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Archive for January, 2010
E-mail and I can have a goofy relationship. I love to get those little paypal notifications of donations received because yay! a little bit less stress in my life. At the same time, I never feel like I can express enough gratitude towards the people who have helped Fan History keep going by donating, no matter how little. Thus, reading those e-mails is a little bit scary.
So I put off reading the one from Ross last night until this morning. And when I did, my eyes about bugged out of my head and I had to reread the e-mail about five times to check the decimal place: He donated $500.00 towards Fan History. That should keep Fan History going for about three months, give or take a few weeks. And that’s a huge amount of less stress on me and it makes it easier for us to complete our mission as we don’t have to worry for the next two or three months about how to pay for the site.
And wow. Just wow. I… yeah. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am. Seriously. Wow. And thanks. And thanks again.
I’d also like to thank Nile for her $5.00 and to anyone else who can help support us.
About a week ago, I talked to an industry person I really respected about the cash flow problems that Fan History has had and the stress that this has caused for me. I’m not really good with the monetization aspect of running Fan History. It is a problem and a chronic one. He suggested trying Google Ads again because it works really well for his site. (And the more prominent the ad placement, the more potential earnings for Fan History.) We had tried them before on Fan History, only to be suspended right before we would have gotten our first check for $120 so I was leery. Nevertheless, I conceded to myself that maybe it was time to try again. We did that on January 19. Last night, our Google Ads were suspended. Why? You tell us based on the e-mail they sent me:
While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense
account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since
keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage
our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.
Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the
interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We
realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in
advance for your understanding and cooperation.
If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve
taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information
The Google AdSense Team
I have no clue why Google removed our ads and why they yanked our $2.79 or so in revenue. And I really have a hard time believing that this is for the best interest of their advertisers. Why? Because Google does things that are NOT in the best interest of their advertisers, like allowing people to have a domain up with a single page where Google hosts nothing but ads on it. How is that traffic in anyway good for an advertiser? What that sort of thing does is encourage bad practices amongst domain owners, encourages squatting on domain names, etc.
Google often sucks for the people that host their ads and advertisers; they cheat both out of lots of money.
I wrote this back in 2006 or so. It has been on the wiki for a while. When it was first posted, the response was not positive with people asserting that slashfiction was actually gay. Given the recent discussion, I thought it might be worth reposting on Fan History’s blog.
When I first set out to write this, I had a lot of knowledge about the history of slash, historical attitudes towards slash and anti-slash activities. I knew bits and pieces of the history of GLBT literature in the science fiction community. I had a decent amount of knowledge regarding the literary fan fiction community in parts that never eventually blended with the media fan fiction communities. What I lacked was solid demographic information regarding the composition of fandom and fan fiction communities. It appears that, historically, there have not been serious studies looking into the composition of fan fiction communities in examining race, class and attitudes towards homosexuality. This seems to be a serious oversight from a structuralist perspective. When one is talking about existing fan fiction communities, one should know the attitudes and composition that preceded these in order to fully understand what is happening and what happened. Fan fiction does not exist in a vacuum. It is intrinsically woven into the fabric of popular culture, which is in turn woven into wider cultural practices in the English speaking world. Further research didn’t turn up the answers to the demographic questions I had but it did give insight, changed my views and widened my perspective.
The new knowledge I acquired upset my perspective a bit. It is a bit hard to argue class warfare in fandom when you find that most of fandom, based on various accounts, is middle class and upper class. Fandom and fan fiction communities do not seem to be the domain of the working class… or at least the domain of people who identify with the working class. At best, fandom has middle class culture clashes. These can probably be traced to issues related to class as members have moved from one class to another or perceived themselves as being in the middle class. This middle class culture clash with other parts of the middle class comes across in fan fiction related studies when scholars dismiss, or deem feral, a group of fen who do not meet with their understanding of how fan communities operate. Fan fiction communities have never been truly homogenous in composition; they have roots in disparate communities of music, sports, science fiction, traditional literary circles, the cult of celebrity, television and more. Each of these communities has its own communities that fill certain cultural and personal needs for members of the middle and upper classes.
Which leads me to writing not the article I thought I was going to write, but rather writing a more in depth article discussing class, culture, slash, and homosexuality from a historical perspective. Given previous situations in fandom, it is bitingly aware that fan fiction communities do not have a universal definition of what it means to be homosexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered, and many people commenting on the issue compound the problem by writing from a straight, white perspective. As such, this article needs to define gay, lesbian and homosexual before a serious discussion of the topic can be undertaken. According to several sources, definition is a big problem for many GLBT historians. Just defining what these terms mean can take up the major part of an article on this topic. To ease this problem and give a perspective, the three terms, gay, lesbian and homosexual, are used interchangeably in this piece. The understood definition is based definitions read elsewhere and ones found below:
- Gay is used as an adjective to describe sexual orientation (attraction, preference, or inclination) and is usually chosen instead of homosexual as an identity-label.
- gay (gay) n. Term used to describe a man who is attracted to other men. Also overextended to describe women who are attracted to other women. :::(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html#gay)
- Gay – The term applied to a person (especially a man) who is emotionally and sexually attracted to members of the same sex. In some cases, the term is applied to people who have same-sex sexual relations even if they do not identify themselves as gay (“He’s gay, he just can’t admit it”). On the other had, people may be said to be gay whether or not they have sexual relations with a member of the same sex (“I was always gay, I just never did anything about it”). The most specific definition reserves this term for those who identify themselves as gay and as members of the gay community. Traditionally, “gay” has been the generic term to refer to both women and men. However, it has also been used to refer to men only (as the word “man” has been used to refer to us all). Because this generic use makes women invisible, the current preference in much of the LGB community is for the term “gay” to refer to gay men (often “gay men” or “gay males” is used to further clarify the meaning of the term), and “lesbians” to refer to women. This position is shared by the America Psychological Association. (http://safezone.georgetown.edu/sz4-1.html)
- Gay 2. A man whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other men. He may have sex with men currently or may have had sex with men in the past. A smaller number of gay men may never have had sex with another man for many reasons such as age, societal pressures, lack of opportunity or fear of discrimination, but nonetheless realize that their sexual attraction is mainly to other men. It is important to note that some men who have sex with other men, sometimes exclusively, may not call themselves gay. (http://principles.ucdavis.edu/glossary.html)
- Homosexual: Individual with a primary sexual and affectional orientation or emotional attraction toward persons of the same sex. Male homosexuals are often referred to as “gay,” whereas female homosexuals are referred to as “lesbians.” Historically, the psychologically appropriate and sensitive term to identify individuals who were primarily sexually aroused by others of the same sex. (http://principles.ucdavis.edu/glossary.html)
- LBGT abbv. lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered.
- lesbian (lehz’-bee-ehn) n. A gay female.
- Lesbian – A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. The term comes from the isle of Lesbos, where the poet, Sappho, established a community of women in the 7th century BC. Much of Sappho’s poetry spoke of love for women. Currently, the term lesbian is popular in many segments of the LGB community, and is the term deemed appropriate by the APA to designate homosexual women. It is preferred as a term that makes women clearly visible in LGB issues, acknowledging that lesbian issues are not entirely the same as gay men’s issues. However, some members of the LGB community do not prefer this term. Some believe it is too political and may be divisive (why separate ourselves from gay men?). Others feel that it sounds too clinical or pathological.
- queer (kweer) n. adj. One who is LBGT. (Can be derogatory if used by a non-queer.)
- Queer: Once known as a derogatory term for homosexual, Queer was reclaimed by lesbian, gay, and bisexual activist in the 1980′s as a proud name for themselves. Queer blurs both gender and sexual orientation and is regarded as more inclusive of difference than lesbian or gay.
- Queer: The precise definition varies. The term has been used to refer to a gay, lesbian or transsexual. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/sexdefnhr.htm)
Body The word fandom dates back to 1896. 1 Some of the earlier newspaper records use the word in the context of sports and movie fan communities. 2 These references to fans describe fans in ways that could be understood as middle and upper class. They are described as intelligent, articulate and well read. They have money to attend movies and buy newspapers on a regular basis. Fandom members are affluent enough to be expected to show up at events with their cars, in an era when a car was a luxury. The sports and literary 3 fandoms of that pre-World War II era were filled with men. The movie fandom was filled with women. These fandom roles were class and gender appropriate for their era.
And thus fandom was off and running in the modern context. It starts off as the domain of the middle class with members meeting appropriate gender related roles. Mass media depictions and scholarly articles did not infer an infusion of the working class in fandom. This is a period where labor law reforms 4 have not yet taken place, where the working class have limited leisure time and limited money to spend on leisure activities.
During this period, homosexuality was absent, based on current sources, from the limited fannish discussion taking place. Culturally, it would not have been tolerated. In the United States, it would have upset traditional gender roles. In the United Kingdom, it would have threatened nationalistic sentiments. (King) Bringing sex into discussions was still taboo, as the Victorian culture was still firmly in place.
