Matt Hill uses Fan Cultures to examine the differences between the “scholar-fan” and the “fan-scholar” who uses academic theory in their fan writing. Through his analysis, Hill manages to align fans and academics through the concept of the elite fan. As the elite fan becomes more knowledgeable and encounters opportunities to defend and analyze the popularity of their interest, they become “scholars of their idols”. Though they are not academics, these scholars still exhibit “flashes” of theorization.
In Part I, Hill adds the important role of consumerism into this analysis. “For, as well as constructing themselves against ‘bad’ academics, fans also construct themselves against ‘bad’ (mindless or undiscriminating) consumers”. With this statement I was reminded of a popular character in pop culture who is the cartoon embodiment of the “fan-scholar”, The Comic Book Guy (also known as Jeff Albertson).
As the audience, we notice that Comic Book Guy (the owner of The Android’s Dungeon) possesses a great amount of knowledge about his work and spends a lot of time discussing it on online forums. He also attempts to establish his greater authority and knowledge with his overused catchphrase, “worst episode ever”, which is used to justify his opinions of many nerd related topics against mere consumers of nerd culture like Bart Simpson and Milhouse Van Houten. According to the Simpsons Wikia, Comic Book Guy is a “very obese, socially incompetent, unshaven, cruel man who is perhaps best known for his sarcastic quips. He holds a master’s degree in folklore mythology (he translated The Lord of the Rings into Klingon as part of his thesis)”. Clearly, Comic Book Guy is an academic, but his fandom comes first despite his all encompassing knowledge of every one of the most cultish topics. Comic Book Guy’s fandom is not merely implied in his academic work, he lives it.
So we know that Comic Book Guy is meant to represent the stereotypical “nerd who lives in his parents’ basement”, but does he also represent the stereotypical fan-scholar?