Madonna and her multicultural fan community

Rick Pulos

Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States

[0.1] AbstractAnalysis of Madonna as the center of a community demonstrating how women can exist at the center of life in a deep community structure.

[0.2] KeywordsAnthropology; FSNNA 2020; Matriarchy; Matricultural studies; Rebel Heart Tour

Pulos, Rick. 2021. "Madonna and Her Multicultural Fan Community" [multimedia]. In "Fan Studies Pedagogies," edited by Paul Booth and Regina Yung Lee, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 35.

1. Introduction

[1.1] The parameters set out by the Fan Studies Network North America Conference 2020 for the virtual poster session were quite open-ended, other than the instruction to remain under five minutes should time-based media be used. I chose to take my Madonna project and create a short video essay. Intriguing questions emerged as I worked on a project about the Madonna fan community and how Madonna fits into that community. I had trouble figuring out how to position Madonna within the context of the fandom until I realized I was trying to define her within a patriarchal system that she defies. The fan community is dynamic, diverse, multicultural, and global.

[1.2] On the basis of interviews with self-identified fans, I was able to get a picture of how the nature of the Madonna fan community was created, and I show below how it can be seen as a quasi-matriarchal world. Matriarchal or matricultural studies, a nonideological area of research in anthropology, seemed to be the only area of current research that exists separate and distinct from the dominant patriarchal order that explicates how women can exist at the center of life in a deep community structure. Positioning Madonna as the central mother figure in the larger community shows how that particular symbolic position is upheld and perpetuated through a network of fan clans that extends their social reality to individual members and other clusters of fans.

[1.3] For the backdrop of the Madonna video essay, I chose a particularly powerful moment from Madonna's 2015 Rebel Heart Tour when she utilized fan art in her performance. The synthesis of the fandom and the object of the fanaticism is powerful and moving.

2. Multimedia

Video 1. Madonna's Rebel Heart tour. Rick Pulos.