Literature based “fan fiction” communities in the vein of Sherlock Holmes would continue after World War II ended. In England, membership to literary societies producing pastiches would continue to be male dominated with many of the members being titled. These organizations included Baker Street Irregulars and Sherlock Holmes Literary Society. They frequently included some of the best writers and influential society members of the day. Members would meet, socialize, analyze the works and share their pastiches. Some of these pastiches would go on to be published professionally or semi-professionally. The discussions that come down to us sixty years later give no indications that the topics discussed would have really challenged gender roles or sexual taboos present at the time.
Still, World War II had begun to change some perceptions of gender roles for the lower classes. There emerged a “pink collar” work force, with jobs that were working and middle class. Sexism was high and women of this class were on the front lines of the battle to redefine who they were. They were yet to take on the battle of dealing with racial and ethnic divisions still a fundamental part of American life. (May)
It was in this climate that the science fiction and fantasy fandom began to emerge on a much larger, more organized scale. The classics for the genre were being written. Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov were writing. Important magazines that were fundamental to the fandom had been in existence for some time. Active, principle members of this community were generally of the middle and upper classes. A number were politically active or wrote stories that featured social commentaries. Some of these stories spoke to a classless society, an ideal that many science fiction fans in the working class could relate to and which made it difficult for them to associate with their own class. Science fiction at this time could not escape the boys club that other genres and more classic pastiche communities were basing their work on. Estimates put the number of total male participation for the whole fandom at upwards of ninety percent. Women’s involvement was much smaller and opportunities were limited; the ones who wanted to publish frequently had to publishing under male pseudonyms in order to find a publisher for novels or short stories. Male homosexuality, while heard of in the fandom in the era right after the end of the World War II, was frowned upon and open homosexuality could close every door to publishing for fear of alienating audiences who did not want to read homosexual content, nor read works by known homosexuals.
According to John Fiske, the role of the audience was reconceptualized as popular culture began to take shape and form in a commercial form at the end of World War II. It brought with it such things as professional wrestling with a regular audience that trended more female than male. Fiske cites sources which put the female audience at 60% attendance of live events and roughly ninety percent of the audience for televised audience. Wrestling was helped in a large part by television, a technology being embraced by the middle class, and by live performances at venues such as Comiskey Park and Madison Square Garden. Like music fen that were to follow them and science fiction fen operating during the same time period, this group of fen was actively producing fan created material and fanzines. Fiske notes that among the things they were creating were poems, based on the wrestling they were watching. They were writing stories. They were creating fanzines. There is nothing to suggest the presence of homosexual content or using fanzines to propagate discussion of that issue, to discuss gender roles, poverty, race or class.
As the 1950s ended and the 1960s began, a turbulent era was set to begin. There was the civil rights movement, class issues, feminist issues and issues relating to sexuality, orientation and gender. 5 1960 starts this era off with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, signed by Eisenhower. The battle of the sexes has fuel added to it in 1960 when the birth control pill went on sale in 1960 in the United States. Both of these events would benefit people of all classes but the group who felt the greatest impact was American working class women and minorities. The English speaking world is about to be rocked when in 1960, Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles. In 1961, states like Illinois begin to decriminalize sodomy. In 1963, the first gay rights demonstration took place in the United States. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty and signed the US Civil Rights Act. That same year, race riots took place in Philadelphia. In 1965, Malcolm X was killed and more American troops were sent to Vietnam as bombing of the country continued. Race riots continued and protests against the Vietnam war escalated. In 1966, the first gay student organization was founded.
It was in this climate that science fiction became a greater part of the fabric of American popular culture. In the science fiction community, several of the bigger, more well known authors would venture into areas which explored human sexuality. This included Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, published in 1961. (Wikipedia) This was viewed as pushing the envelope. Still, openly gay authors who were not classic were finding it hard to get published their work, explicit homosexual content or not. The audience for the material had an increasingly working class audience in terms of income but in striving to meet that utopian ideal, did not identify that way. This trend of class identification would continue into the future. While much of the content continued to espouse utopian ideals and had begun to look at issues relating to women’s rights and gender, it was still a small, minority voice which lacked central figures and organizational support. Given the lack of organizational support in the wider GLBT community, that this was the case is not at all surprising.
The lack of a GLBT contingent is not surprising. The middle class, which made up a large component of the science fiction community, had been traditionally hostile towards this community. Those with jobs or an income that would place them in the working class from the science fiction community were identifying as middle class. Discussions with fans from that era suggest that they were also willing to borrow values from the middle class as part of their perceived assimilation into that class. Science fiction, while being out there on the forefront of political issues, was not that way in addressing private morality. The working class did not identify with the genre if they wanted to keep their class identification. The upper class at that time only resented homosexuals and Jews for their positions of power in terms of defining creativity and signally what they felt might be a new and threatening creative class.
This was the stage that was set for the Star Trek fandom and fan fiction community which grew out of the science fiction fandom. 6
Before Star Trek aired in 1967, the Beatles made their American debut and on February 7, 1964, they arrived in New York City for their first American tour. (Whelan) According to Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs in their essay “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” this marked “the first mass outburst of the sixties to feature women – in this case girls, who would not reach full adulthood until the seventies and the emergence of a genuinely political movement for women’s liberation.” This group was composed of primarily middle class, white teenagers. The Beatles were rejected early by many adults for due to the group member’s long hair and sexually explicit lyrics. African American teenage girls of all classes were not fans of the group on a large scale, preferring music like jazz, the blues and other music coming out of their own communities. (Ehrenreich) This group of fans would, like other groups of fans before them, create their own fan products. This included fanzines. The fannish oral tradition alive today is implicit in their being fictional stories about band members being circulated during the early years of the band’s history. This is substantiated by Ehrenreich, Hess and Jacob’s essay which says such things as “girls exchanged Beatle magazines or cards, and gathered to speculate obsessively on the details and nuances of Beatle life.”
But what about homosexuality? The Beatles were at the forefront for many white, middle class teenage girls in helping them redefine their own definition of sexuality and their own definitions of what it meant to be female. (Ehrenreich) This was taking place in an era where there was that increased debate on subjects like “birth, a woman’s obligation to society, and conception, bringing with it all of the bitterness and acrimony that have long surrounded these issues, beginning with perhaps the most obvious one of them all — Sexism.” (Rowland) Legal gender differences between men and women were beginning to fall. (Rowland) For young fans of the Beatles, popular culture was helping them by giving them real examples of people challenging American perceptions of gender. Real men just did not have long hair back then. The traditional middle class reacted to some of these changing gender roles, the “feminizing” of men by questioning a person’s sexuality or clearly labeling them homosexual. During this period, homosexuality was being portrayed to the middle class, with some help from working class homosexuals who were seeking to gain equal rights to practice certain sex acts, as promiscuous, with homosexuals having loads and loads of sex, of being homosexuals being obsessed with sex and not participating in long term monogamous relationships. Beatles fen were discussing these things, liking the fact that these traditional gender roles were being upset. They found the Beatles sexy. At the same time, these fen, like their fellow fen forty years later, fantasized about being involved with a member of the band. The average fan knew this wasn’t possible. The fans resented when a member of the band was involved with other women. They did not want to see that happen. It is highly probable, that given this and the fact that they were writing fictional stories featuring the Beatles, that some of the Beatles were written as homosexual if only as a way to ensure that the object of the fan’s lust, since they could not be hers, would never belong to another female fan.
The Beatles fandom is thus underway and the mid to late 1960s start. Several shows are on television for the first time that will spawn fandoms and fan fiction communities that will be the larger fan fiction community almost forty years later. These shows include Man from U.N.C.L.E., Doctor Who, Star Trek and others. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fandom followed the trend of earlier television, media and celebrity based fandoms. The fan club was created one a year after the show was on the air. That fandom and the Doctor Who fannish community were both active in writing drawerfics, fan fiction circulated by hand with a tiny circulation that was not published in a zine. Demographic information pertaining to class, race and gender of these communities at this time is not accessible. It makes speculating on what was happening in those domains difficult.
So there you have the Star Trek fandom. It first aired on September 8, 1966. By 1967, the Star Trek fandom would produce the first Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia. Spockanalia was the first Star Trek fanzine to be produced. It was created by Devra Langsam and Sherna Comerford with a contribution from Dorothy Jones and a letter from Leonard Nimoy. (Verba) Later editions would contain examples of fan fiction. The early creation of fanzines by this community is directly attributable to the experience of early Star Trek fen involvement in the science fiction fandom. From that community, they pulled publishing practices, convention hosting, organizational skills and more. Star Trek fans identified class wise and are portrayed in historical recountings the same way that members of the science fiction fandom did. The only major difference between the two is the overwhelming prevalence of women in the Star Trek fandom, with men as a clear minority.
