Archive for the ‘fans’ category

Privilege wank: Where sexual assault victims are not the real victims

June 27th, 2009

I’ve seen and dealt with a great deal of fandom drama.  When you’re an active participant in the community, it is just hard to avoid.  I sat out Race Fail 2009 because what could I say?  The extent to which I commented involved analytics relating to it.  It just did not feel like my place to speak out because I did not want to offend and I felt I could learn more by reading.

But now we have privilege wank.  Actually, it is more like Privilege!Fail.  What is the privilege in this case?  Well, according to aukestrel, being sexually assaulted and a rape victim makes one privileged.  And this then became worse when some people like zvi-likes-tv appeared to imply that being a member of that class was voluntary.

Before I get into it too much more, some back story. There were two cases of stories being posted with out warnings for rape.  In both cases, people asked the authors of those stories to post warnings because those stories were triggers for victims of sexual assault.    Both of  those authors complied but one grumbled about how she had to give in to a reader like that.  Another person took exception to that and posted a criticism of the author’s actions.  And it all went down from there with what started out as Warnings Kerfluffling before it got to the point where… well…  Let’s have some of these quotes speak for themselves:

[info]aukestrel:
1. One could argue, however, in this discussion of victim “privilege,” that the hurt might in fact be the result of dismantling of that privilege. I’m not saying I am arguing that. But in our current culture – in which apparently this victim, and her emotional well-being, is placed above and beyond courtesy, respect, and even common sense – and to abuse other women in fandom because they do not elevate the victim or place her rights above their own – it could be argued that cyatnite is, in fact, dismantling a privilege.

2. I don’t think they want to think of those who disagree with them as “women.” They want to dehumanise and abuse them; they want to take away their “humanity” so that they can feel justified in saying things to them that they would never say to another woman in real life. (At least I hope not.) They want to abuse people for holding the “wrong” opinion, even though they can’t really articulate what the “right” opinion is, just that it’s compassionate, displays empathy and consideration, and is a recognition that we belong to something larger than ourselves. I have seldom been so dismayed at the actions of fans as I have been in this post, and I’ve been in fandom for 10 years. I do not know cyatnite (had never run across her before tonight) but I am honestly appalled and even disgusted at the personal attacks she was subjected to for simply having a differing opinion on this subject. One hopes that, should impertinence display a differing opinion with her followers in the next few weeks or months, a similar “compassionate” and “correct” response is not the outcome.

[info]mara_snh:
1. Perhaps it’s best to note that the lack of a specific warning of the sort you and others advocate might be a good enough reason to just not read that story. How much of a hardship would that be? It would also show sensitivity to the writer who worked hard to write a story filled with surprises, and to readers who enjoy being surprised. Works both ways, you know.

5. I’m wondering if what we’re seeing here is a form of free-floating rage. It’s not uncommon for survivors of trauma to manifest this. They’ve never been able to confront their abuser and direct their anger toward him or her. They may also experience self-hatred; it may not be appropriate, but many victims of rape, especially, have been socially conditioned to accept some level of responsibility for the horrible thing that happened to them, and women carrying that awful baggage around with them might well hate themselves for it on some level. All this externalization of blame seems to me a warping of the otherwise healthy process of letting go of any sense that they brought the abuse on themselves. There’s some pretty serious pathology going on here on a community-wide scale. I wish I understood more about it, or that I had access to the therapist I can no longer afford, to get a better handle on it.

I’m just disgusted.  I’m speaking only for myself and not for Fan History or any other admins… but I’m beyond disgusted.  I’m repulsed at the total lack of sympathy and inability to take 10 seconds to prevent a segment that is too large in our community from being inadvertently harmed by the texts that our community published.    We should not lose sight of that when see members of our community supporting anti-warning for rape, underage and BDSM positions while attacking victims of sexual assault for being fragile snowflakes who shouldn’t be online.  We need to focus on the fact that many members of our community are victims of sexual assault; they’ve been violated.  In many cases, they have doubted themselves.  They aren’t trying to exploit fandom for attention.  Rather, they are trying their damnedest to go on each day surviving something of such horror that I cannot even imagine it.  It takes ten seconds of our time, if we’re writers of fan fiction, to warn for rape, non-con, BDSM and underage. (That’s all that is being asked for.  No warnings about cutting Blair’s hair.  No warnings for the color orange.  No pairing warnings.)  By spending those extra ten seconds, we are being good members of the community.

And that’s what we should strive for. If, by using this one small, quickly-made addition to our fics, we can keep from triggering someone who has been violated, why shouldn’t we do it? It just feels like the ethical thing to do.  I’d want the same from others and I’d do the same for others because fandom is a community.  In many places where we publish fan fiction, it is a wonderful community full of supportive women whom we can count on inside fandom and out.  This one small thing requires no work and helps prevent harm to large numbers of people in our community.   I fully support warnings for rape, non-con, underage and BDSM.  I hope you do too.

And if you don’t and you’re on my FList on LiveJournal on I follow you on Twitter, let me know so I can unfriend/unfollow you.

Chicago Bandits are win!

June 23rd, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post this for the past week but life got in the way.  On June 13, I attended a Chicago Bandits game.  I’d made a deal with a friend that I would pay for Bandits if he paid for Red Stars tickets.  I was looking for an alternative to the Chicago Cubs because well, I’d gone to five games this season and the Cubs won twice.  The games are also a bit expensive to attend.  I also wanted to support women’s professional athletics.  This team seemed to fit the bill all around.

And you know?  I had a great time.  I got my picture taken with the mascot.  The game was affordable. ($10 for our tickets.  Cheap food.  No parking fees. Not much gas spent to get to the game.)  Our seats were awesome.  The crowd was enthusiastic.  Fans had a good sense of sportsmanship that can be absent from Cubs games.  They cheered for both teams when good plays were made.  (Which was confusing as there were strange silences on occasion when people realized they had cheered too enthusiastically for the opposing team. But still?  How can you fault that sportsmanship?)  The quality of play was excellent.  There were Olympians on the field.  It was a lot of fun.  The whole experience was made of win.

So if you get the chance, check out their website and attend a game. If you don’t want to go to a game by yourself, let me know and maybe we can go together. :D

What was hot on Fan History for the week of June 7 to June 13, 2009

June 15th, 2009

It’s another week and I’m in the mood for another post about what’s popular on Fan History. This edition includes our most popular traffic sources outside search, our most popular articles and our most popular keyword based searches for the week of June 7 to June 13, 2009.

Most popular articles
11,848 pages were viewed a total of 44,012 times

  1. Draco/Hermione – 920 times
  2. Cassandra Claire – 551 times
  3. Race Fail 2009 – 423 times
  4. Torchsong Chicago – 383 times
  5. Sakura Lemon Fan-Fiction Archive – 323 times
  6. AdultFanFiction.Net – 282 times
  7. Digimon – 226 times
  8. Hurt/comfort – 225 times
  9. Naruto – 225 times
  10. Twilight – 216 times

Coming in Number 11 is Russet Noon with 206 and FanFiction.Net with 204.

Top non-search referrers
Referring sites sent 2,620 visits via 361 sources

  1. journalfen.net – blog entry about conventions is where the traffic was from – 298 visits
  2. animenewsnetwork.com – 287 visits
  3. chickipedia.com – 232 visits
  4. community.livejournal.com – 179 visits
  5. twitter.com – 83 visits
  6. twilighted.net – 81 visits
  7. fanfiction.net – 79 visits
  8. deviantart.com – 67 visits
  9. tvtropes.org – 61 visits
  10. fanpop.com – 57 visits

Coming in at referer rank 77 was russet-noon.com with 4 visits.

Search key phrases
Search sent 12,029 total visits via 8,537 keywords

  1. naruto wiki – 64 visits
  2. adultfanfiction – 60 visits
  3. galbadia hotel – 53 visits
  4. restricted section – 50 visits
  5. adult fanfiction – 49 visits
  6. cassandra claire – 44 visits
  7. emo porn – 43 visits
  8. fan history – 35 visits
  9. cassandra clare – 34 visits
  10. gosselins without pity – 33 visits

Coming in at the 40th most popular keyword search with 17 visits was russet noon.

