Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Story the Way It Is

Jenkins cites Amy Harmon's 2002 NYT article in which Jim Ward, vice president of marketing for Lucasfilm, says, "We've been very clear all along on where we draw the line. We love our fans. We want them to have fun. But in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is."

How can we read this statement? Given Jenkins' descriptions of the various Star Wars departments' differing stances on fan participation, this is obviously consistent with the film branch's perceiving "rogue" fan creation as a threat. But what strikes me is Ward's emphasis on the story of Star Wars in opposition to fan-created stories. What's especially surprising about this official stance is its effacing of the perceived universe of the franchise, which is what fans supposedly ultimately care about. There is no way to put a stamp on how fans derive meaning and pleasure from the official storyline Lucasfilm puts out. I'm wondering, is there more at stake in science fiction narratives? Because of the mythology and the complexity of the worlds involved that give us a storyline to begin with, where do we begin to draw boundaries on where fans can enter and what they can take away from it? In other words, if we read the phrase "the story the way it is" as fundamentally problematic, what does this say about corporations' official views on fans?

No comments: