‘Attack on Fandom’ Critique

Hayley Mandy is a digital media student at the University of Wollongong who is fascinated by the world of fandoms. How they work, why they’re there, who contributes and how they contribute. This has lead Hayley to create her own online vlog series ‘Attack on Fandom’ which explores all of these areas of fandoms.

I must admit, I wouldn’t really consider myself a part of any fandom. Although I do have shows that I love and someone’s participate in the discussion of online, so I suppose I am a part of some fandoms to a certain extent. But, not to the extent of some of the people, as Hayley explains in her vlog series.

Some of the things Hayley attempts to explore through her vlog series include a wide range of fandom related topics. Cosplaying, themes, ‘cons’ and expos. She strives to explore areas such as young vs. old consumers, extreme and unconventional fandoms, fan fiction and copyright laws. All of these can be seen as things most people could just look over and appreciate, but when these topics are explored in depth and analysed they become quite interesting topics. In my own experience, Hayley’s investigation into these areas sparked my interest and got me wanting to find out more.

In one of the classes I had with Hayley at university, she showed us a compilation of death and violence scenes from the show ‘Attack on Titan’. This was a show I had never heard of before, and to be honest I don’t think I will watch after this experience either, however it was quite an experience to watch this compilation.

Reaction videos are a great way to become involved in a show, or really anything you have the ability to react to. You can search “reaction video” on YouTube and be met with thousands of results. Some would say reaction videos have become a sort of ‘meme’ in the fact that they have propped up in recent years and a lot of people are becoming engaged with different forms of media and in essence created their own media and adding to the fandom of whatever it is they are reacting to.

As you can see in the video, reactions are funny, and it got me (a person who isn’t interested in anime or the like) to be interested in this show, even just for a few minutes. Plus, I got to be involved in a fandom for a show!

One of the things that makes ‘Attack on Fandom’ work so well is Hayley. You can tell from her vlog videos that she is genuinely interested in this area of research, and her excitability makes me, and potentially other viewers, excited to watch her series. If somebody is to put their time and effort into a project without a genuine interest in the area, the result will not be favourable.

While it is evident that Hayley has an interest and show excitement in the shows and areas she is exploring, it is also evident that she has a genuine interest in the in-depth research of the areas listed above – young vs. old, fan fiction & copyright laws, expos and so on. You can tell she is looking at her project through the lens of a media consumption analysis. She is genuinely interested to know how and why people consume and participate in fandoms.

The benefit of Hayley, and her series ‘Attack on Fandom’ exploring many different topics, is that it opens up and allows for a wider audience, and maybe even a different audience for each area of topic. For example, some people might be more interested in how older people participate in a fandom than the people who spend hours writing fan fiction for a show. And of course, there would be a lot of people like Hayley who would be interested in learning about all topics to do with a fandom.

One of the other things I liked about ‘Attack on Fandom’ was that, on top of Hayley’s vlogs, she also took the time to travel to an event where cosplayers were present, and along with some of her friends, interviewed some people being involved in cosplaying within a fandoms. While Hayley seems to be very informed on the topics she speaks of, gathering interviews from people being involved in the fandom by cosplaying adds another level to her web series. Every person has a different opinion on different topics, as well as their own experiences so this offers a different and more in-depth viewpoint surrounding the area of cosplaying.

Although overall ‘Attack on Fandom’ is an engaging, interesting and well informed digital artefact, there are a couple of things that can be done or done better to improve the overall feel of the series of vlogs.

Obviously, it is not easy when first starting out as a vlogger with regards to video and sound quality. One thing I would recommend would be better lighting, video quality and recording devices. This would make the whole experience of consuming ‘Attack on Fandom’ seem more professional, and would perhaps result in a larger viewership.

One idea I did have, which I have seen in a number of other popular YouTube accounts is links showing up over the video which link to interesting articles or other videos which have some sort of connection to what is being spoken about. This would be extra helping in the case of ‘Attack on Fandom’ because a lot of the things that get spoken about in the videos are about something that you would already have to have some form of knowledge about. However, this is a minor things that can easily be added to past and future vlogs.

Overall, ‘Attack on Fandom’, and Hayley herself, is a very entertaining and interesting vlog series. It hovers over many interesting things to do with fandoms as well as delving deeper into more pressing questions around the connection between media and audience. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing ‘Attack on Titan’.

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Snapchatting Kimmy K

Public screens, we see them everywhere! Waiting rooms, bus stops, highways. But do we always interact with them? Sure, if you’re sitting at Centrelink and trying to keep distracted from the bogans and the domestics happening around you, you’re going to try as hard as you can to focus on watching Ellen DeGeneres on the TV near you. But what other screens are you absorbing but not even knowing about?

