In “Watching Television Without Pity: The Productivity of Online Fans” Marc Andrejevic asserts that the seemingly empowered interactivity of websites like Television Without Pity is merely disguised participatory submission (45). The pleasures TWoPers take in expressing their inability to be duped by the television establishment do not constitute real resistance, but rather complicity with that establishment. For the snarky fan engagement of TWoP not only encourages self-aware complacency with the television industry, but also provides unpaid fan labor of promotion and marketing for that industry.
As a former longtime TWoPer, I found Andrejevic’s assessment of that particular community insightful but ultimately shortsighted. Andrejavic focusses on the TWoPers engagement with television itself, particular shows and particular genres, but fails to recognize the larger interconnected body of fan work with which websites like TWoP engage. TWoP may have encouraged fan engagement and promotion of particular shows with forums and recaps, but it also drew from and added to fan language and creative activity outside of any particular show. That is, it facilitated the development of fan terms and a fan community which uses television as raw material for its own creative work and even self-reflection.
In “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching,” Henry Jenkins III calls this phenomena of fan reappropriation “poaching.” Fan works like fan fictions reconstitute shows to better serve the needs of the viewers. Fans feel that they understand the show in a way TPTB(the powers that be) can’t and that they must protect and curate show content through poaching. As Jenkins details, these fan works are rarely concerned with making a show more marketable or understanding the show as a commercial asset. Fan works rewrite shows to express their own personal experiences, however unmarketable those might be. It is not clear that this fan labor is truly in service of the television industry, as Andrejevic suggests. Certainly a strong fandom promotes a loyal viewership, but those loyal viewers are wont to use the show as raw material for niche fan works which only contradict the wishes of television marketers.
TWoP was shut down by Bravo in 2014, but the Wiki TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/) collects, defines, and provides examples for many of the terms developed by television fandom as a whole. Many of these terms originated from the now-defunct TWoP. Interestingly, examples for terms are drawn from television, film, and fan works equally.