Come along, you belong, feel the fizz...
Expressions of fandom

Artwork by Julie Bihn

The RR Database, a fairly comprehensive site devoted to listing Rescue Rangers websites, fanfiction, and artwork, lists 69 webpages which contain Rescue Rangers content, and 128 original fan-written works and parodies involving the Rescue Rangers. It would be very difficult to catalogue all the Rescue Rangers fan art on the Internet, but the Internet Gadget Archive, the largest directory of Gadget pictures, boasts 147 pictures of Gadget in the 'Fan Art and Assorted Icons' section. And that's not even counting pictures housed on other sites, and pictures of the other Rangers and minor characters! Though the acknowledged online Rangerphile community is fairly small (a generous estimate at the Rangerphile Directory puts the number at 114, though the number of truly active members is somewhat smaller), these fans have spent a lot of time interpreting the show and its characters in different ways. What follows is an analysis of these expressions of fandom and their creators.

Most websites devoted to the "Rescue Rangers" contain some form of fanfic (by the page maintainer or others) and screen captures or fan art. Some pages are devoted to individual characters (The Foxglove Feature, Internet Gadget Archive) but most make at least some effort to include the whole team. Almost all pages have links to other Rescue Rangers pages, or are part of the Gadget Hackwrench Webring, a way to link sites about Rescue Rangers together. Thus, if a potential Rangerphile uses a search engine to find Rescue Rangers sites, he or she is likely to discover several sites just from visiting one listing. "As far as the on-line community goes, I found Mr. Grissom's "Home is Where You Hang Upside Down" by accident when I was using a library Internet connection to look up info on 'foxglove' for biology class" (Johnny B, survey response). Generally, Rangerphiles discover the community either on accident, or when tentatively searching the Internet for Rescue Rangers information. Like all fans, they are usually surprised when they find others who share their love of the program (Jenkins 1992).

There are at least 69 pages on the Internet with "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers"-related content, although estimates vary. "Chris's Rescue Ranger Page" lists 49 sites devoted to the program. Both pages have listings for multiple sites by the same person--in other words, one Rangerphile may maintain multiple websites.

 Rescue Ranger Sites and Their Maintainers  The RR Database Chris's Rescue Ranger Page
Total number of pages counted* 62 43
Total number of page maintainers 48 34
Number of sites maintained by females 15 (24%) 10 (23%)
Number of female maintainers 9 (19%) 8 (24%)
Number of sites maintained by males 47 (76%) 33 (77%)
Number of male maintainers 39 (81%) 26 (76%)

*'Counted' pages, for the purposes of this data, are those who had a known maintainer, and whose maintainer was known to be male or female.

Most sites are maintained by males, as seems to go along with the male-dominated nature of the Internet. Judging from "The RR Database," most females maintain more than one Rescue Ranger oriented site; however, the data from the sites listed on "Chris's Rescue Ranger Page" do not back up this finding. There is a very slight gender balance in the number of sites maintained by females versus males, since 28-30% of the Rangerphile community is female, but only 23-24% of the sites are maintained by females. This is a small difference, however, and may match other Internet trends, though I have no data on that.

As noted above, "The RR Database" lists 128 works of fan fiction, parodies, and essays involving the Rescue Rangers, although the actual number of fan works is significantly higher. There are numerous different topics discussed in these fan works. Jenkins says that fan writing falls into ten categories: Recontextualization, Expanding the Series Timeline, Refocalization, Moral Realignment, Genre Shifting, Cross Overs, Character Dislocation, Personalization, Emotional Intensification, and Eroticization (1992: 162-176). There are Rescue Rangers fan fictions to represent all those categories, although expanding the series timeline (especially when writing about Gadget's past), refocalization (in making Foxglove, a one-shot character, or Gadget, the star of a fan fiction), genre shifting (focusing on romance or drama in a fanfic, instead of the mystery and action-adventure aspects stressed in the program), crossovers (putting the Rescue Rangers in a universe from another program and the like), and emotional intensification (generally focusing on emotional pain and comfort) are probably the most common in this community. Personalization is called 'self-insertion' in the online Rangerphile community, and almost always frowned upon, as some male Rangerphiles feel compelled to write themselves into a story so they can 'get' Gadget. (It has been suggested that other Rangerphiles instead decide to have Chip get together with Gadget and thereby live vicariously through him (Ace Heart, "Acorn Cafe" post, April 19, 1999).

It is an undeniable fact that most Rangerphiles are hopeless romantics; stories which forsake the familiar mystery elements in the show in favor of bringing Chip and Gadget or Dale and Foxglove together are generally well-received, although some Rangerphiles are opposed to one or both of those couples. There is still a demand for mystery and adventure stories in the community. However, most fans like to see the stakes raised in such stories ("Rhyme and Reason" puts the Rangers through tortures and more near-death situations than they ever faced in the series), and also prefer for some genuine romance between characters to be cultivated, instead of the flirting within the series. However, this is probably not due, as Jenkins claims, to a 'feminine reading' (1992: 80) of the program.

 Fan Fiction Statistics  The RR Database
Total number of fan writings listed 129
Number of fan writings by females* 29/128 (23%)
Number of female authors listed 7/36 (19%)
Ratio of fanfics per female author 4:1
Number of fan writings by males* 99/128 (77%)
Number of male authors listed 29/36 (81%)
Ratio of fanfics per male author 3.5:1

*One fan work listed is anonymous, so it was not placed in a gender category.

Camille Bacon-Smith claims 90 percent of fan fiction is written by women (1992: 191), but, as most Internet Rescue Rangers fans are male, it should come as no surprise that most fan fiction is by males. In this community, at least, there is no inherent bias towards female fan fiction writings and readings; in fact, the data would lead us to assume that there is a male bias in the writings, that they would all be action driven, with no romance or character development. But this is not the case, either; while a lot of the fan fiction written by females does focus on romance, many of those written by males are also highly character-driven. Contrary to Jenkins's insistences on 'masculine' and 'feminine' readings of programs, it seems that most Ranger fans, male andfemale, enjoy romantic elements as expressed through these characters.

As stated earlier, the realm of Rescue Rangers fan art is too large to address with any detail in this page. However, a few trends in the art of Rangerphiles can be noted. First, there is a definite focus on the female characters; while some artists draw the Rangers as a team, and some artists (Natasha Kashefipour, Chris Birkett) focus on Chip and Dale, most artists generally draw Gadget, and sometimes Foxglove. The tendancy to draw Gadget may stem, to some extent, from her more human-esque figure, making her more appealing for artists, as well as the fact that she is female, and artists traditionally draw female models. There is a wide acceptance of fan art at all talent levels (for evidence, visit the Internet Gadget Archive). A simple pencil drawing is fairly well-received in the community, though works that are technically well-done are praised much more heavily than more poorly done works. The acceptance and praise of most fan art probably goes along with the 'small group dynamics' exhibited in the group, where it is to the group's advantage to be kind to other potential members of the community, so the group may grow. However, poor fan fiction is sometimes flamed or MSTed; art is less harshly criticized. This may be due to the fact that it may take a considerable investment of time to read a poor fan fiction, while a poor piece of art will probably, at most, only take a couple minutes to download and a few seconds to view. Viewing art requires a smaller emotional investment than reading fan fiction. There may also be an attitude among non-artists that anyone can write, but not just anyone can draw. (Most Rangerphiles who attempt writing fan fiction find it is harder than they expected, however.) These are purely theoretical explanations, with no evidence to back them up.

But why does this program inspire such works of fiction and art, and so many webpages? To answer that, we must look into why Rangerphiles enjoy the show.


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