“Fans are highly articulate. Fans interpret media texts in a variety of interesting and perhaps unexpected ways. And fans participate in communal activities – they are not ‘socially atomised’ or isolated viewers/readers” (Hills, M. 2002). This can be simplified as an obsession and ability to quote the media product, however many academics don’t like this as a fan is too complex to define this way.
Taking this into account and in reference to my own fan practices of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, features of this definition definitely do apply to myself. My fan practices for F.R.I.E.N.D.S consist of me purchasing household items such as doormats, mugs and cushions that have links to the show, as well as replica items such as the French poster seen in one of the character’s apartment and owning the full box set. I’d say my fan practices stretch further than items as it becomes part of my daily life and conversation, quoting the programme in conversation, sharing videos and bloopers online and even taking fashion inspiration from the female characters. The focus of this auto-ethnography will be on the subject of the female characters.
As an individual fan practice, the fashion and attitudes that the female characters have in F.R.I.E.N.D.S have influenced my own fashion and attitudes to certain topics, this relates to the idea that dominant studios initially aimed to reach a female audience and to provide young working women with figures of identification (Duffett, M. 2013). As well as enjoying the humour and story lines of this sitcom, I have developed an identity based on these characters and a certain way to see myself. Additionally, my motivation for this fan practice is that I feel it shows a sense of my personality as it portrays a certain sense of humour that to me is important and signifies types of people. It definitely creates a sense of identity for myself due to the influences it has on my style and personality. Enjoyment is brought to me through these practices as it attracts certain people to converse with and creates friendships and discussions about a mutual interest. It’s a great feeling knowing there are other people interested in the same thing and while I don’t think this particular media product creates a ‘community’ as such, it just links like-minded people, with a positive emotional engagement (Duffett, M. 2013). Personally, my identification with the characters is possibly what has led me to purchase the replica poster as seen in one of their apartments, as it shows an expression of interest in the style. This also puts me as a brand consumer, someone who snaps up the latest thing, buy extra merchandise and builds collections (Cavicchi, 1998).
My fashion choices, as influenced by F.R.I.E.N.D.S, has contributed to cultural identities. While, in my opinion, there is no strong community for this media product, it sparks conversation and people notice things that appear similar. For example, many times have people commented, ‘that’s the type of dress Phoebe from F.R.I.E.N.D.S would wear’, which in turn cements how my fan practices have formed a sense of identity for myself.
Cavicchi, D. (1998) Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans. Oxford University Press
Duffett, M. (2013) Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture. Bloomsbury
Hills, M. (2002). Fan Cultures. Taylor & Francis