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'Resistance Reexamined: Gender, Fan Practices, and Science Fiction Television'
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Resistance Reexamined: Gender, Fan Practices, and Science Fiction Television This essay considers the activities of fans of science fiction television series in order to situate and dispute gender-related claims of counter-hegemonic resistance advanced and/or contested in previous analyses of fan culture. The programs Farscape and Stargate SG-1 are spotlighted. The issues spurring the inquiry spring from now legendary debates between advocates of institutional investigation and/or political economy of media/culture (see Garnham, 1995; Harms & Dickens, 1996; Kellner, 1992; 1997) and those of cultural studies–particularly, its “active audience” strain (see Grossberg, 1995; Fiske, 1992). This latter tradition provokes questions of whether audience pleasure equals counter-hegemonic resistance and/or whether the mere fact that a marginal group negotiates its own meanings out of an “authoritative” text, regardless of what those meanings are or how hard the group must labor to achieve them, signals meaningful opposition. 1 For instance, Brown (1994) contends that female soap opera fans are monolithically empowered by the mutual acknowledgment of their subordinate position within patriarchy that occurs in the course of face-to-face deliberation of their shows. The research undertaken here does not aver, as some political economists do, that evaluating reception alone is ineffectual because it inevitably produces uncritical conclusions when compared to analyses of institutional structures and commercial imperatives. Rather, it probes audience practices in the context of relevant institutional and textual elements in order to interrogate some of the rosier avowals of fans’ counteraction of (primarily) gender-based hegemonies. A key question has been whether audience activity and pleasure are automatically resistive. A problem with this assumption is that one person’s pleasure and/or its motivation can foster another’s pain. Feuer (1995, p. 5) claims that extolling the opposition of audiences when the empowerment of “one subordinate group... conflicts with the interests of another” can undermine the very meaning of marginality. Fiske’s (1993)

Authors: Scodari, Christine.
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1
Resistance Reexamined:
Gender, Fan Practices, and Science Fiction Television
This essay considers the activities of fans of science fiction television series in order
to situate and dispute gender-related claims of counter-hegemonic resistance advanced
and/or contested in previous analyses of fan culture. The programs Farscape and Stargate
SG-1 are spotlighted. The issues spurring the inquiry spring from now legendary debates
between advocates of institutional investigation and/or political economy of media/culture
(see Garnham, 1995; Harms & Dickens, 1996; Kellner, 1992; 1997) and those of cultural
studies–particularly, its “active audience” strain (see Grossberg, 1995; Fiske, 1992). This
latter tradition provokes questions of whether audience pleasure equals counter-hegemonic
resistance and/or whether the mere fact that a marginal group negotiates its own meanings
out of an “authoritative” text, regardless of what those meanings are or how hard the
group must labor to achieve them, signals meaningful opposition.
1
For instance, Brown
(1994) contends that female soap opera fans are monolithically empowered by the mutual
acknowledgment of their subordinate position within patriarchy that occurs in the course
of face-to-face deliberation of their shows. The research undertaken here does not aver, as
some political economists do, that evaluating reception alone is ineffectual because it
inevitably produces uncritical conclusions when compared to analyses of institutional
structures and commercial imperatives. Rather, it probes audience practices in the context
of relevant institutional and textual elements in order to interrogate some of the rosier
avowals of fans’ counteraction of (primarily) gender-based hegemonies.
A key question has been whether audience activity and pleasure are automatically
resistive. A problem with this assumption is that one person’s pleasure and/or its
motivation can foster another’s pain. Feuer (1995, p. 5) claims that extolling the opposition
of audiences when the empowerment of “one subordinate group... conflicts with the
interests of another” can undermine the very meaning of marginality. Fiske’s (1993)


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