Star Trek, like parts of the genre from which it sprung, offered various types of political and social commentary. Geraghty in “Creating and Comparing Myth in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction: “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”" puts the thrust of the original series’ political message as one supporting the United Status’s manifest destiny and westward expansion. Geraghty also claims that Star Trek sometimes falls prey to “perpetuating the “white only” myth.” Some episodes such as “Return of the Archons” argue against things like the drug culture, a culture with a large representation coming from the working class. Other episodes such as “Errand of Mercy,” argues Geraghty, are about allegories fighting communism. The Christian Bible is cited as a source of the laws of the Federation by Kirk’s lawyer in the episode “Court-Martial.” (Kreitzer) It is an optimistic view of the United States, promising a future for Americans who were suffering from the pull of various social conflicts and Vietnam that were going on at the time.
None of the above, culturally, points to a Star Trek fan community that would be tolerant, supportive and fostering of GLBT issues. The show itself did not address the issue. The science fiction community, upon which the Star Trek fan fiction community would be built, was not tolerant. There were several hostile elements in terms of getting published and propagating ideas and concepts that could be construed as homofriendly. The nationalistic elements referenced in the show are not that far time wise removed from the nationalistic period which called homosexuality un-American. The Christian Bible’s use as a foundation for law was one of the reasons used to justify discrimination against various classes in American society.
As the 1970s rolled around, events continued to happen. In the United States, environmentalism began to be a cause embraced by parts of the middle class. Women’s rights efforts started to gain more traction with the middle class. Stonewall, which happened in June of 1970, had ignited the gay rights movement but in a way that aggravated some in the middle class as it sometimes portrayed homosexuality as a culture that tolerated promiscuous behavior.
As far flung and separated fandoms entered the 1970s and later the 1980s, three fan fiction communities continued to stick out in fannish memory as documented in interviews, newspaper articles, magazine articles, books, Usenet and mailing lists. These communities include the traditional literary fan fiction, the music fan fiction community and media fan fiction communities. Each would have their own issues, based on their class and gender composition.
Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, there was the anomaly to the traditional middle class and upper class fandom. This anomaly was the punk music community. There were numerous fannish communities based on different punk bands. Most of the membership for these fandoms was working class. These working class fen used their extra money to attend music sessions by their favorite local punk artists. They were male and female. They were misfits. This group of fen used Xerox machines to produce fanzines. Ones like Cometbus frequently included samples of fictional stories about the band. Some of these stories according to fannish lore featured musicians not just written as being involved in same sex sexual couplings but as homosexuals; they were written and coded that way. This was frequently done with the knowledge of the band members involved as many of those fen had access to the artists. While they may not always have supported the material and have actively considered them rubbish, they did not apparently step up and crack down on those materials. The reasoning for this is that music played with those gender issues, those orientation issues, operated on the cultural fringes, with a number of artists in the community being out, out like people in other fandoms could not be. This type of fannish behavior and related attitudes stayed with the community well into the 1990s.
Titled, rich, male, money to spend and an interest in Sherlock Holmes are some ways that the Sherlock Holmes community was characterized historically. This characterization carried into the 1970s. “Elementary Facts of Holmes Fandom” by Bob Cromie appeared in the Chicago Tribune on page 18 of January 12, 1972′s edition. The Sherlock Holmes fandom of that time was characterized by Cromie as having been historically male, with male fen being offended when a female only branch of the Baker Street Irregulars was founded. The men in the article were described as semi-professional writers, obsessed with the works about Sherlock Holmes. The issues of female involvement, of women breaking down doors and trying to enter there space and being resentful of their intrusion, seems to be very characteristic of upper class issues dealing with gender at the time, where trophy wives were still in play and women were supposed to support their men.
In 1974, Diane Marchant sat down, wrote and published a story featuring two characters, gender some what ambiguous and using highly coded language. (Boyd, Langley) The story was titled “A Fragment Out of Time” and it was not until later discussion that the author made it clear that the story featured the Kirk/Spock pairing. The community, through letterzines, reviewzines and discussion at conventions, discussed this material. There was a degree of hostility towards this material. Some of this hostility stemmed from the fact that ew, homosexual content, ew! This was not something people of their class should be writing. It was not something that was traditionally associated with the science fiction fandom. It happened in the same year that the great Star Trek – science fiction schism started. The science fiction community, overwhelming male, felt that Star Trek fen, overwhelming female, would overshadow and marginalize other science fiction being produced at the time. The science fiction community was further annoyed by what they felt was the consistently inferior product distributed by the Star Trek fan fiction community, a community that just the year before had given name to Mary Sue. Making this infusion of Kirk/Spock fan fiction was the fact that some parts of the community started to actively embrace this material and more of appeared in the ensuing years.
But as this material grew, so did resentment. One way to counter this resentment was to remind fen, repeatedly, that they were heterosexual and female. The articles coming out by scholars at that time emphasize that. The husband and wife zine producing duos helped draw attention to that. Fen were also keen on ingraining in other fen the idea that Kirk and Spock were clearly heterosexuals. This was something that was indoctrinated into fen. Kirk and Spock might be involved with each other but that was due to the lack of other options and true love; heterosexual identity remained intact. At the same time that slash was increasing, so was the amount of sexually explicit material. This would lead to a rift in the fandom by 1979, where a number of fen left and joined the Star Wars fandom to avoid this content. This conflict would carry over into other fandoms during the 1980s.
The Starsky and Hutch, like most media fandoms of the 1980s, was mostly middle class in identification. And like most media fandoms, it had its homophobic moments. It also lacked very visibly out and proud gays and lesbians in the community. The early community tried to deter slash or keep it underground out of fear. One example of this dates to 1981 when Code 7 was published. The zine was published anonymously as there was a real fear in the American fan fiction community that the anti-slash component of the fan fiction community would send the material to the producers of the show and create other problems for those slash writers in their real lives. According to me_n_thee, the zine contained the following disclaimer: “This is a privileged and private publication; it was sent to you because you know the value and need for discretion. You are being trusted; if you misuse this trust, you will be harming not only the contributors, but all of S/H fandom. Please keep this zine entirely to yourself! Thank you.” Slash fen in the community felt very threatened by others. They feared fen outings them to their employers and being otherwise harassed. (Boyd)
Going to another fandom, the same demographics of other media fandoms are there: middle class, female and white. The Battlestar Galatica fandom of the same period made it very clear to fen that they might be writing stories with m/m characters but that fen needed to remember, were indoctrinated in the idea that the characters, while being written in m/m relationships, were still fundamentally heterosexual.
The 1980s also saw the start of the backlash against adult material and what was then described as homoerotic material in the Star Wars fandom. 7 The Star Wars fan fiction community was founded shortly after the release of the first movie. The fan fiction community, being built by people with experience from other fannish communities like Star Trek would quickly put out the first stories and fanzines. The first story to arrive on the scene was published in Warped Space or Scuttlebutt. Unlike the Star Trek community’s relationship with Paramount, Lucasfilms Ltd. would be involved and trying to maintain some control on the type of content which appeared, according to Verba, almost from the start. One of the earliest pieces of fan fiction was published this year. According to Langley and Verba, the story was most likely published in Warped Space.
By 1981, the Star Wars m/m situation got to the point where Lucasfilms Ltd. felt they needed to act to protect their interests. The community was primed and this year would be the one remembered. In May, Guardian #3 was published. This fanzine contained two version of a story called “A Slow Boat to Bespin.” One story was by A. E. Zeek. The other story was by B. Wenk. While both of these stories featured heterosexual pairings, Zeek’s story contained material that would, in today’s society, likely garner an R rating. This story was the reason that the publishers of Guardian #3 likely received a cease and desist letter from Maureen Garrett, the first president of the Star Wars fan club. Several other zines during the same period, including ones that had published slashed, received similar cease and desist notices. In response to the demand for clarity on what was acceptable to publish and not publish, Maureen Garrett promised guidelines. None came until October. When they came, they were not viewed as being particularly helpful. The guidelines were nothing more than a statement saying Lucasfilms Ltd. would not tolerate pornography, vulgar material, and material that was excessively violent or gory. (Langley) The net effect of this incident was that it shut down almost all production of slash in the Star Wars community. This created an increase of people from other communities where m/m and f/f was more prevalent but who did not like this material joining the community. Fen who did not leave or who were active in both also began campaigns around this time, trying to convince the powers that be in their fannish communities to crack down on m/m and f/f, like Lucasfilms Ltd. had done.
