Binging on Television
Let me start off by saying I feel like I could write an entire series on this subject. I binge on television in a way that is probably incredibly unhealthy for my social life, except that I then make it a part of my social life. I don’t just binge, I binge and push. Talk to me for more than 5 minutes and “oh my god you have to watch [insert TV show here]” will be uttered about 3 times, with 3 different shows.
I also think I know a little something about being a part of a fandom and Fan Activism. So Lauren’s suggestion (in her friday video) that binging on TV fosters a higher level of investment, struck me as really interesting. That:
When we watch a TV show straight through, only pausing to go to work or school, or to maybe have a social life; but not waiting weeks or months in between the release of new epsiodes we become much more attached to the characters and the plots…
And, mostly I agree. The fact that I was able to watch 5 seasons of Doctor Who across 3 week period meant I made it through the slower parts where I may have become disengaged if I’d been watching it week-to-week. It meant I cared more, and am so ready for Imagine Better to have a Doctor Who campaign:
WWDD2 – What Would the Doctor Do?
But to a certain point, I disagree – I think it’s kind of an overly simplistic way of outlining attachment, and falls victim the causation fallacy – cum hoc ergo procter hoc – or “with, therefore because of.” You know… correlation does not imply causation.
Basically, when looking at the type of attachment that drives fandom and fan activism, I would argue that instant gratification isn’t always best. And honestly, the type of person to binge on Merlin… is already the type of person who will then seek out more information, search for fansites, newstories, and fandom. But to truly build a community around a shared text, a certain level of desire and longing must also exist. So yes, not having to wait weeks and weeks to see shows helps us connect with the characters. However, on the flip side, the act of waiting helps us connect with each other.
Imagine if you’d been able to pick up all 7 books of Harry Potter and just read them all the way through. Would you feel as connected to the fandom talking about them in the past tense? As Harry Potter fans, we know what it’s like to be nostalgic for the wait, the debate, the unique feeling of suspense and wonder that is delayed gratification.
And I would argue that it’s that in-between time, the days and weeks and MONTHS (stupid American TV) in between airings of Supernatural or Fringe that creates the space we fill with fandom, community and eventually the desire to do something more – which is where Fan Activism comes in.
Don’t get me wrong, streaming is a gift from the fandom gods, it lets us catch up, it lets us experience new narratives quickly and easily, and don’t you think about taking away my netflix! It creates a well-rounded nerd and is seriously aiding the creation of a nomadic fandom. However, I think we need current narratives, stories we follow week-to-week to really develop a community. What do you think?