I know from my own personal experience at the University of Wollongong, the UniBar is full of advertisements!! And I’ve even noticed that more recently there are screens there that change and show different information. Where there once was a Coles advertisement showing the price of bananas, there now sits a television screen, showing news headlines, weather, and other interchangeable images – of course, still showing the odd advertisement every now and then. Someone’s gotta pay for it!

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Do people even notice these screens though, or do they just go about their everyday business without noticing? I know that I notice this interchangeable screen a lot more than I watched the Coles banana advertisement. On this new screen, there’s something different every day, and some of it is even information that I care about and am actually interested in! The fact is, advertising screens are all around us! Do we notice every single one? Probably not. But many advertisements stick with us because we see them so often.

Also at the University of Wollongong is a ‘beanbag room’ as I like to call it. It consists of a bunch of beanbags on the floor in front of a massive projected screen playing the music channel ‘Channel V’. This room is predominantly a ‘chill out’ room, but a lot of people use it to catch up with friends, and some (myself included) even use it as a place to take a nap!

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If you walk into this room, all of the people who are on their own are either using their laptop, tablet, phone, or even a combination of these. Multi-screen consuming has become a massive thing of recent times. I’ve even caught myself before, scrolling Facebook on my laptop, Snapchatting on my iPhone, playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood on my iPad and looking up at the big screen every now and then to watch the music video that’s playing at the time. I’ve noticed whilst in this room, that when a new song comes on people look up at the big screen to see the same of the song, then look down and continue what they were doing.

Do people consume one screen more than the other? Or is it all spread out equally. People seem to be multitasking now more so than ever before. Is it all consciously? Is any of the screen consuming done subconsciously?

I think, as long as people are busy consuming and doing something with their attention span, they don’t really care. They’re entertained, and that’s all that matters!

‘Cinema Experience’ Minus the Cinema? WHHHAAATTT??!!!!

When I was growing up in the small, country town of Dunedoo in Central-West New South Wales, there wasn’t much to do. We could ride our bikes, play outside, run around in the backyard; that was pretty much the extent of ‘entertainment’ for me growing up. Part of this reason would be the isolation of the town. There were other small towns around Dunedoo, but the big hubs of Dubbo and Mudgee were both approximately an hours drive away. We had to leave Dunedoo if we wanted to buy clothes, electronics, shoes (although, it was possible to buy a tractor in Dunedoo, so that’s something).
One thing there was no hope of doing in Dunedoo, was going to the cinema to see the latest release blockbuster. Yes, for that we would have to travel the hour to Dubbo or Mudgee, after buying underwear of course!

Most of the time we went to Dubbo, we’d go as a family. We’d all need new clothes and other things – it would be a massive day of shopping! I loved the days we’d be treated with going to the movies though! We’d go to the cinema as soon as we arrived in Dubbo, get a session time sheet and organise our shopping day around the movie we wanted to see and when it was airing. It was easy to go with friends, because we’d always be travelling together from Dunedoo and we wouldn’t know what was on and at what times until we got there.

You can imagine how my life has changed since moving to Wollongong almost three years ago.
Going to the movies is so much easier to do in a metropolitan area, and in 2014 – rather than a small country town in 2004. The last time I went to the cinema was with my roommate and his boyfriend at the time. Yes, I was a third wheel. But it was THE LEGO MOVIE so I didn’t care. All I did was look up the session times on the website (we chose the cinema in Wollongong because it’s the closest), sent a quick message in the Facebook group chat that my friends and I have, and meet people at the cinema. It was so last minute and it happened so quickly, but it was still so structured and organised!
Of course, the movie was packed with children mostly aged between 4 and 10, and you could tell the parents of these children weren’t impressed when a group of young adults, some quite tall, sat smack bang in the centre of the cinema (they are the best seats after all). A couple of people seated behind us even got up and moved! But it was THE LEGO MOVIE so it didn’t phase me too much.

Later on, I was talking to a friend about the movie, and they informed me they had just torrented the movie so they didn’t have to watch it in a cinema surrounded by a bunch of loud children. Smart move I think. I even know of parents who torrent movies to show their kids so they don’t have to trek it into the cinema with them!

Is this the future of cinema watching? People won’t even go to the cinema to watch? It seems it’s already starting to happen. I know very few young adults who don’t have at least a couple of torrented movies or shows on their computers or a hard drive. Whether they downloaded it themselves or got it off a friend. In my opinion, the future of cinema isn’t even in the cinema!

