Artwork by Natasha Kashefipour
Internet Rangerphiles feel a strong bond with the characters in the program "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers," but they also feel a strong bond with each other. The bond with the characters is expressed through the common avenues of fans--Internet web pages, fan art, fan fiction, filk songs (new words for familiar tunes), as would be predicted by Jenkins's work, although his findings about fan cultures taking 'feminine' readings of works because of their mostly female composition is highly inaccurate in this case (1992). However, the bond among Rangerphiles is a bit harder to pin down. Doubtless, the small size of the community keeps it from splitting off into smaller factions. But the fact that the members seem to share world views--and, in fact, views of the Rangers--also keeps the group together. Perhaps it is a combination of the two--Rangerphiles have a need to stick together, and, thus, are more tolerant of the views of others (only uniting against ideas that no one likes, such as fan fictions where a writer writes himself in so he can 'get' Gadget). This tolerance of other views gradually turns to acceptance, or, at least, understanding, as in the issue of Chip and Gadget becoming a couple. Some of the most vehement supporters of the relationship accepted that the program itself did not really show that the two had to become a couple, and some of those against the relationship decided that the program had dropped a few hints towards an eventual union of the two characters. Rangerphiles have not come to an agreement on every issue, of course, and there are still arguments on occasion, but overall online Rangerphiles have at least agreed to let others have their opinions without great argument, just as friends offline have occasional disagreements but generally respect the other's point of view. The relationships between some of these Rescue Rangers fans can truly be called friendships. It is these relationships between fans themselves and the use of the Internet in expanding fan cultures that are missing from Jenkins's book Textual Poachers. He omits the Internet because it was not a major factor when he wrote, but his omission of fan friendships is, perhaps, one of the book's greatest faults. Although I cannot come to decisive conclusions about why or how fan communites and friendships form on the Internet, and I do not know how applicable findings from this particular community, I hope to have at least offered a glimpse into the world of the Internet Rescue Rangers fan community and its modes of thought.
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