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January 1993


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 27 Jan 1993 14:50:48 EST
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At the risk of adding more fuel to an already raging flame war, I want to
point out how both sides of the debate evoke traditional stereotypes of fans
to justify their positions. Dan Streible seeks to police or maintain a boundary
between academic and fannish discourse by ridiculing the concerns and topics of
prodigy users. What exactly about this discussion is inappropriate for an
academic context, apart from what it reveals about our own emotional investmwnts
 and personal lives as they relate to media consumption. I agree with Roberta
Pearson that the sexism and classism of the discussion is regrettable. On the
other side of the debate, we have people evoking the oldest meanings of the
word fan -- as it relates to orgiestic celebration and false worship -- to
 reduce issues of sexual violence to questions of fan identification. The
 implication seems to be that fannishness equals a loss of emotional and
 physical control.
Just as I think we should be cautious about reducing rape to the issue of
pornography, we can not and must not reduce domestic violence to issues of
football fandom. The case of the European soccer fans, as Roberta suggests,
involves issues of class; the question of American sports fans, as I have
argued in regard to wrestling, responds to a situation where traditional
masculinity severely restricts the range of permissible displays of male
emotion. Sports becomes a kind of melodramatic release for men where it is
permissible to shout, cry, etc. What is tragic is the ways that a patriarchal
culture has linked emotion and violence so that the release of one may lead
to the demonstration of the other. I do not mean to paint the men as victims,
far from it, but we need to understand how our current gender structures creates
 situations that are profoundly destructive to the emotional lives of men and
women and which leads directly to acts of domestic violence. Football doesn't
cause the violence but it can become the site for its practice.
--Henry Jenkins