Posts Tagged ‘slash’

Slash is not gay: Homosexuality, class and fan fiction communities, A historical perspective

January 27th, 2010

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.

Preface

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.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay)
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.
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html)
lesbian (lehz’-bee-ehn) n. A gay female.
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html#lesbian)
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.
(http://safezone.georgetown.edu/sz4-1.html)
queer (kweer) n. adj. One who is LBGT. (Can be derogatory if used by a non-queer.)
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html)
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.
(http://www.number-one-adult-sexual-health-terms-advisor.com/queerterms.htm)
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.

Conclusion

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

Footnotes

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.

References

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Harry Potter fan fiction on FanFiction.Net

January 10th, 2010

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.
  • 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.

An A-Team movie finally coming together?

September 20th, 2009

Post by sockii.

Proposals and scripts for an A-Team movie have been going around for over a decade, but now it finally looks like it’s going to happen for real. The main cast seems set: Liam Neeson taking over George Peppard‘s role as Hannibal Smith; Bradley Cooper in Dirk Bennedict‘s role of Templeton Peck; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Mr. T‘s role of B.A. Baracus, and now Sharlto Copley in Dwight Schultz‘s role of H.M. Murdock. Jessica Biel is also apparently in the cast as an ex-fiance of Peck now hunting the team, and Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson will play a CIA operative on the hunt for the team.

The story and characters will be updated so that they will be Iraq War veterans instead of Vietnam vets; what else will change or stay the same remains to be seen, though early pictures show an A-Team van much like the original’s.

As a die-hard A-Team fan for many decades, my feelings about the project have been mixed from the start. I read an early script for the project back in the 1990s which was truly dreadful, bearing virtually no resemblance to the characters and tone of the original series. But at this point I have to admit to at least a little curiosity of what will come about now that the film is genuinely going to happen, with an expected release date of June 11, 2010. I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, although I don’t quite see him as Hannibal Smith without some major changes to the character. Murdock was always my favorite character so I’ve always been highly resistant to the idea of anyone other than Dwight Schultz in the role (Jim Carrey was long a rumor, but apparently “too expensive” for the project and I’m glad for that). Yet Sharlto Copley seems like a potentially good choice based on what I’ve seen of him so far after his breakout performance in District 9. That said, a lot of the longtime A-Team fans I know are decidedly not enthusiastic about the project, no matter who is cast in the roles because it won’t be the team they know and love.

If the film is successful – which of course is no guaranty – I’ll be curious about the effect on the fandom, which has been steadily chugging along for decades with a low profile but fairly continual stream of fanworks production. Will there be a separate fandom that develops for these new interpretations of the old characters, much as what happened with the Star Trek movie this year? Will the popular slash pairings change or be the same (if there are any slash pairings that take off?) Will there be conflict between the new and old fandom, or will the old fandom try to capitalize on the newfound interest in the A-Team and try to welcome new fans in to explore the world of the original series?

It should be interesting to see, and l’ll be following news about the new film with great interest as it develops.

The A-Slash is looking for a new archivist

June 21st, 2009

The A-Slash, a really great little group of A-Team slash writers, is looking for a new volunteer archivist for their website. The list is low volume (less than 20 active members) and dedicated to quality writing. The maintainer would be happy to take on an assistant who would be willing to get the archive up-to-date, as it hasn’t been updated in 2 years to reflect new postings on the yahoogroup. You can contact the maintainer if you might be interested in helping out and learning more about what would be involved.

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…

Bonnaroo? Well, thanks for trying, anyway!

May 14th, 2009

It was a good try, and I thank everyone who helped out with my quest to get to Bonnaroo, but it looks like it wasn’t meant to be.

Radio 104.5‘s voting system was pathetically simple to take advantage of as “email verification” checks are just as easy to abuse as just about any other on-line voting method, and my main competition, “Megan L.”, did a damned intense job of abusing it at the end of the day on May 10.

My hat’s off to her, though if I may snark for a moment, I hope she puts that media pass to better use than might be expected given the photography “skills” evident in her submitted competition photo.

Maybe next time.


In unrelated news, next week there’s a very important anniversary coming up for me to celebrate and contemplate over, and that’s the 10-year anniversary of my launching the Master and Apprentice mailing list and archive for Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon slash. I plan to write up an entry over the weekend looking back on the origins of the archive, the fiction, the “drama”, and everything else as I saw it happen before I left the fandom.

From the keyword vault… 2

May 7th, 2009

I really loved doing the last post. We got a few more visits with interesting keywords to our blog.  (The wiki is much better optimized.  We get few hits based on these sort of keywords.)

what to do after wank

When I first read these, I thought that these were related to wank, the fannish term.  I had a mental block and didn’t realize that people were visiting the blog looking for masturbation advice.

