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So, someone on my flist had just made a very thoughtful post about the effects of AO3 and Tumblr on fandom as a whole and LJ in particular (IJ and DW by association). It took me a minute to process that the "lack of fourth wall" the poster was describing was between us as fannish creators and the rest of the world. I'm not used to thinking of that term with regard to myself and I hadn't thought of it from that angle. The resulting thinky-thoughts got long, so they get their own post.

SPN is the first "no fourth wall" fandom I've been involved in, but even then, that's with regard to the actual cast and writers and such. The cast livetweets their episodes, the show has episodes about fandom, and when one of the actors was asked at a con to say, "We have a GIF for that," he knew a) exactly what the fans were talking about and b) what was going to happen to vids & GIFs of that statement. (Hell, he had his 3yo up on stage with him for one con, and when the kid asked what all the flashing lights were, he said, "Oh, that's just people with their cameras. They'll probably put cat ears on us and find a way to photoshop Dean in," which, of course, fandom promptly obliged.) So as I'm writing this, I'm realizing that even in these examples, the lack of fourth wall goes both ways, though the exchange still seems to be largely between the creators of the original media and the fandom, rather than the creators of fanworks and the "rest of the world."

Last week, someone discovered that someone was selling a well-known Dean/Cas AU fic on Lulu, and that that someone was not the original authors. A call went out to let Lulu know about this, and I seem to be one of the only people who hesitated. Not because I thought any old person had any business selling someone else's fanworks, but because they had left the original authors' names attached, and I was worried about blowback on the authors. Ultimately, I was one of the 950+ who reported it to Lulu and got the book pulled. When I mentioned this concern on Tumblr, though, I got some very confused responses. Responses that made me feel very old, for one thing, but that worried me about the up-and-coming fans as well. Because they seemed to have absolutely no freaking clue that there even could be legal fallout for authors of fanworks.

It was not all that long ago that just using an icon/avatar created from canon media of characters (like the one with this post) could get your account suspended on certain platforms, due to concerns about lawsuits over copyright infringement. When I first started dipping my toes into publishing fanfic online, I remember being terrified over how to post it "safely." And I remember when AO3 first came out, being afraid that posting on there was essentially painting a bullseye on oneself because of its association with the OTW. Meanwhile the OTW has done some great work, and the media franchises seem to have cottoned on that they get a lot of indirect revenue from letting us play in their sandbox, but there's still not real solid legal protection for derivative works. (Dude, some asshat just tried to trademark the word fandom!) I guess when the actors themselves publicly make jokes about the gifsets they've set themselves up for, it starts to feel like we've got official sanction, but we really don't.

And then there's the content of our content. Nobody wants to know their nurse writes erotica. We're supposed to be alternately angels and robots, not human beings. For teachers, it's an even bigger deal. So that's where our fourth wall (or lack thereof) is an even more glaring issue. Because this isn't our day job, and our day jobs may have issues with the works we create.

I never used to flock much. Now I flock pretty much everything remotely personal and rarely post anything personal. (It felt distinctly weird making that catch-up post last week.) I've never had a really strong firewall between my RL id and my online handle, largely because I've been using it since before I was in fandom and did not have the sense to change it once I did get into fandom. After using it for going on 18 years or something, I'm not changing it now, either. But I'm hella more careful. Probably not careful enough. On Tumblr, if there's a way to flock things, I've not found it. Which is why there is even less of personal!me over there than there is on LJ/IJ/DW. When I play catch up on my flists/reading lists, I notice there's not anywhere near as much as there used to be, so apparently others have scaled back on what they post as well.

Anyway, I'm not sure this post came to any kind of a point. Like the cut text says: rambly post is rambly.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 18th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC)
I am right there with you on the reverse fourth wall. I barely even use my LJ anymore, and when I do, it's to peruse my friends page and for fic reading. But over the years, I stopped posting a lot of detailed personal stuff, because the internet is forever and as a teacher, I am not willing to risk letting my real life intersect with my super secret fanfic writing life. Because some of the stuff I've written? Not going to go over well with the Muggles.

