Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, Oscar results! What do you think? Who was robbed? Who did you cheer for? Let us know in the comments!
Many fans of the tv show The Magicians are excited this week. Warning for spoilers in this section! Vulture recently published an article about the progress of Quentin and Eliot’s relationship. Following up from last season’s episode in which they grew old together, the fifth episode of season four included a scene where both characters admit to wanting to be together.
The Vulture article discusses this within the context of slash fandom writ large, which is frequently denied canonical recognition of favourite ships.
Fans are accustomed to being deprived of their deepest desires, but with “Escape From the Happy Place,” The Magicians gave its fandom exactly what many have been pining for: a nod to a long-standing slash fandom, known as Queliot, who have long believed that one of the show’s central relationships isn’t just platonic.
Elsewhere, Popdust is comparing fandom to religion. It’s a slightly bizarre take, focusing first on the Temple of the Jedi Order and its hundreds of thousands of Earth-dwelling members, then moving on to an unflattering look at Harry Potter and its relevance to contemporary activism. Ultimately, though, the article likens both fandom and traditional religion to Henry Jenkins’ concept of “participatory culture.”
But what it actually comes down to are the basic benefits of any “participatory culture,” be it religion or a fandom subculture, from Star Wars and Harry Potter to My Little Pony and Supernatural. The social benefits that Jenkins describes include the simple but crucial element of social validation: “Members who feel some degree of social connection with one another and care about other members’ opinions about their contributions.”
According to the article and the sociologists it cites, fandom is replacing religion not so much as a belief in the divine, but as a social structure that delivers personal validation and guides behaviours. All of which is apparently good for one’s mental health.
Lastly, SyFy Wire published an article about what fandom’s next main platform might look like once people migrate en masse away from Tumblr. It includes an interview with OTW Legal staffer Heidi Tandy and reviews the history of fannish platforms and what fans want from them. What would you want from a new platform? Let us know in the comments!
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