Authenticity, popular aesthetics and the subcultural politics of an unwanted blockbuster
the case of transformers
Online fan discourses surrounding the authenticity, cultural worth, and aesthetic look of the impending release of the Steven Spielberg-produced and Michael Bay-directed live-action Transformers (2007) movie were both heated and imaginative. Such debate was centred on the premise that a reworking of what was once a favourite childhood cartoon series and toy range challenged the fans' own authentic appreciation of a franchise to which they had remained loyal since the 1980s. As adults, now collecting the merchandise long after it has stopped being made (purchasing toys on eBay, at conventions, through fan clubs), they continue to share in their memorialization of the mythos surrounding the series by rewatching the cartoons on DVD and participating in online blogs and web chats that follow similar patterns of induction into an exclusive cult community such as can be seen with fans of Star Trek and Star Wars. In a previous study of those fans who collect the repackaged Transformers DVD box sets and toys I discuss how the original cartoon series "has undergone a generic shift between children's TV and adult TV". This shift has primarily been brought about by continued fan devotion and a reassertion of the original series over newer incarnations of the toy and cartoon recently released by Hasbro. I argued that the fans' reappropriation of a cultural artifact from their childhood and the associated "memories of The Transformers as a multimedia text become integral to the creation and perpetuation of an online fan community" (Geraghty, 2008: 181).
Geraghty, L. (2011)., Authenticity, popular aesthetics and the subcultural politics of an unwanted blockbuster: the case of transformers, in L. Hubner (ed.), Valuing films, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 88-105.
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