No longer a niche or cult identity, fandom now colors our notions of an expansive generational construct—the millennial generation. Like fans, millennials are frequently cast as active participants in media culture, spectators who expect opportunities to intervene, control, and create. At the same time, long-standing fears about fans’ cultural unruliness manifest in rampant stories of millennials’ technological over-dependence and lack of moral boundaries.
These conflicting narratives of entrepreneurial creativity and digital immorality operate to quell the growing threat represented by millennials’ media agency. With fan activities becoming ever more visible on social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, Polyvore, and Tumblr, the fan has become the avatar of our digital hopes and fears.
In an ambitious study encompassing a wide range of media texts, including popular television series like Kyle XY, Glee, Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars, and Pretty Little Liars and online works like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, as well as fan texts from blog posts and tweets to remix videos, YouTube posts, and image-sharing streams, author Louisa Ellen Stein traces the circulation of the contradictory tropes of millennial hope and millennial noir. Looking at what millennials do with digital technology demonstrates the molding impact of commercial representations, and at the same time reveals how millennials are undermining, negotiating, and changing those narratives.
This generation—and the fans it represents—is actively transforming the media landscape into a dynamic, culturally transgressive space of collective authorship. Offering a rich and complex vision of the relationship between fandom and millennial culture, Millennial Fandom will interest fans, millennials, students, and scholars of contemporary media culture alike.