OTW Fannews: Commercializing fan gatherings

Banner by Robyn of money symbols behind the post's title

  • Buzzfeed looked at the umbrella of Disney fandom at its company fancon. “D23 serves as a giant hype machine for the company’s upcoming productions and consumer products, a big shopping center for the stuff they already have out, and a central meeting spot for fans and fan-vendors from around the world. It has two main constituencies: the hardcore Disney fans — D23 is also the name of the company’s official fan club, with 23 signifying the year Walt Disney moved to Hollywood and founded the studio — and members of the press who brave the traffic to Anaheim to write about the the studio’s movie presentations. The event is like Comic-Con, but with fewer snarky fanboys and more family-centric fare.”
  • A post at the Vancouver Sun looks at the evolution of gaming cons. “Over time there has been a definitive split between the two types of conventions, with consumer based ones feeding more into the actual fandom of games. PAX itself is built on the shoulders of this fandom, sponsored and created by Penny Arcade, an online comic that has long dealt with video game and various other nerd and geek culture. While most developers will hardly ever achieve a sort of fame (or notoriety) similar to film or television stars, these conventions give the public, and players a chance to directly interact with those who on the average day are hard to reach. Feedback from these conventions, where betas and alphas of games are available to play, not only help build hype and anticipation for upcoming games, but also allows the developers to gather much needed and necessary feedback from those who will eventually be buying their product.”
  • Meanwhile Tumblr plays host to a virtual book club that is part user reaction and part viral marketing. “I still think it can be tricky to create the feel of a book club with people in different time zones who never get to meet. I’m humbly suggesting that Tumblr might be the best way to do it. You can use text as short or longform as you want, art, gifs, videos, songs; you can include hundreds or thousands of contributors without getting confusing; and you can create original posts or share interesting things you find elsewhere on the Web.”
  • These commercial efforts stand in contrast to a recent post on NextGov about an unexpected encounter with fandom, and its relevance to other social activists. “One key insight, though, came from…panelist Lauren Bird of the Harry Potter Alliance…[about]…how super-fandom can go hand in hand with intense criticism…Bird begins her defense acknowledging it may seem silly to protest labor practices in the chocolate industry by focusing on an entertainment company rather than, say, Nestle or Hershey’s. But it makes sense for the HPA…partly because a shift by Warner Brothers could put pressure on larger players in the chocolate industry.” Reporter Joseph Marcks concluded “The idea that [a government] agency’s greatest fans could also be among its biggest online gadflies is rare in government. It’s tough to blame agencies for this. Many of them face so much online vitriol it’s tough to sift out any constructive criticism. But agencies are also sometimes so cynical about their own capacity for popularity that they might not recognize a fan movement even if it existed.”

What merging of corporate interests and fan gatherings have you seen? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.