Following Fandom: The Ongoing Analysis, Part 2
Welcome to another blog covering the ongoing interest in better understanding Star Trek fandom! I am thrilled that so many have participated in the surveys, emailed me, or have found me to speak with at conventions! I also have enjoyed the comment feedback for each blog! Today’s contribution focuses on providing more of the in-depth data fans provided on the last survey and is a continuation of the last blog. There’s a lot of great information, so we’ve broken this into two parts, with the details below representing part two.
Question 5: How long have you been a fan of Star Trek?
15% 1-10 years, 25% 11-20 years, 28% 21-30 years, 13% 31-40 years, 19 % 40 + years
When placed into context with the other data, it was not surprising to see the majority of fans fall where they did. This also perhaps gives a good indication of the range of folks following the new StarTrek.com, the largest group reporting fell between 21-30 years, followed closely by those indicating 11-20 years. *It would be interesting to do a more focused survey for the site.
What the fans had to say: (Quotes of Note are highlighted here; all were analyzed in the full report)
1. “Born in 1966 and have been watching Trek since it was in syndication & TAS on Saturday mornings.”
2. “I've been a lifelong fan. I had all the toys growing up; ships, phasers, communicators, you name it; I had it!”
3. ” I was hooked when I was knee-high to a large pile of Tribbles!”
5. “Growing up (age 39 now) It was (and still is) the best SciFi available.”
6. “Granted, I'm only 16, but I've loved Trek the entire time”
7. (many similar responses) “Born into the Star Trek fan club...”
8. “my whole life. I remember running around with my kindergarten "sweetheart" playing starships”
9. “TOS was a major influence in my life - loved Gene Roddenberry's vision of society, which has been maintained -- all told in damn good stories from TOS through the new movie!”
10. “ and counting”
No doubt that once a person discovers all that Star Trek has to offer on both the societal and personal levels that they are hooked! Some are born into fandom and others have had the pleasure of discovering it at another point in their lives. A good number of those participating in this survey were also with Trek from day 1! Most responding also have passed their interest to their children and grandchildren regardless of when they became fans! Fandom is a culture that many are born into, inherit in some way, come into via friends or self discovery – searching for something that speaks to them as Trek and other fans have, and it is a diverse, growing, and thriving culture that will continue to teach Trek to all those who show interest in order to preserve that which they feel is so important to the future. This is a culture that truly has had a global impact in a positive way and strives to continue to do so.
Question 6: Were you a “closet” fan prior to the 2009 film?
This was a question I was asked by several folks to include since many were curious about the number of fans who may have come in via the 2009 film, but also were just as curious to find out if perhaps fans were more comfortable identifying as fans following the reboot film. The response was an overwhelming 91% NO and 9% YES. This is a question I would also like to further investigate. A pretty straightforward question and some of the highlighted comments are listed below!
Quotes of Note:
1. “My 2000 Olds had 'WARPPWR' vanity plates - nothing closet about me, I just don't dress up for it, I'm a tech freak.”
2. “Have always been a proud Trekker!”
3. “Never in the closet (about Star Trek that is)”
4. “why should I hide?”
5. “My friend’s boyfriend finally brought her inner Star Trek out”
6. “I was never a "closet" fan of anything. I don't hide my thoughts, of course I don't reveal them unnecessary either.”
7. “Absolutely no, and it was strange to be a trek fan since I'm Mexican and besides my family, almost nobody else here in Mexico knew about Star Trek before 2009. But I always was and always will be a "Wide-open trek fan"!!!!”
8. “I've wanted to do Vulcan Mind Melds since I was a teenager... I'm in scientific/”
9. “still in the closet as university student (18 years ago)”
10. “Girls and Sci-fi did not get along in my hometown.”
11. “still am really...don't go around telling people or weep when someone does something new.”
12. “A "closet" fan is NOT a fan!”
· 7, 317 responses were similar to this quote: “I wouldn't say that I was a "closet" fan because most people didn't ask and it never came up before the new movie. After the new Star Trek movie though, it definitely opened the doors for discussion. I have to say though, that although the new movie has opened doors to previously "closeted" fans, I would say that I still treat my fan-ness as a personal affair just due to the fact that a lot of people are not actually a fan of Star Trek as a whole only this new movie.”
In response to this question and the types of comments this and several others generated, but this one in particular, regarding the JJ Abrams 2009 film, I am planning to put out a survey just on the new film itself. There is more detailed information about the response to this question in the full report then, and in the book chapter on fandom with an expansion underway for the book on fandom next year. However, it is clear that most fans were not ever shy about their love of Trek at any point in time. More than 50% reported that they were fans, not closet fans, but that the subject never really came up much of the time and many stated that the new film simply brought the topic up more and more often in public settings. There were the few that did state they had been “closet” fans until the new film and some stated that it had been related to where they had grown up more than anything else. I would also like to further explore the data generated by this question. To sum it up – most Trek fans have been open and share their interest in many ways and always have.
Question 7: Which term best defines you as a fan?
37 % Trekkie, 13% Trekker, 29% Star Trek fan, 10% Science Fiction fan, 11% armchair fan
This question asked fans to select the term they prefer to use when identifying themselves as Trek fans. Again, as was the case with the first survey I had conducted on fandom culture, “Trekkie” was the most preferred term, with “Star Trek fan” a close second. What follows are select comments fans responding provided to explain the terms they selected. The full report provides elaboration on interpretation.
1. “I like Star Trek, the bottle shows, the technical, a blueprint kind of fan. I don't think "Trekkie" is derogative.”
2. “Trekkie started it all.”
3. Fan : “I don't consider myself a so-called "trekkie"; maybe when I was younger. As a kid it was fun to make believe I was Kirk & Picard but now it’s really more about learning the franchise's overall message(s)”
4. “Trekkers are avid fans who are not stupid about it.”
