In your own space, create a fanwork. Make a drabble, a ficlet, a podfic, or an icon, art or meta or a rec list. Arts and crafts. Draft a critical essay about a particular media. Put together a picspam or a fanmix. Write a review of a Broadway show, a movie, a concert, a poetry reading, a museum trip, a you-should-be-listening-to-this-band essay. Compose some limericks, haikus, free-form poetry, 5-word stories. Document a particular bit of real person canon. Take some pictures. Draw a stick-figure comic. Create something. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.
Well, this one's a lot harder. I'd love to write something ficcy, but after four stories in four weeks plus a vid, I'm running on empty right now and trying desperately to get something going on a fic I left off a while ago.
But I've been meaning to write this meta post for a long time, so…
I've been thinking a lot about how fandom, specifically this corner of fandom that sprang from the early days of Star Trek (when at that time, fan culture predominantly revolved around literature in the science fiction and fantasy realms), has become mainstream. Enough so that now publishers are taking fanfic, filing off the serial numbers, and publishing it as original fiction, and Entertainment Weekly is hosting a fanfic contest, and Amazon's trying to capitalize on fandom with a fanfiction publishing scheme. Fewer and fewer fan-run cons that are just for fans are happening; these days it's all about the huge ComicCons and Wizard Worlds, where people have to pay big bucks for the opportunity to see their favorite celebs. Money is king at the sites where fans have mostly migrated, such as Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook, who only care about advertiser investment. Any of us who post vids to YouTube or Vimeo know how quickly a vid will get banned or blocked or just disappeared--all because of license agreements with music companies (mostly, some video producers will do it too), historically the most notorious business for screwing people over for what they perceive to be a profit threat.
And the newer generation of fans, man of whom have no idea of the history that's out there and may not ever connect with other fans beyond follows and friends lists, who may never delve into the history of how hard fans had to work to have their creations shared, are often unaware of the fact that fanworks have historically not been public, have not been out there where just anyone could find them with a quick internet search. That a lot of people didn't even know what slash was, for instance, because zines had to be sold under the table since they were considered porn and a violation, even if there was nothing explicit in them. Or that most people had to buy tapes, and later DVDs, to find vids, because the equipment was monumentally expensive and difficult to learn and there was no such thing as streaming. Everything was done from fan to fan, and people had to connect with each other in order to get content. And it was decidedly not public.
To be public usually brought scorn and ridicule, and since so much of media fandom, as opposed to the SF or comics world, was created by women, we were even more likely to get scorn heaped on us. Sometimes people were even threatened by participation--I know of at least two people whose partners used their fannish activities against them in divorce proceedings, and one person who was outed at her job for writing explicit slash by someone who disliked her. Read Fanlore and find out about the actions Lucasfilm took against Star Wars zine producers. It was just not a friendly world at all, outside the walls of our little castle.
So it's been a hard road, sometimes, for people who started out when fandom was not talked about outside of fandom, when your porn fantasies or vids about your crush object weren't likely to be discovered by People Who Didn't Get It. We used to call those folks "mundanes." We weren't creating fanworks that would be read or viewed by mundanes, we were creating them for our fellow fans who squeed with us over the same things, who loved the same actors or musicians or athletes we did, who adored the same tropes we did. Who wanted to talk endlessly about the way those two characters gazed into each other's eyes or the way you just knew that the singer and the guitarist were knocking boots because of the way they interacted on stage. Who respected the boundaries of the fandom universe.
In short, to quote Dr. Frank N. Furter, "I didn't make him for you." Our fanworks are not created for nonfans.
The main reason I've been thinking about this so much, aside from things like articles about EW's stupid little fanfiction contest coming across my dashboard, is that a while ago I got the most delightfully hilarious comment on a YouTube video, and it reminded me that there are all these people out there now consuming our fannish content who just have absolutely no freaking clue that our content is not meant for them. They don't get it. They don't understand what fannish vids are, or what fanfic really means to the readers in the fandom. It doesn't stop them from sharing their opinions, of course.
