I have been talking about this idea of fractured fandom on this blog for awhile now, because I have been concerned with the problems and tensions fans are facing in contemporary fan communities and fandoms. Across the Internet and around the world, it seems that hardly a day goes by without another story, another anecdote, another survey revealing the dark side of fandom.
Of course, it is not just me noticing this, as many other scholars and critics are observing and writing about this issue (and sometimes getting attacked because of it). Being a fan is supposed to be a great thing — supposed to be about love and acceptance — that when being a fan involves pain and fear, it means something has gone wrong and we need to fix it.
With more of us academics talking about this subject, then perhaps engaging with fans to understand what is happening to them and what could be done to prevent/stop all of it is possible.
To that end, this episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast presents a roundtable discussion from the Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference that occurred in October of 2015 in Cincinnati. Featuring academics from different universities, the topic of the roundtable was fan harassment, with a specific focus on GamerGate. Each academic presented their own research or pedagogical (i.e. teaching) interest on this topic, and then the discussion was opened for the audience to participate as well. The conversation covered issues of defining fan harassment, where it occurs, what causes it, and what can be done about it.
You can hear the roundtable discussion (minus the audience comments, which were not picked up by the microphone) below — and, as we say in the episode, we want to encourage more discussion about this topic, so please feel free to comment to this blog post with your reflections on or responses to what is said in it.