From Dark Helmet to Kylo Ren
Charting the Tragic Trajectory of Fascistic Fans and Franchise Fascisim
This essay examines the culture circulating around late twentieth century and early twenty-first century media franchising with special emphasis on the Star Wars film canon. It charts the emergence of fan studies as one way in which scholars may assess, investigate, and theorize about audience responses to film franchises like Star Wars. It places special emphasis on anti-fan behaviors, introducing the dualistic terms fascistic fandom and franchise fascism as ways to denote the increased intensity of industry practices and fan resistance. Ultimately, I contend that parodic entertainments like Mel Brooks's satirical sci-fi features Spaceballs use the lens of comedy to accurately predict the zealous movement of large Hollywood studios toward a franchise-based distribution model. Furthermore, Disney's acquisition and subsequent mass distribution of Star Wars as an inclusive and ongoing transmedia global franchise presents a twenty-first century case study in understanding franchise fascism as an important primer to anti-fan behaviors.
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