Exploring Fandoms and Anti-fandoms - the battle for control

Exploring Fandoms and Anti-fandoms - the battle for control

Unit 4 Media
agency and control
use of the media

What is a fandom?

A β€˜fandom’ is a community of people who share a passion and actively contribute to it. Often fandoms surround media products or personalities.

Fandoms can get passionate about their media products, that they might become quite critical of them – this might lead them to have an influence over the media.

Fandoms can become a battleground over the ownership of a media product – producers want a passionate and involved fanbase that will buy their products and merch – but they don’t want to give up control of the product.


What fandoms do you know about?

What platforms do people in fandoms use?

How might members actively contribute to a fandom?

Sherlock Holmes

It could be said that Sherlock Holmes had the first influential fandom. Written by Arthur Conan Boyle in 1891 – 1892 the Sherlock Holmes stories were first published as a serial in The Strand magazine. The stories were hugely popular and attracted lots of fan mail and letters to the editor.

When Doyle killed of Sherlock fans were very upset and started a campaign to bring him back. Doyle finally did bring him back – but the fandom wanted more and started writing their own stories about Sherlock.


Why do you think that Doyle brought back Sherlock from the dead?

Can you think of another example of a character coming back from the dead or of a media product changing because of a fan campaign?

Should audiences have a say in how a media product is made, or should it be left up to the original creator? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

Fandoms as consumers

Producers can rely on strong fandoms , as their passion means they are very good consumers. Film and TV shows with strong fandoms can get green-lit because of the guaranteed returns on their investment. Merchandising can also play a huge role in this as well.

Fandoms as critics

Because of their passion, fandoms can be the biggest critics of these works. This is usually because fans use these products as a way of personal identity, if texts change they may see it as a personal attack.

Fandoms may demand changes to a text - and these days with social media this can often happen directly to the producers. This can bring issues of authorship. If creators give fans just what they want, who owns the text?

Fandoms challenging control of stories

Sometimes fandoms can be so critical of products they may start to wrestle for more control of the media products.

We see this a lot with the Star Wars fandom who are often unhappy with how these stories have been made or edited.

Key Terms in Fandoms

Fan Entitlement: The idea that fans feel that they are owed something from media creator
Toxic Fandom: When a fandom becomes overly negative, disruptive or combative.

Worksheets / Resources