A sad loss to slash fandom

June 15th, 2009

I was very sad to hear the news late last night that Minotaur had passed away.(Link to info.) He was a fixture at many of the slash conventions I’ve attended in the past ten years; I first met him at a ConneXions con where he hosted one of his panels on gay sex for slash writers, inspired by his ever-popular Sex Tips for Slash Writers website. I just remember the room being packed-to-overflowing, and also full of much laughter and enjoyment as was generally the case in his company.

His contributions to slash fandom will be remembered for many years, and his presence sorely missed.

A funny thing happened on the way to my birthday…

May 18th, 2009

…ten years ago today.

I went to see The Phantom Menace.

(OK, technically it was a midnight showing on May 19, the official release date, but you get the idea.)

I hadn’t been planning on going. At least not to a midnight show. While I was a Star Wars fan like any child of the 80s, I’m very allergic to hype, and the massive frenzy around the release of the new film had pretty much left me feeling “meh”. I’d see it when I could, but I wasn’t going to stand in line for hours or days to do so.

But it was my birthday, and I was kind of…depressed. 27 and with nothing planned, no one to spend the day with, grad school was sucking the life out of me and I seem to recall even the weather was shitty. I was running some errands and walked by the old, decrepit-but-beloved Sam Eric theater on Chestnut Street around 3-4pm that afternoon. The marquee proclaimed a midnight showing of the film that night.

“Gotta be sold out, but what the hell,” I thought, and being curious I checked if they had any tickets available. Surprisingly, they did – and no line waiting was necessary.

Score!

I went back home, nursed my morose mood for a few more hours, then went to check out the movie.

Thus began one crazy, crazy chapter in my life.

Now, I’d been involved in “fandom” for a long time by this point (music, tv, what-have-you), but not any kind of fandom in the mega-spotlight. Obscure and weird loves have always been my game, things like The A-Team. Even when I got into big fandoms like Xena, it was on the strange side of the spectrum (Joxer fandom, to be precise. Joxer slash fandom to be even more so. Oh the shame…) Small fandoms. Quiet fandoms. Manageable fandoms.

Then I saw that scene. The one near the end. Qui-Gon’s death scene. Up until that point I’d been happily reveling in just the pretty special effects and grimacing through the typical Star Wars stiff acting and cringe-worthy dialog.

But then Qui-Gon touched Obi-Wan’s face and died and ugh there was my tragic, epic love story for the ages. As Keelywolfe put it so eloquently,

“A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away, George Lucas created Star Wars. And he looked at it and saw that it was good. And all was right in the world. But then, we saw that Obi-Wan doth look upon Qui-Gon with lust, and that Mr. Lucas was not likely to include that in the next movie, so we said screw it and wrote it ourselves, even though we do not make any money off of this. And all was right with the world.”

obihatesani12

I immediately rushed home and posted on, of all places joxerotica, virtually screaming “OMGWTFDIDYOUGUYSSEETHATISTHERESLASHYETOMGOMG!!!!” And a few others there went “OMGOMGOMG!!!!” too, and the very next day, I did a very silly thing.

I created Master and Apprentice over on dear old yahoogroups. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Foolish me, I thought it would be a lot like running Joxerotica, or my A-Team groups–some work but nothing too daunting. People started joining up quickly but I figured it was just an initial frenzy after the movie’s release. I set up a little archive on my simplenet web account, manually adding stories as they were posted. It was maybe a couple a day at first. Fun, short stuff–angst pieces and missing scenes, short AU’s to “fix” Qui-Gon’s death, that sort of thing. I had a co-mod from Joxerotica helping me out at first as we set up the archive/list’s basic rules. But then it started growing. And growing. And growing, until it became within a month or two The Fandom That Ate Cincinatti. Slashfen were flocking in from everywhere: Sentinel fandom, Highlander fandom, X-Files fandom. People were even bitching how Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan was “stealing” all the good writers from other fandoms!

It should be noted, too, that there was no small amount of concern about “The Wrath of Lucas” when I started the list and archive. While it may seem laughable today, at the time many fen still remembered his previous actions and stance against those who wrote and published adult–nevermind slash–fiction in the Star Wars universe. And also, there were other fen who would react strongly against those who would do so against George’s wishes, as I would learn firsthand from some of the people I would meet in this fandom such as Bev Lorenstein, who would become one of my dearest friends, and who told me what she went through in publishing Organia in 1982. That said, in my years of involvement in Star Wars fandom, I never received a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilms or had any other contact from them. So perhaps the worries were all for naught…

In any event, by the end of the summer of ’99 I was growing concerned that my little archive just wasn’t going to cut it as a few stories a day were turning into dozens. It was reaching a critical point and I was getting worried about the stability of my archive situation, and my friend Erik came up with a solution.

He could put me up on his own webserver. Register a domain for me–sockiipress.org–and then set up a database program which, although stories would still need to be manually submitted, would make creating story index pages automated, along with allowing for search functions and other cool stuff. sockiipress.org was registered on September 30, 1999 and the archive moved there, which would be its home for the next three years or so, before the archive moved to its own URL, masterapprentice.org, some time after I had left the fandom for good.

But before I get to that part of the story…

Being involved in this fandom from its point of creation through the height of the frenzy was, as I said earlier, a crazy experience. I’d never been involved in such an active fandom before. Never found myself in the Big Name Fan spotlight (though I was no real writer of note in the fandom, just archivist, occasional artist, and “ringleader”, in effect). Was it exciting? Sure! I loved waking up every morning to a emailbox full of new stories. And there was some wonderful fiction being written by some amazing authors. Was the attention thrilling as well? Admittedly, yeah, it was. I went from being the girl into very weird things at conventions like MediaWest and Eclecticon, largely lurking on the sidelines and being ignored, to getting a round of applause at ConneXions in 2000 for the work I’d done on the mailing list and archive. It was an ego boost for certain–but then it also gave me a taste of big fandoms’ ugly side as well, and how fandom can turn on you on the drop of a dime.

First there were scuffles on allowable content. The first one came up over the topic of Chan fic. I lost my co-moderator to the mailing list over this debate and the compromise position on the subject I favored. Real person fic also was broached and lead to some heated arguments until it was banned from archiving. The fandom went through typical growing pains as different subjects and content was being explored, but then our archive was having growing pains, too. Erik’s server was not all that stable, leading to sporadic downtime and a lot of headaches on his end. He put up with a lot helping me out with the site, for someone who wasn’t even in the fandom. At one point, in 2000, he thought it would be a nice idea to burn CD copies of the archive to make available to users through the mailing list. It was welcomed as a good “backup” to the unstable site, and he charged a nominal fee to cover his materials and time — I think it was $7 or so. No one raised a single complaint the first time around with this, and I think he mailed off something like 100-200 copies of the disk.

In 2001, the server difficulties were getting worse. Erik was getting frustrated, and I, myself, was getting a little worn out from listmom and archiving duties. While at this point we had a group of 5-6 assistant archivists, it was still demanding a lot of my time, and my interest in the Qui/Obi was…drifting. By that point I had been distracted by some other Bright Shiny Fandoms — Brimstone in particular. Erik decided to do a second run of the archive disks, at $10, because he was about ready to give up trying to work out a solution for our hosting woes.

That’s when things got ugly. One morning I woke up to several outraged emails from authors who had long been absent from the fandom, demanding that their stories be removed from the archive, not included on the CD, “or else”. Later that day I found out Erik and I were being subjected to ugly accusations of profiting off people’s work, that outrageous things were being said about us all over fandom chat channels (one reason I still avoid “chat” to this day). We defended ourselves and actions while of course agreeing to remove any stories that people did not want included, but were then told, point blank, to “Fuck off” from the community and archive we’d spent all those hours, days, months, years into maintaining.

And we were both only too glad to oblige at that point.

