firefly_124 (firefly124) wrote,

Fourth wall, lack thereof, and LJ/IJ/DW vs Tumblr

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.

Tags: fandom, fourth wall or the lack thereof
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