I have also had students in my classes who are in fandom and use Tumblr, and I can see a huge generation gap. They just talk about fandom stuff out in the open, who they ship, what fanfic they're writing. It's not a secret part of their lives; they are completely open about it. I can and do talk to them about the shows/books themselves, but I would never dare to discuss fandom stuff with them because 1) I'm their teacher and I think that would somehow mess with the teacher/student boundaries and 2)like you, I've been in fandom long enough to remember how careful we had to be in case we got called out for copyright infringement and old habits die hard.

So yeah, I can't help to feel a little panicky to see the newest generation of fans be so open about their Dean/Cas tentacle porn one minute and then their private lives the next, especially on sites like Tumblr, where you can't f-lock or screen. Anybody, including the lawyers, can see it. I always feel like they're going to mess it up for the rest of us, even though, as you pointed out, things are a lot different these days.

PS: I didn't realize you were in the Supernatural fandom. I discovered Supernatural last February, and it's definitely my new fandom obsession.
Jun. 19th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
I fell into Supernatural fandom last April and tumbled through the Destiel looking-glass. :-D

Yeah, I saw someone comment a while back on Tumblr that they feel anxious when someone's profile doesn't list their name. My response: I feel anxious about you folks randomly throwing your full names out there! Especially since so many are so young! But I guess that goes with the frequent URL-changes over there, you need something to stay solid, but imo a handle does that quite nicely. (And I don't get the URL changes, but whatever.)
Jun. 20th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
Tumblr is a strange and unknowable place for me. I don't understand how it works or how people interact. Sometimes I consider getting an account, but anytime I try to poke about over there and see what the fandom is up to, I inevitably end up stumbling onto some kind of insane wank and I just have to leave. It's probably for the best, though. Fandom takes up enough of my time as it. I think Tumblr could easily eat up the rest of it.

Jun. 20th, 2014 03:52 am (UTC)
Tumblr is a huge time-suck. The thing that saves me from most of the lunacy, I think, is Tumblr Savior, a browser add-on that lets you filter keywords. Wincest and wank are high on my filter list. Not everybody tags their wank, but those who are prone to it and don't, I just unfollow. It is much harder to get to know people there, because a) they change their flipping URLs every time you blink, and b) there aren't "communities" as such. There are networks, but I can't quite figure them out. Most of the people I actually know on there are either people I knew before Tumblr or else the very small handful I interact with regularly as opposed to just viewing and liking or reblogging their stuff.
Jun. 18th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
I'm not as active in fandom as I was, and the series that are currently on that I would like to be in the fandom of don't have a fandom to speak of, Peaky Blinders and Shetland to name two. Nothing seems to have grabbed my imagination like Torchwood did though, and I can't see those sort of fic writing days for me returning again any time soon. Too much other stuff going on right now.

I've never really got the hang of tumblr, and with Facebook I ended up making two, one for fandom stuff and one for everything else (which is probably still fairly odd by a lot of people as as its full of RPG players, LARPers and medieval reenactors, as far as I know though only one writes fic and she does fluffy, mostly canon pairing pg rated Harry Potter stuff. Mostly I use Facebook keep in touch with the reeactment groups and family members - as most of them live 100+ miles away. I've just started to use Pinterest to keep track of images of medieval clothes for the purposes reconstructing costumes, and I've got a few recipes on there, but other than that all people can tell about me from that is I sew, like medieval stuff and make butternut squash soup. </p>

I'm trying to move a bit into writing original fic now, and have one that's pretty much stuck at editing stage and one that's about a quarter written. Not that anybody outside of LJ or NaNoWriMo know about them.

I think with how younger people are sharing things and it seeming odd to us how open they are about stuff, is to some extent just us getting older. Now I'm 35, not old, but there are young people starting work and heading off to university who'd not even been born when I was at college. So I try to be wary of going down the route of 'they aren't doing it my way, so it's the wrong way' because that's pretty much what people experience of their parents/grandparents is.

I think there is something to be said for the 'this is what I like, this is who I am, and I'm not hiding it from anybody, and if you don't like it that's your problem' attitude of todays youth, and I hope that what it leads to is a more tolerant tomorrow. It makes me wish that I had been more like that myself.