The Star Wars pornography problem in relation to m/m and f/f comment was probably exacerbated by the working class homosexual community being viewed as one that was, by their nature, promiscuous. The white, female middle class did not associate homosexuality with orientation but rather with sex acts, lots and lots of sex acts. As such anything with m/m or f/f content was not about homosexuality, vis-à-vis orientation, but homosexuality sex acts. It made even fan fiction featuring m/m content and coding sexually suspect because of the relationship that white middle class women came up with that made homosexuality about sex. It was further suspect because of the pains taken by more than a few of these fen to continue to indoctrinate their fellow fen into the idea that the characters, while having gay sex, still had an orientation of heterosexual. The inherent conflict with adult material and homosexual content would not be resolved in the fandom until the early 1990s.
The concept of sexual orientation is a new one. The word homosexual did not enter the English language until 1869, and then it was used in the context of certain sex acts that would happen between two men. (University of Waterloo) Gay meaning homosexual men was first used in the 1920s by gay men. (Harper) The usage of gay “as a noun meaning “a (usually male) homosexual” is attested from 1971.” (Harper) Lesbian is first used relating to homosexual women in 1890. (Harper) Is it any wonder that, given the lateness of these concepts into the Western psyche that it would take media fandom eighteen years after the first Star Trek fan fiction was published and eleven years after the first m/m story was published that a word would be created to describe m/m fan fiction? According to Boyd, Curtin and Langley, slash was not used in the fan fiction community until 1985. 8
When one goes back in time and looks at some of the definitions found based on fan recollections, Usenet and early web definitions, it becomes crystal clear that the word slash meant what fen had understood the concept to mean before a word was informally adopted to describe it. Early definitions of slash defined slash as Kirk/Spock stories, stories about two heterosexual men involved m/m relationship with each other, non-canon pairings. The heterosexual aspect was implicit and understood. Stories written from that period lacked coding to define characters as gay. In fact, such coding of characters as gay would have been a turn off for some readers. Authorial and group intent was clear, indoctrinated, that these characters were heterosexuals who found their one true love or who just happened to sleep with a guy. Slash was clearly was not gay, was not gay literature. And this was understood that way by the community at the time; no one would have confused it for being gay literature for the white, middle class heterosexual women reading it.
Modern fandom dates back to the 1890s. From the outset, fandom was dominated by members who identified as middle class or upper class. For the most part, this was a community that, once media fan fiction communities became dominant, were heavily female. The only real deviations from this pattern included fan fiction communities based on musical groups during the 1970s and 1980s and literary pastiche communities. The values and morality brought by fen into fan fiction communities helped to shape the nature of fan fiction communities. They are one of the primary reasons that slash cannot be a product that could be considered gay, nor a form of gay literature. Given the historical roots of slash as non-gay, it is unlikely that most slash will be considered gay, nor gay literature any time in the near future.9
1 Oxford English Dictionary’s Science Fiction Words Site dates the first usage to “antedating 1896 Washington Post, Oct 10, 1896″
2 References to fandom found in the Chicago Daily Tribune. See References for more specific details as to some of the sources found.
3 There is some credible evidence to suggest that there was a literary community of young, female writers involved in the writing of pastiche based on the work of Jane Austen during this era. This is referenced by Jenkins but was not found in newspaper articles searches for that period.
4 For a timeline of labor in the United States, see A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers found at http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/curricul.htm
5 There are a number of good books which address this topic in various forms. Some of my favorites of the moment include The Boundaries of Her Body, the Troubling History of Women’s Rights in America by Debran Rowland, The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz, Sex Ed: Film, Video, and the Framework of Desire by Robert T. Eberwein, Undeserving Poor by Michael Katz, and American Century: A History of the United States Since 1941 by Walter Lafeber.
6 There is an anecdote repeated in the Star Trek fandom regarding the screening of the pilot at a science fiction convention. Gene Roddenberry was showing the pilot at some convention, premiering it for the first time before an audience whom he hoped would be kind to it and to gauge their feelings on it. He shushed two people talking during the screening. One of those people was Isaac Asimov.
7 An amusing side story detailing what was going on at the time involves Mark Hamill. At the same time that Lucasfilms Ltd. was cracking down on Star Wars erotica, some Han/Luke fan fiction writers kept leaving this material at Hamill’s house.
8 According to Langley in a phone interview in the summer of 2005, this date is subject to some leeway as the date was ascertained by herself and Mary Ellen Curtin going through fanzines in their extensive, personal collections and trying to find the earliest usage. Langley’s date of 1985 is helped as she was a long time participant in fandom and can draw upon her own fannish experiences to put a time frame on the date. When looking through Usenet records from that period of the 1980s, the fact that the word might not have been used till that time is logical. The Kirk/Spock convention of using the slash to denote a romantic pairing was still not standardized until the late 1980s, early 1990s. The word is not used in Star Trek Lives! but has picked up enough usage to be used by Henry Jenkins in 1992. Verba’s discussion in her book, Boldly Writing, uses the word slash in the index but as a see K/S. K&S is used by the Verba to denote Kirk/Spock friendship stories.
9 The issue of heterosexual characters involved in same sex pairings continued well after 1985. Shows like QAF challenged terminology and understood definitions of slash. Could same sex pairings between canonically homosexual characters be gay? The discussion that resulted from that time period was a rather definitive no, it wasn’t slash because the characters were not heterosexual. Demographic studies of fen after 1990 began to show a more sizable GLBT presence in fan fiction communities. By some estimates, the number was as high as thirty percent. In some fandoms like Xena, the number was undoubtedly higher. More stories being written included coded GLBT material but more often than not, the average piece of m/m or f/f slash doesn’t.
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Fan History’s admins make an effort to try to document some of the major fails and wank in LiveJournal media fandom. When we cover it, we tend to really cover it, making a major effort to build comprehensive list links that cover all perspectives. Some of the major wank/fails we have covered include Race!Fail, Mammoth!Fail, Privilege wank (also called Warnings!Fail), Russet Noon, Lambda Fail and the Slash Debate.
The Slash Debate is the one that is ongoing at the moment and I was curious as to how this particular fail’s life cycle compared to other fails. I went to the Fan History pages, which sorted posts by date they appeared, and counted. I got the following chart:
This chart only looks at the first 30 days of fail. For The Slash Debate, numbers are only current to January 25, 2010 and may be subject to change as we find more posts. The Slash Debate “officially” kicked off on January 29, 2009. Russet Noon kicked off on March 23, 2009. Lambda Fail kicked off on September 16, 2009. Race Fail kicked off on January 8, 2009. I stopped counting and moved new post totals over to Mammoth!Fail, which started on May 4, 2009. Privilege Wank started on June 18, 2009.
There aren’t any days in the first 30 where all wanks moved up or down together. For the second day, Slash Debate, Race Fail and Mammoth Fail both had a decrease in posts, whereas Privilege wank, Russet Noon and Lambda Fail saw an increase. Some of this might be the metafandom effect: Posts that are listed on and play to a metafandom audience have a lag as people use the list to find fandom news. Posts that play to smaller groups on LiveJournal, get featured on unfunnybusinees or fandomwank, or get a lot of attention and play to a wider audience than metafandom see a major interest in posting about it right away: There is no delay in timeliness because metafandom is slow to focus on those issues.
Between day 10 and day 14, there tends to be a big drop off in posting volume with an increase after that. (The exception is Privilege/Warnings wank, which ended on Day 8. Considering the topic, it makes sense. People complained of being triggered by some of the posts.)
On Day 26, three of the four still active wanks saw bumps in interest: Slash Debate, Mammoth Fail, Race!Fail. The exception was Russet Noon. By day 26, if the discussion continues to be ongoing, there is a greater awareness by a wider audience who might not have seen earlier posts and people who were silent, seeing that the discussion is not dying down, may feel compelled to speak up rather than remain silent.
For all the aforementioned fails, minus Russet Noon, we have a list of people who posted. I was curious how large the population was that participated across those fails as often, it seems like the same people are participating again and again and that people are not learning lessons from one fail to the next. I compiled those lists and then created the following venn diagrams that show the people in common.
Some of the participants across multiple fails surprised me and there were some names that I thought would be on there that weren’t. For the second, it could be because people who are known to be involved in fail and wank are less about posting and more about commenting on other people’s posts.
Still, interesting bit of data worth keeping in mind when you see the next fail coming. You can begin to get an idea as to how long it will take, what the posting patterns will be and who to look out for as their involvement could signal major fail.
For several years, I have been a member of Mediaminer.org. The site is a place for users to share their fanfiction and fanart, as well as connect. The site has not changed much design-wise. Some of the backend is broken as the database often fails to connect to user profiles.
And, the moderators seem non-existent. How do I know? I tried contacting them over a false incident of plagiarism that they failed to look into. In fact, the only response was being informed of the incident in a very unprofessional manner. This site has a lot of users that have signed up, but looking at the Mediaminer’s statistics through Alexa, this site is going toward a slow death. Even on Alexa, the site’s description is “Xxx Movies.” That is a serious factor that the site is crying for serious attention to be updated.
