Friday, January 27, 2012

Chuck Fans

Great post over at the Monkey See blog today by Linda Holmes on the ways that "Chuck" fans challenged the usual assumptions about producer-audience relationships in television. As she writes, "It's a common internet truism that if you're not paying for ad-supported media, you're not the customer — you, as an eyeball to be advertised to, are the product. It's most commonly said about services like Facebook, but it's just as true of ad-supported television. And Chuck fans, in their businesslike enthusiasm, sold themselves as a product." Specifically, to Subway:

Frankfurt School-inspired critiques of fandom sometimes depend on rather narrow notions of producer hegemony: the "culture industry" manipulates; consumers are directly duped or resistant. The case of "Chuck," as Holmes points out, offers a slightly different understanding of who is negotiating with whom and why. It reminds me, actually, of examples of fans embracing alleged manipulative frameworks of exchange and taking perverse pleasure in that "complicity"--from the willingly humbugged visitors to Barnum's Museum in the 1840s to the self-loathing/loving of Sex Pistols fans. (For more on this sort of complexity, see what remains, in my view, one of the best pieces of writing on the topic, Mary Harron's "McRock: Pop as Commodity," in Simon Frith, ed., Facing the Music, 1988).

At any rate, the pop pleasures of "Chuck" end tonight. But pop pleasure will endure.

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