My interest in studying and thinking about fans and fan culture came under the tutelage of Professor Constance Penley at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Penley was an authority on popular culture. Her classes were always in demand. She inspired her students to seek out and celebrate the inventive ways that fans engage with pop culture — ways that are not necessarily intended by the “cultural producer” (a filmmaker, news reporter, artist, tattoo artist, etc.) Professor Penley dismissed the widely-held notion that fans are passive, apathetic and unthinking.
With this in mind, I became extra-intrigued by “Occupy Tebow” (OT), the Internet meme that started and was spread in the comment section of an ESPN blog titled, “Time for Elway to think post-Tebow” (October 30, 2011). The “occupation” (a clever take on the Occupy Wall Street movement) was, among other things, a passionate rebellion against the sports and mainstream media’s glorification of Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow. Fans were firm in their belief that the second-year player had not yet earned the lavish praise that enveloped him. » Continue reading “A Quarterback, A Meme, and Rebel Fans”