On the basis of industry reports (for instance, Gant, 2008: 9) and online discussions, it appears that two practices at the centre of Mamma Mia's enduring success and appeal have been repeat viewing and the opportunities the film provides for highly vocal audience participation (singing, dancing and clapping along to the musical numbers). Beyond its putative status as a musical (which is clearly central to its capacity to encourage vocal audience participation), the appeal of Mamma Mia! as a distinctive viewing experience can be seen to be informed by a range of reception traditions or categories, which differ in their cultural status and appeal. As Ashley Elaine York has recently argued, Mamma Mia! can be seen as a key example of the 'millennial women's blockbuster' (2010: 4), a new form of 'chick flick' which has moved beyond its original target audience of 18-34 year old women, to appeal more widely to older and younger viewers. However, at the same time, the kind of performative activity that has been seen to characterise the Mamma Mia! film experience has more commonly been associated with cult classics like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and, more recently, the Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music cult screening events, held in the UK and elsewhere (see Conrich, 2006, and Mathijs & Mendik, 2008). Finally, Mamma Mia!'s status as a repeatable experience (in the cinema and on DVD) places it within a 'popular canon' of films that, in Barbara Klinger's terms, have 'replay value', with this form of value often being 'created outside the bounds of institutions officially sanctioned as granters of textual value', such as academia or popular film criticism (2006: 142-44). By drawing on interviews with avid viewers of Mamma Mia!, the purpose of this chapter is therefore to explore the factors that inform Mamma Mia!'s appeal as a repeatable, pleasurable and meaningful film experience. Furthermore, the chapter considers the ways in which audiences from older (40+) age groups make sense of Mamma Mia! as a particular, special and/or distinctive kind of film, in relation to other kinds and categories of films as they are made relevant in viewers' talk. By focusing on these issues, the chapter aims to explore fan understandings of the cultural status of Mamma Mia!, and to consider the degree to which the factors, motivations and pleasures that inform their love of the film can be related to existing academic debates on the reception of musicals, chick flicks and also, potentially, of cult films.
|Title of host publication||Mamma Mia! The Movie|
|Subtitle of host publication||Exploring a Cultural Phenomenon|
|Editors||Louise Fitzgerald, Melanie Williams|
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Feb 2013|