5. “I enjoy watching Star Trek and reading the books, but I don't feel I'm a die-hard fan.”
6. “Trekkite - Art thou a Trekkite, or doth thou follow the Warsian clan?”
7. “Scifi fan”
8. “all of the above”
10. Fan: “Because I'm interested in more than just ST.”
Question 8: Select Sex and Age:
71% female, 29% male.
The majority of females fell between 41-50 at 66%. The males in that same age range came in at 34%.
The next highest category were fans between 21-30. 52% female, 48% male.
For those who are familiar with the history of Star Trek fandom, this is not surprising data. It also made sense when placed within the context of the other questions and the resulting data. I had also elaborated more on this data in my first blog, a follow up to the first survey. The detailed report on that survey is also on my site and contains additional information.
Question 9: Current level of education:
13% high school, 33% some college / certification, 9% Associates degree, 31% Bachelor’s degree, 11% Master’s degree, 1% Doctoral degree, 1% other professional degree
As was the case with the first survey, fandom is a fairly well-educated culture. Here is a brief overview breakdown of some comments. The full report details this further. Interestingly, many students from outside of the US participated – Germany, Sweden, France, Brazil, Poland, and England were the top countries listed in responses.
1. 43% indicated they had training, working on degrees, or held degrees in a technical field of some sort.
2. 21% indicated they were in the medical field, or training to be in the medical field in some capacity.
3. 7% indicated they were current students of some sort.
4. 1% indicated they were graduates of Starfleet Academy.
5. 3% indicated they were involved in law in some capacity.
6. 5% indicated they were involved in education in some capacity.
7. 1% indicated they were stay at home parents.
8. 3% indicated they worked in business in some capacity.
9. 4% indicated they were part of the military
10. 2% were public school, K-12 students.
11. 4% indicated they were involved in the social sciences in some capacity.
12. 4% indicated they were involved in the sciences in some capacity.
13. 5% indicated they were involved in public services or studying to be in public services in some capacity.
14. 1% indicated they held a variety of certifications.
Quotes of Note:
1. “Weird, I'm a post grad specialized MD, yet, a science fiction fan.”
2. “I actually decided to study a science (psychology) and now a Doctorate (experimental behavior analysis) thanks to the scientific-thinking way of living that Star Trek taught me during my childhood and for that I'll be forever thankful (to) Gene Rodenberry.”
Question 10: Why Star Trek? (Check all that apply)
49% holds meaning in personal life, 5% holds meaning in professional life, 2% responsible for my career, 11% enjoy fandom community, 18% just enjoy following the actors, 91% just enjoy it for entertainment, 70% Trek’s philosophy/ideology, 6% call to community service, 4% other
Quotes of Note:
1. “It was one of few TV shows we watched as a family when I was growing up.”
2. “I think the geek/nerd stigma attached to "Star Trek" is unfair and unsound. It is the story of America, what it is, where's it been and where it’s going. The best science fiction reflects the real world in the past, present and even the future.”
3. “I am a Humanist activist, and many of my Humanist values are informed by the progressive, positive outlook portrayed in Star Trek “
4. “On Facebook, I've always had on my profile as both my religious and political viewpoints: "q.v. Star Trek"”
5. “The science, the character dynamics, the stories. Star Trek had it all plus the fantasy of space travel and discovery.”
6. “As a grad student at Rice University completing a Master of Science-Teaching degree (Physics & Astronomy), an amateur astronomer since I was 8 years old, a professional astronomer for 4 years, one year in the Education Dept. at NASA-JSC, and currently a Science teacher... one of the main reasons I pursued a science career was due to the interest in and fascination with science that was sparked by watching various Star Trek series (particularly TNG & Voyager). I continue to enjoy watching Star Trek for entertainment and professional interest (Nanotechnology research & teaching)... I watch for my personal enjoyment & interest primarily, and to discuss past, present & future areas of science technology with my fellow grad students, coworkers and peers. As a high school chemistry teacher, it's a fantastic way to prompt discussions and engage students, especially since the new Star Trek movie came out and has been so popular!”
7. “Something my father and I share since I was young”
8. “It's fun and intelligent entertainment unlike most of the so called reality show drivel that makes up the majority of garbage on television. I wish there were a decent SciFi or Trek series currently on air. Whoever makes the programming choices such as cancelling shows like Firefly or Jericho are complete morons. Every time something stimulating comes on it gets cancelled. Blah!!”
9. “Something to watch as a family, and see our children enjoy the series. My son said he saw characters such as Riker and Picard as role models!”
10. “Gene R. did more about social issues, inspired more innovations and provoked more gadgets into reality than most shows ever accomplished. Think About It! Because it cost Gene everything to bring it to you!”
No real surprises here, I don’t think. A very diverse, growing, and thriving culture with a global impact. Just as valid as any other world cultural group with their own distinct cultural markers. This is the fan culture that has created the blueprint for creating and building a participatory, global, and valid cultural entity. A more detailed analysis is provided in the full report with much more work to look forward to in the coming months and year as I work with all of you towards the goal of creating as an ethnographic report as possible about perhaps the most fascinating culture to study, Star Trek fandom.
Bio: Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at CSU Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA. Research areas include science fiction in higher education, the subculture of fandom, fan films, science fiction as mythos, using science fiction to explore fieldwork and human existence, and exploring various science fiction literature and pop media as both cultural mirrors and cultural teachers. Primary area of interest: Star Trek. Forthcoming text, Anthropology of Star Trek, is based on the course of the same name, created by Professor Frazetti. Professor Frazetti also speaks at various conventions and schools on the cultural and curricular significance of science fiction, fantasy, and comics.