Media Representations of Fandom: Trekkies

I am continuing the series on media representations of fandom with the movie, Trekkies.  I suppose this movie could be described as a documentary since it is non-fiction and focuses on the Star Trek fandom.  It is made in the same style as “Something You Should Know” about our fandom.  I have seen this movie before but thought that a new viewing might be good, especially as I try to watch with a more critical eye.  In this particular series of blogs I’m doing, I’m trying to analyze what the movie says about fans, stereotypes and stigma.  What I discovered in my viewing of this film is that this movie really tackles the question, “What is the Star Trek fandom like”.  Therefore, while I still want to examine the questions of how fans are shown and what stereotypes are emphasized, I first want to acknowledge how they describe their fandom and think about how similar it is to ours.

The Star Trek fandom, obviously, came into existence after the original series aired on TV in the late 1960s.  As many of you might be aware, this fandom lasted so long and was so active that it actually worked to broaden the franchise with feature films (first one in 1980) and more TV shows on the same concept.  There is no end in sight as they are working on the next movie as I type this.  So how did this movie show the Star Trek fandom?  Here are the features I saw:

*Conventions
*Desire to meet the actors, writers, etc.
*Fans want to meet each other to talk about Star Trek
*Fans have had some strange requests or done some interesting things to be close to the stars (asked for blood, for example)
*Fans often send letters and gifts
*Fans are creative with singing, websites, radio shows, screenplays, fanfic, drawings, etc.  (No mention of blogging, though!  Ha!)
*Fans collect and trade memorabilia
*Fans adopt dress, language, philosophy shown in the shows and movies
*Fans discuss how the fandom has helped them through tough times
*Show has become part of mainstream American culture (everyone knows things like, “Beam me up, Scotty”, Vulcan symbol of greeting, Captain Kirk, etc.)
*Fans discuss favorite characters, episodes, etc.
*Fans become friends with each other
*Diverse fan base
*Fans get tattoos
*Fans spend energy, time and money on their passion
*Controversy among the fan community about the term, Trekkies
*Exposed fans to big concepts of racial and religious diversity, equality of woman, an end to social classes
*Fans dress in ways to identify themselves as Trekkies

So, let me ask you, fellow fans, does any of this list sound or look familiar?  I think that most of it looks and sounds like what it is like to be a Duranie.  I would argue and we definitely do in our book that ALL fandoms have similar activities.  For example, we have conventions.  We also have shows, which are like conventions in that fans come together, see their idols, etc.  Duranland is definitely filled with discussion, creativity, collecting and trading.  The more I look, the more I realize that there isn’t much that we don’t have in common.  While Duran might not advocate deep political statements, they have shown the fan base the value in things like art and fashion.  They have a philosophy of sorts as well, which we learn about in songs like “All You Need Is Now.”  Therefore, I think this movie included most of the elements of fandom I’m aware of and I could definitely relate to all of them.

While the movie included all of the basic elements of fandom, how did they represent those elements?  Were the fans shown as “normal” or were they shown to be strange, out of the ordinary?  After all, this was my biggest criticism of “Something You Should Know”.  How did this movie show the fans?  This movie, much like our fandom’s version, focused on a few fans, basically.  Some of these fans included a 14 year old but very mature kid, a woman who dressed in a Star Trek uniform at all times, a family who owned a Star Trek themed dentist office (which I would think would be fun, for the record!) and another couple.  Beyond these main fans, other fans were interviewed as well as were the stars themselves.  In fact, the actors and writers often told the more extreme stories.  So, how were the main fans?  I think the movie attempted to show that they were intelligent, social, well-adjusted people, but they still were more extreme in their expression of fandom.  For example, the woman who always wore a uniform, even wore one to a well-known court case in which she was a member of the jury.  Likewise, the boy had uniforms made for him as well as rode in a car colored to represent a space craft from the show.  The man in the couple talked about how he would like to get his ears altered to be Vulcan like.  Again, I give the movie credit for talking to neighbors, colleagues, other family members of these people to show that they are still well-liked and respected BUT why don’t these movies talk to fans who aren’t as obvious or aren’t as extreme?  After all, fans are on a spectrum on how forth-coming they are with their fandom, right?  I’m open about writing a blog, for example.  I have a room with Duran memorabilia and wear Duran t-shirts at times, but I don’t at work.  I had hopes, too, that they would show the spectrum, too, when in the beginning fans were being asked about how many conventions they had been to and the fans ranged from 3 to 300.  Again, they could have easily done that with how much people have collected.  It doesn’t always have to be the people with the most, does it?  I realize that these stories need someone to tell the story of sorts but there must be a way without showing the most extreme cases.

