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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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fandom_wank
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Hmm. I'm taking it seriously.

Two posts, thoughtful reading here and here.

You don't need them to read this, but I found them interesting. Me, I'm just wondering what I've been actually thinking this entire time. Or I know, but accepting it? Not so easy.

Rambling ahead.



Fandom_wank was like, my guilty pleasure until the minute Te went up on it this week, and two hundred and ten comments later, I'm getting why I had the guilt. Because I enjoyed--a LOT--some of the flaming/ridiculing/mocking. Even if I didn't participate. It's a great spectator sport. There's the virtual satisfaction of watching someone you don't like get shot at and being able to say, well, I didn't do it, and your conscience is kind of okay with that. So it sort of works out. Kind of like watching really violent television. Things you'd never do yourself, things your conscience says no to, all sanitized for viewing. It's great stuff.

My original response was, nutshelled, they are totally stepping on my icon. Fair enough--I'm sure Stormfreak's buddies felt the same way. And I think some posted. And Matt Nute's. And everyone else's.

But anyway.

What makes it--more satisfactory than some flame wars was really the fact of it's almost complete inanswerability. As many posters stated, the disclaimer says it all. This is a place of mocking stupidity in fandom. Which we all do. And it's great to watch whatever we think is idiotic being mocked. This is really the perfect spot to carry on a really GOOD flamewar. It's the one place where it's all attack and defending isn't acceptable.

Because the attacking is all in fun.

Flame wars are nasty. We've all been in, observed, or hid from them. I've done all three and helped start one, too. They don't last long. You get to a point of saturation with the subject--both sides get exhausted with attacking each other and eventually, normal business resumes. They're--uncomfortable, even if you like conflict. They draw blood. They break lists up. They end friendships, cut up fandoms, and wreck karma in a huge way. That's why people usually don't like them, avoid them, and that's why they want them to end.

They have consequences. Ones that entire lists, fandoms, and individuals have to deal with, including how they feel after the heat dies down and they look back and note, at some point, they lost perspective and accused the list moderator of being Hitler's less pleasant brother.

That's a flame war. That's where your ass gets fried if you're nasty, lose perspective, and pretty much lose your head.

Hence we invent something far more bloodless. At least, comparatively.

By definition, fandom_wank's agenda is to mock fandom stupidity. Granted. Mocking is always fun. We do it everywhere and all the time. That's what lj-friendslock and filters are for, what private chat is for, and what private lists and email are for. Great. Go at it. And it's private and unanswerable.

Which was really your only other option if you wanted a bloodless flame war. Take out the people who would defend.

Fandom Wank is option three. And it's pretty damn good for that. You get your flaming, you get the pack mentality, you get to do it publicly, and you get a way to disclaim it all. You CAN say stupid things, childish things, misinterpret, or accidentally say something silly, and you get the coolest disclaimer ever, the one that covers it all.

It's all in fun. Don't take it so seriously. It's just wanking.

The argument is, fandom_wank isn't about personal attacks, which is true. It's not, by it's own agenda. It's about mocking the stupid things people do in fandom. Fair enough. My argument is, some people can't really separate the two. And no matter what the actual agenda *is*, this is where it ends up. Not every time. But enough times. It ends up in a very, very interesting flame war, a totally new kind. One side gets to go as far as they want with no check at all but their boredom. And because it's acceptable there, it becomes more prevalent over time. It becomes standard, accepted behavior to flame without consequence, and use that 'this is just wankery' to defend it. And the more people do it, the more they believe that it really is enough to say, it's only fun, no matter how far it goes, no matter how deep it cuts. Like it's been stated, this isn't a place for serious discussion, and so it becomes, in effect, an organized, accepted, and almost institutionalized place to bring every single grudge, every issue, and just go at it.

Without that pesky other side able to call you on it, because the second they do, they're taking it seriously, and that's against the agenda, and that's against the disclaimer, and you're just being silly then. Because it's not meant to be serious. If you defend, for any reason, even to correct an error in the original statement, or an outright misrepresentation, it can be blown off, because it's just wanking. Having fun.

*shrug*

You know, I really don't think this about anyone BUT me. I don't think it'll change minds or anything, and I don't think I really care if it does. This is--mostly, if not completely--about what I can stand about myself. I enjoyed it too much. I liked the perceived bloodlessness. I liked it a LOT. And I STILL like it. And someone I don't like is going to go up and go through that, perhaps like, TOMORROW, and I'd probably like it if I watched. I just think, this time, I won't. At least, I hope I don't. Because if it hurts me to see a friend go through it, if I can hate every second of it, if it would bother me if it were ME there, then I can damn well personalize with everyone.


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Very well reasoned and it's something I've been wrestling with for a while. Fandom_wank was my guilty pleasure too; I especially liked going to the links provided and seeing how stupid and silly some people were being. But lately --

Well, I'm one of those silly people who agreed with Te originally so I guess you could say I was involved peripherally with the whole thing. I did post there in defense although not as eloquent as another we know.

I think maybe I will join you in the personalizing.

I don't even have fandom_wank on my friends list. I prefer not to read there. However, I have commented there when I've linked from other LJs. Even so, it is not in my MO to get involved in the bitchery that is fandom_wank, thus, I try to avoid it. And I will continue to try to avoid it. I probably should have avoided it over this Te/Gift/Feedback thing, unfortunately, my snarkiness got the better of me. *shrug* It happens to everyone.

A very thoughtful essay!

