This page began with a focus on the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and its unexpected audiences and fans, but since then the research has taken a different direction. In looking into this show and its fandom, I became interested in how this disparate audience relates to the other, more intended audiences of the series, and what happens when the overall fandom of the series tries to contain these disparate audiences. It is a phenomenon that occurs in other fandoms as where where fans cross gendered and generational lines.
Much public discourse and academic scholarship has been on celebrating fans and their fandoms, and I wholeheartedly agree that there are many benefits to being a fan. But, at the same time, we are starting to recognize the problems that exist within fandoms, that threaten to emotionally and even physically hurt fans, and these problems should be addressed for fandom as a phenomenon, as an institution, as a way of life to truly be celebrate.
In an analysis of what I am terming “fractured fandom”, I examine how the different audiences in the MLP:FIM fandom responded to the announcement and release of the series’ first animated feature, Equestria Girls. However, I also plan on going beyond just this case study, looking at the problems that exist through fandom that can tear fans apart, can make being a fan no longer a fun thing, by looking at the stories people have from all fandoms, not just media or pop culture ones. If there is a problem with fandom in general, and with being a fan, then we need to address what that problem is — and why the fracturing is occurring.
You can follow this ongoing research project by checking out these blog posts:
- A discussion defining fractured fandom
- A general discussion about the MLP:FIM fandom
- A consideration of the sexualization activities in MLP:FIM fandom
- A first reaction to the announcement of the animated feature
- An update as the feature’s release approached
- A recording of audience reactions to the theatrical release
- An initial analysis of the fractured fandom reactions to the feature
- A discussion of my own reaction to the feature
- A sequel to Equestria Girls in the works!
- A conference presentation on the early research results into the discussion of Equestria Girls.
- Reflections on two panels about sexist tensions in geekdom being caused by male anxieties.
- Further reflections on how psychology can help us understand the problems of perceptions in fractured fandom.
- A consideration and argument for the role comic book adaptations play in creating a fractured fandom.
- Seeing the problems of fractured fandom from the perspective and problem of privilege.
- In defense of fans and fandom, and why I see this topic as important.
- An external report on the 2014 Fan Studies Network Symposium.
- Pete Warden discusses the problems that have become systemic in nerd culture.
- A discussion of the various types of fractured fandom occurring.
- An online survey to gather stories of fans’ problems with other fans.
- An ongoing cataloging of incidents, stories, and ideas relating to fractured fandom.
- Various discussions concerning the issues, ideologies and sense-makings of those within fractured fandoms.
- A podcast episode devoted to the discussion of the good, the bad, and the ugly of fandoms.
- A collection of conversations I have been having with those involved in GamerGate.
- A podcast episode that features a roundtable discussion about fan harassment from MPCA 2015.
- A podcast episode with another roundtable discussion from MPCA 2015 on the controversial figure that is Joss Whedon.
- Some early thoughts on how willing being a subject of a fandom means you are subject to the “rules” of that fandom.
- A conversation among scholars from the 2016 C2E2 convention.
- My reactions to Star Wars: A Force Awakens from a fractured fandom perspective.
- A presentation from CSCA 2017 about online fractured fandom.
- A presentation from MPCA 2016 on the issues of power in fractured fandom.
- A presentation from MPCA 2019 on trauma experienced due to fractured fandom.
- An excerpt from the book on communication literacy and developing a communication toolbox.