Monday, July 30, 2012

Fandom and the WWW

I wonder what it would be like to entirely grow up in the age of the internet. When the 'WWW' took off I was around thirteen but even then it was really just email and a few good websites here and there. It wasn't until I was 17 that the internet seemed to grow arms, reach out of our computer screens and pull us all in. It seemed like within a year the online world had exploded.
MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Blogging, YouTube, Wikipedia then finally Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Linkedin.... I could go on...

Cyberspace has completely changed the way we live. In fact, I think back to 'the days of old' and wonder what people used to do with their time, before we all became computer zombies. I know I played a lot of sports, I went to dance classes, I went to drama classes, I played music, I read books, I went for bike rides, I baked and cooked, tended to my vegetable garden.... oh and I went to school of course! Now I look back and wonder how I found the time for all that!


I mean really, now I have to go to work where I sit in front of a computer, and I go to the gym just to make sure I get some physical activity, I cook my dinner, I write on one of my various blogs, I Skype friends, waste time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, read other blogs, read the news, repeatedly check my emails, brainstorm ideas for my MS, write MS, brainstorm more ideas and then repeat. This means the majority of my day is spent in front of a computer - obviously a terribly healthy lifestyle!

The thing is, I know this is the lifestyle for a good percentage of the population. In fact, most teenagers I know check their emails and social media profiles before school, during school and after school. Many still do extra activities such as arts or sports but when they're home they can generally be found 'cyber socialising' - sitting on Facebook - chatting, posting on people's walls and Facebook stalking.

One of the big changes I've noticed in the last six or so years if the change in fandom.

I think the best way to illustrate this is to use a personal example....

When I was nine I loved the Spice Girls. I loved them so much I glued their pictures to my bedroom wall (needless to say my room needed to be repainted a few years later...). I knew my closest friends liked the Spice Girls too - we played their CD during lunchtime at school and we all had their posters in our bedrooms, whenever they were on the cover of the latest tween magazine we'd all buy them and read them during our breaks. We'd buy the branded lollypops and go to the Spice Girls film we'd watch any TV appearance that was broadcast and we'd pretend to be them for dress up parties and talent quests.

File:Spice Girls (6 janv) 56.jpg

I knew the Spice Girls were big, simply because of how much publicity they were getting. In shots of them touring the UK and the USA you could see the hoards of fans lining the street to wave at them and flash the trademark 'Girl Power' sign. Plus they were on the radio ALL the time, so of course they were big.

When I was nine there was no internet to connect with other fans, to access the latest Spice Girls photos or to create fan websites. Now, however, things are hugely different.

Think of Justin Bieber. In fact, he's a great example because he found his fame online. We all know the story, how he posted videos on YouTube, gathered a huge number of fans, got discovered, and became a massive sensation. The fans banded together online, creating fan sites, tribute videos to their hero, declaring their love for him and generally hyping each other up. Creating a whole new level of fandom.

Check out these passionate fans!
Justin himself contributed to this. He uses Facebook and Twitter as a platform to really connect with his fans, make them feel like they know him, like he's not some unobtainable super-human. He shows them through the internet that he is just like them, that he's not a super-human and that in fact anyone can achieve their dreams if they believe they can. The fans love this even more, creating even more hype. Add that to the insane marketing team he's got who also know how to use the internet to their advantage and suddenly you've got yourselves some pretty intense 'Beliebers'.

I've seen the same thing happen with many young celebs of Justin's age - Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Jonas Brothers.... just to name a few. Then you've got the other super celebs who may not utilise the social media platforms the same as the 'ex-Disney kids', but who's fame has spread hugely due to the fiercely passionate fans like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

The reason I singled out Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart for the last example is because they bring me to my next point. Part of the reason their huge success is because of the film they were in - Twilight (obviously). As everyone knows, Twilight started as a book which developed a fan base in much the same way. Once Twilight (the book) was released, the fan base steadily grew, largely due to the ever growing presence online of the fans. As more fans caught onto the books, the fandom grew. Websites and facebook pages popped up all over the place, online quizes were made and by the time the film was released fans were choosing whether they were 'Team Jacob' or 'Team Edward'.
Naturally you'll find zillions of things like this..... from here

and this.... from here

The internet has changed so many aspects of our society. The fact the internet has made fans more intense and more passionate is really cool to see! It's especially great for books. I feel through the fans, with how passionate they become for the stories and the characters, that the love of books is being revived. Look at Twilight again, and The Hunger Games series - granted the movies helped them along but there was already a huge following before the movies were even announced. We had very passionate fans all over cyberspace, writing fan fiction, talking about the characters, the story, arguing over plot points, discussing casting choices.

We've got the last few books of Harry Potter as well. Harry Potter obviously started well before the internet came along, but with book six and seven being released during the age of the internet, as well as the last few movies, then of course Pottermore, the Potterheads have managed to make their presence known online too.

This pretty much sums up this entire post... from here

The internet is a great place to see how stories are impacting others. Through reviews and general chitchat online you can see how novels will spread. In fact I predict the next big YA series will be the Divergent trilogy. It's a great series and already I can see YA readers going nuts over the story. It's nice to see the hard work of the authors paying off by through the passionate fans.

Obviously it can be a harsh place as well.... for celebrities and authors, you need a thick skin - particularly when people rip your ideas and stories to shreds. Overall though, I feel the internet has really helped to spread the joy of the stories we love, to be a place where you can know that you're not alone for loving that band or that movie or that book. It's a great place to be able to join together to discuss your favourite character and plot line.

We love the fans! Here's a little online fandom piece of cleverness to wrap your brain around.... enjoy :D

Buzzy, huh?! From here

1 comment:

  1. The internet really has changed things a lot and it is crazy to see it all happening so quickly.