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Like Ron Paul, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and the John McCain of eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was a cultural phenomenon as much as she was a politician. Abigail De Kosnik, who supported Clinton's presidential campaign, takes that fact and runs with it in an interesting new study:

In this essay, I will examine Clinton's supporters as a fan base, and I will analyze their expressions of antipathy toward their own party as a case of marginalized fandom. Framing the Clinton-Obama rivalry as a war between two fan bases, with Obama's followers constituting a dominant fandom and Clinton's constituting a marginalized fandom, allows us to interpret the deep emotional response of the Clinton backers to [Obama's victory] as more than just sour grapes, more than just resentment at being defeated, from which little or nothing can be learned. Fan culture studies does not dismiss the passions of affinity groups. Rather, it asks, what social, cultural, economic, and psychological structures inspire their strong feelings and motivate them to organize? How can their passions be read as evidence of, or commentary on, aspects of culture and society that have gone previously unnoticed or undertheorized?

I have my problems with the paper. Most importantly, I think De Kosnik skates a little too quickly past the 2007 stage of the race, when Clinton's supporters were dominant and Obama's backers were marginalized. One result, which would have added more nuance to De Kosnik's analysis if she had discussed it, was that both groups then spent the primaries viewing themselves as underdogs fighting the establishment.

But I appreciate her approach, and I think she's on to something important here:

Rather than dismissing the impact of failed presidential campaigns that had managed to recruit enthusiastic followings, the electorate, and especially party leaders, must ask: what can be learned from the marginalized fandom of Ron Paul? Of Dennis Kucinich? Of Mike Huckabee? Of Hillary Clinton? What articulations and critiques emanating from these groups should not be missed? What perceptions and longings did these fans articulate, what frameworks did they pioneer that should be attended to, answered, and dealt with openly?

The article appears in the debut issue of Transformative Works and Culture, a new online journal. Speaking of which: Those of you who enjoyed my interview with Francesca Coppa about the vidding subculture might want to read her contribution to the same issue, which covers some of the same ground in greater detail.

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  1. And during the few moments that we have left,
    we wanna talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand.

    Look in my eyes, what do you see?
    The cult of personality.
    I know your anger, I know your dreams,
    I’ve been everything you want to be.
    I’m the cult of personality.
    Like Mussolini and Kennedy,
    I’m the cult of personality.
    The cult of personality.
    The cult of personality.

    Neon lights, a Nobel prize.
    When the mirror speaks, the reflection lies.
    You won’t have to follow me,
    Only you can set me free.

    I sell the things you need to be.
    I’m the smiling face on your TV.
    I’m the cult of personality.
    I exploit you, still you love me.
    I tell you one and one makes three.
    I’m the cult of personality.
    Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi,
    I’m the cult of personality.
    The cult of personality.
    The cult of personality.

    Neon lights, a Nobel prize,
    When a leader speaks, that leader dies.
    You won’t have to follow me,
    Only you can set you free.

    You gave me fortune,
    You gave me fame,
    You gave me power in your god’s name.
    I’m every person you need to be,
    I’m the cult of personality (I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of)
    I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of (I’m the cult of)
    I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of personality (I’m the cult of).

    Ask not what your country can do for you.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

  2. What, so they’re like Browncoats only more annoying?

    And while we’re on the subject, a big reminder to Fox TV that you can still get fucked, you show-cancelling motherfuckers.

  3. The difference is that I’d vote for President Reynolds.

  4. The difference is that I’d vote for President Reynolds.

    Mal wouldn’t want the job. Now, President Jayne? That could be fun.

  5. Episiarch,

    That’s why he’d be perfect. Besides, Jayne won the GOP nomination already.

  6. You know what, ProL? Fuck it. Summer Glau for President. At least we’ll enjoy getting screwed.

  7. I’m writing in Morena Baccarin. I’ll enjoy getting screwed even more.

  8. Can’t fault you for that, Franklin. But it’ll cost you a lot more.

    Somebody should come along and defend Jewel Staite.

  9. I’d like to suggest an alternative.

  10. A ruling council of hot chicks from canceled SF TV shows is the only way out of the current US crisis.

  11. Christina Hendricks | September 23, 2008, 1:43pm | #
    I’d like to suggest an alternative.

    Our Ms. Reynolds would be perfectly acceptable as well. A surfeit of choices.

  12. ONE WHO IS FREE OF SWEETENER,

    THE URKOBOLD PROPOSED SUCH A STRUCTURE AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. HOWEVER, BECAUSE “COUNCIL OF HOT CHICKS” WAS ALREADY SLATED FOR USE BY FRANCE DURING ITS THEN-UPCOMING REVOLUTION, THE URKOBOLD SUGGESTED CALLING THE GROUP “THE PHILOSOPHER ‘SCHWINGS!’.”

  13. defend Jewel Staite.

    No one else man enough for the job? Fine.

    She might not be as hot as the others, but she was awesome in Flash Forward.

  14. A ruling council of hot chicks from canceled SF TV shows is the only way out of the current US crisis.

    Make it so!

  15. No one else man enough for the job? Fine.

    You’re just shilling for Big Canada. Firefly: the show where the American women win hands down.

  16. A ruling council of hot chicks from canceled SF TV shows is the only way out of the current US crisis.

    “I think we have to recognize the reality that we don’t have a choice now of debating whether this is a good or a bad thing.”

  17. You’re just shilling for Big Canada.

    I actually forgot she was Canadian. The accent makes it pretty obvious, though. What is it with Canadian girls and sci fi shows?