So the vid in question was one I made a few years ago for Vividcon, a Miami Vice vid I've wanted to make pretty much since I discovered vids back in the early '90s. It was to Peter Gabriel's Red Rain, a song that was used on the show in one of the later season episodes. But that wasn't why I wanted to make the vid, in fact, I'd actually forgotten Red Rain was used at all until…I got this YouTube comment from an actor who was in the episode where it was used.
This is GREAT... But actually RED RAIN was used in STONE'S WAR episode when I killed Lonette McKee... Check out the episode if you can. It's a classic! As are all the Vice's Trivia... G. Gordon Liddy returned as Capt Maynard and played my handler in that episode.... Bob Balaban played Ira Stone.
So, I laughed and laughed and laughed when I got this. Because he felt compelled to tell me that I was using the song wrong! It was only used in that episode, and I messed it up by putting all these other episodes to the song! And clearly you never saw that episode or you would not have used the song incorrectly, so here it is, go watch!
It never occurred to him, I guess, that if there were clips from, like, 20 other Miami Vice episodes in the vid, that would mean I might have watched Stone's War (which, I did, when I first got the discs, but it's one of my least favorite episodes, so…). Fannish vids aren't a concept that he's familiar with, so he doesn't understand how clips are recontextualized in fanvids, how different stories are told using the format of blending song and video source material to create something new. He isn't the audience that the vid was made for. (I actually am not making fun of him for leaving the comment, I was flattered as hell that an actor who appeared on the show watched the vid--that show gave me a lot of enjoyment for a very long time and is one of my all-time favorites.)
But it really brought home to me how much the audience has changed for these things. A number of years ago, a friend of mine was caught in a really difficult situation where someone uploaded her vids to YouTube, didn't give an attribution, and one of the vids was an explicit look at a Kirk/Spock relationship. It went viral, and there was a whole kerfuffle around it that she never wanted, but the funny thing to me personally was that another friend of mine, who's only marginally fannish but loves my friend's vids to pieces, told me that someone had forwarded him a link to the vids, and made a snarky comment about the explicit one. He was like, "Yeah, I told them to shut their piehole and also that I'd seen them before and that I thought they were incredible and you're not the audience they were made for." In the years since that, I've seen this play out over and over again: mundanes discover fanworks, think it's hilarious and stupid, mock fans in public (or maybe worse, try to shut down the production).
This past year, when the Avengers actors were on Jimmy Kimmel, he showed some (thankfully not explicit) fanart of Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo's characters and seemed to be, like the dick he is, baiting them and the other actors about how stupid and silly and embarassing fans were, and when they came back from commercial break, RDJ and Ruffalo were gazing into each other's eyes, Ruffalo sitting on RDJ's lap, re-creating one of the art pieces shown earlier. And I don't know if they did it as a way to say "fuck you" to Kimmel, or they were mocking fans (with Ruffalo, I tend to think not), but it at least felt like they were saying, "Hey, it's our fans. It's okay. Let them have their fun, this isn't for us." And we've seen how the Sherlock actors were pushed to read some fanfic in public, as a way to laugh at and embarrass them and the writer of the fanfiction.
The fact that the lines are more and more blurry between fan content creators and general mass consumption work is making these things happen so much more frequently. Sometimes we'll get people who grok us, and love us, and support us (Orlando Jones, for instance, who was such a huge participant in Sleepy Hollow fandom). Sometimes it'll be someone like the actor who left me that YT comment, people who don't get it, but feel the need to share anyway, or my friend who told off a nonfan who wanted him to join in the mocking of a vid. Sometimes it'll be people who buy an ebook because it sounds interesting, not knowing that the writer is also a fanfic writer and that the characters are based on the ones they write fanfic for.
The genie's out of the bottle, and fandom is a public thing now. But one thing I see that hasn't really changed, over and over again, is that we didn't make it for them. We made it for ourselves, our friends, our follow lists, the other congoers, the person who has yet to discover fanworks but will when they think, "Wow, I love this, I want to read more about this or see more about this" and input a search, discovering a whole new world they never knew existed. It's that thing that people like my comment-leaver don't understand--fanworks are an invitation: Come squee with me.
ETA: This post is on Tumblr
if you want to reblog it there.