Thankfully, two Loris were ready to help us out. “Lori” took over maintaining the archive and list. “Lorrie” offered us hosting on her own server (for both the archive and sockiipress overall). Eventually I moved to my own hosting service entirely, cutting off completely from my connections to Q/O fandom.

Except, happily enough, ties to some of the wonderful friends I made there, despite all the angst and wank and aggravation. Many of them I am still in touch with today in other fandom communities, fabulous people I will forever thank my involvement in Star Wars fandom for bringing into my life. I learned a lot from my time in the fandom, good and bad, and I definitely would not take those years back for anything. That said, I’m also quite content to be back to lurking around in small and obscure fandoms these days. The pickings might be slim, but the pleasure is rarely overwhelmed by the aggravation.

So happy anniversary, master-apprentice! Our love may have been brief and heated, but when it was good, it was oh, so good…

From the keyword vault…

May 6th, 2009

Sometimes, we get some interesting keyword searches on out blog that look like people need answers that we haven’t answered.  In that spirit, I’m going to address some of those.

what rating did the fans give the twilight movie and why

Ratings can best be found on Yahoo!Movies and on IMDB. Yahoo!Movies fans really liked the movie more than IMDB users. If there was a large amount of wank about the movie being awful, it never hit the radar of the people contributing to our Twilight article.

nicole p. and bonnaroo / nicole p. 104.5 / 104.5 bonnaroo contest

Looking for info on Nicole P?  And why she’s been getting votes in that contest?  That’s because we’ve been heavily plugging it in several places, including Fan History’s main page.   Go vote please.  We would really love for her to be able to go so she could report on music fandom for Fan History. :D

star trek fan total members

How many members are there  in the Star Trek fandom?  I can’t really answer that easily.   There are at least 5,500 fans on LiveJournal.  We can guess that there are over 3,000 on FanFiction.Net for Star Trek in its various forms.  We know there are at least 45 on InsaneJournal.  We also know there at least 43 on JournalFen.   There are probably other places to get numbers but those are the ones we have on the wiki.

the most obscure fandom ever

What is the most obscure fandom ever?  That’s almost impossible to answer.  There are a huge number of small fandoms with very few fan communities.  Some of them could be really old, with very little that got translated online.  A good example probably includes Road to Morocco.  You also can have local sports team for sports that don’t have big international audiences.  An example of that includes the Storhamar Dragons based out of Norway.  Most people probably haven’t heard of them.   So in this case, we really need the term obscure better defined.

fanfiction net – meme’s stargate

I don’t have a clue.   It might appear in our Stargate article, but skimming it?  I’m not seeing an answer.  Some one please educate me!

trace the ip address who visited my community on orkut

I’ve got nothing.  If you can put images in your profile or community, I highly suggest getting a paid account and using LJToys.  I just don’t know orkut well enough to provide better information.

anime fan art history

A history of fanart can be found on Fan History’s fanart article.  It really needs more work, and only generally touches on anime so the anime article might be a better source.

can wanking be beneficial to growth

We talked about this a lot in this blog entry about generating positive metrics.  Wanking can help provide short term traffic spikes but don’t provide long term traffic stability unless you can do that again and again and again on a consistent basis.  Depending on your content?  That may not be desirable.

So ends this edition of “From the keyword vault…”  I kind of liked writing this so I may do another edition soon.

Fan fiction culture does not encourage wiki contributions

April 19th, 2009

A few days ago, I published a blog entry titled The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience. In the course of editing it, we removed some bits that weren’t relevant to what we were responding to.  One bit I thought was still pretty interesting so, lo! The bit reappears here!

Fan History’s admins all been in fandom a long time, and sometimes this whole issue of doing crosstalk in an collaborative way that anyone can contribute can be intimidating.  In fandom, this just is not done.  With a piece of fan fiction, the process is solitary in creation and when the story is finished, there is no real questioning the process, questioning the organization, suggesting ways to improve the story.  It just isn’t something that is fundamental to our cultural practices.  People don’t ask “Why did you have Harry Potter doing that particular spell in that scene?  Could you use this spell instead?”  If they do that, it tends to be viewed as antagonstic, or questioning the author’s writing ability.  And on the off chance the author and their supporters do agree that something could have been done differently, most of the time the author doesn’t go back and change it.  And if they do?  The audience doesn’t generally go back and read it.  Our cultural practices from the fan community just don’t lend themselves to crosstalk as equals.

The 2.0 World, and its impact on fandom

February 4th, 2009

An interesting new on-line journal launched this month, Live 2.0, which focuses on the changing face of live entertainment: sports, music, theater, etc. The premier edition pointed out how, in our current technological age, so much of where entertainment consumers spend their money and how they spend their money has changed. Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police, is interviewed in a fascinating look into how the ‘record album’ (or these days more likely the compact disc) has become so inconsequential as compared to the live concert as far as a musician earning his keep. The concert promoter now trumps the record executive. As Copeland points out,

“The idea of a concert as a catalyst for selling a CD is bass-awkward now. You make a CD and go through all that hassle and give it away, as Madonna has done her deal with not Universal, but Live Nation, and as Prince gave away his album, and as Radiohead [has done]; it’s the other way around now.

Let’s just make a record so that people will like us and come to the show.”

The future for a musician is much more in finding a niche market, for the big, big names like U2 are much fewer and far between, and marketing must embrace not just advertising in a few music papers but the internet, television, radio, and even “making sure you get your tune onto Rock Band or Guitar Hero”.

Russ Stanley, VP of Ticket Service and Client Relations for the San Francisco Giants, is also interviewed and talks about how the team has stayed on top of current trends to successfully market the team and grow ticket sales. “Embrace creative ideas” and “Think Technology” are the first two points raised, showing how simply doing things as had been done in the past no longer works.

So what does any of this have to do with fandom? Well, think about it. For a very long time, one of the long-standing models of live, in-person fan interaction and communication was the convention. Fans would travel the state, the country, even the world to meet other fans in person to discuss their favorite books, movies, television series, or simply be able to spend a few days with people who shared their interests in parts of fandom, be it slash, fur, science fiction, etc. Beyond these conventions, many of these fans had few ways of interacting beyond letter- and/or fan-zine communications, fanclubs, and other mail-based activities. Conventions have thrived for most of a century, beginning (arguably?) with Philcon in 1936, with few alterations in their models for content, marketing, attendance, and organization.

And yet, I believe few today would argue with me that the convention as modeled in the past is dying. Hotel costs have skyrocketed, and many such facilities are no longer interested in the business of renting out all of their meeting rooms at a low rate for an entire weekend to a convention when they can fit in 3 or 4 shorter events, weddings, church groups, or what-have-you over the same amount of time, get large catering contracts and other extras out of the deal. The internet has made communicating with other fans of shared interests much simpler and faster, and possible from the comfort of one’s own living room. There’s no need to trek to MediaWest every year to buy the newest fanzines to get your fan-fiction or art fix; there are more stories than anyone could possibly read in a lifetime available on-line. Convention dealers face lower profits due to the availability of much genre merchandise on-line and often at discount prices via ebay, Amazon, and other large vendors. Many smaller, local conventions find themselves suffering and dying out, or at least facing dwindling attendance numbers where only the largest events that offer wide varieties of programming seem to thrive and continue, such as DragonCon or highly commercial events such as those put on by Creation Entertainment. Cosplay and gaming may continue to give members of those fandom interests reasons to continue attending live events, but they are but two parts of a wide spectrum of fandom interests.

So perhaps it is time for fandom to look towards other models of live interactions and events, such as the BarCamp. Much more interactively generated by “users” (ie, attendees), the BarCamp breaks with the more rigid convention model, can take place in a wider variety of venues (utilizing, say, university facilities or business spaces), and looks for corporate sponsorship to cover costs instead of asking for membership fees from attendees. BarCamps embrace Web 2.0 ideas and technology to stay on top of current trends instead of lagging behind them and clinging to outdated models of interaction. Anyone can start up a BarCamp, and without the high financial burdens or risks involved in even organizing a small convention where hotel blocks must be guaranteed, meeting rooms booked, other conventions attended in order to promote your event, or even guests contracted.