The Mediaminer forum is a serious reflection of this slowly dying site as the forums once thrived with thousands of new threads a day and now dwindling to at least a dozen.
Mediaminer is actually a potential hub for great fanfiction. The amount on anime fanfiction is great, almost third to Fanfiction.net, and Adultfanfiction.net.
The problem is that there are a lot of factors against them:
- Lack of moderator presence (including looking into serious accusations before making rash decisions)
- Lack of community
- Needing a major upgrade to fix the bugs, glitches, and database errors.
- More efficient and user-friendly design, including a far better front page than gobs of bordered tables and text
- Focus on encouraging the community to interact
However, the scariest factor is knowing the site of its size is just not properly moderated. If Mediaminer wants to encourage people to actually purchase space or attract more advertisers, they may want to pay more attention to the site.
… and FanworksFinder, RockFic and OzzieSport.
This is one of those hard things to do: Asking for help. And we’d like your help in assisting us with defraying our hosting costs. Fan History Wiki costs about $130 a month to run. In addition, we spend about $100 a year on domains, and $45 every quarter for additional statistical data. So it costs us about $155 a month if those costs were spread equally each month.
Fan History has never been particularly self funding. The most we’ve ever earned off our advertising in a given month is about $15.00. Job loss / no income makes it hard to cover Fan History’s costs on my own but I make it happen because I really, really believe in what we’re doing. Fan History has the largest collection of information about fanzines, has the largest directory of members of the fan community on the Internet, gets over 50,000 visitors a month, has over 30 active contributors in any two week period, provides statistical data to the fan community that no one else is doing, has original research that can’t be found elsewhere, worked hard to preserve the history of fandom on Geocities, represents small fandoms, has stub articles on over 50,000 fan communities. We’ve tried to be good neighbors in the wiki community on wikis such as AboutUs, wikiHow, wikia, Futurama Wiki, Rescue Rangers Wiki and more. Our admin staff tries hard to balance conflicting fandom beliefs to be fair to everyone. We love what we do and we think we do it well. It is why I pay the money to cover hosting, domains and stats.
It is just getting to the point where this is hard to maintain. And we could really use some help from others who believe in our mission. If you could help support us by sending us even $5.00 on PayPal, or if you could bid on our ProjectWonderful ads? We would really, really appreciate it. It would go a long way towards helping us with our mission. The donation button can be found on the sidebar of both the blog and the wiki. Thanks for supporting us.
The Slash Debate continues to go on and the longer it has gone on, the more I wanted to comment on it. The problem is how to do that thoughtfully, acknowledging both sides and the shades of grey in between the major position. If you aren’t aware, the Slash Debate kicked off in response to “Man on Man: The New Gay Romance … … written by and for straight women” by Gendy Alimurung in LA Weekly. Some gay men found the article objectionable because it ignored them completely in explaining about a genre that comes out of their own tradition. This kerfluffle was on the heels of LambdaFail, where straight writers were upset over having been deliberately excluded from awards honoring GLBT literature.
I haven’t completely followed the whole argument as it morphed into a discussion about m/m slash, but one of the major points that developed was that gay men were upset about straight women writing homoerotic fan fiction for their own sexual gratification, feeling that they were being stereotyped in a less than flattering light, that m/m slash was not helping the GLBT movement and that, ultimately, they were being othered in a genre that was fundamentally about them. This upset some members of the m/m slash community who felt that men were trying to tell women how to define their own sexuality, trying to restrict their freedom to write, that gay men had no reason to complain because they did the same thing to women with their drag performances, etc.
This whole argument happened against a backdrop of 2009, where some members of fandom were upset about the portrayal of people of color in fiction, and how fandom treated people of color. Some of the dominant voices during that conversation insisted that white people sit and listen to the people of color, that people of color should be deferred that to when writing people of color, that fundamentally all white people were racists, that just because some people of color were not offended doesn’t mean that a person’s actions aren’t racist. The Slash Debate flips some of that on its head: Gay men are not being deferred to in terms of how they are depicted by others, where those offended are slotted into a minority position that should be ignored because they are not representative.
Where this argument differs from Race!Fail involves sex and the attempts to regulate kink, sexual interests, how we explore them, what is acceptable and not acceptable. People just aren’t comfortable with people trying to dictate those interests and that’s why the slash defenders are probably taking their position: We shouldn’t be judged based on personal and private kinks and getting off on m/m slash a personal turn on for many people. When we perceive these as being attacked, we tend to attack back no matter how right or wrong the defense of these may be in the context of hurting others.
I don’t have a problem with your kink. … Except when your kink involves shotacon and chan. But otherwise, your kink is your kink and it may not be my kink but that’s okay as we all have different turn ons. I just dislike the rationalizations for why your kink is not actually offensive to people who find your public expressions of your kink as harmful to their identity, undermining their community and stereotyping them in a way that is unflattering and inaccurate. Own your kink but don’t rationalize the problems away. That’s hypocritical and harmful, especially harmful in this case if you’re also purporting to support gay rights while doing what people perceive as undermining those.
One of the cases of supporting the position that this material isn’t offensive that has bothered me is that the fan fiction community that is being criticized is queer and those dissenting voices can be ignored. This is probably best expressed by Science, y’all and More Science. The author looks at some polls that demonstrate that fandom is over 50% queer. If you start breaking down the numbers from the polls that have publicly viewable results, the 50%+ number is largely a result of people who are not heterosexual and mostly bisexual. The lesbian population is about 10 to 15%. That’s what those numbers show: Yes, the self selected population in those polls is female, mostly heterosexual, with a large bisexual population and a smaller population of lesbians. What the author doesn’t show, and what is fundamentally important here, is that of the 500 or so people who answered LiveJournal polls with publicly available results? Between 10 and 20 of the respondents are male. Just ignore their orientation for now: 2% to 4% of respondents were male. The Slash Debate is an issue of gay men not appreciating how straight women depict them in m/m slash. The issue is not that of queer people not appreciating how straight women depict them in m/m slash. The female queer population is thus largely irrelevant to this discussion because, well, queer women are more privileged than gay males. If those polls demonstrated that queer males represented over 50% of our fannish population, that data would be relevant.
Why the emphasis on gender and orientation? Because in the sexuality privilege Olympics, heterosexual males get gold. Heterosexual women get silver. Asexuals get bronze and last place. (Last place because their orientation is still considered a sexual dysfunction.) Bisexual women get fourth. Bisexual men get fifth. Homosexual women sixth. Butch and African American homosexual women get six and a half place. Homosexual men get seventh. Queen and African American homosexuals (in the context of US culture) get seven and a half place. This hierarchy of privilege in the context of American culture is important for understanding this argument.
Gay men are less privileged than lesbian women. When lesbian women start talking about how this material is not offensive and how homosexuality is depicted in slash is not problematic, they are speaking from a place of privilege. In the United States, lesbian women are often portrayed as hot, sexy and not threatening to American definitions of masculinity. And anyway, a lesbian can always become straight if she sleeps with a guy. (Which, no, is not true but it is an attitude that I know some people hold which is why they see lesbians as less problematic than gay men. ) Added to that, American culture, and to a degree English culture, have idealized female friendship and elevated it. It is natural that women’s relationships might go that way. One of the major exceptions to this involves butch lesbians, who challenge traditional gender roles, face their own discrimination and are rarely if ever seen on television compared to their non-butch counterparts.
Gay men? They aren’t that privileged in the United States. Gay men are seen as challenging traditional gender roles. Gay men felt the brunt of events like Stonewall. Gay men faced people more actively trying to legislate their sex lives, to criminalize their sex lives. When people sought to prosecute homosexual sex, they tended to go after gay men. In the United States, making jokes at the expense of male homosexuals is still much more tolerated. Remember all the Brokeback Mountain jokes? People were okay with that and there was no outrage over those, much less outrage than if some one had made similar jokes about a person of color. Added to that, when American culture talks about gay males, they tend to focus on their sex lives or on stereotypes involving queens. Yes, this is changing but gay men have often had it worse than lesbian women, and I do not see the two as being being on equal footing when it comes to privilege. Any implication that they are is probably misguided. (1) Their voices should not be silenced just because it gets in the way of enjoying your own kink.
I’ve rambled on and I had another pointed I wanted to make: Some universes are harder to read and are more problematic for fan fiction writers, in terms of the accuracy issue and the potential to offend and get things wrong. Starsky and Hutch is set during the 1970s. If they got together and were out at work? It probably would not be pretty and their co-workers likely wouldn’t be okay. Star Trek, as much as we might wish otherwise, does not present us with a happy future where homosexuality is tolerated and same sex relationships are viewed as normal. When we do see queer characters that aren’t aliens, they tend to be evil. In Glee, we really don’t see lesbians and the gay kid gets picked on. (But thankfully has a supportive parent.) In True Blood, the gay male gets murdered violently and is a drug dealer. Tolerance in that universe is not really implied. On The Good Wife, the implication is that some one is in the closet for the good of their own career. (Or was mistakenly labeled a lesbian and isn’t bothered by it.) Lots of these universes are just heternormative. Squishy happy romances thus might need some care so that these realities are acknowledged, while at the same time not interfering with the audiences’s kinks. When you’re writing and when you’re responding as a reader, that may be the most important takeaway from The Slash Debate.
