thingswithwings (thingswithwings) wrote in life_wo_fanlib,

Taking a moment to say:

I wrote this before reading the interview with Williams in Henry Jenkins' blog, and from the looks of that text we've got a lot more work ahead of us in understanding what fanlib means, how it means, and how we can/ought to react to it. Especially, I think, in terms of issues of gender and sexuality, which were topics that Williams responded to remarkably poorly and unsatisfyingly.

But before we do that, I want to take a moment to talk, in a meta (or meta-meta) fashion about the particular tools that we used to react to this entire issue, and to tell you all this:

I love you. when I say you, I mean fandom, and also, I mean you, yourself. and also, I mean us.

I love that thirty/forty years of being cultural critics trained us for this moment. I love that, three seconds from its inception, there were posts everywhere deconstructing it, there were gender critiques, there was extreme parsing of the language of the site's FAQ and TOS. It's not just that we were smart enough to reject it, or smart enough to not be taken in, or to realise that we always have, and always will, do it better. I mean, that's all true, but here's what really impresses me: we did it using the same tools that we use when we Fandom.

1) We paid close attention, extreme attention, fanatic attention, to it. Language-parsing, as I say above, of the TOS and FAQ, image-parsing of the ads and layout, discussion and debate over precise meanings. All those years of listening to people say, "It's not that important, it's just tv, why are you wasting so much time on it, why do you have to focus on it so much," - all those years just paid off, because we proved that our ability to pay attention to details is an ability through which we establish power for ourselves within the media sphere. We proved that the fannish eye, the fannish mindset, is perhaps the most powerful and productive way of engaging with media as a consumer. The traditional stereotype of the fan, of course, is: you pay too much attention and are thus excessive, obsessed, effeminate/feminized, sexually frustrated, slavish consumers of bad culture. But in this instance, we showed that this kind of "excessive" reaction to media culture is precisely what is called for.

2) We slashed. One of the interests in this community's profile is pink guy/blue guy. And I have to say, I have never in my fannish career seen two characters more desperately in need of slashing than pink guy/blue guy. apple_pi made a great fan-image using that now-famous advertisement that does just that, showing a third frame with two naked men in it. To rewrite Jenkins, slash is what happens when you reframe the panel. I could write pages on the beauty of that moment, the way it illustrates perfectly the way we react to issues of gender and sexuality. I am full of love for this fan-moment, this pink guy/blue guy moment.

3) We shared. Word-of-mouth style, through social technologies like lj, we talked and talked and talked, we acafanned, we held discussions, we passed opinions and information and advice from community to community. This is precisely the kind of viral marketing that fanlib would like to get its hands on, and it is precisely through viral social networking that we formed resistance.

4) We wanked. I cannot remember whose lj it was, as I've been reading so many, but in the comments section to one post on the subject, someone asked, "What is this fanlib thing? Is it wank? What's going on?" and the lj-owner replied, with great savour, "Oh honey, it's wanktastic." Or something to that effect, apologies if this is you and I've misquoted you. We jumped on this thing with glee, with abandon, with pleasure. We saw it coming and we smiled a big toothy grin and we cracked our knuckles and we threw ourselves into it. I mean, don't get me wrong - I'm as offended and disgusted as the next fan - but we love our attention to detail, we love our infinite discussion over meanings, we love blowups; in short, we love wank. We have been galvanized by this thing, not only because it's offensive, but also because it gives us a chance to kick some ass. Fanlib clearly wasn't expecting this response, and even had the response been positive, it wouldn't have expected this response, because they clearly don't understand the degree to which we will throw ourselves into a topic and wank until we get off.

Really, it's been a beautiful thing to witness. The glee and self-awareness with which we use these tools to engage with media is always a beautiful thing to witness, but to see fans engaging with a corporation that specifically wants to co-opt, degrade, and exploit them, using the very tools that the corporation sought to use for profit? I can't express how proud it makes me. Which brings me back to my first point:

I love you.


I don't mean to say that we should be relaxed, or sanguine, or that these tools will always defend us and make us unassailable. I certainly don't mean to say that we're done here. But I do take comfort in the fact that we know where our strengths lie and did not hesitate to apply them.
Tags: discussion
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →