photo from http://comicsalliance.com/ask-chris-38-is-there-a-santa-claus-christmas/

As the holiday season descends upon us like fog in the Gotham skyline, I cannot help but wonder what would a super hero buy? Would Spiderman be awake at 1am standing in line at a Best Buy? Would Zatanna be trolling the Internet on cyber Monday looking for the best deals on top hats? Doubtful. So if the super heroes are all taken care of, what do you get their fans?

If you have been following any blog at all this week you were probably inundated with Holiday Shopping Lists - a collection of “must- haves” for every fan.

Only a real fan would a Yoda-shaped pancake

Real fans eat only Yoda-shaped pancakes

And is this really a surprise – fans make up a large portion of the “consuming market.”- something any smart company shouldn’t ignore. According Henry Jenkins’s  80/20 rule – 20 percent of the audience (the fans) create 80 percent of the revenue.  When it comes to sales, fans are not looked at as “irritants” but as “loyal consumers to be courted” and courted they are – on every shelf and in every aisle there are rows and rows of endless fan paraphernalia from more main stream vendors like Target stocking up on the common super hero items to smaller privately owned specialty  stores staying open later to compete.

But the fans are partly at fault here too. A fan must establish the depth of their fandom by possessing the coolest, newest, most rare artifact of their adoration. The rarer, the more coveted. Owning the $17,000 golf cart refurbished to look like Batman’s Tumbler or the $4000 Essential Amazing Spiderman:Vol 3  will only increase a fan’s social capitol within the community.

Okay- this is pretty darn cool.

Okay- this is pretty darn cool.

But it’s more than just building one’s own status within a community, it’s about the personal connection to the text. Lawrence Grossberg writes that a fan’s connection to the media is “immediate and based on the emotional process of investing and identifying.”It is then a possibility that this emotional proximity to the text, might cause fans to trample each other over $500 PS4.

The very nature of fandom is consumption of a text and that text comes at a price, ready to be wrapped and placed under a tree this holiday season.

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Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Batman would buy vengeance. VENGEANCE.

    Reply
  2. Interesting read!

    I would hope, since he pretty much gets whatever he wants anyway, that Batman would spend Black Friday shopping online to get Alfred something awesome! That is, of course, if he isn’t busy saving the world.

    Interestingly enough, there will be an auction Thursday for some of The Lord of the Rings movie props. Frodo’ sword is expected to go for no less than $100,000.00.

    Does it follow that the best fans, by the coolest/newest stuff theory, are the best fans? And from whose persective?

    I also wonder at what price (literal and metaphorical) fans are “fans.”

    Thought-provoking stuff! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • maybe “best” is subjective here. Many people within a fan community want to achieve some kind of status, some way to set themselves above the other fans and apart from everyone else who isn’t a fan at all. They do this through knowledge and ownership of artifacts – be it a $100,000 Frodo sword. And really interesting question to bring up – fans sure pay for their fandom within the general public. They are looked at often as obnoxious nerds, but I think they make up for that by growing their social capitol within their own fan communities. I wonder if this is why people would plop down that kind of money for these objects – what social ostracizing have they experienced that they now need to make up for it?

      Reply
  3. […] Paolo Gerbaudo in Tweets and the Streets. In constructing a textual ecologies map for my article, What Would Batman Buy, I learned the real benefits of news aggregators such as  feedly and online cloud storage spaces […]

    Reply
  4. Since you mentioned PlayStation 4, I can’t help but think about some of the heavily priced bonuses that come with collector’s editions of video games today. Sure, some fans might spend a little bit more for the collector’s edition of Halo 3 to get a spartan helmet or you might want to get a statue of a dragon with your copy of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, but (and I don’t think any of these have sold yet) you can even get an actual racing car with the Mono Edition of Grid 2, which will only set you back $190,000. Just goes to show how much fans value their hobbies and passions.

    Reply
    • or how much disposable income they have…? It’s hard to hate these companies who are smart enough to cater to the super fan with this expensive add-ons

      Reply

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