Cult fictions: Cult movies, subcultural capital and the production of cultural distinctions

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Using the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Sara Thornton, the paper investigates the problems of ‘writing as a fan’ through an analysis of cult movie fandom. It starts out from a critique of Jeff Sconce's work which claims that he fails to question the subcultural ideology through which fan cultures produce a sense of identity through their supposed difference from the ‘mainstream’. It then moves on to an analysis of fan writing on the ‘cult movie’, which examines not only the complex and contradictory strategies through which these writings produce a sense of subcultural identity, but also the extent to which these writings seek to construct identities through the construction of an inauthentic Other. The next section examines both exhibition practices and intellectual trends to illustrate the ways in which cult movie fandom emerged not as a reaction against the market or the academy, but rather through their historical development. Finally, the paper looks at the role of mass, niche and micro media within the production and maintenance of the scene and at the functions of rarity and exclusivity within it. In the process, the essay explores the contradictory and problematic nature of the concept of ‘mainstream, commercial cinema’, and the ways in which it is produced as the other of supposedly radical and alternative taste cultures, whether subcultural or academic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-322
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2002

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