An audience is nothing but trouble. Actors, directors, dramaturgs and reviewers strain to figure out what they’re thinking, why they laughed or giggled or snored at that moment. Why did they gasp when he dragged her across the stage? Why did they laugh at her chemo treatment?
FanFiction is a form of feedback for creators, and creators who recognize it and appreciate it win brownie points (Supernatural does this well, as I address in the post a quirk (kink?) of their fandom). On the left is a cute scene from Fruits Basket. On the left, a fan’s re-imagining of that scene. Giving back to fans consciously encourages reciprocation.
One way for creators to give back to their fans is through fan service. Though fan service usually applies to skin shots in anime, it can apply to any shot of a fetishized character in a state of undress.
Fan service is also high-grade female gaze fuel*. There is of course fan service of women wearing very little, but in most of the anime I watch the male characters are the ones stripped.
A rather brilliant friend recently founded a blog centered around turning the female gaze into a verb. She’s empowering women to objectify those who wish to be objectified, to own the female gaze. For the less scholarly, she features dozens of beautiful men wear few clothes.
Fan service is about giving back to fans, communicating that you know what they like and proving you can provide it. Sometimes it’s also about enabling female gazing–though I’m sure that’s not what Lacan had in mind.
*The male gaze in cinema is a theory about how our cultural norming of men’s perspectives ensures that movies and TV shows represent the world through men’s eyes–through the male gaze.
“Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.”
–Alfred Lord Tennyson