Monday, July 30, 2012

Religious Fandom

Tuesday the 31st

For Tuesday we'll read about religious fandom, with two articles that will set us up for Trekkies.  They are:

Jindra, "Star Trek Fandom as a Religious Phenomenon" and

Porter, "To Boldly Go: Star Trek Convention Attendance as Pilgrimage"

The Jindra article may seem a bit dated since he's writing about the internet as a new phenomenon, but stick with it.  He has a lot of great data and some wonderful examples of the sheer scale of Star Trek Fandom. 

Have fun with the Porter and pay attention to how she applies Victor Turner's model of pilgrimage onto ST conventions.  If you are running out of time, skip Porter's last section, "Negotiating the Sacred" (260-267) but do read the conclusion afterwards.

Looking forward to your comments!


  1. Reading both the articles, I must say that i found Porter better to read, but that is besides the point. Both articles touch on something very important about Star Trek that i myself never thought to question, why is it so big? I never pondered the idea because i understand that this kind of stuff comes with sci-fi. But the degree in which this show has spawned is massive!

    Jindra's article explores the early stages of this movement (and it was and is a movement) While i feel Porter talks about the now. The evolution of this is crazy, but i dont think i can say its bad. These people are craving change and religion without theology. Creative and maybe a bit too much, but not morally a problem. If anything society and generation shifts are the reason it has gotten so crazy as it is now

  2. Douglas Coupland, the quintessential zeitgeist spokes-author of the 70’s babies, said “The geek shall inherit the Earth.” This was from his book Microserfs, published in 1995. Nearly 20 years later, he’s finally right. Although the history of Trekkie subculture extends as far back as the Nixonian Cold War era, the wide acceptance by the overwhelming majority of mainstream media consumers is a very recent social trend. In all areas of media, interest and viewership by a wide audience for movies and television series like Star Wars or Star Trek, as well as many others in the same vein, are given a serious place alongside any other TV or film.

    Back in MY day, wearing a t-shirt that said “Beam me up, Scotty!” would have gotten me beaten up at school and elsewhere. Now, it’s Retro-Cool.

    …fucking hipsters.

    Anyway, as an outsider, what the Trekkie conventions seem to boil down to is a good excuse to put on costumes and step out of the limitations of everyday life. This is something I can easily understand. I used to play astronaut and if I had a decent spacesuit, I probably would now, too. This is a very, very common desire and practice among all types of people. Civil War re-enactments and Renaissance Fairs have been around as long as Trek conventions. The difference is the focus. The Civil War and the Renaissance are history, Star Trek is the future. The culturally advanced and altruistic philosophy woven into the fabric of the Star Trek storyline is a bright horizon that humanity needs, not the apocalyptic carnage that humanity seems to expect. Imagining a brighter future will, by the very act, create a brighter future and Trekkies know that.

  3. I really enjoyed Jindra's article. I like that he pointed out there is two types of science fiction genres: the utopian and the apocalyptic. He says that star trek resembles/ has become a religion. Star Trek is able to combine people regardless of ethnicity, or gender for the benefit of the universe. Becausee they pilgrimage to tourist locations the are able to participate in their science fiction like many religions persons to their pilgrimage cites. Because of the stigma that has emerged, these people are persecuted like many religious minorities,

    Michael McCarthy

  4. Of particular interest to me was Jindra's discussion of the 'stigma' associated with extreme fandom of Star Trek, and how people are reluctant at times to identify themselves as fans, or are quick to state their existence as 'not hardcore' fans of the series. This is something that I've notice change in society today...

    Recently, a very popular show emerged on television, known as 'The Big Band Theory'. This show uses nerd and 'indie' culture for humorous purposes and situations, as part of an attempt to pander towards the 'nerd' elements of society, and as an attempt to reach some new level of originality by utilizing a source of culture that had, until recently, not been much in the public eye, much less publicly acceptable. Things like dungeons and dragons, science fiction, star trek... are brought more and more into the limelight, leading to many people describing themselves as 'nerdzzz'... But the stigma is certainly still there, I believe.

    When I tell someone that I play dungeons and dragons, the response is generally not a positive one, and is associated with all manner of things from antisocial tendencies to the occult... neither of which are true, which I attempt to make clear very quickly. This stigma, while being more looked at, is by no means disappeared, which is equal parts good and bad... regulating the worst part of 'nerd' culture, and helping to maintain the good by keeping a certain distance from the norm of society.

  5. I liked the quote on page 3 by Jindra, "In many people's minds, the world has become "disenchanted" of gods, ancestral spirits and nature deities, "men have become like gods" and science "offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny"" (31). It reminded me of our class discussion today about how people in the Western world and even in China have become disenchanted with culture and religion and faith in a higher power, where science offers concrete evidence and definite answers that are tested and proven hundreds of time. This is sort of saying that if we understand science, we can understand anything - nothing is left to imagination or belief, we know it all. I think this is kind of a disappointing view point. It leaves no mysticism or fate or chance.