I suppose we’ll just have to sit back, legs on the seat in front eating popcorn, and wait to see what the future holds.

“NBN Won’t Change Much”

I still remember that sweet, sweet sound of dial-up internet. It brings back a lot of nostalgia for me. I still remember mum yelling at my 3 siblings and I after she had discovered we’d gone on the internet without her permission, by picking up the phone and hearing that awful ‘internet noise’. Or when someone would forget to disconnect, and we’d all freak out, praying that mum wouldn’t find out. Of course, she always got the evidence through the phone bill.
My greatest memory of dial-up internet though, would definitely have to be the voice mails my grandfather would leave on our answering machine.
“Tell those f***ing kids to get off the f***ing internet! I want to have a f***ing conversation with my f***ing daughter!”
Most of the time, we weren’t even home when he left the messages, he just assumed that we were on the internet all the time.

While dial-up may be nostalgic for me, I must admit that it was really bloody annoying compared to broadband today! I remember when my family first got broadband internet. My mother was so excited to be able to play games on the internet AND talk on the phone at the same time. My grandfather could no longer blame us kids for getting the answering machine, we could stay online as long as we wanted. Life was good.
Imagine how excited my family was when we finally got a wireless modem! Well, not my whole family. My two eldest siblings had grown up and moved out, so it was just mum, my sister and I. My eldest sister and older brother were very annoyed that we got a wireless modem after they had moved out, and we’d also been bought our first laptop computers to utilise this! You know how they say that parents change and bend the rules for the younger siblings? Like being able to stay out later, have a TV in their rooms? Well, that was certainly true in my family. I’m just lucky enough to be the youngest of four; and in the case of wireless internet, technology was on my side! One of the many perks of being the youngest!
I had gone from having to fight for any time on the one shared desktop computer for what little time of our dial-up internet allowance was left (a disadvantage of being the littlest), to having my own laptop with access to wireless internet.

But now, all four of us have moved out into the big, wide world, and it is just mum sitting at home still using a desktop computer, albeit one a bit more updated than Windows 95, still using a(n updated) wireless modem. Whenever any of us kids return home for a visit however, it definitely feels like we’re back at home when our iPhones, iPads and computers automatically connect.

 

I am from the small country town of Dunedoo in Central West NSW, a town of around 800 residents. When we enquired into changing from dial-up to broadband in the first place all of those years ago, we were told not to expect it, but I guess we got lucky. Now, with the rollout of the Nation Broadband Network (NBN) happening all over the country, I wonder how long it will take for Dunedoo to be able to benefit.Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.22.49 pm

My mum still calls me with questions about the computer and the internet, but I thought it was about time I gave her a call with a few questions of my own.
The NBN isn’t really a big deal in Dunedoo, because most people don’t expect to be seeing it rolled out there any time soon. However my mum does have a couple of things she expects to occur when it finally does.
Internet in Dunedoo isn’t the fastest as is, as you would imagine. There are good days, and there are bad days. One of the things my mother does use the internet for is streaming shows she missed watching on TV. Her and I differ in the fact that I usually go online as a first point of call to watch TV (with the right ad blocker, you don’t even have to sit through the ads online) whereas she would rather the experience of sitting and watching as it happens. But, if by chance she misses watching her show, I have taught her how to catch up online. The internet in Dunedoo is not the best for this, and this would be one benefit of the NBN in Dunedoo for my mother.
That’s pretty much it for mum, the NBN and Dunedoo. That’s all she says she’ll use it for, and she doesn’t expect much else to change around the house either. While, it would definitely be a different story if there were more people in the household, all my mother uses the internet for is Facebook and watching shows. This could be a generational thing, because I know that whenever I or other young members of my family return home the internet gets very close to it’s cap.

Facebook works for my mum, her shows load most of the time, even if she has to wait for it to load a little bit, which she doesn’t mind at all.
I now live five and a half hours away and I still think I’d like the NBN to reach there faster than she does.
But I suppose, you only use what you need, and that’s what mum’s doing now, quite happily.

My Mother, TV Connoisseur

My mother was 8 years old when her family first got a television. The year was 1965 and she was living on a farm outside of North Star, NSW. My mother’s family had a television even before the transmission had begun to that area. So instead of watching television shows, they watched the test pattern. My mum and her three siblings at the time would sit on the floor in front of the television and be entertained by black and white shapes on the screen.

When the transmission was finally turned on, my mother and her siblings would still sit in front of the television with as much anticipation as they did for the test pattern, only this time they were actually watching shows.

In the 60s, television was much simpler than today. There were only two channels, ABC and the local station from Tamworth, NEN.

