Modern fandom can seem an alien concept. Gone are the teens penning heartfelt letters to their favourite pinups. Today’s fans – or “stans”, named after the Eminem song about an obsessive stalker – are an online army ready to take on anyone that might threaten the object of their adoration. Most recently, fans of the cult Netflix show The OA have mounted a global campaign to have it reinstated after it was cancelled in August. Their tactics have taken fanaticism to the extreme: one demonstrator has even gone on hunger strike.
Fandom and TV have long gone hand-in-hand. The television fan movement was arguably born with the 1966 campaign to keep a little-known new series named Star Trek on air. After low ratings for the first two seasons, NBC was ready to relegate the show to the trashpile. Hearing the news, husband and wife Betty Jo and John Trimble organised one of the first grassroots fan campaigns, kicking off a letter-writing chain that amassed over 110,000 missives and which led to the renewal of the show.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 15/10/19]