This is part of why I will be very interested in seeing how Camp Fandom comes together for this year, as a fandom-specific event taking place utilizing the BarCamp model. Will other fandom camps follow, perhaps specific to certain fandoms, genres and interests, just as conventions in the past did? It will be interesting to see.

What other impacts will the “2.0″ world we live in have on fandom, and how fans consume and interact with our canon sources, be it movies, television, music, sports, etc? These are interesting questions to consider, and I’d be curious to continue this discussion and see what others think. I think we’ve already seen the “niche” market affect media fandom in the sense that we are no longer a world where only Star Trek, Star Wars, and a few other large name fandoms rule fandom-generated content. There are “niche” fandoms for virtually everything these days, and communities for sharing works about them. Even within each individual fandom, like say Harry Potter, there are communities, mailing lists, and fanworks for every sub-interest imaginable: genficcer-only, slash and het pairings of all kinds, AUs, any kink imaginable…you name it. And those involved in large-scale fandom activities such as running multi-fandom archives, conventions, etc, need to be aware of the wide variety of users that are potentially out there beyond what they might be familiar with inside of their own niche, and decide who they wish to serve: only those within their special interest, or the ever-wider world of fandom out there today.

Women don’t write fandom history?

January 18th, 2009

Fan History’s sports section is pretty awful. Really awful. It is downright pitiful. And that’s really sad as I’m a huge sports nut and I know my Chicago Cubs sports fandom history fairly well. I and Fan History’s other admins have just not invested time in improving it because really, sometimes, why bother?

Sports fandom has traditionally been dominated by guys and they’ve done a lot to document the history of fans. Heck, there is a whole cottage history dedicated to documenting the thuggery that goes down in soccer (football) fandom. This academic work has traditionally been done by guys. It is really well done.

Media fandom has traditionally been dominated by women and they haven’t done much to document the history of fans. There have been a few things done here and there but most of the research focuses on the product itself. If fans are looked at, it is from perspective of how they interact with the product rather than how fans interact with each other. It is totally different from sports fandom. So women aren’t writing fandom history and aren’t writing the history of their own communities.

Of course, this could be something that isn’t a gender issue. It could be a product issue. In sports fandom that tends to be historically dominated by guys, the product and fans aren’t really separate; they share an identity. You can’t really talk about the Chicago Cubs with out talking about its fans. (And if you’re a Sox fan talking about the Cubs, you can’t do it with out slagging on us.) Sports owners encourage that and really crank out the merchandise so fans can brand themselves as fans of a team. Our culture totally supports that by having “Support your team dress day!” type days at work. My local Jewel does that when the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears and employees are encouraged to support their team. Sports fandom also continues on and on. Teams generally don’t collapse/disappear over night and many have histories that are 20+ years old. They have a product you can get behind and have the time to get behind as the background for your life.

Media fandom is different. The producers frequently don’t encourage that sort of relationship with the source. In a number of cases, they treated their most loyal fans as thieves or belittled them, telling them to get a life. When we think of Harry Potter and Twilight, most people outside of fandom don’t immediately think of the canon as batshit insane because the fans are batshit are insane. Most fans aren’t flaunting their relationship with the show in a way that a whole town could relate to and have special dress days for. Media fandom’s products also lack the time lasting factor. When Sex and the City went off the air, women picked a different show to watch or found another way to identify.

So women generally aren’t writing fandom history. There are a few notable exceptions. Fan History is one but our major contributors early on came from spaces dominated by guys or from educational backgrounds where the approach more systematic, quantitative, regimented. Some of the other exceptions came out of competition with other women.

Will this pattern radically change ever? Probably not. Women might write sports fandom history (And they do. Some have found walls that their sisters in media fandom haven’t encountered because of their gender.)  but they will probably remain in the minority for a long time. Women are so closely identified with media fandom and the source code has those identity issues that I see it as a huge barrier to overcome, and that won’t ever be overcome in terms of similar participation by men in sports fandom history documenting.

Heads up! Tripod is shutting down!

January 18th, 2009

First, there was AOL shutting down its member sites. Now Tripod is doing the same. TechCrunch is reporting that

“Troubled Internet company Lycos is shutting down its email service and website creation and hosting service Tripod, the company is saying via emails to users that begin with “We regret to inform you that our parent company has decided to discontinue all unprofitable activities.” Both services will be discontinued as of February 15 2009.”

A lot of sites are hosted on Tripod, especially old fannish sites. A lot of early Internet fan fiction was there back in the late 1990s. This is another one of those times when our history is at risk because a site is closing. We’re going to lose a lot.

If you have a Tripod site and you need a new home, there are a couple of places we could recommend and Fan History admins are more than willing to help you with that. If you want hosting, let us know.

See Update on the Tripod situation for an update on this situation. .

Why hello thar CrunchRoll and potential fan wank!

December 28th, 2008

Thank you to elocinia for bringing this to my attention. I’m only an occasional visitor to CrunchyRoll and I wouldn’t have picked up on this otherwise. The site is going to have big changes.

CrunchyRoll made a deal with TV Tokyo to get subbed versions of some of their series available one hour after they air in Japan. Awesome no? Not necessarily. In order to do this, they are first removing all unlicensed anime from their site. And if you want to watch those new episodes? You need to pay to be able to watch them right away. If you don’t, you’ve got to wait a week to watch them.

The fall out could be pretty big and we’ll have to see how they handle the fall out that is sure to come from people who protest their illegal vids from being accessible like they want to.

Say goodbye to adult content on Ning…

December 20th, 2008

I know there are a few fandom oriented/entertainment communities on Ning. Given fandom’s love affair with adult concepts, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if some of those communities had adult content. If that sounds like it MIGHT be your community, be aware that Ning is shutting them down mostly likely in order to continue to generate revenue through GoogleAds.

Twilight, Harry Potter and Twitter! Oh my! (Also venns! I love the venns!)

December 19th, 2008

I love venn diagrams. (And data. And numbers. And other ways I can better visualize fandom.) I also love Twitter so I was ecstatic to discover TwitterVen which helps visualize what is going on Twitter using venn diagrams. I cranked it up and made the following chart with the keywords of Harry Potter, Twilight and fanfic.

Twitter venn diagram showing Twilight Harry Potter and fanfic

Lo! Behold! Wow! Twilight sure gets a lot of mentions on Twitter. Not surprising. I’ve read a number of people on LJ fandom talk about how Twilight will one day be bigger than Harry Potter. I’ve seen enough of data to know that Twilight fandom NOW is bigger than Harry Potter fandom NOW. What seems really surprising here is that there aren’t more mentions for both terms AND fanfic. Twilight and Harry Potter are mentioned more frequently together than those either with fanfic.

We have a couple more TwitterVens. If you create your own (upload it!), let us know if you find anything interesting!

Twilight parody

December 15th, 2008
Take180.com view

I’ve watch that video and another one by them. REALLY, REALLY FUNNY. It fits with the movie and satirizes it wonderfully. (And I pathetically still want to see the actually movie again. I’m waiting for it to come out on DVD because seeing it once was one more than I should have.) Twilight, you’re still my public awful guilty secret.

No AFL season in 2009… :(

December 15th, 2008

I’m an Arena Football League fan. I love watching their games on television. I love the Chicago Rush because they can win and win consistently. I love the speed of the game. I love that players play both ways. It was the football season AFTER the football season. Serious love on my part.

So it was with sad news that, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Arena Football League season for 2009 has been canceled. It looks like it was a money/economy issue. I’m not certain why they decided to do that but I have to wonder if other companies that are dependent upon discretionary entertainment related spending are going to feel the hurt. Because ouch. When you’re the most down, you need that bit of escapism. This just doesn’t seem to bode well at all.

(I want my football! Please come back in 2010! Chicago needs a winner!)

