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:

Exterminate! Injustice?
WWDD2 – What Would the Doctor Do?

…sorry, tangent…

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?

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  1. Christine

    April 3, 2012 at 12:42 am

    You make some interesting points and overall, I agree with you. In regards to creating a Doctor Who inspired campaign for Imagine Better, I completely agree. I’ve had a “project” of sorts floating around in my head for a while and recently I’ve started seriously fleshing out ideas, goals, etc. but while I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, I’m not too involved in the online community so it’s hard to know where to begin, how to get support, and tackle all of the tasks and problems. Hopefully soon, I”ll be organized enough to be able to share my idea with others and maybe, with the help of Imagine Better, lead Doctor Who fans to unite and work to make the world a better place.

  2. April 3, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Oh! Oh! OH!!!!! Dr. Who campaign!!! YES!!! PLEASE!!!! SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Sorry. I’ll calm down now. BUT REALLY, I mean, REALLY, I WANT TO WRITE ALL THE BLOGS!!!!! Yeah, calm down failed.
    In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been binging on Dr. Who myself lately. Bring on the campaigns. I am so ready!

  3. April 4, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I don’t know what it’s like to wait for the next Harry Potter book. That first month was a blast, and I’m still here. But I don’t really get into “fandoms.” I’ll read news about HP actors if it comes on my radar, but I often pass it up. I haven’t read fanfic since that Hermione/Luna slash I accidentally stumbled on many years ago… I listened to Mugglecast when the Deathly Hallows trailer came out, but that was it.
    I think it comes from trauma when I indulged my obsessions in high school. I devoted several floppy disks to pictures of my favorite band and even tried to write stories about the band members using song references. But they were so obscure, and I lived in such a small town that no one else wanted to hear it.
    So now when I catch myself obsessing over something, I have to stop myself. If I watch full seasons of Doctor Who, I hold back on discussing episodes with most people because I feel embarrassed when they don’t understand. Even the few things that I do with the HPA and my Quidditch team make me look obsessive to some people, and I’m really self conscious about it. Maybe I’ve finally found my people, but I’m still fearful of annoying my muggle friends who just don’t understand.

  4. April 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I think that’s incredibly valid point. I had never really given much thought to how much community is built around anticipation (and the conversations, debates, etc. that spring up from that). I was really into LOST “back in the day” and I’m still rather sad that it ended a few years ago. One of my favorite (and least favorite) parts of being so addicted to that show was how they left seasons at finales…huge cliffhangers that we ALL knew would find the entire fandom curled in a dark corner, muttering to themselves, and rocking back and forth by the time the new season would start three months later.

    But what came out of the painful summers waiting for LOST to start its new season? Online, there would be copious amounts of debate and theories would be tossed around. Every miniscule detail up to that point in the story would be analyzed and analyzed and analyzed. Groups would team up to defend their theories in mass debates that would spring up out of nowhere. It was insane.

    And then the new season would start and we’d just…do it all again.

    tl;dr Yes, Taekia, I agree completely! :)

    • April 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      I absolutely think that anticipation is one of the things that really holds fandoms together. Not the only thing, but a big one. Having theories to swap, points to analyze, past inconsistencies or possible foreshadowing to argue about—it’s what us nerds live for! Also, somehow, nothing seems to bring people together more than waiting for the same thing. I see this even at the bus stop, but when you add some awesome characters and a good plot (bus schedules lack both, let me tell you ;)), communities are formed in an instant. And for some reason, having had the same experience doesn’t bring people together quite as much as waiting to have the same experience, so maybe that’s just my observation.
      However you look at it, I have only one thing to add about a Dr. Who campaign:

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