Episode 68: The Business of Fandom with Susan Kresnicka and Suzanne Scott

Welcome back to How Do You Like It So Far?, listeners! Today, we’re bringing you a time capsule of an episode: We recorded today’s conversation back in April, but it’s still as relevant as ever. Just don’t mind us thinking the coronavirus pandemic will be over in a couple of weeks. 

The episode features Suzanne Scott, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Austin and author of Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry. She is also the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, an anthology that brings together an international and interdisciplinary collection of nearly 60 established scholars to reflect on the state of the field and to point to new directions in fan studies research. Also on the episode is Susan Kresnicka, a cultural and business anthropologist and president and founder of cultural research firm Kresnicka Research and Insights (see their Human Needs Model whitepaper). Susan holds an M.A. in social anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin, sits on the professional advisory board for UCLA’s Master of Social Science program, and regularly speaks publicly on fandom, gender, morality, identity, and the value of anthropology in business. In the episode, Susan and Suzanne lead us through a discussion of how we define the word “fan” and who it applies to. Then, we discuss the relationship between fandom and industry: How do industry choices shape whose voices matter in fandom? How do companies strike the balance between capitalism and fan culture? Should fans be entitled to have a voice in new iterations of their favorite texts? Other topics Susan and Suzanne cover are the differences and similarities between sports fandom and entertainment fandom, how toxic fans and trolls affect fandom, and how fandom’s relationship to the industry is shifting as a result of COVID-19.   

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper: 

Susan’s yearlong study on fandom: The Power of Fandom

Degrees of Fandom: Authenticity and Hierarchy

Suzanne’s study on repackaging fan culture and commercialization

Covid-19 and Fandom

Fandoms and virtual engagement in a time of social distancing

Exploring Fan Communities in Online Spaces

Instagram #PassTheBrush challenge

Disney+ “May the 4th” Tweets

Disney Terms of Use

“Fanocracy” and fandom of brands like Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, etc.

“Joker” Fan Art contest

“A Portrait of the Auteur as Fanboy”

Chapter 5 of Suzanne’s book (on Fan Auteurs)

The Psychology of Sports Fandom

The beginning of the fan movement: brief history of the first fandoms

Matinee girls as the first fans

The Disjuncture between Sport Studies’ and Pop Culture Studies’ Perspectives on Fandom

African American acafandom and other strangers: New genealogies of fan studies

Esports and the future of fandom

“Creators of popular media are becoming increasingly wary of their fans. That’s a problem for everyone.”

Balance of Power Between Media and the Audience

From Sonic the Hedgehog to Star Wars, are fans too entitled?

Sonic and the costs of fan anger

What is Fan Service?

Sonic Movie Redesign VFX Studio Shuts Down After ‘Extreme Hours’ to Wrap it Up

Toxic fandom: “When Fandom is the Problem” 

On toxic fan practices: A round-table

Rian Johnson’s death threats after “The Last Jedi”

Archive of Our Own (fanfiction platform)

“How Do You Like It So Far?” Episode 16: Emily Andras, Maureen Ryan, and Louisa Stein Discuss Fans, Producers, and Queer Baiting

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry, Colin and the How Do You Like It So Far? account! You can also email us at [email protected]!

Music: “In Time” by Dylan Emmett and “Spaceship” by Lesion X. 
In Time (Instrumental) by Dylan Emmet  https://soundcloud.com/dylanemmet
Spaceship by Lesion X https://soundcloud.com/lesionxbeats
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/in-time-instrumental
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lesion-x-spaceship
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/AzYoVrMLa1Q

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