American and Norwegian online fans’ perception of positive portrayals of Muslim Arabs in 24: Textual poachers or ‘reactionary’ gamekeepers? Media fans have in the two lasts decades gone from occupying a position in the margins to entering the main stage in the transition from the analogue to digital era of media consumption. In the analogue era fan studies explored localized resistances within fan communities’ cultural practices, examining how this might lead to new understandings of gender, sexuality, and race. Yet there has been less work that examines what consequences fans’ cultural practices facilitated by digital media might have for the cultural politics of poaching. This paper presents a reception study of online fans’ perception of positive and heroic Muslim Arab characters in 24. Like the rest of the show’s regular cast, they should be a main preoccupation for fans in their competing interpretations and evaluations of each episode on online discussion forums where 24 is debated. The study includes a comparison between how an online fan community in the US and one in Norway perceive counterstereotypical Muslim Arabs in 24, and a textual analysis of online readings and interviews with participating fans is carried out. Are the fans’ semiotic practices, like fan studies have demonstrated repeatedly, manifested in progressive readings, or are there instances where they instead could be considered reactionary?
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