Fandom, Subcultures and "The Culture"
Fandom is, at its heart, about people expressing identity through membership in subcultures. Sports fans share memories of and bond over championships and favorite players. Fandom in entertainment categories is much the same with a few differences. For instance, entertainment is a little bit different because the product is wholly constructed — the entertainment companies get to chose the "winners." This means entertainment companies have more ability to steer their fans. But this is a double-edged sword if they chose the wrong direction. One of the interesting trends over the past few years has been entertainment companies "updating" or "repositioning" classic properties (think Star Wars) to capture new segments. What makes it interesting is that it is often hard to tell if these "repositionings" are based on the market or if they are based on the politics of the companies. Marvel is currently promoting a new team of heroes. The team includes (no joke) heroes named Snowflake and Safespace. Psychic Twins. “All twins are psychic, but we’re psychic-er.” Snowflake, a cryokinetic, can materialize snowflake-shaped shuriken projectiles for throwing. Safespace can materialize pink forcefields, but he can’t inhabit them himself, the reflex only works if he’s protecting others. They’re hyper aware of modern culture and optics, and they see their Super Heroics as “a post-ironic meditation on using violence to combat bullying.” They're probably streaming this. If this is out-of-control politics, then heaven help Marvel. If this is what the market really wants, then the world is changing even more rapidly than I thought. Either way, the post-Iron Man Marvel product will be interesting to watch. Or at least it will be interesting to watch how the market responds.