“All of Us Own Skam”: Piracy, Franchising, and Ownership in Transnational Fan Practice

CURO Thesis, Fall 2020

My work with my thesis is still ongoing, so there is not much that I can publish here. I primarily concentrate on Skam as a case study at the intersection of fan studies and transnational media flows, and what we can understand from this series as far as our understandings of post-digital content, piracy & ownership, and transnational fan distinctions.


Since airing in 2015, Norway’s Skam has been remade in seven different countries and is claimed by NRK as one of their most successful series. In order to understand what Skam has to offer as a liminal subject in the growing study of transnational fandom and industry, I will consider how the industrial approach, the fan valuation systems, and the tension between fan and creator (resulting from both parties considering themselves global exporter) all shape Skam’s trajectory as a global media product and transnational teen franchise. First, the industrial approach takes into account the role of NRK, an often lesser-credited agent in Skam’s global success, and examines how they not only engineered the series for success outside of Norway, but also quietly changed their rhetoric regarding piracy once they realized the impact fan translations had on their transnational brand. The second section focuses on the fans’ perceptions of themselves as prosumers, while discussing the implications of their reliance on pre-existing power structures in their distribution tactics, despite understanding themselves as counter-cultural media producers and consumers. Finally, through unpacking fan and industrial reactions and understandings of American remake SKAM Austin (Facebook Watch, 2018-2019), we can see the Skam franchise’s limits of both its fans’ good will in a gift economy and their progressive worldview. Understood in these ways, Skam is an example of a show completely shot and sold in the digital space, but reaffirms established notions regarding the relationship between fan and creator. While an important case study to consider regarding academia’s changing perception of piracy and its effects on official media distribution, Skam ultimately reveals a reliance on traditional media flows even on the part of fans’ digital export of the series. 

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