Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mood Management Theory and Fandom

I wanted to focus this week’s discussion moreso on the possible link between the piece on fandom in McQuails Reader and the mood management theory described in Baran and Davis. Mood management theory states, “A predominant motivation for using entertainment media is to moderate or control our moods” (Baran & Davis 256). It’s basically saying that depending upon our mood we seek out the appropriate media to either downplay or reinforce that mood. This may explain why something like horror movies maybe suitable to one crowd but not for others. More importantly, “Mood management theory implies that media can help us cope with problems in our lives” (Baran & Davis 258).

Now, if we take a look at the fandom piece in McQuail’s reader he describes a couple of different types of fans and how each type reacts in different situational cues. One type of fan, the obsessed fan, can be compared to the media, young and old as described in this article:

In this article it breaks down the population into the levels of fandom and how serious each category is. According to one study about one percent of the population displays some kind of pathological behavior and might go to extreme lengths such as hurting other people or themselves because they feel they have some kind of special relationship with a particular celebrity. Do you believe these people truly, “live in some world different from our own” (McQuail 349)? Can there be any arguments in favor of these people to try and logically explain their behavior? Do you know anybody that might go to these lengths to be closer to a public figure or might surgically change their appearances to look more like someone else?

Moving along with this idea of a celebrity playing a significant role in some fans’ lives McQuail offers further explanation, “In a media addicted age, celebrities function as role models for fans who engage in ‘artificial social relations’ with them” (McQuail 344). These people truly think that they’re relationship (or lack thereof) with these public figures is a reality and that they hold a special place in their lives. With this level of commitment and stern allegiance sometimes comes death and violence as shown in this article and clip about an obsessive fan of Paula Abdul who killed herself:

There’s no denying that there are obsessive or even hysterical fans out there but where can the distinction be made between those who are screaming their lungs out to those who use violence? How can we tell the difference in a crowd of young teenage girls between those who are fans of the Jonas Brothers’ music to those who might cross the boarder into the inappropriate? Can they be found early on or is it impossible to tell until it’s too late?

Going back to the link between mood management and fandom do you believe a fans’ mood can influence their behavior not only towards the person they’re obsessing over but also towards those around them such as family and friends?

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