– Or Fandom and Separation Between Fans and Creators –
Fair Warning: This post is sort of Tangentially Related to an article called I Know What You Did Last Summer: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Crossover Teen Stardom. I’m going to be talking about trends in fandom and also advertising.
Many of these posts…say nothing about the fans’ preference for seeing stars, such as Gellar, on film versus television, and instead focus on the star as a text unto itself.
-Susan Murray, I Know What You Did Last Summer
In Murray’s essay, she examines how, using the popularity of Buffy, advertisers for films, television shows, and other products of the 1990’s and early 2000’s use the fame of an actor or actress to draw fans from one show to another, with the entry point being the star. The actress, in this case, Sarah Michelle Gellar, is the ‘entry text’ to a new series, item, or movies. I have experienced this advertising method many a time, as it is, in fact, how I rediscovered Whedon (I was on a Neil Patrick Harris kick at the time).
Something that I found interesting, was how the essay refers to Sarah Michelle Gellar as a ‘text’ – a way to read into new franchises, brands, and media, through a person’s physicality and attachment to a role on a television series. I tend to think of texts as…well, written objects, not entry points or, stranger still, people, that allow a person to connect a show, like Buffy, to a movie, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, to a brand like Maybelline.
Advertising normally feels like a shady business to me, but using someone’s intertextuality, their connection to a single popular character to boost the ratings and/or profit margins of other companies and films seems extra shady to me. If they are doing what Murray suggests, and treating actors like ‘texts’ it seems to work. The girl, Katy, who Murray is using as an example in the quotes, has seen almost everything Gellar has been in (up until the point that post was written), but it seems…wrong. It seems like you lose sight of the person behind the character, and they just become an idol, a text of entry, a thing to be read into.