“De-westernising” fan studies: applying fan cultural theory to the transcultural fandom of east asian popular culture Bertha Chin, 9th June 2012. Media Across Borders, Roehampton University
Overview • Mapping a field of possibilities for study • Fan cultural theory assumes homogeneity in fandom - what happens when texts are produced in different social & cultural contexts? • Importance of extending scope beyond Japanese pop culture & Korean wave • Other historical, social and cultural issues that needs to be addressed that fan cultural theory glosses over
Fan studies - a brief background • Henry Jenkins - fans create alternative & democratic social communities through shared interests (science fiction TV). They ‘poach’ characters, universes & plots to inject their own interpretations through creative production of fan fiction, art & videos. • Subsequent work builds on Jenkins’s, engaging more complex issues and practices: gender, hierarchy, celebrity, fan activism
Matt Hills - calls for the contradictions, conflicts and absences to be addressed. Warns of ‘moral dualisms’ in fan studies providing examples of ‘good’ & ‘bad’ instances of fandom
East Asian pop culture fandom • Framed by “exoticisation of other cultures” (Jancovich et al, 2003, p.4), primarily Japanese anime and cult cinema vs. achievement of intimacy with the object of fans’ adoration (Yano, 2004) • Kim Hyun Mee - fans trained through actions and languages; they wear the same clothes (uniformity through fan club membership), shout same slogans and "show contained passion" (2004, 44).
Koichi Iwabuchi (2002) - fans as cultural dupes; fans as consumers rather than possessing any collective belonging • "Inter-national fandom" research ignores unevenness and complexity of transnational connections, the political and economic relations between the participating nation states (Iwabuchi, 2010) • Iwabuchi ignores affective pleasures in fandom, creates ‘moral dualisms’ of acceptable vs unacceptable notions of fan culture
Transcultural fandom • Sandra Arnett (2011) - transcultural circulation reflects interdependencies of global media environment • Transculturalism as a trend:"Trends cannot travel without being passed among people, a process that also results in it being changed by the needs, desires and fears of those who take it up. There is no single, final effect of a trend. Trends point to an ongoing affective experience" (Arnett, 2011, p. 166).
Importance of affective experience in fandom • Role of technology (beyond fan-subbing) in fostering community of fans for these cultural products • Textual difference of fandom: emphasis on the multi-functional star (pop idol, TV & film actor)
Different cultural practices: fan fiction has a transcultural ‘flavour’ that features pop idols from across various East Asian countries, culture of the sasaeng fans (Korean) • Who are these voices: migrant communities (specifically those in US, UK Canada, Australia), Third Culture Kids (TCKs), fans in East Asian countries (complicated by language, access barrier)
K-Pop concert, London 2011 SHINee & United Cube Photos courtesy of the Korean Cultural Centre, UK.
To conclude... • Homogeneity in fan cultures should not be assumed: fan cultural theory may not necessarily translate into a different cultural context • East Asian popular culture fandom needs to pay more attention to fandom’s affective pleasures, and what fans do. Move away from moral dualisms of fandom
More attention should be paid to unheard voices: migrant communities, TCKs • And to end: http://youtu.be/UdmChcXtwF4