As researchers, when we study media fandom, are we all studying the same thing? If we have a shared object now, does that mean our traditional disciplines no longer matter? Twenty years ago, Clifford Geertz published an academic memoir called After the Fact. Its subtitle said, “Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist.” Geertz’s (1995) book discussed his insights from forty years as a professional scholar. At the time his memoir appeared, I embarked on a PhD exploring the cultures and meanings made by Elvis Presley fans. In the two decades since, my career has taken me to a place where I wrote a book introducing the field of fan research, called Understanding Fandom (Duffett 2013a). Following Geertz, this chapter aims to map my academic journey and offer some pointers about how fan scholarship could develop. As part of that mapping, I will be citing my own work and reactions to it.
This chapter begins by examining the development of a fan studies mainstream as a process of marginalization of attention to celebrity. It then considers how deductive areas of fan research have also inadequately conceptualized celebrity attachment. Using Gary Boas and Richard Simpkin as examples, the chapter then shows that there are subtle differences between fandom and celebrity following per se. It reaches its climax with a discussion of effervescence: a useful explanatory mechanism from Emile Durkheim’s theory of religion that helps to account for the pleasures of following celebrities. Finally, the chapter contrasts a neo-Durkheimian approach to fandom with some classic and contemporary research on parasocial interaction. I suggest that focusing on fan motivation and affect – perhaps through a refashioning of Durkheim’s work – may help us escape the long shadow of the mass culture critique.
On August 15, 1965, the Beatles played to a crowd of over 55,000 of their fans at the Shea Stadium in New York City. Five decades later, the history-making show is remembered less for the band’s thirty minute music set than for how it was drowned out by the crowd’s deafening din (Millard 2012, 25). In actuality, however, there are, however, two Shea Stadia events: one a long past reality, the other a shared memory. This chapter examines how the second of these – Shea Stadium as a discursive construct – both drew on stereotypes of pop fandom and perpetuated them in public discussions about the Beatles. Specifically, the Shea event came to symbolize the way that popular music fandom had entered the public sphere as a collective and emotional phenomenon. It was framed by notions of parasocial interaction to suggest that young fans did not care about music and instead ‘worshipped’ band members as hero figures. In deconstructing the discursive Shea Stadium, my aim is to rescue the event from its own history. The concert enabled the Beatles to secure their place in the emergent rock revolution and position themselves as a more serious, ‘adult’ and ‘music’ orientated band. Yet it has also become a cornerstone of stereotypical perceptions of music fandom in the public imagination.
Export search results
The export option will allow you to export the current search results of the entered query to a file. Different
formats are available for download. To export the items, click on the button corresponding with the preferred download format.
By default, clicking on the export buttons will result in a download of the allowed maximum amount of items.
To select a subset of the search results, click "Selective Export" button and make a selection of the items you want to export.
The amount of items that can be exported at once is similarly restricted as the full export.
After making a selection, click one of the export format buttons. The amount of items that will be exported is indicated in the bubble next to export format.