1996). This new more community-oriented fan experience has dramatically altered the nature of pop fandom. This research is an ethnographic investigation that explores how feminine identity construction and sexuality are influenced by pop music subcultures. Of particular interest is the way in which the fan experience has changed historically with the introduction of the Internet, specifically how fans now connect via a hybrid of online and offline interactions and how such an interaction mix generates complex dynamics and hierarchies. By focusing on ‘mature’ pop fans as opposed to teens, this project endeavours to trace their transformation from the relative isolation of pre-Internet teen fandom into what has now become enduring and life-long adult fandom that is deeply communal, entrenched in a worldwide network of other fans. The subcultures examined are fans of a sampling of ‘heart throb’ pop artists spanning the last three decades, including The Backstreet Boys, Take That and Duran Duran.

Tonya Anderson, University of Sunderland / Fangirlsonline.org

In Media Res - Fan / Celebrity Relationships

My American friend Dave just sent me this link to the commons media journal In Media Res. This week they are featuring academic pieces on media fandom which talk about affect, desire, devotion and stalking. One piece is being released per day, so the next few days should be interesting.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ronnie James Dio - laid to rest

Metal's elfin thespian of metaphysical evil, Ronnie James Dio, died of stomach cancer last month, age 67. Because he started at a vdry early age, Dio - who appeared in numerous metal documentaries and Jack Black's 'Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny' - had racked up over 50 years flying time as a working singer and bass player. He was also the man who popularized the devil hand signal and ruled the airwaves in the mid-1980s with 'Rock and Roll Children'.

Dio's funeral at Forest Lawn was a rock'n'roll affair, with Geezer Butler as a pall bearer and so many fans that it broke all records for the cemetary. (Michael Jackson would have beaten that, but he had a secret interrment.) When Dio's widow appeared, his fans chanted, "Wendy! Wendy! Wendy!" They can now get a memorial t-shirt on his website, the proceeds going to a cancer charity.

Fredrick Jameson famously said that culture can no longer be imagined outside the marketplace, and that seems apt in the Spinal Tap world of metal. The idea that a funeral is a show for fans and that the cemetary keeps a popularity count is indicative, not quite of the penetration of the marketplace (to my knowledge no tickets were sold), but at least of the commercial ideology of rock - that real life is part of the show, that audiences have to be measured, that popularity is the measure of success.

The great thing about Dio was simply his performance. He breathed conviction and always looked the part. One wonders what a man who spent half his life singing occultic peans to wizards, dragons and demons will do in the afterlife.

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