Fangirls in the Crosshairs

“Anger” just about covers it. The media needs to think of new ways of talking about fandom – because it is a culture they just DON’T understand.

lori hitchcock morimoto

In 1986, film scholar Miriam Hansen began her essay “Pleasure, Ambivalence, Identification: Valentino and Female Spectatorship” (Cinema Journal 25.4) with a short history lesson:

In the context of discussions on cinematic spectatorship, the case of Rudolph Valentino demands attention, on historical as well as theoretical grounds. For the first time in film history, women spectators were perceived as a socially and economically significant group; female spectatorship was recognized as a mass phenomenon; and the films were explicitly addressed to a female spectator, regardless of the actual composition of the audience. As Hollywood manufactured the Valentino legend, promoting the fusion of real life and screen persona that makes a star, Valentino’s female admirers in effect became part of that legend. Never before was the discourse on fan behavior so strongly marked by the terms of sexual difference, and never again was spectatorship so explicitly linked to the discourse on female…

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