A lament for Fandom on MSN Groups

December 8th, 2008

I’ve been blogging about the pending demise of MSN Groups, and some about the replacements – most specifically Multiply and Windows Live Groups. Multiply because it is the chosen replacement for MSN Groups, and Windows Live Groups since it is Microsoft’s own answer to MSN groups.

So far nothing has come close to the versatility and ease of use that MSN Groups has had.

Nothing.

No other service allowed for custom webpages, for custom logos and buttons and separated messageboards. Nothing was as easy to use as MSN Groups. Just fill out the forms and bingo! You’re good to go. The webpage interface wasn’t exactly WYSIWYG, but it was close and allowed for far more colors than Windows Live Groups allows for (in fact, WLG doesn’t give you background colors for your discussion pages, which is the only place you can use HTML. Pretty much the same for Multiply.) You could easily hide pages, rearrange pages, add new albums, use the pictures from those albums in other spots… the learning curve was as shallow or steep as you wanted it to be. It accommodated both the novice webmaster and the more experienced. It was a great starting place for fandom groups; and a lot of fandoms were represented there.

What will happen to those many fandom groups? Well, some of them will be lost forever come February because their owners just sort of abandoned them to the spammers before this point. There’s at least one Thunderbirds group I know of that falls into this category. It has a lot of interesting fanfic on it, but the owner has grown beyond it and has left it for the “lonely singles” spammers to keep it active (otherwise, it would have been deleted years ago). Some groups will migrate to Multiply, some to Geocities, some to Windows Live Groups… they’ll be scattered all over, and harder to find. The close-knit communities that had developed over the years will be broken up, never to truly be reclaimed again. A lot of interesting and unique fandom creations will disappear forever. I’ve already had that happen once to me; the thought of it happening again makes me sick.

Is there a perfect solution to this forced diaspora? Not really. If you want to have the same flexibility as MSN Groups has, you’ve got to create your own website, and very likely, you’ll have to pay for it. And if you want to continue having a free site, you’ll have to pay in other ways, with intrusive ads or with a loss of those features you’ve become accustomed to.  (Yes, MSN Groups has ads, but because of their placement, they are ignorable.)

As a side issue, I’ve been poking around the Windows Live team blogs for the past few days, and I noticed that they’re not asking for feedback on WLG. Everything else, yes. Windows Live Groups, no. I think they know what kind of response they’d get there: a very angry one from a large group of disgruntled MSN Group owners.

So, we’re losing a piece of fandom property. What’s to go next?

ETA: I’m also aware that AOL is/was dumping their Groups. So there are more fandom communities disappearing. Let’s hope that Yahoo doesn’t join the pack.

No Japanese language fandom communities on LiveJournal?

December 7th, 2008

I’ve been looking around LiveJournal and looking and looking. And when I was done looking, I looked some more. I see huge numbers of anime and manga communities. I also have seen a lot of communities dedicated to people’s love of Japan and the language.

What I haven’t seen is any Japanese language communities for those fandoms. For Harry Potter, you’ve got Polish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish. German language communities. Nothing in Japanese. Naruto fandom has those languages and Norwegian. Some music and anime fandoms have Ukrainian language communities. Nothing in Japanese.

I asked a friend who speaks Japanese about this. Why with the huge fanbase of people who look like they are interested in Japanese, who use a few phrases here or there, why aren’t their Japanese language communities based on fandom? He wasn’t quite sure. Some of he felt was because there wasn’t a large community of Japanese speakers on LiveJournal to begin with. That was coupled with the fact that for most fangirls/fanboys, it is too much work to construct long posts in Japanese. Added to that, there might be issues where Japanese isn’t a Roman script which could contribute to the lack of Japanese language communities. A lot of the lack could probably be explained by those issues… but what do you think? Are there other reasons?

FanFiction.Net vs. LiveJournal community size

December 6th, 2008

The bot isn’t finished running yet… but while still compiling, I thought it was worth looking at some of these fandoms and how the size of LJ fandom is beginning to look, how big fandoms look versus eachother and versus FanFiction.Net community size…

This isn’t yet complete as the bot continues to run. Some fandoms may not have had their communities looked at because they didn’t cross over much with communities the bot has already looked at. There might be some naming issues which still need to be resolved. (Which were corrected when I spotted a few of them.) Some fandoms just didn’t have communities about them in the sample community list. Some categories actually contracted as we did admin work such as deleting duplicate articles and handled Article Deletion Requests… so any fandom which didn’t have over 50 new articles for categories with over 650 articles in them were excluded.

But overall, this table begins to paint an interesting picture as to the biggest fandoms on LiveJournal. FanFiction.Net column is total articles from FanFiction.Net. LiveJournal column is FanFiction.Net + LiveJournal articles (or new total of articles in the category). Difference column equals total number of members from LiveJournal.

Random fandoms

December 3rd, 2008

I was doing some random viewing of articles on Fan History and I stumbled across another of people who belonged in multiple fandoms where the fandoms that they belonged to didn’t seem to go together at all… Below is a list of a few of the ones that made boggle and smile:

Do these fandoms go together?  Is there a logical connection which would indicate a person would be a fan of them all?  Also, what fandoms do you belong to when you look at them all together would appear random to others?

Police-fandom after the reunion tour.

November 25th, 2008

With the release earlier this month of “Certifiable”, the official tour documentary and concert video, it fully feels that this most recent chapter in the history and fandom of The Police has come to a conclusion. Between February of 2007 and August of 2008, the band enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with many fans both new and old coming together at concerts, gatherings, and on the internet. Many of these fans had either not been involved in organized fandom activities before, or came back to it after a long absence, perhaps having only been active in the band’s offline fandom through the original fanclub Outlandos.

So it is interesting to me to look at what’s been going on in the fandom in the months that have followed: which messageboards and communities are still active and thriving? Which communities have grown quiet? What new communities are being formed?

The “new” official fanclub launched in February 2007, ThePolice.com (wiki), is still active, but primarily in promoting “Certifiable” and a few other projects coming up related to the band members. The messageboard, however, has grown much quieter since the end of the tour, and it is uncertain what the site’s future will be come next year when membership renewals will be up again. Will there still be a fanclub after next February, or will it be reabsorbed back into Sting’s official fanclub? Only time will tell, and given ThePolice.com was one of the primary sites used by those who claimed to be new to organized fandom, one wonders how many will look for new homes for certain or will disappear again from active fandom entirely.

policefans.org (wiki), which was largely created as a fan-driven response to the corporate-sponsored official site, has seen a definite pick-up in contributions to the PoliceWiki, but the messageboard activity has been very low and primarily focused on concert-trading and off-topic chat.

Speaking of off-topic chatter, that appears to be what the bulk of fans are engaging in after many established either (or both) Facebook and LiveJournal accounts to stay in touch. Because of the friendships formed during the year and a half of the tour, many fans have found these blogging and social networking sites provide a good avenue for staying in contact beyond fannish activities and concert get-togethers.

The forums on Stewart Copeland’s Official Site(wiki) have remained quite active since the end of the tour, even if at reduced posting levels (although many long-time members of the site felt the board had become too active during the peak of tour activity and are glad to see it return to a more manageable posting volume per day). The current active members include those who have been members of the site for years as well as those who were new to it during the tour.

The Police section of the StingUS (wiki) forums has fallen very quiet, but the Sting section has picked up activity now that Sting has resumed solo projects. As many members of that forum had expressed preference for Sting-solo over Sting with The Police, this trend makes sense, and the site should continue to remain a fairly vibrant community for Sting-related discussion along with the official website Sting.com.

What all of this means for the production of creative fanworks in the fandom remains to be seen. A fan-produced documentary of the tour and the fandom is set to be screened early in 2009, and a fanzine collecting stories from the tour is also set to be produced around the same time period. There has been no noticeable increase in activity as far as the production of fan-fiction and fan-art in this fandom, even as there has been more discussion of slash and subtext between the band members in such new communities as hungry_4_you (wiki).