1. If you’re up on the historical GLBT movement, there are some major conflicts that have taken place between gay men and lesbian women. At times, they have had different agendas and their was a lot of resentment on both sides. It makes for a fascinating read if you’re interested but I just didn’t want to get into that in this post.
The following was sent to me via e-mail and I thought it might be of interest to people:
Greetings Past Presenters!
We at HP Education Fanon, Inc. and Infinitus want to thank you for your past involvement with HPEF events and would like to invite you to submit your proposals for Infinitus 2010. Due to popular request, our Call for Proposals deadline has been extended to Friday, February 12, 2010. We welcome submissions from all of you as we are anticipating another amazing symposium and look forward to making you a part of it.
Chair of Formal Programming
Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)
In the last two decades, many old television action/adventure favorites have been resurrected for the big screen with varying – but often poor – results. I Spy, Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch, The Mod Squad, Wild Wild West…the list goes on and on. Very rarely do fans of the original series find much to celebrate in the movie adaptions, though occasionally (such as with Mission: Impossible and The Fugitive), they manage to launch a new franchise or find success by presenting something different enough from the original to avoid too close comparisons.
So now it’s finally The A-Team‘s turn. There have been attempts to bring the series to the big screen since at least the mid-90s but never did the project make it off the ground before. As a die-hard fan of the original series, I’ve always been incredibly skeptical of the potential for a movie adaption to work. So much of the show’s original charm was due to the perfect cast and their on-screen chemistry, as well as its perfectly ’80s camp sensibility. So how could a modern-day adaption have a chance to succeed?
I began to come around to the idea of the new movie, however, after seeing some early cast photos. The new cast seemed to have the look. You couldn’t not find it at least a little campy, with the van lurking in the background, and Liam Neeson’s Hannibal grinning around his cigar. When I heard Dwight Schultz was on board for a cameo and had given a thumbs-up to Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock (my favorite character), my hope grew further.
And then last night I got to see the Teaser Trailer for the film for the first time, and I have to confess, I got goosebumps from the opening familiar – yet just slightly different – drummed intro. I felt myself grinning in a strange kind of fannish delight and excitement I haven’t felt for a long time.
Because this was my fandom – in many ways my first fandom – and here it was, coming back. Not as it had been in 1983, no, but there was Hannibal and Face grinning and scheming; B.A. and his van (and welding! And the van bursting through fences!); Murdock’s familiar drawl, and I felt for a moment like that ten year old kid who first fell in love with that show and those characters all those years ago. It was actually not unlike the fannish “squee” I felt upon first seeing The Police hit the stage again, after so many years, that other early but crucial fandom of my teenage days.
I’m not saying I’m 100% sold on this being the best movie ever or anything like that. But I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I feel a bit like I imagine many long-time Star Trek fans may have felt in anticipation of the 2009 movie which re-imagined the series and seemed to bring life back into the fandom. I want to see the same thing happen for The A-Team. Now I can’t wait until June to see how their plans come together.
I apologize for the writing quality. I tend to like to present data. My analysis and commentary tends to be minimal, stating the obvious and letting the reader speculate as to what exactly the data means. Insiders can often explain patterns better than outsiders and for the Harry Potter fandom, I’m definitely an outsider.
A friend of mine has been busy pulling data off FanFiction.Net this past week. He found some rather interesting things:
- 8,566 Twilight stories on FanFiction.Net with no recorded reviews, 117,578 stories with at least 1 review. 93% of all twilight fics get reviewed at least once.
- Master of the Universe has28,690 reviews on FanFiction.Net takes gold for most reviewed Twilight story on site.
- 19 Twilight stories on FanFiction.Net have 10,000+ reviews.
- Chunin Exam Day, a Naruto fanfic on FanFiction.Net, has over 10,000 reviews: 72 chapters, updated 4 days ago, 313k words and 10311 reviews http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3929411/Chunin_Exam_Day/1/ . It is the top Naruto story.
- The top 3 fandoms by stories on FanFiction.Net: Harry Potter [book] (437,590), Naruto [anime] (221,117), and Twilight [book] (126,590).
After he got that data, he turned to look at Harry Potter. 1.2% of the total stories are missing so there is a certain margin of error to consider. That said, the average Harry Potter story on FanFiction.Net has 31.8 reviews. The top ten most reviewed stories have review totals way below that of their Twilight counterparts, which has its top stories with 10,000+ reviews. Harry Potter’s top stories in contrast have only one story with 10,000 plus reviews. The top nine fall in the range of 6,200 and 9,300 reviews. These stories are:
+---------+-------------------------------------------------+------------------------------------+---------+ | storyid | title | url | reviews | +---------+-------------------------------------------------+------------------------------------+---------+ | 2196609 | An Aunt's Love | http://fanfiction.net/s/2196609/1/ | 11532 | | 2636963 | Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past | http://fanfiction.net/s/2636963/1/ | 9307 | | 4437151 | Harry's New Home | http://fanfiction.net/s/4437151/1/ | 8827 | | 4240771 | Partially Kissed Hero | http://fanfiction.net/s/4240771/1/ | 8676 | | 2318355 | Make A Wish | http://fanfiction.net/s/2318355/1/ | 7626 | | 1260679 | Realizations | http://fanfiction.net/s/1260679/1/ | 7136 | | 2571676 | Not Your Usual Veela Mate | http://fanfiction.net/s/2571676/1/ | 7101 | | 3733492 | The Apprentice and the Necromancer | http://fanfiction.net/s/3733492/1/ | 6646 | | 3736151 | Better Be Slytherin! | http://fanfiction.net/s/3736151/1/ | 6506 | | 2900438 | Unsung Hero | http://fanfiction.net/s/2900438/1/ | 6297 | +---------+-------------------------------------------------+------------------------------------+---------+
These stories are not short and were often written over the course of several years. The average story on this list has 74.8 chapters. Some of that is a bit skewed as one story has 251 chapters. If that data point is removed, the average length is 55.2 chapters. To put this into a different context, the average story is 289,902 words with the shortest one clocking in at a measly 174,735 words and the longest one at 396,525 words.
These stories were generally not started recently. The earliest was published in 2003, one published in 2004, three published in 2005, one in 2006, two in 2007 and two in 2008. Half of these stories are complete and three of the incomplete stories look like they are still being actively worked on.
Gen stories look like they have a slight edge in getting large numbers of reviews with four of the stories on this list falling into this category. Of the remaining six, three are het (2 Harry/Ginny, 1 Snape/Hermione) and three are slash (1 Harry/Draco, 2 Snape/Harry). If you’re looking to repeat this formula to launch yourself to a huge number of reviews, this may not be a helpful variable to focus on.
The authors of these stories tend to not be very prolific in writing other stories, with the average total number of stories by authors on this list at fifteen. If you remove the author who wrote 57 stories, the average comes down to ten. Some of the authors who have very few stories often follow up with missing scenes and rewrites of their work. These tend to have substantially fewer chapters, and a smaller word count. As these seem like important variables towards getting high review counts, that probably hurts their ability to get as many reviews on their other works. A small number of stories though probably keeps their audience focused on their main work, giving them reason to keep tuning in: The reader knows what they like and they likely won’t be turned off by discovering other works by the author that diverge from their primary interest.
Beyond the data regarding the most reviewed Harry Potter stories on FanFiction.Net, story and review data was obtained and made into the pretty chart below. The total number reviews for a month is based on the date the story was published, not the date that the review was left. So our Harry Potter story that was published in December 2004 with 11,000 reviews that was last updated in September 2009? All those reviews are counted for December 2004.There are certain peaks and troughs. Some of this can probably be explained by the sheer volume of stories leading to additional reviews. As people lose interest, less stories are written and fewer reviews are given. Stories posted in 2009 are likely to not have multiple chapters for them to get huge numbers of reviews yet. Or, quite possibly, interest in reviewing new one shot Harry Potter stories has totally evaporated.
Edited to add: The following chart shows the total Harry Potter stories on FanFiction.Net. There are some big jumps but no really big ones.
Yesterday, I was poking around the Internet to see if anyone had done any large scale demographic study of the characteristics of online fandom because sometimes, I feel like I’m the only person doing this. Most of the research I see relies heavily on survey work, which can be tremendously self selecting in terms of population. As a result, I tend to be generally distrustful of this work for demographic analysis or where it doesn’t speak to a small select population and isn’t a case study.
