Fan-powered content: a tool for building community, expressing oneself and expanding accessibility


Editor’s Note: The FII #MoodOfTheMonth for November 2021 is Popular culture stories. We invite submissions on various aspects of pop culture, throughout this month. If you would like to contribute, please email your articles to [email protected]


Fandoms have always been a dominant force. More often than not, the durability of an artist’s content, especially in popular culture, largely depends on the kind of fan power they can consistently harness and maintain. Fans are incredibly influential and over time become active consumers rather than passive viewers.

This is proven by the rise of fan-powered content. While fan fiction, fanarts, and fan-run businesses may seem trivial and largely derivative, they lead to community building, increase content longevity, and enrich original content.

With fan-made content, the story doesn’t end at the point where the original creator lets it go. There are interpretations and reinterpretations of events, characters, etc., which keep creation alive long afterward. This phenomenon is not only present in the case of fan-content generated in the field of fiction or films. It is also present in other types of content like music and sports, among other areas. With the growing popularity of narrative music videos, especially in K-pop, where much of the storyline may have deliberately remained vague, it’s the fandom theories that keep the narratives alive.

Additionally, fan-powered content has now expanded to physical goods. There are various innovative wares created in various fandoms which also allow fans to buy and own merchandise thus increasing their investment. Income lost through such forms may be slightly less than what can be recovered through increased fan engagement. The art that is derived from the original then reinforces the interest in the canonical form of it.

For example, the pop supergroup BTS have their own fictional and alternate universe called the Bangtan Universe, whose story is told through their music videos and other related content. All the information is then absorbed by the fandom which reconstitutes and theorizes it. It also leads to fanarts, fanfictions, editions and much more. It keeps the buzz alive, brings cohesion to the fandom, and is a fun way to engage.

There are many people involved in receiving art, and speech is what drives critical appreciation. The speech ramifies in several directions but is not limited to what is only canon. Along with fan production, art, canon’s divergent stories add to the power of a fandom in a number of ways. I love writing stories for my fandom because straying from canon is not only fun, it also adds more reach to what canon can actually do, thus increasing its outlook. There are no limits to fiction, anyway, and since everything in entertainment is precisely for entertainment, writing such stories not only makes me happy and makes my head spin, but they also appeal to people from across the world. fandom who read them for fun. So it’s basically a great storytelling session“says Subhalakshmi Dey, who loves to write fan fiction.

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Read also : The trivialization of female fans: combating gender stereotypes around fandoms

Increased accessibility

Fandom-powered content, in fact, increases accessibility for more people, in the intellectual narrative that lives on in canon. Whether it’s lyrics, art, fiction, or any other medium, fan-powered content can often become easier to consume, ultimately providing a way for potential fans to invest in. the original content.

Additionally, fan-powered content has now expanded to physical goods. There are various innovative wares created in various fandoms which also allow fans to buy and own merchandise thus increasing their investment. Income lost through such forms may be slightly less than what can be recovered through increased fan engagement. Art derived from the original therefore reinforces interest in its canonical form.

Doujinshi, the Japanese term for self-printed and produced work that is primarily derived from pre-existing manga and graphic novels has been around since the 1980s. These works are generally available at doujinshi conventions, where doujinshi are bought and traded. The most important of these conventions is the Comiket (short for “Comic Market”) held in Tokyo, usually twice a year.

Fan-powered content not only opens avenues for the expansion of what’s canon, but also gives creators a space to express themselves and engage in a speech through topics they love. It therefore generates more entertainment, promotes creativity and encourages smart consumption among many other things. These aspects are often overlooked and fan art is largely trivialized and rejected for all the wrong reasons.

Despite Japan’s strict copyright laws, no strict limits have been set on these conventions and doujinshi in general, as they are considered to promote original content and the public interest in it. It also opens up a regulated and profitable place for budding artists to practice and sell their art. Indeed, in 2016, President Shinzo Abe declared, “The dōjinshi do not compete in the market with the original works and do not harm the profits of the original creators, therefore they are shinkokuzai. “

A BTS Fan Art Expo Has Been Held And There Are A LOT of Talented Artists |  SBS PopAsia
BTS fan art expo Image: SBS

Adaptation mechanism and creative outlet

For creators participating in fandom content, it’s also about unleashing their creativity in a safe place with interests that are an integral part of their lives. Additionally, creating can help different people in different ways, especially in times of grim crisis like the pandemic we are currently facing. “At first I was apprehensive about writing this kind of content because I wasn’t really confident but I still consumed a lot of stories written by other fans. Most of my inspiration comes from different types of art like photographs or songs that feel like they have a story worth telling and I try to tell the story that I can think after finding such works of art. In a year like 2021, it’s my fics that keep me going. I can’t remember going a month without writing fanfic this year. It’s my little attempt to make this world a little beautiful and bearable, especially when we’ve all been through such a difficult time. My stories not only helped me become more confident in my writing skills, but also helped me grow as a human being by coming into contact with a lot of emotions instead of running away from them.Ahona Sadhu says.

Rusha Chowdhury, who creates fanart also adds: “I think there are several dimensions to creating content for fans. Some do this to better connect with the artist in question, or to channel their creativity and contribute to the breadth of art around the star. As for someone like me, creating fanarts both connects me with my idols and helps me convey my admiration to them. Besides the obligatory aesthetic side, my idols also spark inspiration in me, which prompts me to create content and explore my own creativity. I also feel like it’s a kind of silent pact of give and take between the professional artist and the fan artist.

At the heart of fan-powered content, therefore, are many emotions, which are largely harmless and give back to a community. Fandoms are complex organizational structures with a lot of power. It is no longer a one-dimensional community that consumes in silence, but rather a community that actively engages.

Fan-powered content not only opens avenues for the expansion of what’s canon, but also gives creators a space to express themselves and engage in a speech through topics they love. It therefore generates more entertainment, promotes creativity and encourages smart consumption among many other things. These aspects are often overlooked and fan art is largely trivialized and rejected for all the wrong reasons.

Read also : Misogyny in sports fandoms: the trivialization of female fans in popular culture


Sudarshana is currently pursuing her BA in English at the University of Jadavpur. When not procrastinating or falling victim to impulsive retail therapy, she is found learning new languages, fangirling her favorite kpop acts, and dreaming about herself in as a future magazine editor. She has rediscovered her love for painting over the past year and is excited to be working on new projects.

Featured Image: Wireframe

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