Representation of fandom in mainstream media : analysis of production and content of Flemish televisions Superfans
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
European journal of cultural studies. - London, 1998, currens
, p. 513-528
University of Antwerp
By means of a qualitative analysis of Superfans, a five-part reality television series in which fans are followed in their daily activities, ranging from singing along at concerts to intimate camera confessions in a room dedicated to their idol, this article studies the representation of fandom in mainstream television and participants and TV-producers reflections upon it. Empirical content analysis and interviews reveal different aspects of fandom, as identified by Abercrombie and Longhurst, to dominate the representation: intense media use and fan productivity, strong hierarchical communities and a lack of critical interpretative skills. Fanidol relationships are shown to be based on emotions and to go beyond mere identification to include parasocial relationships and neo-religiosity. Results thus confirm the theoretical paradox between the television industrys promotion of celebrity to attract loyal audiences and the rejection of fandom through a carefully constructed representation hereof as freaky business.