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Commodification and Fandom

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Recently I came across a good tweet. (I tend to stay off twitter as much as I can these days, but I am grateful for the good tweets I come across.) It was some good food for thought, and I want to talk about it:

"i think there's something to be said about the corner in fandom spaces that is quick to say it's boring/not worth being in fandom once a certain amount of time without new official content has gone by as if fandom isn't kept alive by those who keep using ~old~ official content + to create the art and fic that very corner consumes on a daily basis...

something something fast food content something something stories being considered obsolete after a certain amount of time w/o content something something lack of appreciation for fan content creators maybe like it's too late to have a clear enough mind to put this into words but the "don't they get bored" thing from before makes me think about the longevity of official content for certain fans and how they find it ~hard to survive~ w/o official content being offered regularly + like.

is it a lack of interest in or attention span for the fan content/speculating bits? do they require a constant flow of new information to actually enjoy fandom?

is it them trying to force something they ~just~ like into something to obsess over and just not getting the +
serotonin they expect from it, falling into a "it's not that deep" kind of mindset and ultimately just wanting something new to reignite the initial spark? is it the constant input of information nowadays turning them impatient?

i genuinely don't know but it's food for thought ig"

- OP and Source of this twitter thread: @nox_et_stellae (Did my best to format it for this post)

So these days I'm mainly in old anime fandoms, pre 2000's anime I'm talking about. Many series which haven't had new content in easily 10+ years. I remember even when new popular anime (at the time, and still quite popular today too) like death note had their fandoms had massive longevity even long since the series ended. Death Note ran from October 3, 2006 – June 26, 2007 with 37 episodes total. The manga going from December 1, 2003 – May 15, 2006 with 12 volumes.

If you were in anime fandom spaces in the mid 00's to mid 10's Death Note was inescapable. Even long after the anime and manga ended I couldn't tell you how much new fanart, fics, AMVs, Memes, and all sorts of fanworks were coming out on the daily. People were still having in depth meta conversations about it! This fandom was, and (still is) going really damn strong.

Same with many other anime that long since ended. Both from the time period and older anime. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cowboy Bebop, Gurren Laggan, Code Geass, Ouran High School Host Club, Sailor Moon (while yes this one gets new official content now, I remember a dry spell in the 2000's after the tokusatsu version came out) are just a handful of examples from pre and post 2000 anime that finished at some point and their fandoms persisted, continued to thrive, discuss, and create.

Of course, there are live action fandoms such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy, and more that also fit in this category. But anime & manga is more my bread and butter and where most my knowledge is. And while technically not an anime, Avatar: The Last Airbender also fits this category too. A fandom I've been in since day one. This fandom had such longevity even before Legend of Korra too, and A:tla's return to netflix.

I honestly think this shift in needing new official content consistently in some fans, is due to the current state of the web, and also the entertainment industry as a whole. We're constantly being overwhelmed with new media on the daily, expected by companies to binge and move to the next. Each new piece of media is treated as fast food now. Consume, move on to the next, consume again. Rinse and repeat.

Look at the MCU, no hate to it. No hate at all! But it's a good example here. Since the start things have been done in "waves/phases". Every year or so, we are expected to be fed a new movie to us. I've heard even longtime MCU fans get burnt out by it. This can also apply to Star Wars Post-Disney getting it. And just any "cinematic universe" as a whole. While fandoms for these often super active (Like SW and MCU) its a good example of how we are constantly thrown content. Expected by the suits to eat it like fast food, and continue that cycle of consumption.

The rise of streaming, as well as "binge culture" also being egged on/encouraged by said platforms, like netflix plays a big part. Whose social media platforms time and time again make "relatable" tweets about binging shows. (An example, as well as another, and one more. ...I blame the Denny's tumblr account for brands trying to be "cute" and I will never forgive it for that.)

Also on top of this, the internet these days we are expected to just endlessly scroll down on said apps by the companies behind them. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I feel these are massive, massive contributors to that. Social media apps/sites are designed to get us addicted, and to keep scrolling. It's what makes them money. Having many eyeballs stuck to their platforms for as long as possible. And they will do what it takes to just get you to mindlessly scroll, and doing that means discouraging attention spans/having a long lasting interest.

Every single thing these days is being commodified. By social media, the entertainment industry, etc. From media, to art (of all kinds and mediums) posted by independent creators. It's upsetting to see this. Fandoms usually have long lasting staying power. And a lot of older fandoms still have this too in this current day and age. I just got into Buffy recently as an example. I need to see more episodes but it's wonderful to see this fandom that's been around for just about as long as I've been alive still active! It's incredible.

But newer fans to the fandom or younger fans or just fans now accustomed to how things are fed to us on a constant never ending stream these days who get into these fandoms can get burnt out quickly due to the lack of a new official thing. Which is just sad to see to me. It hurts my heart. I do not think this is the fault of these fans, this is the fault of the current state of the web and entertainment treating media this way, and accustoming people into this mindset of this cycle. Hell I've seen overlaps in traits in people of all ages who just watch a piece of media and don't do anything fannish!

I strongly feel this is the fault of the current state of the web as well as the entertainment industry.

These mindsets that are being instilled in people by these factors, discourage attention spans, and encourage constant, never ending consumption. I absolutely feel a lot of people are losing attention spans for things these days, but I also don't think that's inherently their own fault either. Nor am I saying OP is implying that. I love everything they are saying in this thread. It's really damn good food for thought and I'm so glad I came across this thread, because everything they are saying I've thought of in my mind, constantly brewing for years now.

This current mindset instilled in so many fans (and people outside fandom too) by these things isn't just bad for fandom, but art, creation and creators as a collective whole. It actively discourages having long lasting interest in a thing. But how this just affects creatives as whole even outside of fandom spaces and fannish activity is a conversation all on it's own for a different day.

Thank you OP for this thread, because again, It's good food for thought! I really appreciate it because it was good meta inspiration. And its a discussion I'm always down to have, because its really been in my mind for a good long while now.