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"The Walking Dead Family is a real thing, not just a hashtag": Experiencing Fan Tourism and Transmediality in Woodbury, Atlanta

Author:

Bethan Jones

Independent Scholar, GB
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Abstract

The 2016 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference took place in Atlanta. Historically important for the Civil Rights movement, the city is home to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, but as an emerging hub for film and television production Atlanta is also home to various studios, location tours, and other sites for fan tourism. I attended SCMS 2016 because of the scholarship, but visiting Atlanta meant I was able to spend a day on the Atlanta Movie Tours’ ‘Big Zombie’ tours. The tours feature locations from The Walking Dead in and around Atlanta, and are led by actors from the show. The tours thus provide fans access to behind-the-scenes stories and information, as well as exclusive access to locations, and opportunities to ‘re-enact’ key scenes. In this paper I document my experience of the tours as both fan and academic. I began the tour from a purely fannish perspective, excited to see locations and hear stories, but during the tour I found it difficult to halt academic analysis of this particular form of transmedia tourism. The actors leading the tour spoke of the ‘AMC family’ while noting how they were instructed not to speak to primary cast members, and clips from the show played inside the tour bus before we disembarked to view them in their ‘real’ (rather than fictional) Atlanta context. I thus experienced a sense of dissonance from, rather than immersion in, the world of The Walking Dead, and suggest that this sense of liminality is currently underexplored in analyses of transmedia tourism, where transmediality is assumed to bring the tourist deeper into the storyworld, rather than highlighting their divergence from it.
How to Cite: Jones, B., 2019. \"The Walking Dead Family is a real thing, not just a hashtag\": Experiencing Fan Tourism and Transmediality in Woodbury, Atlanta. JOMEC Journal, (14), pp.53–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jomec.191
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Published on 11 Nov 2019.
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