Given that, on with the question! If we are talking actual masturbation, when you’re done, you clean yourself up.  Then, if you like Fan History, you visit pages like fandom_wank and slash.  If you’re talking about wanking of the fandom sort, when you’re done, you take a fandom break for a couple of days.  wanking is frequently high stress.  When you’re done, you need time to think, to cool down to re-evaluate, to assess what steps you need to take after that to protect yourself in fandom.

neil patrick harris icons livejournal

We’ve got information about a couple of Neil Patrick Harris LiveJournal communities.  We don’t have any icons on the wiki.  You could probably upload a few if you wanted to illustrate information relevant articles.  You’re probably better off searching on LiveJournal for that, rather than using Google.

dreamwidth greatestjournal

Dreamwidth Studios and GreatestJournal have nothing to do with each other, other than both having core fandom audiences, being run by one or two volunteers, being run with the intention of living off the money earned from the sites and using modified versions of LiveJournal’s open source code.    The people who run it are not the same.  They have different cultures.  GreatestJournal was populated early by role players.  Dreamwidth Studios was populated by metafans.

wanking race

Seriously?  Do people actually have races where two or three people get together to see who can get it off first?  I don’t have advice for that.  I haven’t seen any sort of race to wank to make fandom_wank or metafandom.  If people know of any bets to see who could make one or the other in a wankfest, let me know as it would be enlightening and educational.

livejournal stats

If you’re looking for LiveJournal statistics, check out LiveJournal community size.  Sadly, these numbers haven’t been updated in a while because of a problem with our bot but there are three month months worth of data that still make it useful and interesting.

There are a couple more that I really would like to do.  They require a bit more extensive answers like “why twilight is so big?” and “how do you communicate if service users are upset” so I’m putting that off for a bit.

Kirk/Spock gets mainstream media shout-out.

May 7th, 2009

Interesting to see a reasonably well-written piece on Kirk/Spock fandom in Newsweek this week. I had just blogged a few days ago about how the new movie might bring Star Trek and its fandom more attention and momentum. I’m sure there will be a lot of new people searching around for information on this “slash” thing thanks to articles such as Newsweek’s, or stumbling across it if they go looking for Trek pages on the web after seeing the movie.

Follow up: Most human revised articles on Fan History

April 9th, 2009

The last post was heavy in terms of bot revised edits on Fan History. It is that way because our data collection bots update every day and some have been active since September 2008. This is the last of non-bot, human edited entries on Fan History.

The following data is cached, and was last updated 18:45, 9 April 2009.

Showing below up to 500 results starting with #1.

View (previous 500) (next 500) (20 | 50 | 100 | 250 | 500)

  1. Harry Potter ?(291 revisions)
  2. Draco/Hermione ?(242 revisions)
  3. Bandfic ?(228 revisions)
  4. Beauty and the Beast ?(221 revisions)
  5. Digimon ?(219 revisions)
  6. Supernatural ?(219 revisions)
  7. CSI ?(214 revisions)
  8. Rescue Rangers ?(209 revisions)
  9. Doctor Who ?(200 revisions)
  10. X-Files ?(195 revisions)
  11. Main Page ?(190 revisions)
  12. Cassandra Claire ?(186 revisions)
  13. Organization for Transformative Works ?(184 revisions)
  14. Slash ?(157 revisions)
  15. Doctor Who fanzines ?(138 revisions)
  16. Star Trek ?(135 revisions)
  17. Bleach ?(132 revisions)
  18. Russell Crowe ?(122 revisions)
  19. Star Trek fanzines ?(121 revisions)
  20. AdultFanFiction.Net ?(119 revisions)
  21. Star Wars ?(118 revisions)
  22. Sailor Moon ?(118 revisions)
  23. The Police ?(115 revisions)
  24. Susan M. Garrett ?(114 revisions)
  25. Daiken ?(114 revisions)
  26. Lord of the Rings ?(113 revisions)
  27. LiveJournal ?(112 revisions)
  28. Mortal Instruments ?(107 revisions)
  29. Roswell ?(106 revisions)
  30. FanFiction.Net ?(106 revisions)
  31. Zelda ?(105 revisions)
  32. Duran Duran ?(103 revisions)
  33. The Forever Knight Fan Fiction Awards ?(101 revisions)
  34. Naruto ?(100 revisions)
  35. Msscribe ?(99 revisions)
  36. Avatar: The Last Airbender ?(97 revisions)
  37. Mlina ?(95 revisions)
  38. Lucia de’Medici ?(95 revisions)
  39. Warcraft ?(95 revisions)
  40. Draco/Ginny ?(95 revisions)
  41. Final Fantasy VII ?(94 revisions)
  42. Current events ?(91 revisions)
  43. Grissom/Sara ?(89 revisions)
  44. Canadian Idol ?(89 revisions)
  45. Fan fiction archives ?(89 revisions)
  46. Gundam Wing ?(87 revisions)
  47. Plagiarism ?(86 revisions)
  48. Race Fail 2009 ?(86 revisions)
  49. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer ?(86 revisions)
  50. Xena: Warrior Princess ?(85 revisions)
  51. Twilight ?(85 revisions)
  52. My Chemical Romance ?(83 revisions)
  53. X-men ?(82 revisions)
  54. Thunderbirds ?(79 revisions)
  55. Hey Arnold! ?(78 revisions)
  56. Tikatu ?(78 revisions)