It will be interesting to re-examine the fandom in another year’s time, and see where activity has continued, grown weaker, or perhaps even grown stronger as all the band members return to their solo activities.

Twitter, fandom and me

November 25th, 2008

Before I begin this, I need to define what I mean by fandom because fandom and entertainment fans (consumers of popular culture) can often look alike but they frequently don’t act the same.

Fandom, Members of fandom:

  • Group that shares a common interest in a media product such as Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Pokemon, Starcraft, etc.
  • Are actively engaged with the product and other fans by having discussions, creating and commenting on other people’s fan fiction (art, vids, icons, costumes, etc.), attending/organizing conventions, organizing campaigns to save/improve the media product, etc.
  • Form relationships based on shared interest where the relationships with other fans are central to their activities.

Entertainment fans, consumers of popular culture:

  • Do not have a group identity as fans of a show.
  • Are passively engaged with the product by having conversations, commenting on blogs, blogging about the show, consuming the product.
  • Relationships are not at the heart of and purpose of their interactions with others who share their enjoyment of a media product.

Put simpler: Fandom is about relationships.  Entertainment fans, not so much.

Which brings me to Twitter and my sometimes confusing relationship with it as a fan.  And after a number of conversations with other fans, this is a problem that a number of other fandom people on the outside looking in suffer with.  What use is twitter for fans?  What use is Twitter for me as a fan?

I come from fandom out of mailing lists and LiveJournal where relationships are key.  If there is an author I love, I would try to form a relationship of sorts with them.  I might ask to be there beta reader.  I might e-mail or IM them with questions about their stories or what else they are working on.  If they were writing to slowly, I might leave lots and lots of feedback or beg them to WR1T3 M0R3!  I might friend them on LiveJournal to keep up with what is going on with them.  If I get to have a relationship with them, then my enjoyment of the thing for which we share an interest is enhanced.  I have another person to squee with over new episodes, and insure that stories I love will be continued, have some one to unite with against other people in the community I don’t like.  I might also have some one who could attend a convention with me or share a hotel at a convention with me which could make attending that convention cheaper.  I’ve got a friend.  Well.  Sort of.  Once our interests change or if I do something which upsets the person’s ability to enjoy the community or the material, I don’t have a friend any more.  But while we’re both in that relationship, we’re great and we communicate a lot.

If I want to get “ahead” in fandom, if I want to have greater influence, I form relationships with people who are in the position to help me.  I can make friends with fan fiction archivists, with authors who have huge amounts of readers, with content producers, etc.  And if I want to be able to leverage these relationships for my own benefit, I’ve got to actively work on maintain those relationships in order to maintain my status because they key to staying on top, well, the phrase is “What have you done for me lately?”

So along comes Twitter.   Twitter is great.  Twitter is love.  For the social media lover in me, I can’t get enough of Twitter.  It means I can follow people I met at BarCamps, keep up with what is going on in the wiki community, possibly get some traffic for the site I run, can network with people who might have leads for work for me, can interact with news organizations in a way that I haven’t before.

Except, well, for all the great things Twitter does for that, it doesn’t do much for me as a member of fandom.  Fandom is all about relationships remember.  It is one thing to follow a person and comment, but that’s not enough in fandom.  You need to have more focus and extended conversations.  The Twitter format just doesn’t allow for that.  It is too short to adequately share love of the source with or to hold conversations with others.  If you do try to have extended conversations on Twitter, if you’re not providing value to others who follow you, you could lose followers.  Ick.

One of my friends has other issues which put her off Twitter as a member of fandom. Twitter is very immediate.  You can’t hold conversations over an extended period of time because the format doesn’t lend itself to that.  If I am out on Thursday and miss the new episode of CSI and my friend watched it, we can catch up on AIM or blog about it a couple of days later, when we have the time.  Twitter doesn’t allow that.  And when your relationship is dependent on that shared material, the inability to slow the flow of conversation on your own terms?  It can be bad news.

Another friend has issues with some of the comments on Twitter being so banal and unrelated to why they care about the person.  They don’t care that you just woke up, that you’re eating breakfast, that you landed at Heathrow, etc.  They don’t care that you are having a conversation with SEO with some one on Twitter that teaches you a lot. (I get this a lot from my fandom friends on Twitter.  Especially when I start having conversations with people they don’t follow.  They’ve considered unfollowing me because I do that so often.)  What are they getting out of their relationship with me when I do that?

Another issue that comes up is content.  Why follow me on Twitter for news about what I am doing fannishly when you can keep up with that on Fan History’s blog, my LiveJournal or on Fan History’s InsaneJournal asylum?  The information is better, more detailed and easier to follow.  It is easier to keep up to date because the content is much more focused.  The blog is going to be about fandom.  The posts will be once a day.  You’re not going to have to filter around my other random content.  If content is king, then Twitter, unless carefully focused, mostly includes links and doesn’t involve loads of engagement that is off putting, then well, Twitter fails.  Content on Twitter isn’t king when it comes to relationship maintenance.

So relationships that are dependent on Twitter end up feeling shallow, where they feel hard to leverage for your relationships to faciliate your enjoyment of canon and accomplish your goals in fandom.  Things feel even more confusing when Twitter appears to require a large follow list to be viewed as important on or influential on Twitter (and in fandom).  How can you have relationships with people that are meaningful, that give you something back, when you can’t actively engage people because the “content” disappears so quickly and could easily be missed?  In terms of my fandom relationships, I find I can’t maintain them like I can in other places.  I end up having to play catch up with Twitter by reading their Tweets when daily summaries are posted to their LiveJournals.

In the end, what this means for me is I, and a number of my fannish acquaintances, haven’t figured out how to use Twitter for our fannish enjoyment. Yes, I know how to use it to promote my projects. Yes, I love it for networking professionally. I understand how to use it to monitor reputations and get celebrity and entertainment news. I’ve found some great Chicago related social media events. Fandom though… still a problem and I can’t see it changing.

My fandom’s fan fiction community is dying…

November 24th, 2008

My fandom’s fan fiction community is dying. Or at least, it appears that way. I’ve chatted with a friend as to why it appears like the Grissom/Sara, other Sara and other Grissom related parts seem to having much less activity. I feel like I half know but I just also feel the need to whine about it because I miss waking up every morning to one, two, possibly three stories (or chapters) by authors that I love. It was kind of like my morning cup of coffee.

Anyway, the conclusion appears to be that the strike, coupled with cast changes, were the primary culprits. The long wait between new episodes, not liking the uncertainty of what was happening, rumors that were unpleasant and then that actual cast change? It just makes keeping up interests hard. This was coupled with a number of the bigger and better writers having off-line issues. They got married, had long term illnesses, had family changes because of foster children entering their lives, moved across the country, etc. They haven’t recovered from those situations yet or, if they have, they aren’t as interested in them as they were before.

I’d like to see it recover for totally selfish reasons. I love some authors and I miss reading their stories. I love the sense of community. I’m better able to participate in it when it is active. I have a good reason to keep up with people. But even given that, I can’t see myself caring that much if they suddenly all the authors I loved became really active again just because I don’t care about the show like I used to… Cast changes, you know?

Talking about my friend and encouraging her to use social media

November 19th, 2008

I love to chat with Angelia Sparrow (wiki). She’s a professional author who writes male/male romance novels and short stories. Her genre isn’t something I would read but our conversations teach me a lot about the publishing industry and the writing process.

Because I’m a friend (and occasionally a pushy and selfish one at that), I want to help her do well. The best way that I know how I can help her to succeed is to suggest ways to harness social media. She doesn’t always follow my advice because she’s got a family, another job, is trying to write and doesn’t necessarily have the time nor skills to play the social media game effectively in order to do it successfully. She’s also writing for a niche audience that isn’t ever likely to make it possible for her to become the next megahit author. (If she does, I’d be the first to congratulate her.)

