Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2018

Publication Title

Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies

Volume

15

Issue

1

Abstract

In 2015, toxic fan conflicts disrupted the Hugo Awards selection proceedings. The conflict between the awards voters and a movement known as ‘Puppygate’, led by angry fans, dates back to at least 2012 and comprises thousands of networked conversations enacting toxic frames of contemporary culture wars (heated and often disruptive exchanges characterized by challenges to identity politics, arguments over representation, and conflicting tastes) from all sides. However, these toxic fan discourses emerged within the context of significant cultural changes. Fans exist in communal spaces formed among institutional and cultural forces, yet the drive to create communal culture through shared communication exchanges continually encourage toxic conflicts of social identity and taste. This article considers the toxic exchanges between various actors in the blogs, social media, and formal public statements of the Puppygate controversy to chronicle how structural change is subsumed into frames of ‘culture war’ rhetoric.

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