Following Fandom: The Ongoing Analysis, Part I
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’re breaking this into two parts. Come back to StarTrek.com tomorrow to read the second half. And in August there will be a new topic, an update on my Anthropology of Star Trek book, which will finally be ready to roll out, with an added section devoted to the 45th anniversary of Trek. It will also focus on the work that will really launch late summer and fall for the second book, Ethnography of Star Trek Fandom.
I hope folks will continue to email and find me at cons! I have had a busy end to the spring semester and a busy time getting re-settled in for the summer! So, I have yet to have had the chance to get to my academic site and do some much needed updating. However, by the August blog for StarTrek.com, I will have that done so that all the new information for fans and fan participation in the new work will be updated and posted. Many email requests have also come in asking for copies of data or articles to share with those students working on Trek related research from a variety of levels of education. It is always a pleasure to share materials, so feel free to continue to contact me for any of that information. Now, on to the data.
Again, a huge thank you to all 12,344 fans who had participated in this last brief survey. What follows is an expansion of the data that was collected and hopefully better insight into the activities of Trek fans and where to find many online. A more detailed report, similar to the original survey I had published, will be made available on my academic site. It would be impossible to post a 30-page report here, and detail the comments of that many folks. This brief overview should provide at least a good indication of what the basic survey returned! In order for those who may not have seen my last blog to have context, I have again provided the same quantitative data.
Question 1: In what ways do you participate in fandom? (Check all that apply)
99% attend conventions, 17% follow Trek online in some way, 76% play online games, 16% belong to local clubs, 2 % stated they participated in the masquerades or cosplay, 3% utilize Star Trek in some form in their personal or professional lives, 28% purchase merchandise, 8% read the novels or comics, 37% watch fan films, 12 % read fan fiction, 1% responded as participating in other ways.
There are an infinite number of ways in which fans participate in fandom! Especially interesting is the way that “armchair” fans perceive of themselves. Many see these folks as non-participatory fans, however, they are actively involved in viewing Trek, following Trek online in some way, purchase merchandise, read the novels or comics, or applied Trek to their lives in some way. These activities sure are participatory, and though they may not be as visible as many fans, they are still a very large part of fandom and are very much legitimate fans. Just as is the case with any cultural group, some folks are far more visible and their participation far more noticed than with others. No difference here, and it is interesting to note the amount of online
What other ways are fans participating? Some do the most interesting things! One fan commented on their “Blu-ray” Friday Trek evenings at home! They love the trivia! Others commented on how they enjoy observing the impact Trek has had on today’s culture – particularly technologically, some commented on the very personal Trek fan stories they create for their own enjoyment, many build models, blog about Trek and Trek life, many are followers of Slash fiction, hang small Trek items around their home or office, Trek-related license plates or items in cars were listed often, participate in a variety of community based Trek clubs, create or purchase fan art, follow or participate in fan films or fan fiction, play board games, collect a variety of clothing or memorabilia, travel to Trek-related locations (Vulcan, Canada), collect props, quote Trek daily, and incorporate Trek into their daily lives in some way.
Design games, wrote show proposals and scripts, creator of webcomic: Nova Trek, violate the Prime Directive as often as possible, follow the Trek radio dramas, invent cool stuff, host or attend Star Trek episode or movie marathons, Author of Star Traks: Origins. Design ships that should have been thought of or dream about since space is the final exploration, knit Starfleet emblems, tattoos area popular way to participate, promote Trek to non-believers, Federation Commander was listed often as a popular board game.
Links that were provided:
Question 2: What message boards do you participate in? (Check all that apply)
3% Star Trek Logs, 3% Star Trek Fan Forums, 2% Trek United Forum, 46 % StarTrek.com, 3% TrekGuide.com, 79 % other.
This was one of the toughest questions to sort through as there are an infinite number of sites that fans go to in order to keep up with and participate in Trek. I have provided a list of the most popular, appearing on the comments a minimum of 25 times or more, and have provided links to any sites that fans posted links for.
Most Popular Message Board Sites (listed at least 25 times or more):
Livejournal, fan fiction sites, trekmovie.com, memory alpha, Facebook fan communities, http://forums.startrekonline.com/, Treks in Sci-Fu, Polish fan sites, beyondantares.net; http://www.theomegasector.com/index.php?act=idx, Startrek.de, startrek-index.de, invisionfree text role playing game, Startrekonline forums, http://forum.independence-rpg.de, http://forums.startreknewvoyages.com/, theomegasector.com, social networking site for knitters, Ravelry., acalltoduty.com, www.trekbrasilis.net, sky tv, ANOVOS productions, section 47 role playing SIMM site, StarTrekArchiv.com, startrekdb.se, startrek online official boards from Cryptic/Atari, http://ad-infinitum.com.hr/Forum/forum.php/, Forums.StarTrekOnline.com, their local Star Trek club sites, qcontinuum private site, treknews.de, usscroatia.hr, Omega Sector, Trekkers in Southern Sweden, scifi-forum.de, Trekspace, The Orions AV Club, OSTFC Board, Trek prop zone, yahoo groups, Twitter, and the one site that was mentioned over 5,000 times in some way: reddit.com/r/startrek
Question 3: What websites do you visit for your Trek news? (Check all that apply)
77% StarTrek.com, 20% Trekmovie.com, 58% Facebook, 34% Memory Alpha, 2% Trekweb, 2% Trektoday, 1% Trek BBS, 5% answered “other”.
As was the case with question 2 asking about the message boards, question 3 was just as difficult and time-consuming to sort through. Both questions are more detailed on the 30-plus page report. Again, there are just as many sites fans go to in general for their Trek information, not just to participate in message boards or forums, but just to keep pace with the latest in Trek. I have provided a list of the most popular, appearing on the comments a minimum of 25 times or more, and have provided links to any sites that fans posted links for. Many also stated that they did not regularly visit any site, but if they heard something they would go online to StarTrekFans.com, then maybe Trekmovie or Star Trek.com, even simply Google to check it out or to gain further information.
