[Insert Your Name Here]: Stigma Management in Self-Insert Mass Murderer Fanfiction

Jasmine S. Harrell, Karin Branham, Sociology, Lone Star College System The Honors College 3200 College Park Dr, Conroe, TX 77384

This study analyzes how writers subconsciously use stigma management strategies in self-insert fanfiction featuring Ted Bundy and the Columbine Killers, specifically pertaining to the romantic and platonic relationships with the killers. A critical literature review elucidates why authors write fanfiction and how parasocial relationships affect the fans’ experiences through different forms of popular media. Bruce J. Link and Jo C. Phelan’s (2001) definition of stigma, as well as emerging components of stigma management in fanfiction, are applied to further distinguish power dynamics in parasocial relationships (PSRs). Then two romantic PSR fanfictions, “Life’s Too Short to Match Your Socks” and “I Know You Can’t Resist Me,” and two platonic PSR works, “Small Towns Surrounded by Hills” and “Anarchy,” are compared to assess the relationships explored in the self-insert plots. This study indicates that in the subgenre of mass murderer fanfiction, works with sexual scenes often represent liberation from the stigma or an inability to be liberated, while platonic relationships often range from implying guilt about the writer's interest to fully accepting their stigma. Authors of shorter texts often work through parts of stigma management through one scene and deploy, if briefly, each of the strategies considered. Ultimately, the study suggests this subgenre lessens the burden of stigma even if stigma acceptance could be harmful to individuals or those around them. Further research could include cross-sectional surveys and mental health assessments regarding PSR strength on readers of mass murderer fanfictions to help determine whether the content does more harm than good—and to determine where the line is drawn along the range of normal to abnormal behaviors.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Jasmine Harrell

Institution: Lone Star College System The Honors College

Type: Poster

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5529