[Analysis] Convergence

In Jenkins’ “Convergence Culture” he has the following quote in regards to fan culture.

“The Web represents a site of experimentation and innovation, where amateurs test the waters, developing new practices, themes, and generating materials that may well attract cult followings on their own terms.”

This quote is brought up in the Star Wars chapter. This section of the book is very video entertainment focused and talks mostly of amateur fan filmmakers.

As I hadn’t the chance to look at the Harry Potter chapter of the book, I am uncertain if he brings up this idea again from a different direction; however, I feel that this quote has a lot of application outside of solely video and film.

Two other areas of content creation that he doesn’t associate with the quote are fanfiction and fanart.

Due to the now very social and networked nature of fan communities, it’s very easy to find the most highly lauded and revered artists and writers. The arts are hounded by their ‘fans’ with picture or comic ideas, and the writers and both cursed and praised for their skill with words. They become fandom ‘celebrities’.

While Jenkins describes a world where talent from the fan communities are hired into production of content for the original work, for the most part, these writers and artists with a cult following, go on to create original mainstream content not related to the original work.

The cycle of fan work feeding talent into the original work changes drastically when you move away from television or film.

Stephen King is unlikely to hire a fan video creator or writer. Perhaps he may hire a fan artist to do the cover of hisbooks, but considering that the publishers have people to do that, it’s unlikely.

The cycle works even more differently when it comes to working within fan communities for singers or artists. These artists don’t need authors, artists, or video creators. They will take translators, choreographers, or even singers from their own fan base.

So, while some sections of fan communities are taken in by the original work, the other talented sections of the fandom tend to branch off into original content creation.

There are several examples in each fandom of fans branching off into professional careers springing from their involvement in the fan communites; video producers, writers, and cover singers.

It is good to know that fan content not only helps cycle into it’s mainstream creative source, but that it also springs up new original content.

The next question becomes, why do these works have to be  legitimized by the mainstream? Why does a really well written and characterized fanfiction have to be rewritten to be published? Is it a natural constraint from the creation of ‘intellectual property’? If ‘There Are Only Seven Stories in the World‘, and all we create is remix, then why can’t fan works be legitimate?

A/N: It’s not that singers and performers couldn’t make use of fan writers, artists, and video creators, it’s that they usually don’t make use of them. That may well change in the future.


About emacyenelie

Emerging Media Student and Lover of Fandom.
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2 Responses to [Analysis] Convergence

  1. Andy Odom says:

    I agree that the bottom-up path of “amateur” creativity tends to be sThere are actually two high-profile instances of artists revi

  2. Andy Odom says:

    I agree that the bottom-up path of “amateur” creativity tends to be squashed by the artists or labels/studios. However, there are actually two high-profile instances of artists reversing the trend and taking a “top-down” approach to content curation involving their art.

    In recent years, both the Beastie Boys and Paul McCartney have given fans at concerts Flip-style video cameras to use during their concerts. These cameras would then be returned after the show to be edited and incorporated into a live DVD release.

    Granted, this approach still involves almost complete control by the industry over the final product, but the cultural movement of individually-curated content is no longer being totally ignored. The fans aren’t exactly creating something new, but they are being allowed in to a previously closed-off area of the industry. Increasingly, fans aren’t being expected to simply consume but to participate. And any small acceptance of participation by the industry should be seen as a positive step.

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