Are fandom and ‘the mainstream’ merging?

I think I touched upon this subject a while ago, but I think it’s worth returning to. I noticed recently that what could be called ‘crossover films’ are becoming increasingly common. A crossover is where a character from one fiction is made to enter into another, such as having Harry Potter go to Middle Earth. They are a staple of fanfiction: many fans like to draw together their favourite characters from their favourite fictions. Until quite recently, though, such crossovers have been unheard of in the so-called mainstream. Obviously, this was probably due in large part to copyright, yet I also suspect there was a sense that fictions had to be kept separate to maintain their artistic integrity, and that merging fictions was somehow puerile or childish.

This has obviously now changed. A couple of days ago it was announced that Batman will soon appear in a film with Spiderman, and that The Simpsons will soon meet the Griffins. Thus the mainstream seems to be taking on aspects of fandom. I find that quite interesting: my masters is about the merging of fandom with cinephilia, but it also now appears that fan culture is seeping into the mainstream too. As I wrote here, textual play is becoming mainstream: old barriers between texts are being broken down. What was once the province of the fan is becoming legitimate. I’d be interested to see the pretexts given for such mergings, and how it works narratively.

What, then, do all these textual merging mean? What are their artistic implications? Truth be told I do not really know. As with my musings concerning the meeting of bond and the queen a year ago today, I have an overall sense that this new phenomenon is somehow important; yet I cannot put my finger on how. That I must say worries me – is my brain losing the acuity it once had? Am I harping on about things nobody else is interested in? Are these crossover films really exciting new evidence that mainstream film is branching out into postmodernity, or merely a gimmick designed to excite fans and deprive them of their money? Have I been away from campus too long? do I need to read more? Possibly. Yet I am Still intrigued by this new phenomenon, as a scholar of fandom and as a cinephile. I find it interesting to see the mainstream taking on aspects of fandom. What I need to do now is to start looking deeper. It raises questions over where this departure will lead: if mainstream film is indeed now taking cues from fan culture, that implies the birth of a totally new aesthetic for film, one in which the old rules no longer apply.

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