I’ve just finished reading Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins (See Review Below). In one of the last chapters he discusses early Fan video creations (bear in mind this book was written in 1992). What I find fascinating about that chapter is 2 things. First that long before youtube came along people were creating video parodies and stories about the characters they enjoy, which just shows that while contemporary technology is helpful for creating such videos, it isn’t absolutely necessary. People were making videos before we had social media. That said, social media and better video technology has definitely played a role in the proliferation of videos.
The second thing I find fascinating is the magical angle, because to my mind there’s always a magical angle. I’ve made a few videos (not all that good) and I’m planning on getting better video technology in the nearish future to make more. What’s stood out to me about videos though is that with right editing software, you can not just shoot a video but add in some other effects, such as sigils, sounds, random pictures etc, and through that process create an experience for the viewer that can be helpful for your own magical purposes. After all, if the person is watching they are providing you their attention, which brings with it some energy of intention on their part, which can feed into your own.
In the case of the chapter, the fans creating the videos were really creating their own narrative stories with beloved characters and as a result contributing to the pop culture reality of those characters, which consequently I think can also be useful for connecting with a given pop culture entity. When people interact with various characters they are giving those characters more attention, more life via the interaction. Video creations provide fans a way to interact with the pop culture they like and tell stories, weave new realities for those characters. Apply that on a magical level and what you get is deeper interactions with the characters, which can then be applied toward magical workings with those same characters. The videos can be the magical workings as well, with everything set up so that the magical working is done, and then when viewed the ritual is charged and re-done because of the audience participation in watching the video. For example, think of a music concert. When you go to the concert you are caught up in the feelings and experiences of that concert. If you were to watch the concert as a video you’d experience a similar feeling of participation and intention. This can also be applied to videos that are made, with the understanding that the goal is to get some type of emotional response from the people viewing the video in order to continually charge and fire the magical working done in the video. Antero Alli’s films are good examples of that principle in action, but I think it could also be done with pop culture, and that if you look at the various fan films that are available on youtube, you’ll see the potential. When people are willing to dress up as characters and create their own stories, what they are doing is creating not just a story, but a magical working in its own way, that if understood from that perspective can be helpful for pop culture magical workings.
Speaking of Pop Culture Magic, check out my latest post on Pagan Square where I discuss the esoteric secrets of fantasy.
Book Review: Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins
This book is a must read for anyone interested in pop culture studies or anyone who is a fan and wants to understand the history of fan movements. The author does an excellent job of showing how different fandoms found empowerment in their communities and in their own fan creations based off the pop culture they liked. While this book was originally written in 1992, it’s still relevant to contemporary pop culture studies and if anything provides a fascinating historical perspective that allows the reader to understand contemporary fan movements and use of technology better through the context of reading the book. What I liked the most is that the author explored a number of types of fandoms (SF but also romance) and fan activities such as slash, filking, and video making. By doing this he provides a holistic perspective on fan activities that can help the reader better understand fandom and how it shows up in culture.