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.

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.

Personalizing your userpage: Userboxes

August 10th, 2008

Fan History has two types of articles about people: People articles and user pages.  Each one has a different purpose.  People articles are intended to be more serious, to document the history of a particular person’s involvement in fandom.   They’re just serious articles.  More details on how to write those articles can be found at Help:People.

A number of contributors, especially those editing articles about themselves, don’t know about user pages.  User pages are articles created by Fan History contributors that are about the user, their interests or act as their personal website.  If you’re a Fan History contributor, they are a great way to promote yourself on Fan History, to let other users learn more about you. 

There are a lot of ways to add information to and personalize your userpage.  One of the easiest ways to personalize your user page is through userboxes. Userboxes can quickly tell other users about you in a sentence or with a picture. They’re a way of quickly adding preformatted content to your user page.  They add some color to your page.  Userboxes are also full of shiny goodness. Instructions on creating a userbox on Fan History can be found here.  If you’re not up to creating your own on Fan History, check out the Available Userbox page.   At the moment, there are over 80 different ways you can tell other users about yourself.  This includes information on what country you’re from, your role on Fan History, what type of Rescue Ranger fan you are, what social networking sites you use, your personal troll policy, what you ship, what video games you play, what type of slasher you are and more.

So if you’re looking for a way to quickly personalize your user page, consider using a userbox.

 

Identity, fandom, fansites and success

April 24th, 2008

Back in the day in fandom, say 10 years ago, fans were forced to stay together out of necessity.  If you wanted access to information, there were very few places to get it.  Information was just very centralized.  People who entered that at the right time succeeded.   Some of those centralized resources are still around.  Think FanFiction.Net.

But then along came services like egroups, onelist, GeoCities and Tripod. Suddenly, fandom information was really decentralized.  Fans could create small websites for extremely niche audience.   If you were an author, that might just be your own stories.    By posting them to your own private mailing list, by posting them to your own little website, you could have a lot more control.  Power in fandom decentralized.  And it became easier to have a much more specific fandom identity and not lack for new content.

But that model appears to have gone out the window with the advent of Web 2.0.   Good fansites are increasingly hard to find because the maintainers either lose interest, can’t keep up with new fandom content, or a good fansite needs to be almost commercial in order to attract traffic and interest.  (Try to find a good Office fansite.  I dare you.)   And fandom sites have to cater to a really broad audience: Regular entertainment fans who aren’t fandom people (who will watch the latest Robin Sparkles video and squee over Britney Spears showing up on the How I Met Your Mother but won’t do much else) and fandom people.  The fandom people audience gets even more precarious for good fansites because you have multiple identity groups going on at the same time.   And some times these groups share membership.  You’ve got your vidders, fanartists, fan fiction writers.  You’ve got slashers, genfen and het shippers.  You’ve got character driven subcomponents.  It’s a big old mess of different groups with different needs and desires.

If a fansite wants to attract an audience and keep it on their fansite, they need to attract all those various groups that make up your target audience.  And most importantly: Those groups need to maintain their group identity.  Slashers need to be able to continue on with their identity as slashers in regards to  the site they’re on.  If the fansite is open to everyone, then slashers need to co-exist with genfen, vidders, and specific character fans.  If a  fansite requires that users take on the identity of the fansite, the fansite loses.  If there is one mindset, a sort of universal group think going on on forums and in all the posts, the fansite loses.   It becomes so much easier to walk away when they don’t share that identity.  If they walk away, chances are they won’t be back unless they are offered something you can’t get elsewhere.

A good fansite needs moderators, programmers, writers, readers, members who can help foster multiple identities on their site.   Getting those people in place can be a problem but it is one that needs to be worked on early if a fansite or fan project wants to succeed.

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