Jensen (1992) describes a fan to have one of two characteristics: obsessed loner or a frenzied, hysterical member of the crowd. I mostly identified with the second of the two in 2010, The most memorable time when I felt like part of a community with a fandom was being a part of the sixer fandom for You Me At Six. This fandom practiced both online and offline and continues to do so now. Sixers were dedicated fans to the band, we arranged ‘sixer gatherings’ in big cities where we’d congregate due to our one passion being You Me At Six.
While I personally never got involved with the likes of ‘fan-fiction’ and recreating videos etc. I participated in attending the meet-ups, attending gigs and arranging to meet the fellow sixers to enjoy the gig together, create banners, hang around after to try and meet them, excessively tweet to gain their attention, referring back to the hysterical crowd member. As some fans were highly active in textual productivity, creating works related to the band just for fun (Fiske, J. 1992), Michel De Certeau suggests there is a divide between producers and consumers, this example suggests otherwise and is also supported by Jenkins (1992) who adds onto this claiming consumers can be producers and create artistic work to express their fandom.
There was a lot of things that came with being in this particular fandom, that weren’t any different to how other fandoms operate, for example, we had a particular style, sweep fringe, converse, skinny jeans and studded belts – this was also relevant to other fandoms of a similar taste. This demonstrates the ‘enunciative’ type of audience productivity within a fandom; fan talk circulation around a certain community referring to hairstyle and clothing that in turn reflects our social identity (Fiske, J. 1992).
Within the sixer fandom, there was a hierarchy, there was a certain group of fans that were friends online and offline and appeared to have a closer relationship with the band than anyone else, the way they talked about them and the gigs was a lot more personal than to how I spoke about them.
There was an evident competition between who was a bigger fan, who knew more and who had been a fan the longest, I participated in this, in that when someone I knew became a fan of You Me At Six, I felt like I was higher in the hierarchy than they were.
Within this fandom, there was rivalry with bands of a similar genre and status, for example with All Time Low, calling their practices, ‘fangirly’, which draws upon the idea by Kristina Busse (2013) where fandoms protect their own by criticising others on the way they demonstrate their fandom thus pathologising in their own ways.
Busse, K. (2013) Geek hierarchies, boundary policing, and the gendering of the good fan.
De Certeau, M. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. trans. Steven Rendall, University of California Press, Berkeley
Fiske, J. (1992) ‘The Cultural Economy of Fandom’, in Lewis, L. A. The Adoring Audience. London, Routledge
Jenkins, H. (1992) ‘“Get a Life!” Fans, Poachers, Nomads” in Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. London: Routledge
Jensen, J. (1992) ‘Fandom as Pathology: The Consequences of Characterization’. In Lewis, L. A. The Adoring Audience. London, Routledge.