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By Sara Gwenllian-Jones, Roberta E. Pearson

A tv sequence is tagged with the label "cult" via the media, advertisers, and community executives whilst it really is thought of edgy or offbeat, whilst it appeals to nostalgia, or whilst it truly is thought of emblematic of a selected way of life. through those standards, nearly any sequence will be defined as cult. but sure courses exert an uncanny strength over their fanatics, encouraging them to immerse themselves inside of a fictional global. In Cult tv prime students study such exhibits because the X-Files; The Avengers; health care professional Who, Babylon 5; big name Trek; Xena, Warrior Princess; and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to figure out the defining features of cult tv and map the contours of this phenomenon in the better scope of pop culture.

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In this case, it is the method of consumption which creates, in that the object of consumption and secondary delight transforms everyday goods supplied for common consumption (westerns, comic strips, family photos, graffiti) into works of distinguished and distinctive culture. 36 Such an analysis seems hardly removed at all from a defi nition of the cultist relationship with culture and the modes of appropriation (in a secondary manner) of texts, even if to make the cultist relationship with texts the consequence only of a socially dominated position is somewhat debatable.

Ironically, however, the media also threaten to dissolve these fan communities, since the very process of dissemination that enables the production of fandom undermines the sense of exclusivity on which it is based. Disseminating too widely the exclusive competences and dispositions on which fandom is based may destroy the sense of exclusivity that these competences and dispositions provide. This inherent contradiction presents a problem for fan media. One way to solve it is by presenting themselves not as part of the media but as an organic element of fandom itself.

15. For a critique of the analogy between religious and media cults, see Eric Maigret, “Du mythe au culte . . ou de Charybde en Scylla? Le problème de l’importation des concepts religieux dans l’étude des publics des médias,” in Les cultes médiatiques: Culture fan et oeuvres cultes, ed. Philippe Le Guern (Rennes: PUR, Coll. Le Sens Social, 2002). 16. , Les saints et les stars, 17, 19. 17. The term “cult” is frequently used in the “Télévision” section of Le Monde. See, for example, the edition of 4–10 November 1996, devoted to cult TV series, or that of 12–18 June 2000 on the marketing of videocassettes of the series Ally McBeal.

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