Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fandom extends its shadowy reach.

You might have seen a headline or two like "Sherlock Wins TV Movie Award In Upset" this week. The basic story behind it is simple: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride was the unexpected Emmy award winner in its category. But there's a larger story behind it that's worth thinking about, as it reflects an ongoing shift in our society.

Just two years ago, the TV Emmy awards were selected by panels of judges. Last year, it changed to a more democratic ballot system, and this year that system was tweaked even further. As a result, the winners of this year's Emmy awards seemed to reflect a more fannish perspective. Not just shows that put out high-quality work, but also shows that got people excited. No longer did it seem like an exercise in serious old men consciously making serious choices about what we should all consider serious television.

No, Sherlock, Tatlana Maslany for Orphan Black, Kate McKinnon for Saturday Night Live, Patton Oswald, Louis Anderson in drag . . . and of course, Game of Thrones. Some of these may have won under the old system, but there was a fresher tone to the Emmy awards this year that seemed to reflect works that generate fans. Because even though the voters for the awards are members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a whole lot of them are still fans, too. More every year.

In a world where Star Trek fans have gotten to grow up and work on Star Trek movies, and where a couple of self-described Sherlock Holmes fan-boys got to create a modern-day Sherlock TV show, there are fans throughout the industry that created those fans. If it didn't make absolute sense, it would almost seem like a shadow conspiracy invasion.

It would be lovely to see the Emmys movie counterpart loosen up in the same manner. Or maybe another aged institution or two, but who knows? As the shadowy tentacles of fandom slowly wind their weaving way into our culture, the Emmys is definitely not the last place we'll see change taking place.

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