Most Popular Trek Related Sites (listed at least 25 times or more):
Larry Nemecek’s Trekland, http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/, www.stic.it, a German one: http://www.startrek-index.de/, Star Trek Online, RPG.net, Twitter, Facebook, Trekspace, Livejournal communities, Polish wiki sites, ONTD_ST on Livejournal, Wikipedia, http://www.trekcore.com/, www.scifi.org, Startrek.de, startrek-index.de, IMBD, sliceofscifi.com, The Zocalo Today, www.trekbrasilis.net, memory alpha, memory beta, IO9.com, Blastr, Roddenberry Productions, Starfleet 1701'st, www.startrekvulcanology.blogspot.com, aintitcool.com, darkhorizons.com, Startrekdb.se, startrek online official boards from Cryptic/Atari, treknews.de, Trek.pl, subspace communiqué, startrekonline.com, The Flying Dutch, STIC (Star Trek Italian Club) website, ex astris scientia, http://www.treknews.de, Trekkers in Southern Sweden, trekzone.de, www.reddit.com/r/startrek, IO9.com, comingsoon.net, trek nation, treksinscifi.com, Syfy, Star Trek Fifth Fleet, tumblr
The sites that were mentioned over 10,000 times: StarTrek.com, trekmovie.com, Facebook, Trekspace, sliceofscifi, memory alpha, and reddit.
An interesting stat: 6,432 fans felt they needed to leave negative feedback comments regarding their views about trekmovie.com. I included a brief note on this in the full report.
Question 4: Which Trek brought you into fandom?
A big question since the 2009 J.J. Abrams film has been how many new fans have come into Trek. I plan to expand this question and repeat it in different arenas in order to gather additional and perhaps more well-rounded data on this one as my work continues the remainder of this year and through part of 2012.
What was interesting was the higher number of TOS responses. However, given the responses to gender and age, it made sense in context. It had come to my attention that StarTrek.com may have been redesigned for a younger fan base and that more fans utilizing it came in either via Next Generation or the 2009 reboot. This data is now expanded upon in the full report. A brief overview of the qualitative data follows.
What the fans had to say: (Quotes of Note are highlighted here; all were analyzed in the full report)
1. “I remember seeing one episode in Sept 1967. I hung out in the school library. In 1973 I saw someone walk by with "The Making of Star Trek" paperback. I had never heard of "the making of" any kind of book. I ordered it, and the rest is history.”
2. “Loved the characters and began watching the original series with friends in the military.”
3. ( a lot of similar comments ) “My parents raised me on Star Trek!” - one reported doing chores while watching TOS as a child.
4. ( a lot of similar comments ) “exploration of space, discovering new cultures , the idea of no poverty no need for money”
5. “It was one of the very few telly shows my father watched when I was about 4/5 that appealed to my joy of discovery and learning, especially that Mr. Spock character. As I aged, my appreciation of other aspects of the show, such as social commentary, also wormed their way into my brain.”
6. “My parents would watch it when we were younger. Then I was very sick in hs, and Spike was just starting. I must have watched/slept through every episode. I find it comforting now.”
7. “As a kid...really began watching in syndication...channel 11 (WPIX) 6pm...dinner time in front of the 19" color TV!”
8. “As a kid, I was impressed by the morality of the crew and what people could be like in the future.”
9. "The technology and the respect for all (universal-) mankind.”
10 “When I was growing up, it used to play on television all the time and I was just fascinated with everything to do with it. It had awesome characters and although not the most technologically advanced graphics wise, the issues explored were intriguing. Don't forget the gadgets were awesome!! Hyposprays, phasers and tricorders?! Yes please!!”
11. “Captain Picard made me a Trekkie. ``Make it so!`` Love that!”
12. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture astounded the 5 year old kid that I was”
14. “Because with Star Trek, some times you have fun, and some times you find yourself thinking to some important stuff like racism or discrimination”
15. “I was born in 1966, and in front of it in my High Chair from almost day 1. Never lost the love.”
·Many commented on how they enjoyed all Treks and could not think of any one thing that got them hooked or a favorite.
Those that came in via J.J. Abrams Star Trek 2009:
1. “After I saw the new movie, I started watching the Original Series, and completely fell in love with it.”
2.“Saw the 2009 movie, but wasn't in love until I watched TOS”
3. “The new movie convinced me that TOS was the coolest thing I had ever seen.”
4. “Saw 09 Trek, wanted something to compare it to. So I watched the original motion picture can't stop watching”
5.“TMP was my first, then I saw The Galileo 7”
6. “Hated 2009 film. Began watching TOS. Loved it.”
7.“Had to see TOS after TMP, love all Trek now”
8. “Film got me hooked on all things Trek”
9.“Did not care for the new film, but now love TOS”
10. “The new movie reeled me in to all Trek, Love it”
In the full report, a more detailed analysis exists. There is no doubt that The Original Series set the tone for an entirely new way of thinking and being in our own time that has gone on to influence generations that have now grown up on Trek in some way, passing it along to the next generations as well. For 45 years and counting, Star Trek has touched lives in amazing ways, including providing simple fun for many as well. The franchise is quite diverse – television, films, novels, fan fiction, fan films, and more – something for everyone – growing and diversifying as is the culture of fandom – keeping both alive and well and on course for many more milestones of celebration as we continue to journey into the future of humankind.
Check back tomorrow for part two of Professor Daryl Frazetti’s blog, and for additional information visit Frazetti’s site at: www.academia.edu/darylfrazetti
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.