The New Era of Fandom
The famous San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone recently, with every ‘nerdy’ dream becoming a reality. It’s the place to be if you’re a fan of any type of genre of popular culture. Many fans around the world flocked to California in hope to see their favourite franchises and actors in the flesh. It is a 4 day event in which many would’ve dressed up as their favourite characters, met the cast of their favourite television shows and bought multiple pieces of merchandise. It was originally founded in 1970 where it was just called the ‘San Diego Comic Book Convention’, where it was much smaller and unknown. Since then it has grown in popularity, with many other conventions popping up around the world. Conventions have now become a main necessity to fan culture. The San Diego Comic-Con could be considered the biggest and most famous fan convention of recent years. The number of fans who hurry to San Diego every year appears to be increasing. The number of films, television and video game panels it features is going up and up due to the demand of fans. At Comic-Con, fans get many exciting exclusives, such as film and television trailers. But this can sometimes cause problems for a lot of writers, producers and even casts of popular films or television shows.
One thing that has come from Comic-Con 2013, is the fan uproar and divide of showing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary trailer before it was released in Britain. The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary has been anticipated for months, with past Doctors and companions returning in a feature-length episode masterpiece. It is surely one of the BBC’s most sort after television shows of this year. Doctor Who fans, or ‘Whovians’, also expected the BBC to automatically upload the trailer as soon as it was screened at Comic-Con on the internet. But this didn’t happen. Most fans who didn’t go to Comic-Con thought this was unfair of the BBC and the Doctor Who producers. The 50th Anniversary is an episode many devoted fans are massively looking forward to. It is a British television show, the main argument was that surely British audiences should get the first look. It is one of the BBC’s most popular television shows and is a big part of British culture. Looking through the internet and many blogs, there were some angry fans who thought this was not a good move by the BBC or the Doctor Who producers. This caused fan divide and arguments within the Whovian world between those few who had seen the trailer and those who hadn’t. This appears to be a recurring problem from fan conventions. It brings up a new argument in what kind of control these kind of conventions now have over their fans.
This brings me onto the topic of the ultimate power of the many fan conventions we now see around the globe. Fan conventions can be marvelous things for fans to experience and to go to. Many conventions can also be good business settings for entertainment companies. American conventions can be good for British shows to be given their own panels due to it creating more popularity and interest and for them to grab more fan attention. Sherlock was another British show which had a panel at Comic-Con. There was even a clip from the much anticipated third series shown there. Most fans of Sherlock will be lucky if they get a glimpse of their favourite consulting detective in the new year on the BBC. Now British fans must wait to see a small clip of their favourite shows while many American fans are shown exclusive clips at conventions. Though conventions are good for exposure, they’re not good to seclude important storylines or spoilers from being released. The fans who view the exclusive clips are then sworn to secrecy to not let only spoilers get out beyond the convention walls. This has now become a main problem due to the increase in the use of the internet.
Spoilers have also become a nuisance and a big problem to television producers and writers. Through the power of the internet and fan conventions, it is often impossible to stop spoilers from films or television shows getting out onto mainstream media. As soon as one person on a blog writes a post with spoilers, it’s not long until it’s posted onto another one. This cycle then continues to newspapers and sometimes television until we are pretty much given the main storylines. The internet can be a positive and negative tool for many television shows. But due to the internet and fan conventions, we are sometimes spoilt for future episodes. The way we see spoilers is often through grainy, handheld footage from the back of a crowded room. Or on a quickly written blog post. These fans appear to be doing a service to their other fellow fans who can’t go to conventions. Though this can be seen as a good thing for the fans who are unable to go to these conventions, it’s not a good thing for the television companies who wanted to keep everyone else in the dark. Fans now have many ways to find out spoilers due to the internet. Big film and television companies now have the problems of the spoilers era to contend with as well as many other issues.
Fan culture has become a phenomenon in recent years. It is appearing to be more considered to be ‘cool’ if you are a ‘geek’ or a ‘nerd’. In past years this was seen as a negative thing. Fan culture has rocketed in popularity due to social media and websites like Twitter or Tumblr. We are now living in a new era of the fan and fandom. Fan conventions are a part of this new era. They have become something for fans to experience to be accepted and a place where many feel they belong and not like an outsider. Fan conventions will most likely evolve in the future and will cause more headaches for more producers, but it can’t be denied that they are a fantastic way for people to express their love for popular culture in both positive and negative ways.
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