Representation of American versus non-American fans in Baillie Walsh's Springsteen & I

Maryn Claire Wilkinson

Abstract


This article explores the representation of American versus non-American fans in Baillie Walsh's 2013 crowd/fan-sourced documentary Springsteen & I. The film—as much as it was fed by a wide and international range of fan-produced material—ultimately produced and presented one particular type of fan as privileged and appropriate to speak for all: the American Springsteen fan. The film does so in three main ways: by presenting American fans as more authentically connected to Springsteen's language and lyrics (they truly "understand" his work); by showing that American fans relate to Springsteen's world and themes in more authentic ways; and by presenting American fans as experiencing a better, closer, more authentic Springsteen when seeing him perform live. The essay thus reexamines fan stereotyping from the perspective of national identity. It aims to rearticulate the necessity of the vigilance and scrutiny of crowd-sourced fan texts because they have profound effects on how fans are taught to view themselves in and by the media.

Keywords


Bruce Springsteen; Crowd-sourced film; National identity

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