For my paper I want to look at “The Chat” (ourchart.com), which is both a social networking site and the official spin-off web site of TV’s “The L Word.” The web site proclaims that imagined “charts” are “part of the glue that holds all forms of social networks together.” The web site encourages fan production through their participation in the exclusive show-related online content and direct interaction with L word producers, writers, and actresses. It is also simultaneously a social networking site in which users can fill out Myspace-type profiles and connect with other users and/or fans of the show. It offers forums, official blogs, exclusive videos from the set, a place to ask questions to actresses/producers, and news stories about fashion, music, culture, etc. Friendship connections on the social networking part of the site can be viewed in a visual “chart” that is similar to the ones on Theyrule.net, but is modeled after the “chart” envisioned on the “L Word.” Interestingly, fan profiles line the sides of the exclusive L word content.
The questions I want to explore are: What is the intersection between social networking and fandom? How does each work to imagine a network, and are these imaginings at odds? What are the implications of this hybrid site on the traditional model of fandom/network paradigm? How does the web site embody these imaginings? How does “The Chart” engage with both and what are the consequences for the show? How does the site complicate the traditional theoretical model of user-generated content vs. mass media corporations? How does each work to imagine the community and what is the role of the “chart” in this? Why is the chart on the show called "the chart" but the online site is called "our chart?" What is the relationship between the network and the audience?
The texts I might use include Coppa’s "A Brief History of Media Fandom,” Jenkins’ “"Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry,” Boyd’s “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life,” and Barry Wellman et al, “The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism.”