Fans teaching fans how to consume : the role of ritual in the consumption of entertainment

Neale, Larry (2012) Fans teaching fans how to consume : the role of ritual in the consumption of entertainment. In McKee, Alan, Collis, Christy, & Hamley, Ben (Eds.) Entertainment Industries : Entertainment as a Cultural System. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 107-122.

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The status of entertainment as both a dimension of human culture, and a booming global industry is increasing. Given more recent consumer-centric definitions of entertainment, the entertainment consumer has grown in prominence and is now coming under closer scrutiny. However viewing entertainment consumers as always behaving in a similar fashion towards entertainment as to other products may be selling them short. For a start, entertainment consumers can exhibit a strong loyalty towards their favourite entertainment products that is the envy of the marketing world. Academic researchers and marketers who are keen to investigate entertainment consumers would benefit from a theoretical base from which to commence. This essay therefore, takes a consumer-oriented focus in defining entertainment and conceptualises a model of entertainment consumption.

In approaching the study of entertainment one axiomatic question remains: how should we define it? Richard Dyer notes that, considering that the category of entertainment can include – by its own definition in the song ‘That’s entertainment!’ – everything from Hamlet and Oedipus Rex to ‘the clown with his pants falling down’ and ‘the lights on the lady in tights’, it doesn’t make much sense to try to define entertainment as being marked by particular textual features (as is done, for example, by Avrich, 2002). Dyer’s position is rather that ‘entertainment is not so much a category of things as an attitude towards things’ (Dyer, 1973: 9). He traces the modern conception of entertainment back to the writings of Molière. This writer defended the purpose of his plays against attacks from the church that they were not sufficiently edifying by insisting that, as entertainments he had no interest in edifying audiences – his ‘real purpose …was to provide people pleasure – and the definition of that was to be decided by “the people”’(Dyer, 1973: 9).

In my own discipline of Marketing this approach has been embraced – Kaser and Oelkers, for example, define entertainment as ‘whatever people are willing to spend their money and spare time viewing’ (2008, 18). That is the approach taken in this paper, where I see entertainment as ‘consumer-driven culture’ (McKee and Collis, 2009) – a definition that is closely aligned with the marketing concept. Within a marketing framework I explore what the consumption of entertainment can tell us about the relationships between consumers and culture more generally. For entertainment offers an intriguing case study, and is often consumed in ways that challenge many of our assumptions about marketing and consumer behaviour.

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ID Code: 58250
Item Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 9780415681049
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Taylor & Francis Group
Deposited On: 14 Mar 2013 22:44
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2013 08:07

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