Jun. 19th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
I tried the two Facebook thing and ultimately gave up on the fannish one. I barely keep up with my regular FB for that matter.

Good luck with the o-fic!

I'm not so much concerned with whether it's the right/wrong way as whether they're going to end up harmed. It's true, there is definitely something to be said for the "take me as I am" approach. I just worry that the older generation of lawyers and employers may not see it that way.
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Jun. 19th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
It's true that it shouldn't matter. But apparently it matters if I even have a glass of wine at dinner and anybody who might someday be or have been a patient hears about it, so ... *bleh*

I've noticed that I tend to box myself in when someone gets me into a conversation on the topic of writing. Once things stray at all into fiction as opposed to academia, I find myself using awkward terminology like "pastiche."
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Jun. 20th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC)
Give me a semester or two and I'll get my "hotshot professor" voice down. LOL You're right, of course. That is exactly the tack to take, especially within academia.
Jun. 18th, 2014 06:55 pm (UTC)
I'm of a bit of the "older" generation (early 40s), but I don't have a problem letting anyone I know know that I write fanfic. I also don't mind if they know it's porny. I work in a place that caters primarily to children, so perhaps that makes me a bit naive, but whatever. I'm willing to fight for the right to read/write whatever I choose in my spare time/lunch break.
Jun. 19th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC)
Mid-40s here, and yeah ... I'm a bit more nervous than most, I guess. I agree that we've got the right to read/write whatever during off time, but who's safe to know about it still seems like an issue.
Jun. 19th, 2014 12:50 am (UTC)
With a relatively recent career change into the educational field, I find myself suddenly becoming very concerned with what's visible. I even went through old posts to make sure nothing was out in the open or questionable. The younger generation really doesn't seem concerned about image, which still leaves me a little uneasy. I ask my students to share an interesting fact about themselves on the first day of class, and one student discussed the HP fandom with no hesitation. Inwardly I cringed, wondering if she had seen anything of mine. Not that I have anything that questionable, but that wouldn't keep a parent in a conservative state from calling the chair of my department. Inwardly I also cringed on behalf of that student, in case she had anything sitting out there when it comes time for her to apply for jobs. *sigh

Am I changing what I do? No. I'm just much more cautious about how I go about it. And I would have advised that student to do the same, if I was willing to risk discussing my fandom knowledge.
Jun. 19th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Yeah, that's the thing. I just worry that they don't realize that these risks even exist. Whether or not they should exist is a separate matter.
Jun. 20th, 2014 05:26 am (UTC)
I agree, whether or not they should exist is definitely a different matter. It's frustrating that what I enjoy doing in my free time should be my employer's business when it doesn't affect my job performance. I've worked professionally long enough to know that in practice image is important enough to potentially make it my employer's business, but it angers me a little that I have to think through these things. Being in any fandom or enjoying fan works that have mature content doesn't make me any less of a person, or an instructor.
Jun. 20th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
I think the divide between the older and younger fen is (partly) due to youth not realizing that shit can really bite you on the ass. Their reference point is limited. Case in point: my kids are mortified that I write fanfiction porn. In fact, my daughter had a friend in college who was a huge HP slash fan, and she was terrified that my pseud would come up in conversation. This said to me that they really aren't as cool as they think they are. That their reference points are limited to their cool set of friends. Cool mom? Not so much.

I'm getting a real sense that people are realizing the free-for-all on tumblr is not as "free" as they thought. Several people on my flist are returning to LJ because the fannish vitriol is out of control. There certainly has been a bunch of wank on LJ, but there are some self-correcting mechanisms, a community policing mechanism of sorts.

I don't have many insights here, just a sense that fandom has changed into something that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.
Jun. 20th, 2014 03:47 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I have any real insights either. I think I've been lucky on Tumblr, probably due to only following blogs around specific interests, unfollowing blogs that seem wank-filled, and using TumblrSavior to filter out a lot of stuff I just don't want to see. What there really aren't over there are communities. There are networks, sort of, but they're not remotely like comms so far as I can see.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


charlie dancing

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