"Past the brink of tacit support": Fan activism and the Whedonverses
For decades, the phrase fan activism has referred almost exclusively to television fans' efforts to save their favorite series. These campaigns—dating at least as far back as the original Star Trek (1966–69) to the more recent Farscape (1999–2003), Firefly (2002–3), Jericho (2006–8), and Veronica Mars (2004–7), among others—appear effective at catalyzing fan involvement, yet are largely ineffective at saving series. In other words, while it may achieve some secondary, albeit significant, victories such as tighter-knit relationships among fans, fan crusading rarely seems to end with the supposed primary goal of activist labors: more installments of the texts devotees admire and love. Recently, however, the phenomenon of fan activism has taken on a new dimension, and scholars are beginning to take note by asking several important questions. As Henry Jenkins asks, how does a fan move from "participatory culture to public participation"? And what does this move mean? As one might expect, there are many reasons for and implications that emerge from this reallocation of such devoted attention. To explore some of those reasons and implications, the author considers some of the devotees of television auteur Joss Whedon, their activist efforts, and the distinct ways Whedon inspires a politically participatory fan following. Ultimately, the author contends that through their activism, many enthusiasts of the Whedonverses extend the worlds of Whedon's stories by consciously constructing a sociopolitical, feminist identity.