The movie did address whether or not there was stigma.  I was particularly interested in that.  In most cases, colleagues, family and friends seemed to accept the main characters’ fandom.  In fact, some even talked about how they watched Star Trek more because of these fans.  The main fans said that they didn’t get any negativity but then followed that up with saying that they are asked when they would get a life.  Maybe they don’t see that as negative, but I do.  Perhaps, these people are defining negative reactions differently than I do.  Negativity does not necessarily have to be harassment.  In my opinion, it is anything less than complete acceptance.  Tolerance isn’t enough, for me.  So, would this movie help people see all Trekkies in a good light?  I don’t think so.  Again, there is too much emphasis on the most extreme fans.  I don’t think those fans need to be ignored but they also don’t have to be the only representations shown.  It just isn’t a completely accurate representation of the fandom despite including an accurate representation of what fans DO. 

On that note, I leave you with the trailer.  You can then tell me if I analyzed the movie incorrectly or not.

-A

12 thoughts on “Media Representations of Fandom: Trekkies”

  1. There are quite a few of these type of films in this genre. “Fanboys” was a huge favorite of mine… as well as “Paul”

    There is another fandom that I am intimately part of as well… and that is the realm of fanfiction (No, I don't write Duran fanfiction, although I used to 28ish years ago. I think it would make my toes curl to read it now LOL)

    Fanfiction is hotly debated. Some authors support it, others hate it. Some fan-fiction has even garnered massive attention. Fifty Shades of Grey — originated as Twilight Fan fiction.

    Anyway… I'm rambling! 😀 This fangirl, apparently, likes to wax poetic on fandom! LOL

  2. I did NOT know that Fifty Shades of Grey originated as Twilight Fan Fiction! Huh. Learn something new every day I guess…. I wonder if MichDuran knows that…she's a big Twilight Fan! -R

  3. Rhonda- of course I knew FSOG was a Twific!!!! – Would you like me to send you a .pdf of MOTU I & II? LOL!!!! I am HEAVILY into the Twific now thanks to StacyO and can't stop. I swear, I think I've read over 50 full length Twilight fanfiction novels and probably another 50 short stories (one-shots) just since January. Most are written for adults by adults and many, many Twilight fan fics have been published. FSOG is obviously the most successful. The whole topic of fan fiction and whether or not it should be published fascinates me. There was a HUGE controversy in the Twific world when E.L. James i.e. IceQueenSnowdragon decided to pull MOTU from fanfiction.net and publish it. BTW, the person who made the banners that accompanied the MOTU fic goes by the name of Rose Arcadia. Yep, she's a Duranie. – Michduran

  4. LOL! I guess we're Twiranies now. MOTU= Master of The Universe, the name of the Twific that was published as Fifty Shades of Grey. _ Michduran

  5. What I am most interested in though is that it seems that fanfic really seemed to draw Duranies over there – it would seem that our fanfic community (DD's) is very strong, and Twilight gave them another muse. That's interesting to me. -R

  6. There are two sides of the fandom. There are people like me who have been Duranies all along, or who really got back into the band during the reunion, and since discovered Twilight. Then there are Twilight fans who were Duranies back in the day, still like the band, but never got involved in the current phase of the band's fandom. When I first talked to Rose Arcadia and another Twilight Duran fan, they had no idea that DD fanfic existed. Alot of people don't know about it simply because they associate fanfic with sci-fi/fantasy and not real life. Fanfiction.net doesn't even allow the posting of “real life” stories so you won't find any DD fanfiction there. Once DDM got rid of Offenderland, if you don't know about The Lovely Blue Planet of There or the SekretOktober sites, it would be hard to find it. Since this is the trekkie thread, I guess it's appropriate to mention that Star Trek was really the start of modern fan fiction and that “Mary Sue” (an everygirl overly perfect heroine) was originally a character in a Star Trek fanfic. – Michduran

  7. I am a fanfic writer as well, but not for Twilight (sorry, not a fan at all). I write for Dragon Age. My profile still references my humble beginnings LOL. I logged hours and hours and hours into that hobby! I also did tons and tons of research at the Library, studying maps of London. And of course, my entire wardrobe was based on Vogue. 😀

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