#Drive-In Mob: Research Proposal
“That movie sucked in the most delightful way”-#driveinmob hashtag user @joelrwilliams1
The only reason to watch bad movies is to make fun of them. Let’s face facts–there are a lot more bad movies than good out there. And there are bad movies, and then there are endearingly bad movies, ones that we watch expecting poor dubbing, editing, and painfully obvious seams on the monster’s costume.
If you’ve ever sat through Manos: Hands of Fate or,The Room, you know the kind of movie I’m talking about.
The drive-in mob hashtag user community engages in one movie tweet-along a week, every Thursday. The website features links for the upcoming schedule as well as past tweetalongs. The site also features a roll-call for twitter users especially active or funny in the tweetalongs. There are 34 of these “capos of the movie mob,” as they are called, but they are not the only users of the tag, simply the most frequent.
I am interested in studying this hashtag/community because, as I said before, I grew up watching many of these movies. I am hoping to better understand why an affectionate mocking of the movies-look at Elvira, or the aforementioned MST3K. If the teasing were meant, it would be easier to simply avoid the movies completely. So I am aiming at understanding why the teasing is such an integral part of the experience.
I will be following the group of twitter for the coming semester, and archiving the tweets on TAGS v.5. I will be looking at the community with a focus of fandom-as-anthropology, and participatory culture. It’s all here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on twitter! @thisistomwink
So, what am I seeing from the Drive-In Mob hash tag community?
As the tweets piled up in the Tags 5.0 archive, I broke them down into seven categories:
Based on the content of the tweets in each category, I was able to identify that the tweets were really doing two things: building a co-produced fan-created text, and creating social connections between members.
At first, I was looking at the riffing tweets as evidence of the anti-fan. However, between the tweets I analyzed and the user-to-user communication, the more I read I didn’t feel that the drive-in mob users were anti-fans. While the riffing tweets contain a satirical edge to them, they rarely go to the point of saying that X movie sucks.
Instead, they are remixing the property. Dr. Mark Duffet writes that every fandom has its’ core “processes of re-imagination”.
Playing into this re-imagination is, textual poaching, an idea put forth by Henry Jenkins for fan activity that recreates the established text. This weekly co-authorship is a huge part of the drive-in mob.
It provides a very low-risk way for people to get involved in the drive-in mob community.
There is a pretty good chance that a tweeted joke will “get legs” and inspire a small slew of jokes.
The chance of a retweet or favorite, or the continuation of a joke is fairly good.
These are all examples of what makes participatory culture.
This participatory engagement is important, as it shows that each producer-fan is, as Mriko Schaefer writes, “consciously producing media texts and artefacts.”
The conciousness of the act is important, as it shows that twitter users are intending to be in the community and are intending their tweet to be seen.
Due to the rather small size and the nature of the drive-in mob, the tweeters are clearly aware that their tweets have an audience.
Between the combination of the textual poaching and the hash tag users awareness of each other, we see that the focus is shifted away from the movie and is instead the hash tagged tweets. This also recalls textual poaching, which blurs the line between producer and consumer.
While movies may be a key part to the hash-tag, being the primary draw and function, they are not in a position of total dominance. Instead, the user-to-user interactions is what drives the movie nights. In this, the drive-in mob is highly reminiscent of an information ecology: a system of people, technology, etc, that make up a local area. But, as is the case with the drive-in mob, information ecologies are about human activity supported by technology, not the technology itself.
Helped by their movies, twitter, you tube and the Internet, the drive-in mob bridges the spatial distance and grows intimate. Maybe not as closely as family members, but certainly as close as co-authors. Drive-in Mob is enabling people to explore and create, to make some sometimes corny jokes without fear of being judged.
Community is really about three things: a sense of belonging, companionship, and social support. And this is what the drive-in mob offers.