    Firefly: the show where the American women win hands down.

    Nice try, but my team of Canadian cylons would kick their asses any day of the week.

  18. Firefly: the show where the American women win hands down.

    The exception that proves the rule. Hot Canadians have ruled American TV for nearly a decade. And Australian women are starting to catch up. All we have is our secret weapon, Rosario Dawson.

  19. What is it with Canadian girls and sci fi shows?

    They’re all filmed in Vancouver?

    Nice try, but my team of Canadian cylons would kick their asses any day of the week.

    You seem to forget that River Tam can kill an entire roomful of fucking Reavers.

  20. You seem to forget that River Tam can kill an entire roomful of fucking Reavers.

    No one can withstand the combined hot might of a hundred Grace Parks.

  21. All we have is our secret weapon, Rosario Dawson.

    Who has a lotta ‘splainin’ to do vis-a-vis Rent and Josie & the Pussycats.

    You seem to forget that River Tam can kill an entire roomful of fucking Reavers.

    OK, fanboi. No one’s insulting your precious Americans. USA! USA! 😉

  22. [mouthbreather]

    Dagny,

    Rent and Josie & the Pussycats

    I was referring to her SF and comic fandom. I know you’re a Canadian and a girl, but try and keep up!

    [pushes up glasses, takes a hit off his inhaler, and contemplates the rest of his sexless life]

    [/mouthbreather]

  23. I was referring to her SF and comic fandom.

    Which, taken together with her hotness, gets her a free pass for cranking out several shit sandwiches? Hmmmm…good to know. [begins plotting evilly to create lucrative but shitty films]

    I know you’re a Canadian and a girl

    It’s like the freakin’ Special Olympics! I deserve a medal just for showing up.

  24. No one can withstand the combined hot might of a hundred Grace Parks.

    Duh! Who would try?

  25. Josie made $14,252,830 and Rent $29,077,547. Don’t quit your day job, Dag.

    I would like to go on record as saying Rent sucks.

  26. Josie made $14,252,830 and Rent $29,077,547.

    Srsly? No wonder no one goes after my idiot demographic. We apparently have no money AND no taste.

    I would like to go on record as saying Rent sucks.

    Seconded. But Taye Diggs is basically the male equivalent of Rosario Dawson in the dreamy dept. (I know! You’re wishing they had said dept. at your school.)

  27. OK, fanboi. No one’s insulting your precious Americans. USA! USA! 😉

    Look, I am in no way displeased that our neighbors to the north provide us with many hot women, and I wish Australia were closer. I merely pointed out that River is–literally–a killing machine.

    We apparently have no money AND no taste

    But you’re learning. You’ve started out well with Cronenberg.

    And NutraSweet, Dawson is sub-par. Sorry to break it to you. Why am I the only person with any taste?

  28. Seeing Rosario Dawson beat the shit out of Kurt Russell will make my day, any day.

  29. And NutraSweet, Dawson is sub-par.

    Finally, an explanation for what is wrong with you: Your eyes are retarded.

  30. And with that final insult, I take my leave of you wonderful people until next Monday…

  31. Get lost, you tasteless dweeb. I am the final arbiter of taste regarding women. It’s a birthright.

  32. But you’re learning.

    So now would be a bad time to confess that I begged my parents to let me skip school and be an extra in the Josie & the Pussycats concert scene when it filmed in Van… They said no, but still.

    Dawson is sub-par.

    Wow, picky picky. She’s pretty! Too much junk in the trunk?

  33. So now would be a bad time to confess that I begged my parents to let me skip school and be an extra in the Josie & the Pussycats concert scene when it filmed in Van… They said no, but still.

    Anytime would be a bad time to cop to that, but you might as well get it off your chest.

    Wow, picky picky

    Yes, I am. Because I can be.

    Too much junk in the trunk?

    No (actually she’s pretty thin if I recall correctly), I just don’t think she has good facial structure.

  34. you might as well get it off your chest.

    [shakily] I’m just taking it one day at a time.

    The sins of my youth aren’t as bad as they could be, given my generation. I never got a tramp stamp or belly button ring, and I largely avoided the boy band craze. To accomplish all this without going through some tacky, goth phase or similar is no mean feat.

    Yes, I am. Because I can be.

    I can respect that, I guess. But what about variety?

    she’s pretty thin if I recall correctly

    Thin-ish, but a little bootylicious. Some men love it, some hate it.

  35. I never got a tramp stamp or belly button ring

    And you have just proved yourself smarter than so many women. Well done.

    I can respect that, I guess. But what about variety?

    There’s plenty of variety. Attractive women come in many forms.

  36. you have just proved yourself smarter than so many women

    Remaining un-tattooed/pierced may not be a fail-safe sign of intelligence, but it’s certainly becoming a mark of individuality. (My smartass uncle refers to us as Generation Tattoo. He usually follows that with “…must die.”)

    Attractive women come in many forms

    But a true connoisseur reserves praise for the truly outstanding. I dig.

  37. Hillary gained credibility not because she deserved it but because she was the ex-president’s wife and she got elected to the Senate by runnning against a non-entity. And once she was in, everyone forgot she was formerly just a First Lady with no legislative experience. Not that she’s the dullest knife in the Senate drawer by any means. But since when does being the First Lady qualify someone for the presidency? (Answer: since the competition is so weak? And somebody has to do it.)

  38. Is it a bad sign that I recognize some of these cultural references?

  39. Is it a worse sign that I immediately thought that Clinton fans = Harmonians and Obama fans = R/Hr?

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