Utilising netnography, this study examines how users' image texts demonstrate active audience engagement with TV horror, with a particular focus on zombie texts. As part of the wider 'zombie renaissance' that has seen the mainstreaming of the undead, the 'blankness' of the zombie provides a range of affective meaning with horror screen media. Beginning with an analysis of BBC3's In the Flesh, fans' image posts parallel the relative state of the series. During broadcast, image texts centre on the melodrama of characters' relationships. Yet, during the second series' production, 'pre-textual poaching' of set locations and of the cast socialising verifies/reinforces that there is still life in the fictional text. However, upon the show's cancellation fan activists use the text's undead imagery to mirror the abject state of the series itself. Thus, this study demonstrates how image posts can be dynamic in their affective relationship with screen media. Then, in highlighting the dexterity of audience image practices and giving much-needed attention to how race can intersect in participatory cultures, this study looks at how audiences use memes to criticise AMC's The Walking Dead's representation of Black masculinity. Using TWD's own imagery, memes highlight the reductive and/or problematic construction of Black males in the text. Resultantly, anti-fans demonstrate a 'discursive prioritisation', which elevates racial readings with memes constructing a visual 'truth' about the series. As such, this study widens the analytical scope of participatory cultures' online textuality, highlights ongoing dynamic affective engagement horror fans can have with media content, and brings to the fore the intersectional identity politics of fans of colour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-117
Number of pages30
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • horror, Audiences, fandom, Television, Race, activism, online fans, social media, image and text

ID: 3581089