But even with out that, there are a few small things you can do which don’t require much time and effort that can help increase your visibility and she’s done some of them. First, she has a website. It is angelsparrow.com. The site has contests involving her work. These help increase her audience of people who might want free stuff and rewards her fans. She also has a blog which she updates pretty regularly. It includes announcements, reviews, etc. It also has rss feeds. (Hard to believe but some blogs don’t have rss feeds even now.) This means that her new posts show up on rss search engines, on Google’s blog search and Google will regularly check her blog for updates.

She’s also engaged in social media elsewhere, including on LiveJournal, a blogging community which has a large and active fan fiction community. She’s been there forever. This presence means that she can leverage her fan fiction audience for her non-fan fiction writing. The audience she built through years and years of involvement can be used to help her sell books and her short stories. LiveJournal (wiki) loves to celebrate its fan writers gone professional. Or even its professional authors who just happen to use the service. Plugging your work, asking for help or advice for your work, all of these fit into the culture of LiveJournal’s communities. No one is going to question her doing that. In fact, they are more likely to celebrate it.

I’m totally in love with twitter so I’ve spent a lot of time badgering my friends to use the service, even as I tell them it isn’t for everyone. Thus, last night I was happy to find out that Angelia Sparrow is on twitter. If you’re a professional author (or even a fan fiction author), twitter can be a great way to connect with your audience, to maintain relationships, to reward fans, to let them know what is going on. Her twitter follow list is small and she could probably do with having a few more replies at people she follows so she utilizes twitter for its strengths more… but that she’s on there? Great. It is another way to connect with her fans. Still, if you’re not looking to spend much time on twitter, what she’s doing is probably the right way to go about it until she has a better reason and more time to engage.

Another thing she’s doing right (but could probably do better at) is she has a FaceBook page, is planning to create (or has created) a fan page for her work and created an event on FaceBook for her book release. These don’t require much time and effort to maintain if you’re talking about only a small potential pool of interested people. FaceBook has a lot of people on it and you can connect with your personal network of alumni, professional acquaintances, former classmates, friends and fans. Those people are just there. The site might not be intended as a way to create or utilize your fan base but FaceBook gives you the tools to do just that. So use them to do that and connect. And Angelia Sparrow does.

The one thing that I like when I give advice to Angelia Sparrow is that for her, she’s selling a product: A book or a short story in an anthology. This means that she doesn’t necessarily have to obsess over where her traffic is, how many visitors she gets a day, taking traffic from FaceBook or Twitter and trying to convert those visitors into visitors to her site. And then having to make that sell in terms of clicking on ads or buying services on her site. Analytics aren’t the be all and end all. The end game is using the right social media strategy to help her writing and sell her books. (Which can be bought from a couple of places like her publisher or Amazon.)

She does what she needs to do. She engages in a way that allows her to make good use of her limited time in her busy life. She connects to her core audience. So while she isn’t a major player in social media, isn’t cutting edge with how to utilize social media to generate sales, she’s still taking the right steps, steps that anyone who is in a similar position should be taking. I don’t think she probably is aware that she’s doing that because I think she’s just doing what feels right for her. Awesome.

Smaller fandoms, more writing conscious authors?

November 13th, 2008

I love looking at how many stories get added or subtracted from major archives. One of the things I’ve noticed is that for smaller fandoms, it seems like there are a lot more people removing stories than there are adding stories. At times, it feels like a ratio of for every three stories added, one gets removed. Or that some fandoms just look like they are losing stories. Example fandoms? Animaniacs, Angelic Layer, American Dragon, Battlestar Galactica, Bad Boy, Baby-sitter’s Club, Captain America.

I have no idea why these fandoms would have these patterns.  Most of the fan fiction authors I know don’t delete their stories.  And they keep them on FanFiction.Net because FanFiction.Net is probably the single best archive for smaller fandoms in terms of getting readers.  (Reviews is a different matter. I’ve heard lots of complaints that people don’t get the reviews there that they get elsewhere… but they do get the readers.)  So why remove stories?

So I badgered a few friends, nagged at them to get their opinions.  What they thought was that authors in smaller fandoms were more likely to be writing for more noble reasons.  They wanted to write a good story.  They wanted to improve their writing.  And authors who write for that reason are, according to their point of view,  more likely to delete/remove their stories if they don’t think that the stories are written well.  They don’t want to have stories they aren’t proud of hanging around.  They don’t want to subject their readers to those stories that don’t meet their quality standards.

So what do you think?  Are those writers deleting stories because they are more self aware when it comes to their writing?  Less focused on reviews and more focused on quality?  Or is there another reason at play for why authors are deleting their works?

Is Obama/Biden/Emanuel slash your cup of tea?

November 8th, 2008

If it is, you might want to check out the LiveJournal community joebama which was created in August 2008 for all your Joe Biden/Barack Obama slash needs.

If you’ve ever wondered if Joe Biden and Barack Obama were having mad gay sex with each other who would be the top, a community member speculates.

As some one who has been in fandom for a long time, that such a community exist doesn’t really surprise me.  There were communities for slashing John Kerry and John Edwards back in 2004.   I’ve seen some Al Gore slash dating back to 2002.  There was Obama/Hillary Clinton het smut from early in the primaries.    But still, even given that, I’m still a bit surprised given the polarization regarding the election in parts of fandom where claiming you were a McCain supporter or that you weren’t planning to vote for Obama could lead to some social problems on some message boards.  (The inverse is likely true.  It just didn’t happen as much in my corner of fandom.)  Barak Obama at some point became kind of sacred as a result, very much a symbol of hope and change.  Given that attitude, slashing Barak Obama just surprises me…  And that there isn’t more backlash against this community because of that level of sacred also surprises me.  But maybe it has managed to avoid that backlash because it just hasn’t drawn the attention of those who would protest loudly about it.

The uneasy mix of fandom and politics

October 16th, 2008

There’s an old saying that two things should never be discussed at the dinner table: religion and politics. I’d extend that to state that these two topics should, most all of the time, be kept off of the fannish table. There’s a reason many fandom messageboards and communities discourage these topics being discussed, unless in a specifically-designated off-topic or debate area. And with the political season heating up in the United States as the presidential election is almost upon us, politics and fandom is an issue in the forefront of my mind these days, and I’ve observed the conflicts heating up by the day.

On its surface, fandom (and let’s specify media/science fiction/arts-related fandom for the moment; sports and other areas of fandom may break down differently) may seem and may, to a large extent, be a home and rather a safe space for all, no matter what your political affiliation, personal beliefs, or moral convictions. Fandom has often been seen as embracing different lifestyles and activities to a much larger extent than the “mundane” world does; a certain element of counter-culture can long be linked to certain authors, artists and media and their associated fandoms and followers.

And yet, that environment of openness may not be as all-welcoming and all-encompassing as we might hope, and there’s something about the election season which seems to make this more evident than ever. In the past, when many fans only associated on messageboards, conventions, or other more restricted venues solely focused on specific fandoms, these differences in personal opinions and beliefs might not have been such an issue as they rarely were open subjects for discussion. But this is the era of blogging and livejournal, where the personal and the fannish have begun to blur to almost indistinguishable areas of one and the same. We may follow a fan-fiction author to her livejournal to read her latest stories, but in the meantime we discover entries where we find out about her daily activities, her personal life, and yes, her political convictions. And what we might find there might be surprising to us–sometimes even distasteful to us personally–if we assumed we knew where she would stand based on her involvement in fandom in general, or her writings and the characters she portrays.

Thus begins some of the problems that can occur when fandom and politics—or any other heated issue and fandom—mix. I observed it during the last major election season in 2004 and can see it happening again in 2008: arguments and disagreements between fannish friends over their politics and candidate support; namecalling and urges to “defriend” anyone who does not share a particular political belief. In 2004, the livejournal community wizardsforbush (wiki) caused quite a stir within Harry Potter fandom, with some big name fans calling for others to defriend anyone who associated themselves with the community, or with Republicans in general. Indeed, for those Americans in fandom who follow a different political leaning than liberal-democratic, fandom can become a rather unfriendly place for the months leading up to the actual election, as the common assumption seems to become “you’re either with us politically, or you’re not one of us at all.”