I did find one small study posted on Scribd titled Study on Sports Fans Demographics on Social Networks. It was done by RapLeaf. It had some interesting conclusions like half of hockey fans are female, compared to 40% for basketball and 35% for baseball. It also concluded that 85% of sports fans are under the age of 35. Fascinating. They didn’t go much into their methodology much, beyond that they did this across social networks.
I’m rather skeptical of RapLeaf’s methodology here. If I go to Facebook’s advertising demographics page, I get 26,240 female fans on ice hockey in the United States and 61,420 male fans of ice hockey in the United States. (Ice hockey being necessary because in some countries, the hockey means field hockey. In others, it means roller hockey.) For the Chicago Blackhawks, 135,000 (55%) fans are male and 112,00 (45%) are female. For the Boston Bruins, 33,780 fans are female and 56,740 fans are male. These numbers are a bit different than 50% and I’m not sure all the major social networks combined are going to get populations larger than Facebook.
Are there more than 90,000 American ice hockey fans on bebo, LiveJournal, LinkedIn, blogger, Quizilla, MySpace? Are there more than 243,000 fans of the Blackhawks on those networks when combined? Maybe but I some how doubt it.
Quantcast has some demographic data up regarding gender breakdown of visitors to the NHL’s website. Quantcast thinks that 59% of the visitors are male and 41% are female. That’s much more in line with what the team specific data from Facebook is pulling. The NHL also has a much bigger contributor pool, with about 2.1 million US visitors a month.
If you look on RapLeaf’s site, they give you a sample report for the data they provide, which includes a gender break down for users of various social networks. One of the sites they offer a gender breakdown for is LiveJournal. LiveJournal does have a gender field for its users to fill out and they use this information internally; there is no public display. In fact, when they it looked like they might have made that information public, people complained loudly. There are no indications from RapLeaf’s site that they have a partnership with networks like LiveJournal or LinkedIn where they are given access to this non-public data. Where exactly are they pulling that data from? It really begs the question of accuracy of RapLeaf’s numbers in this case.
I’d love to see a real demographic study about the composition of sports fandom and other fan communities. It is a fascinating topic and can really go a long ways towards explaining how communities interact with each other, how they function and allow researchers to make better comparisons across communities. I’m just not certain that the social media metrics provided by marketers, the only population that really seems to be working on this, can be trusted with their numbers any more than academic researchers with self selection survey populations can.
I posted a series about Australian sports fandom and the size and population characteristics on social networks. Because it kind of was becoming the thing that ate the blog and I intend to continue with these posts, new posts will now be posted on OzzieSport.com. They kind of fit here but they were beginning to squeeze out other content. After about five new posts of there, I’ll post links from here to those posts so people interested in them can continue to easily find them from Fan History’s blog.
(And yeah, I’m taking a bit of a wiki break to play with this subject matter. The details will eventually be migrated over to Fan History in good time.)
This post is a series of posts looking at the size of Australian sports leagues on LiveJournal, its clones and other social networks. Earlier posts include Australian Football League on JournalFen , Australian Football League community on DeadJournal , National Rugby League on DeadJournal and JournalFen, Australian Football League on LiveJournal clones like Blurty, Dreamwidth Studios and InsaneJournal, Adelaide Crows community on LiveJournal, its clones and Blogger,and Official Australian Football League Twitter accounts and follower population by country. and Brisbane Lions community on LiveJournal, its clones and Blogger. Methodology for this post has been discussed in earlier posts.
Brisbane has a number of professional sports team including the Brisbane Broncos, Brisbane Lions, Queensland Maroons, Brisbane Roar, Brisbane Bullets (defunct), Queensland Reds, Queensland Bulls, Queensland Blades, Queensland Firebirds, Queensland Rams and Queensland Sundevils. For all but two of these teams, the Blades and Rams, there is some small community on one of the following social networks: bebo, blogger, LiveJournal and its clones, Twitter. If Twitter is excluded, the Broncos have the largest community with 333 people interested in them and the Sundevils the smallest with 1 person interested in them.
What does the Brisbane sports team fandom look like? Half (54%) the Australian community is based out of Queensland and about a quarter (28%) is based in New South Wales. The rest is distributed amongst the other states, with the exception of Tasmania which has no Brisbane fans for any sports.
Bearing in mind that people can be counted twice if they are one more than one network and are fans of more than one team, Brisbane sports fandom where the Australian state is known has the the largest interest base on bebo, with 272 people using it. Next is LiveJournal with 62 users, Blogger with 20, Blurty with 2 and InsaneJournal with 1. Brisbane fans in the ACT are more likely to use LiveJournal (3) with bebo (2) and blogger (2) being their next most popular choices. Victorian fans of Brisbane teams just prefer bebo (11) to LiveJournal (10) with their third choice being blogger. (2) In all other cases, bebo is the top choice in every state for Brisbane sports fans. Outside of Queensland, no other fans use or used blurty or InsaneJournal.
There is an international interest in Brisbane sports teams. This ranges from 0 to 50% of the total community that lists their country of origin. Communities with 50% of their support base outside Australia include the Queensland Red community on bebo, and the Brisbane Roar community on bebo. In both these cases, the community is 4 and 2 people respectively. 33.3% of the 30 member strong Queensland Maroons community on bebo comes from outside Australia, with 8 people from New Zealand and 2 from the Cook Islands. 32.4% of the Twitter followers of the Brisbane Broncos are from outside Australia with 13 from China, 68 from Great Britain and 286 from the United States. 28.9% of the Brisbane Broncos on bebo comes outside Australia with 32 people from New Zealand, 10 from Papau New Guinea, 6 from the United States, 2 from Fiji, the Philippines and Tonga. The Queensland Reds unofficial Twitter follow list has 28.6% of its followers from outside the US. 50 followers are the US, 36 from Great Britain, 9 from Brazil and New Zealand, and 4 from Denmark and Italy.
bebo, Blogger and LiveJournal all allow users to display their age on their profiles. This can help develop a picture of the age of the a team’s community online. There is a small problem in that not everyone lists their age and these populations are very, very small. Thus, this data cannot be really used to extrapolate beyond the specific community unless there is some other evidence to support that.
For the Brisbane Broncos community on blogger, the average age is 33, median is 31, mode is 20 with 9 of 12 people listing their ages. This is not close to LiveJournal’s Broncos community which has an average age of 25, median age of 27 and mode age of 20 with 13 of 42 people listing their age. The bebo community is much younger than both with an average age of 23, median age of 20 and mode age of 19 with 127 of 278 people listing their age. For the lions, 49 people list their page on bebo with an average age of 24.5, median age of 21, mode age of 18. On blogger, 10 Lions fans list their age. They have a average ago of 33, median age of 30 and mode age of 27. For LiveJournal Lions fans, 17 list their age. They have an average age of 26, and a median and mode age of 24. Only one other group, Queensland Maroons on bebo, have more than 10 fans who list their ages. In that group, 21 list their ages, with an average age of 21.9, median age of 20 and mode age of 20.
Bebo and blogger both allow users to publicly display their gender. The team and network with the highest percentage of male fans involves the Queensland Reds on bebo, where all six individuals list their gender as male. The next highest percentage of male in the community include the Brisbane Bulls on bebo and the Queensland Bulls on bebo. In both cases, the percentage of males is 60%. In the case of the Brisbane Bulls, 40% or 2 people do not list a gender. For the Queensland Bulls, 20% or one person lists identifies as female and the other did not list a gender. The highest percentage of female members is the Queensland Bulls on blogger with 50% but that community only has two members. The next highest percentage is for the Brisbane Broncos community on blogger at 42% or five people identifying as female. All other members of that community identify as male. The Brisbane Lions community on blogger has a female percentage at 38, with 6 people identifying as female. 56% of the members identify as male and 6%, or one person, do not list a gender. The highest percentage of unknown/unlisted gender is for the Queensland Sundevils bebo community, which only has one person and they don’t identify their gender. After that is the Brisbane Roar community on bebo, where 69% or 11 people do not identify their gender, 4 people identify as male and 1 identifies as female. The Brisbane Lions community on bebo has 40% unknown/unlisted with 53 people not including their gender. 36% of the Lions bebo community identifies as male and 24% identifies as female.
This isn’t the best write up, mostly just summarizing some of the data. The rest of the data used for this post will show up in future posts. As I learn more, I’m planning on integrating more analysis of what this data means.
I’m not a happy enom customer. I didn’t come to be an enom customer much by choice. I was originally a RegisterFly user, who was pretty much left with only the choice of enom if I wanted to pull my domains out of that mess so I used enom. I’ve since used them for all my domains, of which I have about 29. I’ve paid around $10.49 to buy each domain and when I bought multiple years when registering, it always cost me $10.49 to buy. Prior to October, when I’ve had those domains auto-renew, they have autorenewed for the original price I paid for them.
