Introduction: Media, Culture and the Self

  • Steve Bailey


As we enter a new millennium, there is considerable evidence within popular culture of an increasing public preoccupation with the role of mass media in social life, especially when the impacts of such media appear particularly intense. Consider, for example, the international release of Trekkies, a semi-satirical ethnographic film examining the lives of particularly devout Star Trek audience members, themselves the subject of a considerable corpus of academic analysis.1 Similarly, much of the large body of publicity surrounding the release of the fourth installment of the Star Wars series in 1999 (after a 16 year wait), The Phantom Menace, detailed the scale and intensity of Star Wars fandom, with numerous discussions of the keen anticipation of the new film, as well as affirmations of an unyielding dedication to the larger Star Wars saga among members of this subculture. The majority of the attention to media fandom appears to consist of either a smirking examination of the ‘freak show’ aspects of the culture, as with Trekkies and some of the Star Wars coverage, or an unquestioning celebration of the inventiveness and charm of American popular culture, as with much of the remainder of the reaction to The Phantom Menace. Even though a great deal of this discourse was quite shallow and hyperbolic, the intensity and prevalence of forms of media fandom, which has always been the subject — somewhat narcissistically — of popular media attention, is a particularly prominent element in recent coverage of a number of cultural phenomena.


Media Audience Media Object Popular Music Social Subject Theoretical Tradition 
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© Steve Bailey 2005

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  • Steve Bailey

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