II. Re-Mix: Participating in Established Narratives
If the essays in the React section can be thought of as examining how fans look at their objects of fandom, then the Re-Mix section might be described as examining fans as they first begin to negotiate the line between consumer and producer. The essays in Section II: Re-Mix showcase fans, again from various fandoms, as they themselves create products in what we think of as the most basic forms of participatory fandom: fan talk and fan fiction.
Susanna Coleman’s “Making Our Voices Heard: Young Adult Females Writing Participatory Fan Fiction” leads this section by examining both the narrative and the products of a singular fan. The essay tracks how a young woman adopts, co-opts, and interrupts the story lines of the game Pop ‘n’ Music as she creates fanfic that reimagines the game’s characters. Coleman’s careful examination of the writer, the written products, and the context of all this activity serves to foreground the unexpected rigidity that often underlies what is ostensibly a creative endeavor.
In the next essay, “Dungeons and Dragons for Jocks: Trash Talking and Viewing Habits of Fantasy Football League Participants,” Julie L. Rowse tracks the conversations of participants in a handful of fantasy football leagues. Rowse admits throughout the essay (and particularly in her conclusion) that her original intent was to use the data she gathered from these observations to better understand community in fantasy football. In spite of the fact that her assumptions about the correlation between fan talk and community turned out to be incorrect, Rowse offers up significant insight in regards to the importance and applicability of the data she collected. Rowse reminds us that even when fan talk does not create flourishing, dynamic community interactions, it can still serve to illuminate the many hallmarks of consumer behavior as evidenced through fan culture.
In the third and final essay in this section, Kim Middleton examines the activity of fan fiction as it occurs in a different medium: namely, video. In “Alternate Universes on Video: Ficvid and the Future of Narrative,” Middleton examines the creation and distribution of ficvid created by fans of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Through her careful survey of Buffy ficvid on YouTube, Middelton again reaffirms the notion that this kind of fan activity cannot be successfully accomplished without in-depth familiarity both with the source texts (i.e. the original Buffy episodes) and with the conventions of both that particular fandom and the medium.
The two profiles in this section serve to further explicate fan fiction and its role in larger fan culture. Julie Flynn narrates her own participation in fan fiction, and in crossover in particular, in her profile, “Dean, Mal and Snape Walk into a Bar: Lessons in Crossing Over.” Much like Middleton, Flynn insists that thorough knowledge of rules, histories, and limitations must be attended to, particularly when crossing over. Meanwhile, Kristine Larsen’s profile, “Stars of a Different Variety: Stealth Teaching Through Fanfic” narrates how review and peer feedback function in fan communities. In her analysis of the writing process involved in fan fiction, Larsen underscores the sheer volume of research that is often necessary to write effectively in this mode. Even in play, then, this type of writing provides for a kind of “stealth teaching” that encourages continued pursuit of knowledge and consideration of new ideas.
Although the Re-Mix section offers fewer essays and profiles than its surrounding sections, the content offers an important bridge for the reader. The attention to the line between consumption and production is highlighted here to prepare the reader for the sections that follow. By interrogating those “introductory” spaces that fans move into as they prepare to fully Re-Create their fandoms, we can better understand the rough continuum along which fan activity lies.