gwyn: (bucky & steve alley purple)
I haven't said anything about Civil War because historically, people really haven't been interested so it doesn't seem worth it, but I did just write a long honking meta piece on Tumblr about this one thing that's been bugging the shit out of me since the first trailer came out, and that I'd really hoped the movie would address, but didn't. Not that I expect the imaginary reader to be interested in that either but hey, it's out there and you can read it if you want there since I'm having so much trouble copying and pasting it here. I'm up for discussion here but not if you're going to scream at me, I don't have the spoons.
gwyn: (whatever scarymime)
Day 4

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.
gwyn: (bucky winter soldier)
I wrote this little piece of meta on Tumblr (my username is teatotally) about something I noticed in the art book of Cap 2, and thought I'd post it here too, I guess because I'm still kind of astonished that this line would have been in the script.

---

I finally read The Art of Captain America: The Winter Soldier from cover to cover, including reading all the storyboard and pre-viz sequences. I was completely amazed when I saw the storyboards for the fight between the Winter Soldier and Cap on the helicarrier: the shot where Bucky goes after Steve features a caption of him shouting “HAIL HYDRA!” with a feral look on his face as he moves in for the kill.

This suggests that the line was in some early version of the script, and I am so glad that somewhere along the way someone had the good sense to jettison it, because it was so tonally completely wrong and would have drastically changed the character as they developed him in the movie. It would have been jarring and bizarre to have him spout some kind of ideological slogan (one which, for me, was one of the least successful aspects of the movie), particularly after we’ve seen him trying to piece together his memories in the face of Pierce’s empty bullshit rhetoric, which he barely listens to. The only reason he gets refocused on completing his assignment is because they forcibly remove his experiences and memories, not because Pierce sways him with the power of Hydra’s super-sekrit awesome plan for world domination.

The MCU version of Bucky is, to my eyes, far more broken and dehumanized than the comics version (not that Bucky’s not broken and dehumanized in the books, because he is, deeply so), but even this version of him is not without his resources and capabilities. We see him in charge of the team of mercenaries when they attack Steve, Natasha, and Sam on the bridge and he obviously had some hand in planning that attack; we see him waiting at the end of the attack on Nick Fury, a failsafe in case the other squad didn’t accomplish their task; we see him go to Pierce’s on his own; we see him at the end, figuring out what’s happening at SHIELD and what he has to do to stop it; and then we see him in the tag at the end credits, having learned of the Captain America exhibit and going to find out about himself. It’s really tempting to infantalize him, especially after the horrific bank vault mind-wipe scene, but MCU Winter Soldier is still a pretty capable and resourceful weapon in most situations.

But he doesn’t come by this of his own free will, and he doesn’t do it because he buys into the ideology — he does it because he’s been tortured, mind-wiped, completely broken of his humanity and stripped of his own personal agency. There’s no Stockholm Syndrome absorption of his captors’ beliefs; he does what he’s told, but he’s not doing it because he follows the party line, even if he was only following it to stay alive.

It doesn’t matter if Hydra’s still just a Nazi cult or you’re viewing it through the prism of modern-day government that’s just a step away from the Big Brother-type new world order, there’s still a political (and control) agenda that the people saying Hail Hydra have bought into at some point. They clearly believe in the message. But the Winter Soldier doesn’t buy into that, he can’t — he’s a loaded gun that gets pointed in a direction and fired. He’s programmed, not motivated.

In the comics, Bucky gets out of cryofreeze for much longer times and even has something resembling a life at one point, training Red Room recruits. He’s still a weapon, though, he’s still there to do a job and complete a mission until Steve forces his memories back (not, like in the movie, through the Power of Love but with the cosmic cube’s mojo), he’s still there to represent someone’s agenda, and he seems aware of it — he knows who he works for, what he’s doing. He questions orders, goes off-mission (which doesn’t work out too well for him), and interacts with his superiors to some degree. MCU Bucky doesn’t appear to have any of that, at least from what we’ve learned so far, until Steve jars it loose and he makes the decision to save Steve. MCU Bucky is even less likely to understand or give the tiniest crap about the rhetoric and ideology of an organization like Hydra than the comics Winter Soldier is.

To buy into a belief system, you have to make a choice, and we’ve seen that Bucky in the MCU doesn’t have even the tiniest particle of free will anymore. If that horrifying chair scene does nothing else, it shows us how completely they’ve destroyed him and taken away any real knowledge of what he’s doing in the grand scheme of things. Pierce pumps up his bullshit with compliments, trying to give Bucky the carrot to get him back on mission, until he realizes that won’t work and he resorts to the stick instead. Because really, why would that crap work on him? He’s a tool, a weapon, and that’s all they’ve allowed him to be.

He’s almost completely undone by his memories of Steve, and they have to basically reboot him in order to get him to perform his mission. All this ideology, all these statements and beliefs, are meaningless to him, so having him shout “Hail Hydra!” before attacking Steve would have made him look like he had absorbed what Hydra stood for, made him more of an active participant in their plans, not a broken, dehumanized, tragic victim. He doesn’t even have enough agency to buy into Hydra’s mission or his part in it the way someone might with Stockholm Syndrome. It would have completely altered that aspect of his character to me, made him seem far less tragic than he is by the time he makes that decision to save Steve, and in doing so save himself.

I’m sure someone could make a good case why having him shout Hail Hydra would have been cool or might have made his mind-wipe even more tragic (if so, go to town!), but myself, I just can’t see it. I always find it fascinating to see what gets changed in the movie-making process as they go along, and it seems to me that someone showed very good sense in eliminating that line, keeping Bucky’s tragic storyline more consistent with what we know of how horribly destroyed he is as a person. He’s a blank slate, a weapon, a victim, not a slogan or a belief system — or even a villain with a plan.

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