The Cost Of Fandom
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The Cost Of Fandom

And the fall of television.

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The Cost Of Fandom
Jesus Salazar

Years ago fandom required a lot of time and effort, today anybody with Netflix can be considered a fan. Events such as Comic-Con were pilgrimages for the die-hard fans whose attendance now exceeds 160,000 annually. When I was a child, my mother would buy me VHS episodes of the X-Files, they were expensive and rare. I remember seeing bookshelves filled with tapes of Star Trek episodes in public libraries. In 2000, when I bought my first season of the X-Files on DVD in the suggested retail price was around $150, I was more than happy for it.

Now-a-days due to streaming services, a first-time viewer could binge watch the entire series nearly free. It seems that everything has become cheapened and disposable, fans no longer have to sacrifice for their obsessions. This sacrifice now comes from the producers of the media itself. Whereas in the early 1990’s Star Trek: TNG and X-Files were broadcast as 26 and 24 one-hour episodes per season, contemporary shows average ten thirty-minute time slot episodes.

This comes as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-2008, where many scripted TV series where cut short mid-season. This is pretty ironic because a new strike may happen this year (2017) because of contract limitations that are being effected by the results of the last strike. You see, there is a clause that only allows a writer to work on one show per season, now that they are only getting paid for ten episodes per season instead of 24, this causes problems.

It seems that everyone is getting a raw deal this time around, where the X-Files revival had a measly six-episode run. This makes it very difficult to be a fan as well as a working writer. I know I am a part of a dying breed- I like to buy and own copies of my favorite media. It has been hard to justify spending $40+ on a ten-episode season when steaming is so much easier and affordable. The Simpsons was the first to see the fall in fandom when they discontinued releasing their complete seasons on DVD in favor of an exclusive contract with FXX. This was a pretty significant blow to the Comic Book Guys out there who faithfully bought each season and had them proudly displayed on their shelves alongside their X-Files collection.

Talk about alienating their fan base, as if the Simpsons could stand to lose more fans. Although critically television has never been praised as much as it is now, the quality of productions and content seems better than ever, competition and internal politics seems to be tearing the industry apart at the seams. Who knows what negotiations will result in with the impending writer’s strike and what the future of television will be with the changing mediums of communication. Streaming services are offering quality content in a drastically different season-format than has ever been used before. Only fans can tell.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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