My mother had a great time listing off the shows she watched as a child. Adventure Island, Kimba The White Lion (which I remember watching on VCR as a child), Bewitched and multiple different game shows. But a young Maria mostly remembers when westerns filled the TV schedule.

When I asked her if she ever watched TV somewhere other than home when she was a child, she mentioned motel rooms, and the one that was most interesting to me, in shop windows. I can’t comprehend having TVs playing in shop windows these days. Today, TVs are displayed in the back of the electronics shop, mounted on the walls or on stands and surrounded by countless amounts of other TVs, each one bigger than the next.

My mother didn’t watch much television though, for about half an hour in the afternoon and then again after their nightly bath until it was dinner time. Bedtime for my mother and her siblings was 7:30, except for on Thursdays when they were allowed to stay up until 8 and the whole family would sit together and watch Bonanza. This wasn’t the only time that television shaped the daily routine of my mother’s family. On Fridays, they were allowed to turn the TV around to face the table in the kitchen, and while they ate their fish fingers they would watch Gilligan’s Island. (In those days, everybody ate fish on Fridays).

When my mother’s family got their TV, the layout in their loungeroom changed, from everything facing the radio on the fireplace, to everything now facing the TV.

My mother’s television experience changed when she moved to boarding school in Rose Bay. After dinner at 6:30, 100 or so girls would run upstairs to get the best spot in front of a tiny TV, all elbowing and pushing each other. Here, they would watch Belle Bird for an hour before it was time for study. This was the only time the girls at school would watch TV, one hour a day. It almost seems unimaginable now.

One thing that did stay with me after interviewing my mother (who later became a primary school teacher) was the fact that in schools, television was used as a teaching tool. Play School was played, as well as other educational programs. She says these days they just download all of their media.

Some of the things mum told me about her television experience as a child, I can’t even imagine in my head. It was just a different world. To think that people used to be so impressed by black and white shapes on a screen, and now people get bored watching TV shows and need to follow along with Facebook and Twitter. TV channels have even created apps so people can follow along! The whole television experience is just different now.

Finding A Voice

It is a part of human nature to want to belong, to strive to be a part of a group. just as every country prides itself on it’s culture, each one of these is made up of a number of different sub-cultures. While it is important for an Australian to feel Australian, it is also important for a New South Welshman to feel like they belong in New South Wales. Sub-cultures may get smaller and smaller as you move in and take a closer look, but the desire to belong doesn’t.

This is where the media comes into it. For a long time, there has been publications which tell the stories of a certain group, to a certain group.

If you’re a student of the University of Wollongong, you may read the student magazine published by students of UOW, because you want to hear stories of people who belong to your group. 

If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you may want to hear the stories of and have discussions with other members of that community. This is why we have publications specifically designed for certain groups, because it allows people to tell their own stories to their own people, and fosters that sense of belonging that I’ve been harping on about.

Diasporic media allows stories to be told first hand, instead of being repeated by someone on TV who has no idea what they’re talking about. This is why, when it comes to stories of LGBT people, those people turn to sites like SameSame, instead of mainstream news outlets like News.com.au.

It all comes back to a sense of community and acceptance. People want to hear stories about them, told by people like them, and that is why it’s important for communities and sub-cultures to have their own voices.

Cross-Cultural Media

Globalisation has had a massive effect on the media industry and the shows we see on television. TV channels these days are full of American shows and other shows from overseas, but the shows that I find most interesting are show that have been adapted from one country to another. Reality shows can be easily adapted to different locations. The X Factor just needs a different host and judges, and the concept still works. Big Brother, the same. But it’s shows like Kath & Kim, which is extremely popular in Australia, that have a hrs time being translated to an American audience. Sue Turnbull credits this loss in translation to “the role and place of irony” (2008, p. 115). So is it just a difference in what Australians and Americans find funny? My mother has herself claimed that she hates American comedies because they are too “in-your-face” and brash. Of course, my mother is no expert in the field of globalised media, but she is an active consumer.

With the globalisation of media, also comes the potential of ownership of global media corporations. Rupert Murdoch owns a number of media organisations all around the world, and this allows him to have a say in what information is published all around the world. Nobody will forget the 2013 Australian Federal Election and the NewsCorp coverage of it. But Murdoch has also had this influence in the past in different countries. David McKnight uses the 1992 United Kingdom election as an example, showing the influence Murdoch and The Sun newpaper had on the election.

The globalisation of Murdoch’s media empire has allowed him to have a voice and an influence around the world. Gone are the days of each country having it’s own media, media is now globalised, narrowing the influence being had on people, even from different countries. 

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, no. 159, pp. 110-115.