Always-on fandom, Waiting and Bingeing

Psychoanalysis as an Engagement with Fans’ “Infra-Ordinary” Experiences

Authored by: Matt Hills

The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138638921
eBook ISBN: 9781315637518
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, I want to consider how psychoanalysis can illuminate the ordinary, everyday experiences of being a fan today, e.g. checking-in online to keep up with fannish news and fan friends, waiting for anticipated new television episodes, seasons or films to be released, and becoming immersed in fictional worlds via “binge-watching” or re-viewing. Although psychoanalysis dates to the nineteenth-century writings of Sigmund Freud, recent cultural critics using this kind of approach have tended to favour a “psychosocial” variant (Woodward 2015) which pays attention to social contexts and factors as well as matters of the psyche. In this instance, I will use “psychoanalytic” and “psychosocial” interchangeably, though it should be noted that there has been intense debate on the exact differences between these two terms (Hollway and Jefferson 2013). Considering the psychosocial ramifications of 24/7 “always-on” and readily accessible fandom, I will argue that othering and aggression between different fan communities/groups has become more central in the digital age (Booth 2016: 104). While scholarship may rightly critique the gender (and other cultural) politics of fans’ antagonisms, psychoanalysis offers a way of understanding the underlying psychosocial processes at play here. By contrast, I will analyze fans’ seemingly unproductive waiting for beloved media texts as a more harmonious version of community building, before concluding with an examination of binge-watching as a possible containment of anxiety that also displays “hyperconsumerism” (Hassler-Forest 2016: 41).

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