This changed, with out any notification by enom to me. Renewals that cost the price I paid for the domains magically went up to $29.95 per domain. When enom sent me notifications that if I do nothing, they will auto-renew, they conveniently left off how much they were planning to bill me. I only found out when I got their second e-mail, telling me how much they charged me. That’s special. A bill that should have been $50 morphs into $150.
When I called about this, there is nothing enom can do for me once they made the charges and they list this little fact on your profile page. By list on your profile page, they mean they have a pricing link on their footer, buried there next to Contact Us, News, Technical Support. Yes, it is on your profile page but not in your profile area where you’d think this would be. When you switch on or off autorenew, there is no notification that you get involving the costs of of renewing with them. When I registered domains recently, during the billing process, there was no notification that in order to renew the domain it would cost $29.95. I’m annoyed.
This is pretty scammy and indicates why we need some sort of better controls over domain registration. (Because I’m tired of being ripped off by domain sellers.)
The admin staff hasn’t really been keeping up with the latest Katsucon drama and we would really appreciate if our awesome contributors could step up and improve the article. One of the most contentious issues that we’ve seen in the lead up involves issues around Artists Alley. randomsome1 called the Maryland Comptroller’s office and got the low down on the tax situation for any artists selling merchandise and other goodies there. This is crossposted with permission from her:
So I just spent an hour or so on hold and on the phone with the comptroller & sales/use tax people of Maryland. (For the record, their hold jingle is dire.) I transcribed what I got from them for sharing with the group.
If an individual in the state of Maryland is selling artworks or crafts which have been made specifically for sale, do they need to collect sales tax?
A: Yes they do. What you and/or the show promoter will need is to get a temporary sales tax number, unless you plan to sell in Maryland on a regular basis. If your sales will not be regular, register for a temporary sales tax number. “Regularly” is defined by “four or more times a year.” People who sell regularly in MD should get a permanent tax number, and for more information should call Miss Foster @ 410 767 1543.
A temporary tax number does not have a yearly/quarterly filing requirement. Getting one does not actually make you a business—it’s just to say that you will be selling things. (If you officially want to sell as your studio instead of your name you have to register a fictitious name, which is a slightly different and kind of expensive beastie in its own right.) When you complete the application it asks how long the event will run. After there’s a 20-30 day window to file.
If you return to sell in MD and need to pay sales tax again, just call the temp sales tax phone number (from above) and Miss Foster will be able to talk you through using the number/temp license. She got me registered over the phone with my info from Otakon.
Would tax liability change if a seller proclaimed themselves to be an amateur or a hobbyist?
What about the provisions in the tax code regarding “casual and isolated sales”?
A: In the case of this event, quite a few people will have the option of making purchases so it does not count as a one time sale. As the purpose is for people to have more than one sale, and as the likelihood is extremely high that more than one sale will be made by each seller, this makes it exempt from the “casual and isolated sales” provision.
What about out-of-state sellers, small businesses, etc.?
A: They would also need the a temporary sales number. PA or other out-of-state sales tax numbers do not apply in MD, where the possession of merchandise will take place.
What could make sales at this show be tax exempt?
Sellers would not be required to collect sales tax if the purchase is made from a verified/certified reseller. (In this case, they would be required to collect proof of reseller status.) Otherwise they are liable for collecting and paying sales tax. To do otherwise is tax evasion.
What are the responsibilities of the individuals running a show that will feature sales of the previously mentioned artworks?
A: An event promoter could register for a sales & use tax number for the particular event, then at the end of the event the sellers will report their sales volumes and pay them the sales tax due; then the event promoter will report and pay that to the state of Maryland. If the sellers are registered with the state of Maryland they will pay the amount themselves directly. If any of you sold at Otakon—it’s like that.
This isn’t a complete list… but some of our tops for 2009 including top referrers, search engines, keyword terms internally, and keywords externally. Also includes top fandoms by type, fan fiction archives, terms, fails and kerfluffles, and blog entries. This list could be better and longer but once you get below the 2,500 threshold for views, the information is of limited usefulness.
Top Ten Referrers
- animenewsnetwork.com – 12,564 visits
- community.livejournal.com – 9,374 visits
- journalfen.net – 7,524 visits
- chickipedia.com – 6,984 visits
- mademan.com – 4,221 visits
- fanfiction.net – 3,097 visits
- twitter.com – 2,765 visits
- tvtropes.org – 2,625 visits
- fanpop.com – 2,328 visits
- fr.wikipedia.org – 1,407 visits
Top Ten Search Engines
- google – 559,774 visits
- yahoo – 61,478 visits
- bing – 7,040 visits
- aol – 5,106 visits
- search – 4,461 visits
- ask – 1,998 visits
- msn – 1,337 visits
- live – 1,277 visits
- altavista – 536 visits
- lycos – 144 visits
Top Ten Search Phrases
- restricted section – 2,980 visits
- adultfanfiction – 2,912 visits
- naruto wiki – 2,712 visits
- fandomination – 2,413 visits
- draco hermione – 2,229 visits
- cassandra claire – 2,183 visits
- adult fanfiction – 2,131 visits
- galbadia hotel – 1,697 visits
- sakura lemon – 1,613 visits
- draco and hermione – 1,546 visits
Top Ten Internal Search Phrases
- astolat – 77 searches
- aja – 38 searches
- racefail – 37 searches
- yugioh – 36 searches
- sasuke – 35 searches
- ckll – 34 searches
- reborn – 26 searches
- dbsk – 22 searches
- narusaku – 21 searches
- shocolate – 21 searches
Top Actor Fandoms
- Jorja Fox – 2,521 views
Top Anime Fandoms
- Naruto – 11,376 views
- Digimon – 10,876 views
- Gundam Wing – 4,789 views
- Dragon Ball Z – 4,618 views
- Prince of Tennis – 4,536 views
- Sailor Moon – 3,526 views
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – 3,371 views
- Bleach – 3,279 views
- Pokemon – 2,475 views
Top Book Fandoms
- Cassandra Claire – 18,366 visits
- Twilight – 9,001 views
- Harry Potter – 5,011 views
- Mortal Instruments - 4,741 views
- Cassandra_Claire – 3,872 views
- Pride and Prejudice – 2,896 views
- City of Bones – 2,717 views
Top Comics Fandoms
- Transformers – 2,717 views
Top Movie Fandoms
- Twilight – 9,001 views
- The Fast and the Furious – 3,763 views
- Star Trek – 2,984 views
- Pride and Prejudice – 2,896 views
- Beauty and the Beast – 2,733 views
- Transformers – 2,717 views
- Star Trek – 2,556
Top Television Fandoms
- Supernatural – 4,704 views
- Merlin – 3,821 views
- Roswell – 3,354 views
- Star Trek – 2,984 views
- Beauty and the Beast – 2,733 views
- Gilmore Girls – 2,612 views
- Star Trek – 2,556
Top Video Game Fandoms
- Pokemon – 2,475 views
Top Thirteen Fan Fiction Archives
- Sakura Lemon Fan-Fiction Archive – 15,321 views
- AdultFanFiction.Net – 14,205
- FanFiction.Net – 10,984 views
- FanDomination.Net – 8,959 views
- Fan fiction archives- 7,576 views
- FanFiction.net – 7,131 views
- RestrictedSection – 5,807 views
- FanWorks.Org – 5,074 views
- LiveJournal – 4,852 views
- FanLib – 3,844 views
- Freedom of Speech Fanfiction – 3,581 views
- FicWad – 3,311 views
- Galbadia Hotel – 2,569 views
Top Eleven Pairings
- Draco/Hermione – 41,658 views
- Snape/Hermione – 5,624 views
- Harry/Hermione – 4,542 views
- Harry/Draco – 3,749 views
- Digimon couple list – 3,552 views
- Harry Potter pairings – 3,513 views
- Sesshoumaru/Kagome – 3,442 views
- Michael/Maria – 2,919 views
- Draco/Ginny – 2,883 views
- Harry/Ginny – 2,729 views
- Takari – 2,640 views
Top Ten Kerfluffles/Fails
- Russet Noon – 7,855 views
- Race Fail 2009 – 6,469 views
- SurveyFail – 5,447 views
- Cassandra Claire’s Plagiarism – 4,771 views
- GreatestJournal – 4,248 views
- FanLib – 3,844 views
- Race wank – 2,910 views
- Fandom_Wank – 2,451 views
Top Stories/Individual Fan Fiction
- Shotacon – 6,647 views
- Mpreg – 5,359 views
- Tijuana Bible – 4,329 views
- Hurt/comfort – 3,359 views
- Brother Sister Incest – 2,885 views
Top Blog Entries
- Michael Jackson fanfiction: is it out there? – 7,292 viewes