Wikipedia defines fan activism as involving “forms of civic engagement and political participation that emerge from within fan culture itself, often in response to the shared interests of fans, often conducted through the infrastructure of existing fan practices and relationships, and often framed through metaphors drawn from popular and participatory culture”
Types of Fan Activism
There are different kinds of fan activism, focusing on different areas of fannish life or the world outside the fandom.
Activism to Influence Fandom
A very common type of fan activism involves individuals or mass attempts (organized or spontaneous) to influence the fandom space. Either by policing behaviors of other fans, trying to encourage a specific behavior or expression or condemning fans and behaviors that are outside the established norm. Sometimes those attempts can be controversial and met with backlash.
Because fandom suffers from the same biases that the outside world does, fans often attempt to mitigate those issues inside the fandom by organizing in online communities with a specific focus.
- To combat Misogyny in Fandom, fans organize a variety of women-focused events and communities like 14Valentines or Womenlovefest
- To combat Ableism in Fandom, fans set up Access Fandom
- To combat erasure of asexuals, asexual_fandom was created
Activism to Influence TPTB
- Star Trek Fans and the Gulf and Western Stock Proposal - In the mid-1980s, there was a plan by some Star Trek fans to encourage other fans to buy enough stock in Gulf and Western (the parent company of Paramount) so that they may have a voice in ownership.
- Fan Fiction Authors Unite! Give Us Back Our Write To Post!
- FF.NET CAN'T BAN EVERYTHING!!! CUZ WE'RE AGAINST IT!!!!
- Freedom of speech at Fanfiction.net, bring back NC-17 fic
- Reverse the NC-17 Ruling on Fanfiction.net!
- STOP the destruction of Fanfiction.net!
- Unfair Rulings of FanFiction.net
When FOX was cracking down on fansites for use of images, sound bites and short video clips, fans organized Operation: Blackout to protest those actions by blacking out the fansites for 24 hours.
Release of original material
When fans find out source material has been altered from the original creator's vision (even allegedly), they can band together to pressure TPTB (in this case networks, or corporate owners) to release the original version of the media.
Examples of that are:
- FreeVLDS8 campaign aiming to convince whoever had ordered the changes to the final season of the series to release the unedited cut in whatever format is possible – either as a Director’s cut on DVD or uploaded to Netflix
- Release the Snyder's Cut - a widespread campaign on social media which involved the actors and the director, aiming to release the original director's cut of the Justice League movie. The campaign was successful with the original cut of the movie being released on HBO MAX.
Change of Source Material
Sometimes, when creators made creative choices fans didn't agree with, fans would organize themselves in an effort to change the creators mind. That was especially relevant if a popular character was killed off. After Ianto Jones was killed off on Torchwood, they organized Save Ianto Jones campaign. When it was announced Michael Shanks wouldn't return for season 6 of Stargate SG1, fans responded with Save SG-1.
Sometimes an event in source material would spark a much bigger debate that could be described as pan-fandom, with voices reaching out into mainstream media as well. That was the case with Lexa's character on the 100. The LGBT Fans Deserve Better movement in response to Lexa's death sparked a big discussion about the Bury Your Gays trope and how often queer female characters were killed off on TV.
Roswell - tabasco campaign Community 6seasons and a movie One Day at a Time
- See also: Social Justice and Fandom
- LGBT Fans Deserve Better - protest against the poor treatment of LGBTQ characters on television and raise awareness of the harmful effects of the "Bury Your Gays" trope.
K-Pop fans during BLM protests
During the protest movement following the killing of George Floyd the official Twitter account of the Dallas, Texas Police Department (@DallasPD) invited people to share video of illegal activity during the protest through Dallas PD's app iWatch Dallas.
K-pop fan @7soulsmap tweeted a screen capture of DallasPD's tweet to their followers and in a follow-up tweet encouraged people to post fancams to the app to protect the identities of BLM (Black Lives Matter) protestors.
Twitter user @ngelwy was one k-pop fan who quote tweeted @7soulsmap with instructions to 'DOWNLOAD THE APP AND SEND ALL YOUR FANCAMS!!! SEND THEM ALL!!! MAKE THEIR JOB AS HARD AS POSSIBLE!!! GET THEM FRUSTRATED!!! MAKE THEM TAKE DOWN THE APP!!!'. (@Ngelwy's tweet was deleted early in the morning of 1 June 2020 out of concern for the security of people downloading the police app.)
While no proof has been posted showing that this fancam activism was the reason, the police app was taken down soon after. Early in the morning on 1 June 2020, Dallas PD tweeted that 'Due to technical difficulties iWatch Dallas app will be down temporarily'. One of the earliest replies to the tweet came from twitter user mika (@chaengjiwoo) who responded 'hope you enjoyed the fancams', attaching a fancam to the tweet.
A screencapture of @ngelwy's deleted tweet went viral when it was shared by twitter user Unfriendly black thottie (@thotimus_primee) who tweeted within an hour of the DallasPD taking down their iWatch Dallas app to say 'LMFAO THE KPOP GIRLS TOOK DOWN THE IWATCH DALLAS POLICE APP WITH THEIR FANCAMS'.
Later, Twitter users encouraged K-pop fans to use their fancams for good by flooding the pro-police hashtags, which they promptly did, including spamming the Instagram hashtag #whiteouttuesday on 2 June . On 3 June K-pop fans were so prolific at spamming the Twitter hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter and #whiteoutwednesday with fancams that Twitter categorised those hashtags as 'kpop'.
Groups focused on Fan Activism
- * Star Trek Fans for Peace was a group founded by two Star Trek fans. Its goal was to work towards nuclear disarmament.
- Harry Potter Alliance
- The Racebending Movement
Other Fan Activism
- Kpop fans are taking over M*GA and pro-police hashtags and crashing law enforcement snitch apps and it’s beautiful tweet by Laura Hudson from June 3, 2020
- The K-pop stans have done it again!!! tweet by Asad from June 3, 2020