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September 1992


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 28 Sep 1992 18:31:05 EDT
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Sue writes a long response to my comments about BLAKE's 7. I don't want to
rehearse all of her arguments here, except to say that I totally agree with
her conclusions and her assessment of what fan writing is doing in relation
to that series. Sue, you might think about your comments about the series
as the embryonic form of a theoretical argument about what fans are doing
there. How do we explain why fans want to create such a strong continuity
when the program writers seemed relatively indifferent to the problem? What
do we make of the need to add psychological depth to account for character
inconsistencies rather than refering outward from the text to production
circumstances to account for these shifts? To what degree is this a
product of B7's status as a serial rather than an episodic series, or rather
its ambiguious relationship to these two programing categories? How do
fans' justify their decision to rewrite the ending of the series? Do they
appeal to ambiguious cues in the text (such as Cally's off-screen death)?
Do they appeal to authorial authority (such as comments by the producer that
suggest he wanted to have more seasons)? To some notion of generic expectations
 which says the forced closure was an unsatisfying resolution to a story of
that type? Etc. So, what you have to do when you locate an aspect of
fan behavoir that interests you is to try to determine:a)what that behavoir
means in relation to the primary text -- what strategies of interpretation
does it employ and b) what it means in relation to the fan community -- how
it builds a common ground within the group, etc. This is something of
an over-simplification but it is a good illustration of what I mean by
suggesting that each fandom poses a different set of theoretical questions.
Much of film studies has been founded on the construction of meta-theories
which can account for all spectatorship. The recent issue of CAMERA OBSCURA
on the "Female Spectatrix" suggests real dissatisfaction on all sides with
this approach. A new approach would say that theoretical exploration must
beginning with the particularities of local examples and then try to consider
what must be theoretically true to account for these situations. Rather
than searching for a master theory, I want to encourage work that starts
from a body of questions which originate from an immediate interaction with
a text or cultural phenomenon or... Sorry to rattle on so, but this does seem
to me to be a central issue facing Film and Media Studies as an issue and
one which is not fully understood. I would welcome comments from anyone on the
list, whether they are interested in fandom or not, about the advantages and
disadvantages of shifting from meta-theory to a "local knowledge" approach.