So what is the answer? Clearly, politics, like the genie, can’t be put back in the proverbial bottle. And that people are as passionate about elections as they are is a good thing and should be encouraged wholly, along with spending the time to truly read candidates’ platforms and proposals, read and follow the links shared within the blogosphere that might expose them to new opinions and different outlooks, and encourage everyone to think carefully about who they cast their vote for. But still, just like at the traditional dinner table, fans should perhaps realize that there’s a time and a place for all such discussions, and decide whether fannish friendships are worth losing over idealogical differences, especially when a particular venue (such as a journal, blog, or messageboard) has not been specifically set aside for political discussion. And if a friend in fandom has specifically made his or her beliefs clear, along with her desire not to engage in debate within the safe space of her journal, those wishes should be respected instead of challenged for no reason other than to try to push a particular political agenda when the end result may be the opposite of what you’d hoped for.

Posessing pornographic Japanese manga? Go to jail!

October 14th, 2008

The full story is told by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in a press release published by Comic Book Resources. The long and short of it:

Mr. Handley’s case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content.

And for that, he might go to jail for 20 years. I applaud Random House and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for taking an important and necessary stand on this because the potential consequences for it are scary for fandom, large parts of which exist in a text and art based medium.

Baseball season is over…

October 7th, 2008

Okay. Baseball season isn’t officially over. There are still a few games left to play with two division championships and the World Series still to go. If you’re a Chicago fan though, the season might as well be over.

The season has been an exciting one. I’ve really loved it and from April until yesterday, it was probably the most important fandom in my life. I obsessed over it. How are the Chicago Cubs doing today? Did we win? Did we lose? Can I name the players? For the first time since I was 21, I saw a game. For the first time since I was 12, I saw more than one game. I saw seven: Two Cubs games at home, two Cubs vs. Sox games at the Cell, the last White Sox game of the regular season, the one game play off game and a White Sox American League Division Series game. To top that off, also saw a Chicago Cubs minor league game played at Wrigley Field. My team, the Chicago Cubs, did really well. The other team that as a Chicago baseball fan I cheer for also did well. … Until they both got knocked out of the playoffs. Ouch.

Being a baseball fan in Chicago can be challenging because you can never escape the Cubs vs. White Sox rivalry. This year, I tried to put all that aside and cheer, cheer, cheer for the White Sox. (So that they could end up playing the Chicago Cubs in the World Series in the post season and losing to the Cubs. Because I’m special like that.) To the extent that I really, really, really wanted that outcome, I went to the last regular season game and that one game play off game to watch in person to make sure that happened. It was a great experience. White Sox fans are great. US Cellular Field is not a bad experience, unless you’re sitting in the upper deck and have a fear of heights. The drunken fan contingent was about equal to that of the Cubs so I don’t get why White Sox fans bash on Cubs fans for being a bunch of boozers. US Cellular Field though isn’t a place to go if you’re a Chicago fan who leans towards the Cubs. There were fans who would happily wear their anti-Cubs shirts, who’d yell at people that “This isn’t Wrigley!” and bash on the Cubs when the White Sox did poorly. It means that if you’re a Chicago fan leaning Cubs, you’ve got to keep your mouth shut in a lot of instances at the Cell and when there are White Sox fans nearby. Such a challenge! Really. I mean it. Loyalty to your team can run really deep and with very little social stigma for obsessing over sports, it is easy to start babbling about the greatness of your team with the person next to you on the train.

But baseball season is over. The Cubs and Sox are both out of it. My hopes of a crosstown classic are officially dashed. My tolerance for Cubs bashing has ended. The little adventure into looking like a White Sox fan (gotta dress in all Black for Black Out games) is done. I have a few months off and then back to cheering like mad for the Cubs, annoying my friends with Cubs talk and going to a few more games. But for now, a much needed break.

Click here for pictures from the White Sox September 30 game versus the Minnesota Twins.

Blog entry by Laura.

True Blood

September 4th, 2008

I’m so excited about this series. I just finished reading all the books in the series and absolutely loved them. I’m just not certain how I’m going to watch episodes as I don’t have HBO.  The books were pretty much good fun with a lot of angst.  There were interesting issues explored in terms of sex and politics, loyalties, selling out for various issues, extremism.  Just great stuff.

It will be interesting to see what sort of fandom develops when the show launches.   There is already fan fiction out there on FanFiction.Net, based on the the books.  Most fandoms based on HBO (and to a degree, Showtime) shows have always appeared to be really small until the shows have been released on DVD unless they’ve reached a niche audience.  (That was the case, in my opinion, for The L Word where the show became something that the lesbian community embraced and became something you had to connect with or know about.)  With the cult following of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the popularity of Twilight, the active and experienced fanbases that both communities could bring to play, I think this show could be really break out in a lot of ways for a fandom based on an HBO product; the fandom could be rather big in comparison and be a real way to help the show succeed by having fans generate more buzz for the show than the media does and the hokey fake ads for synthetic blood ever could.  Of course, this will most probably hinge on which fans are first into the space, setting up fansites, running communities, discussing the show on forums and organizing fandom meet ups.

And as a fan, I can’t wait to see that and to get my hands on episodes of the show.

CSI fandom, canon and me

August 26th, 2008

I love CSI and I love the fandom.  There are some truly fantastic people involved in the fan community.  The show itself rocks hardcore.  Because of the quality of the source material, the fans have a lot to work with.  It is one of the reasons I love the show and its fandom.

Totally excited about the new season premiere.  I’ve watched the trailer about 10 times on YouTube and courtesy of TiVo catching the trailer on an episode of Big Brother.  Sara’s back! It might only be for an episode (actually two if the spoilers for the season are right) but Sara has been my reason to watch the show almost from the start.  It gives the show some continuity plot wise.  It makes the show more believable.  And with the potential for some Grissom/Sara moments…  YEAH!  I’m hoping that my favorite fan fiction writers will be inspired to write and write more and give me post episode wonderfulness.

Because there hasn’t been much wonderfulness.  I was chatting with one of my best fandom friends who writes work I absolutely adore.  Both of us are big Sara Sidle fans.  She’s also a big Gil Grissom fan.  The departure of Jorja Fox, the lack of her appearing on the show consistently because of that departure, the lack of Jora Fox being on television on a weekly basis the news that William Petersen is leaving the show, the rumors that Gil Grissom might pick up with another woman, Gary Dourdan leaving, Warrick Brown dying, new characters coming in, Ronie Lake not appearing much after being brought in, other cast change rumors, Catherine/Warrick not having been dealt with much before he died, these all add up together to make it hard to find inspiration to create fanworks based on CSI.  Canon is bound to have so many changes and things are so unresolved now in a way that is uncomfortable.  …   Uncomfortable rather than exciting.  Babylon 5′s plot which could involve people dying or disappearing or totally changing was exciting.  You wanted to see these changes.  CSI is not.  It is episodic television to a degree.  It isn’t arc driven.  It is, at times, character driven.  The changes going on thus aren’t pleasurable and something that makes me want to watch.  So yeah.  Not inspired.  I’m likely to watch but not with the same committment.  (And thanks to the power of TiVo, if I miss an episode, no big deal.  If some one says it is exciting, I can go back and watch it later.)  I just… wish it wasn’t this way because I love my Grissom/Sara fan fiction.  I love my community.  I love my canon.   Others seem to be drifting or less interested. If I lose that,  if others are less involved, I’ll be adrift with out a fandom and that will add to my fandom sadness.

While on the topic of CSI, I bought the CSI video game for my wii.  I figured it would be a nice extension of my love of CSI and help rekindle my interest.  The cast was on the cover. It was a wii game and wii seems much more exciting than the PC version.  The game sadly makes no use of the niftiness of the wii.  For Sara Sidle, the voice isn’t that of Jorja Fox.  Woe. :(   Not an awesome game and doesn’t look like it will accomplish my goal in having bought it.  Wish I had read the reviews before I purchased.

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin