From Dalek half balls to Daft Punk helmets: Mimetic fandom and the crafting of replicas

Matt Hills

Abstract


Mimetic fandom is a surprisingly understudied mode of (culturally masculinized) fan activity in which fans research and craft replica props. Mimetic fandom can be considered as (in)authentic and (im)material, combining noncommercial status with grassroots marketing or brand reinforcement as well as fusing an emphasis on material artifacts with Web 2.0 collective intelligence. Simply analyzing mimetic fandom as part of fannish material culture fails to adequately assess the nonmaterial aspects of this collaborative creativity. Two fan cultures are taken as case studies: Dalek building groups and Daft Punk helmet constructors. These diverse cases indicate that mimetic fandom has a presence and significance that moves across media fandoms and is not restricted to the science fiction, fantasy, and horror followings with which it is most often associated. Mimetic fandom may be theorized as an oscillatory activity that confuses binaries and constructions of (academic/fan) authenticity. This fan practice desires and pursues a kind of ontological bridging or unity—from text to reality—that is either absent or less dominant in many other fan activities such as cosplay, screen-used prop collecting, and geographical pilgrimage. Fan studies may benefit from reassessing the place of mimesis, especially in order to theorize fan practices that are less clearly transformative in character.

Keywords


Affirmational fandom; Doctor Who; Material culture; Replica prop building

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