A study of post object fandom: Frustrated fans grieve over the axing of Merlin. 

TitleA study of post object fandom: Frustrated fans grieve over the axing of Merlin. 
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Akthar, I.
Affiliation (1st Author)John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Section or WGPopular Culture Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodePOPT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)POPT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleFans and Fantasy
Submission ID6898

Fans are passionate about their fan objects and for this reason they form strong opinions about them. These opinions can be about the characters, the producers, the audiences or the shows themselves.There have been studies carried out looking at different fan types and practices (Jenkins, 1992; Gray, 2007; Hills, 2002; Baym, 2000) and fans' movement between fan objects (Hills, 2005). However, as Williams (2011) argued, there has been a lack of study concerning the reaction of fans towards the axing of a television series. So, for this reason, this paper will look at how fans have reacted to the news that the British fantasy-adventure television series, Merlin (2008-2012) was coming to an end. Merlin was aired for the final time on 24 December 2012 and since then fans have been grieving and expressing how the end of the show has affected them in their everyday lives. Looking specifically at Internet fans, I aim to look at how fans have struggled to cope with the show ending, what fan practices have been formed by them to grieve, and the ways they have expressed their frustrations (mainly towards the producers and the British Broadcasting Corporation network). A close textual analysis of fan practices (postings and creative productions) in virtual spaces such as Tumblr (Merlin fan group) and the Merlin fan community, this paper will argue that the coming to an end of their favorite programme creates a strong emotional bonding (similar to that the main characters have at the end of the show) towards the show and also to the fan community. It would appear that the strong bonds that the fans have among themselves give them hope (hope of a sequel of Merlin, a movie or a further season). Through engaging with other fans and sharing a common grief, fans have developed a closeness to one another. It is this closeness that makes them feel emotionally involved with each other in a fan community. The ‘closeness between people’ is an integral part of a fan community. The role of emotions in fan communities here play a significant part in fan studies. Hills (2001) sees this as being an “affective space”. He explains that the importance of affect is that it draws attention to a dimension of fandom which cannot be reduced to models of psychoanalytic desire. This affective dimension nevertheless indicates an ‘attachment’ on the part of the fan. Hills believes that focusing on affect, allows us to “consider the specific emotional colourations and relationships of fandom” (Hills, 2001).This paper aims to contribute to the existing literature on fan communities,, how fans’ attachment to the community is formed after the ending of a television show. I will argue that the ‘closeness’ is strengthened even further once a television series comes to an end. This could also contribute to the study of post object fandom which Williams (2011) encourages scholars to examine in depth.

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