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Why Fanzines matter.

Atton, Chris


Chris Atton


Stewart Franklin


It is easy, perhaps too easy, to dismiss fanzines. Some consider them as the inconsequent ramblings of obsessive’s with too much time on their hands. Others feel that they are vehicles for wannabe journalists who cannot make it in the professional media. With so many fanzines available on the web, some believe that the level of discussion that takes place on fanzine sites rarely rises above that of the gutter.
As an academic I have been researching fanzines for over fifteen years. My work shows fanzines in a very different light. I have read thousands of these amateur publications; I have talked with their editors, their contributors and their readers. And I have learned that fanzines play an extremely important role in the cultural life of a nation.
The fanzine deals with popular culture, such as football, music, films, television and genre fiction. By its very nature, popular culture is enjoyed by ordinary people – its audiences do not need any special qualifications to appreciate it. In this respect football fans (for example) are no different from sports journalists. Simon Frith, Professor of Music at Edinburgh University, argues that ‘critics of popular forms need know nothing about such forms except as consumers; their skill is to be able to write about ordinary experience’. In other words, the ‘amateur’ fan has the potential to write about their experiences of football just as expertly and just as knowledgeably as the football commentator. The football fan is just as likely to offer a detailed analysis of a game, of a team or of an individual footballer as is the professional journalist. That fan is likely to draw on a wealth of accumulated knowledge, comparing games that have taken place that same day, comparing games and players historically, examining the local game as well as the European competition.

Publication Date 2009
Deposit Date Mar 4, 2010
Publicly Available Date Mar 4, 2010
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 4-5
Book Title Setting the Standard: A Project for Improving Rangers
Keywords Fanzines; popular culture; football fan; democratic conversation; amateur journalism;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Mar 4, 2010


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