The first question in each survey asked “On a scale of 1 to 100, how much of a movie (or Rocky Horror, or Big Lebowski) fan do you consider yourself? (‘1” means not a fan at all, while a ‘100’ means (the movie) is very important/the primary hobby or interest).” Big Lebowski fans rated themselves the highest on this 100-point scale at 80.73. Rocky Horror Picture Show fans rated themselves 77.48, while the General Movie fans rated themselves the lowest, at 68.41. That General Movie fans rated themselves the lowest should not come as a surprise, as one would expect the other two groups, with specific texts in mind, would identify themselves as fans at a higher rate.
Another question pulled from the survey results deals with General Movie Survey participants’ attitudes toward “cult” movie fans. The General Movie Survey participants were given five answers (“weird,” “just like other fans,” “take that movie too seriously,” “need help,” “normal”) and “Other,” in which they could fill out their own answers. Table 1 gives the results of this question.
Reactions of General Movie Fans to “Cult” Movie Fans (in descending order)
“Cult” movie fans (are): Statistic
Take that movie too seriously 39.1%
Just like other fans 17.3%
Need Help 5.5%
In the “Other “ category, a majority of the responses (47.8%) were generally positive, while 30.4% were negative. Examples of generally positive responses included: “The enjoyment of the story and the potential for one liners, I believe, set these individuals apart from your average movie watcher;” “just have an interest just like other people (who) collect books in a series, it’s just something to do that is different;” and “fun and interesting.” Examples of generally negative responses included: “Silly and set themselves apart;” “folks who have too much spare time on their hands;” and, “crazy.” The other answers in this category were either left blank or did not answer the question. In all, nearly two-thirds (63.5%) of the responses to this question were negative. The significance of these two results, of the self-identified fandom and the General Survey participant attitudes, will be discussed in the next section, after the results of the hypotheses tests are given.
H1: The more one identifies themselves as a fan, the more they will feel like they are a part of a community.
Identifying oneself as a fan seems to be a singular act, a projection of the self, recalling Hills, onto a text. While this seems like an individual act, it also pushes one into an already established community. To find out how one variable (self-scoring on a fan test) related to feelings of being a part of a community (Community Index), a regression analysis was performed.
The General Survey results of the regression analysis were: F (11.628), R2=.098, p=.001<.05, meaning the hypothesis is supported. For Big Lebowski fans, the regression model is also significant: F(27.711), R2=.371, p=.000<.05. For fans of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the regression model was slightly not significant: F(.572),R2=.025, p=.457>.05.
Therefore, H1 is supported by the General Survey and Big Lebowski models, but not supported by the Rocky Horror model.
H2: The more one feels like they are a part of a community, the more likely they will closely identify with a movie.
The second hypothesis examined how participants tied their identification to a community to a stronger tie to the movie text. The more one feels a part of a community, the more one would identify with the movie text. This again plays to the dichotomy of fandom, in which the desired text is personal, yet communal. In order to test this hypothesis, a regression analysis was run with the independent variable of the Community Index, made up of questions related to participants’ feelings toward a fan community, and the dependent variable of Identification, or those questions related to an individuals’ actions with the fan text.
An analysis of the General Movie Survey participants yields a result of F(123.468), R2=.540, p=.000<.05. Therefore the model is significant and the hypothesis is supported for the General survey. The analysis of the The Big Lebowski participants yields a result of F(148.635), R2=.764, p=.000<.05. Therefore the model is significant and the hypothesis is supported for The Big Lebowski survey. The analysis of the Rocky Horror Picture Show participants yields a result of F (7.141), R2=.254, p=.014<.05. Therefore the model is significant and the hypothesis is supported for the Rocky Horror survey.
The second hypothesis is supported in all three models.
H3: The more one purchases materials related to a movie and uses lines from the movie in everyday conversation, the more one will feel like they are a part of a community.
This hypothesis looks at specific fan activities that are high in individual identification and analyzes whether those activities are predictors of a sense of community. In order to test this, a regression analysis was run on the dependent variable of Community with the independent variables of quoting lines from the movie and buying materials related to the movie.
An analysis of the General Movie Survey participants yields a result of F (41.991), R2=.442, p=.000<.05. Therefore the model is significant and the hypothesis is supported for the General survey. The analysis of the Big Lebowski survey participants. The analysis yields a result of F(25.114), R2=.522, p=.000<.05. Therefore the model is significant and the hypothesis is supported for the Big Lebowski survey. An analysis of the Rocky Horror Picture Show survey participants yields a result of F(2.348), R2=.183, p=.120>.05. Therefore the model is not significant and the hypothesis is not supported for the Rocky Horror Picture Show survey.
Therefore, the third hypothesis is supported by the General Movie and Big Lebowski participants, but not Rocky Horror participants.
Breaking down the pilot survey results more, there were ten community and ten identification questions. General movie participants were in line with the results of both Big Lebowski and Rocky Horror surveys in seven out of the ten questions for community, and six of ten in identification. For the thirteen questions that General movie participants were in line with the other two groups, General movie participants scored higher than one or both of the other groups six times. For example, the identification question, “I have learned lessons about my own life from watching one of my favorite movies,” the General movie participants scored higher, 80.9 percent agree or strongly agree, than both of the other groups: 75 percent for Big Lebowski participants and 44.4 percent for Rocky Horror participants. For the community question “Discussing one of my favorite movies with my friends/family makes me feel like part of a community,” General movie fans answered agree or strongly agree 69.6 percent of the time. This is nearly as high as Rocky Horror participants (70.3 percent of the time), and seven percentage points from Big Lebowski participants (76.6 percent). Other areas of agreement between the three groups included the participants imagining themselves as a character in their favorite movie, thinking of characters from a movie in situations other than the movie itself, watching a movie with a group of people (rather than alone) as the best way to view a film, and feeling a connection with other people who enjoy a favorite film.
Areas of disagreement between General movie participants and other groups may also prove to be significant. For example, the identification question “I spend more of my typical day thinking about one of my favorite movies than most people,” General movie fans answered agree/strongly agree only 11.5 percent of the time, compared to 68.4 percent and 62.9 percent for Big Lebowski and Rocky Horror participants, respectively. For the community question, “I have made new friends because of a shared interest in a movie I liked,” General movie fans answered agree/strongly agree 34 percent of the time, while 25 percent answered “Neutral.” Big Lebowski participants answered agree/strongly agree 75.5 percent of the time, while Rocky Horror participants answered agree/strongly agree 84.6 percent of the time. Other community areas of disagreement included feelings of disappointment if an acquaintance had not seen a favorite movie and whether people who are fans of the same movie will get along with each other. Other identification areas included reading the script of a favorite movie, purchasing materials related to the movie, and actively seeking new information concerning a favorite movie.
While General movie fans supported each of the three hypotheses concerning identification and community, there are some key differences between the three groups.