The Homoerotic Requirement

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In the previous post, I noted that one of the baseline requirements for a boy boom in Japan (where “boy boom” is my flippant way of talking about foreign male star booms) is the presence of a homoerotic something. In the case of the first beautiful British boy boom, that requirement was fulfilled in no small part by the films Maurice, based on E.M. Forster’s novel of the same name and starring James Wilby, Hugh Grant, and Rupert Graves, as well as the earlier film Another Country (Marek Kanievska, 1984), starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, and Cary Elwes, released in Japan in 1985. Yet, the foregrounding of two films with narratives centering on male homosexuality in YNoB and its follow-up, Young Noblemen of Britain Part II, is hardly compelling evidence of a generalizable requirement for some kind of homoerotic element in the emergence of a foreign ‘boy boom’, so what other evidence is there to support this assertion? Continue reading The Homoerotic Requirement

The First ‘Beautiful British Boy Boom’ (1988-1989)

Note: I’m currently conducting research on the history of foreign (male) star ‘booms’ in Japan, beginning with what’s been called the “first beautiful British Boy Boom” (第一英国美男子ブーム) and eventually ending with the present-day second British Boy Boom. I’ll be posting bits of this as I go, beginning with this introduction to the first phenomenon and its origins.

Continue reading The First ‘Beautiful British Boy Boom’ (1988-1989)

The Nexus: (Movie) Nostalgia and the Third Culture Kid

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“I was pulled away. I didn’t want to leave; none of us did. I felt like I’d left a part of myself behind. All I could think about was getting back… I didn’t care what I had to do.” – Guinan, Star Trek Generations

The experience of Third Culture Kids is something akin to Guinan’s explanation of the Nexus in Star Trek Generations: pulled away from a familiar and perhaps happy life in one place, the TCK is thrust into an unfamiliar environment that compels a process of trying to recapture the comfort of the old, acclimate to the new, or – in my case – some intangible and unsatisfying combination of both. Continue reading The Nexus: (Movie) Nostalgia and the Third Culture Kid

The Year in Productivity

One of the things about being an ‘independent scholar’ (read: marginally employed adjunct and sole beneficiary of the M. Morimoto Foundation for Scholarly Spouses) is that it can be a bit difficult to get a sense of yourself as a scholar. I’m fortunate in a lot of ways, not least of which is that fan studies is a particularly independent scholar-friendly field; still, I sometimes need to take stock to figure out exactly what I’ve been doing.

So, with that in mind, I give you the year in productivity. Continue reading The Year in Productivity

Doctor Strange in a Strange Land, or The Transnational Logics of Blockbuster Casting (part two)

Simply put, synergy is the combination of two or more things to create something that’s bigger than the sum of its individual parts, and Disney was thinking in synergistic directions long before the concept caught fire in American corporate circles.

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copyright 1957 Disney

Continue reading Doctor Strange in a Strange Land, or The Transnational Logics of Blockbuster Casting (part two)

Doctor Strange in a Strange Land, or The Transnational Logics of Blockbuster Casting (part one)

Last week, my Tumblr dashboard was flooded with opinions about the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the upcoming film of the same name. While some were excited, there was also substantial backlash to the announcement that was echoed in other corners of online fandom. On my own Tumblr dash, concern centered on the casting of a white actor in a role that some had argued should instead go to a non-white actor – a rare breed within the Marvel cinematic universe. That the role ultimately went to an actor already associated with ‘whitewashing’ (Cumberbatch’s casting as Khan Noonian Singh in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness) seemed to add insult to injury, and resulted in – at least in my small slice of fandom – quite a few people proclaiming their disillusionment with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Continue reading Doctor Strange in a Strange Land, or The Transnational Logics of Blockbuster Casting (part one)

Fangirls in the Crosshairs

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 desire. This conjunction was to inform Valentinian mythology for decades to come – as the following cover prose from biographies illustrates:

“Lean, hot-eyed and Latin, Valentino was every woman’s dream… ”

“On screen and off, his smoldering glance ignited fierce sexual fires in millions of hearts… ”

“They breathed the words ‘The Sheik’ like a prayer on their lips. They tried to tear his clothes off when he left the theater… ”

“The studio telephones could not handle the thousands of calls from women. They begged for any job that would permit even a momentary glimpse of Valentino. Gladly they offered to work without pay.” (p. 6)

Continue reading Fangirls in the Crosshairs

Doctor Who and the Trouble with (Cool) “Japan”

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One sweltering Sunday in August, my husband, kids, sister-in-law, her daughter, and my brother-in-law found ourselves in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo on the opening weekend of “Nisei Week,” a week-long celebration of Japanese-American life and culture in Southern California. My husband is Japanese-American – his grandfather was born in a suburb of Hiroshima City, and his great-grandparents on his grandmother’s side also hailed from that area (his grandmother, like his father and himself, was born in Los Angeles) – with a Japanese middle and last name to prove it. Continue reading Doctor Who and the Trouble with (Cool) “Japan”

FSN Conversations: Social Media Campaigns

One of the other conversations that happened during the Fan Studies Network Conference 2014 – on Twitter, in fact – was spurred by Nistasha Perez’s paper, “The Creation of Official Tumblr Accounts in Online Fannish Spaces: Examining Integration of Fannish Practices By Media Corporations.” As I was live tweeting the presentation, it was observed that successful campaigns – Hannibal being notable in this regard – seemed like nothing so much as a triumph of soft power. And I do think it’s related to soft power, a term that’s undergone revision since Joseph Nye introduced it in 1990, and which he currently defines as

“the ability to affect others through the co-optive means of framing the agenda, persuading, and eliciting positive attraction in order to obtain preferred outcomes” (Nye 2011, p.20-21)

However, to my mind, what a show/marketing campaign like Hannibal demonstrates is the extent to which successful ‘co-opting’, ‘framing’, and ‘persuading’ are all contingent on a significant degree of producer acquiescence to fan values; which is to say, at least in the case of Hannibal, what we’re talking about isn’t straightforward message –> receiver transmission, even of the appropriated variety, but rather a much more delicate balance of message and mode of address that, of necessity, plays out across multiple fields.

Continue reading FSN Conversations: Social Media Campaigns