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’.