Bookblog: Back to the Fandom Study

Sadly, my investigation into the bullying phenomenon is going to have to wait for a professional or academic backer. In the interest of not making this project too difficult for myself, I am considering other options to build a support network before beginning the interviews, rather than networking through the project.

However, a recent read I picked up at the library, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, has renewed my interest in my folklore studies project on the consutrction of narrative using social and cultural ideas. The book is a nerd’s read for sure, referencing multiple video games, science fiction and fantasy films, and comic books. But as Rose notes, these particular genres are ripe for fandom, which is the psychocultural phenomenon that most piques my interest and the best demonstration of how contemporary humans relate and create according to their stories.

My interest in the passion for story-sharing and making characteristic of geek culture began, of course, with my very nerdy friends in college who had an almost obsessive worship of all things “Star Wars” and James Bond. Though familiar with and fond of the franchises, I hadn’t realized the anthropological potential of this kind of fandom…nor the similarities between Bond and “Star Wars'” resident anti-hero, Han Solo, that empower such fandom.  Inspired, I wrote a literary analysis paper exploring the sociocultural construct of the “folk hero” as expressed in two distinct genres, and analyzed why these figures were of such importance to Americans, especially young male Americans. The possibilities of this research go far beyond the reach of a standard term paper, but I am still interested in expanding the project.

However, I would rather focus on the construction of narrative, which in a nutshell is what Rose does in The Art of Immersion.  Rose focuses on how stories are constructed socially, in particular with the benefits of modern technology. I, however, would focus on how stories are constructed using our common cultural experience and then distributed, reconstructed, and deconstructed through culturally prescribed means of storytelling. In other words, archetypes, myths, and sociophilosophical “truths.” Like Rose, I can think of no better way to explore this than the fantasy and sci-fi genres. And I suppose any genre would do, but I’d rather analyze the questions of gender and sexual power in “Buffy” than in “Jersey Shore,” thank you very much.

Rules of Cinema and Books

Rule #1. The book is always better. Why? Because characters are more fully explored than they are in movies. This is for the simple reason that movies must be compact (unless you’re Peter Jackson) and therefore characters are as well (as Joss Whedon said, a TV show gives much, much more space to develop characters). Which leads us to…
Rule #2. A book with as many pages as there are minutes in a movie of the same book, is still longer.
Rule #3. A book’s readership is no measure of its greatness, although a book’s greatness is a good predictor of its readership.
Rule #4. A movie’s box office receipts, critical response, and DVD sales are no measure of its greatness, and a movie’s greatness is no predictor of any of these.
Rule #5. A classic is anything (good) that has touched multiple generations across time. Examples of classic books: Pride and Prejudice, Heart of Darkness. Examples of non-classics: Twilight, Harry Potter (sorry, Rowling…I’m sure they will be!). Examples of classic films: Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur. Examples of non-classic films: anything made in the past 15 years. Which leads us to…
Rule #6. Films have much shorter time requirements than books do for becoming classics. Why? Because film consumerism is much more immediate and repeated, but we can’t measure a film’s greatness by its consumption (see Rule #4), so we must measure it by its worth and influence.
Rule #7. An adaptation should never aim to please only fans (hello, Twilight), and should never change anything solely to make it “cinematic.”
Rule #8. Rules of what makes a movie “cinematic” mean nothing. Let there not be a happy ending for once. Let something develop through dialogue rather than through events.
Rule #9. Limit exposition. Especially in TV.
Rule #10. Books will always be better on paper; movies will always be better in a theater.