I think you're spot-on about fandom_wank being a guilty pleasure--it appeals to the dark, nasty side of me that lusts after public revenge. I think it's something that feeds on itself and grows into something beyond the people who've originally started it. It's becoming more and more difficult to resist.


Amen. Well put. fandom_wank used to be my guilty pleasure but I haven't been as amused as of late and I couldn't put my finger on why until I slogged through the 210 comments re Te. I felt bad for her, even though I don't know her and disagree with her initial comments in the first place. But disagreeing with a statement made is very different than attacking the poster and the posts made re disagreeing with an opinion were few and far in number - the personal attacks were much more in number and that had a way of making me feel a bit uncomfortable, as if I was voluntarily participating in the skewering of another ficcer, even though I did other than read all 210 comments.

It reminds me of how rj_anderson recently said that phrases like "I was just joking" or "You know I'm just kidding" is a way of trivializing hurtful remarks. "It's just wankery" fits into that same category, mho.

I don't think I'd stop reading fandom_wank, but I do read it a hell of a lot less now than I did in the beginning. The pointing and laughing is all fun and good, but after a while it does get a little tedious and repetitious when you note that opposing viewpoints aren't well-taken. Though, I suppose that's where the original LJ comes into play. I don't know. I'm still debating and may need another cup of coffee to really figure out what's what and how I really do feel.

I do think, if it was a friend of mine being skewered there, it would be so much easier to write off fandom_wank as a community. The problem comes when I find myself nodding alongside some of the comments and/or laughing along with the poster.

Hmmm... Here's what I think about fandom_wank (very very simplified): being mean to people without the fear of them retaliating makes you a bully.

A lot of my friends are fans of it, and I can understand the appeal (I really can -- the dark side can be tempting) so I usually bite it down and ignore its existance as much as I can. But... I remember mentioning something about a post to a friend of mine (sorry to bring you into this, hun) and her reply was "as long as you don't end up in fandom_wank" and my first reaction was "Woah, it's wrong when it's me but it's ok to do it to other people?" Because lets face, each one of us had posted some stupid thing at least once and could've easily be dragged through the mud for it.

There is no such thing as 'harmless fun' when it's hurting people. It can't be 'not against a person' because you're taking that person's words and twist them into what you want. I'm a big fan of snark and mocking and I've been known to be bitchy about a lot of things in my life, including making fun of people who might not have necessary deserved it. But in my opinion if you ridicule someone, you either keep it personal between you and your close friends or be upfront about it instead of hiding under "oh, it's all a joke and if you don't understand it, you're stupid and don't have a sense of humor" cloak because it's a cop out. If you raise hell, you should be ready to face the music.

It sounds like a great idea: come on over and make fun of all the stupid people out there because it's all in good fun and it's not personal. But Fandom_wank gives people a carte blanche -- you can be as mean as you want and there will be no consequences. For some people it comes down to: use fandom_wank to lash out against others just because you can, just because you might not like them and/or jealous or for whatever reason you want because the rules protect you from them telling you exactly how much of an asshole you're being and from them hurting your feelings. Hey, it's all in good fun.

(Deleted comment)
I might be missing something, but I don't think she *does* think it's an acceptable ethical stance, hence Jenn deciding not to read the community anymore. I got "It took me until I got hurt personally (by seeing a friend hurt) for me to realize that it isn't actually bloodless. I'm still tempted to watch because I find it entertaining, but I don't *like* that I find it entertaining. It feels like a moral failing in me, so I'm not going to indulge it."

Which, if it wasn't what Jenn meant, is at least the conclusion that I'm coming closer to myself.

That's the same impression I got and, after talking with Jenn last night about the whole mess, I'm pretty sure that's what she meant. It's really easy for people to indulge in certain behaviors until they see those same behaviors turned back on themselves or on a friend. Then, if they are indeed "ethical adults," they make the effort to change those behaviors.

That, and what you say elsewhere, sounds very much like you enjoy it because it lets you savor the nastiness without that pesky consciousness of how people might be offended or what their counterarguments might be or how out of hand it's all getting, since the other side can't or won't put in an appearance.

In other words, you can convince yourself that it's nastiness without the "consequences" you dislike, because you don't have to see the consequences. (Until suddenly it happens to someone so that you can see the consequences, and then you feel bad, but only while that particular friend is taking it on the chin. Once that's done, you can go back to your denial.)


I have GOT to figure out how people can summarize. I end up spending far too many words.

Yes. *shrug*

I mean, honestly, hell yes. The nasty, not-so-great part of me really loves that. It's easy, and for me personally, it has no consequences. It's on the order of being able to hit someone and them not being able to fight back. That doesn't make it right behavior. That's the difference.

It's not--pretty. And it can be justified in a lot of ways, and I have justified it in a lot of ways to myself. I don't honestly think many people DO go in thinking, okay, here's my chance to kick someone when they can't do anything about it. People are better than that. When you have a disclaimer, an excuse, when you can put the little "just joking" bit in, it's a way to salve the conscience before and after. That's what makes fandom_wank, to me personally, not just a bad hobby, but one that I cannot live with myself and still indulge.

I don't like being aware of that. I don't like the fact that when it happened to a friend, the disclaimers didn't mean shit to me while before, I was willing to let that slide when it happened to other people. I can't let myself be a person that says, it's okay when it's someone I don't like or someone I disagree with, but leave my friends out of it. I'd much, much rather be a person that hated the concept of it from the very beginning and acknowledged what it was, not just catching on now.

It's not a perfect ethical stance, because I know I'd still probably get a kick out of it if it was someone I didn't like. But it's a choice not to go back and read, not to participate even as an observor, not to consider it acceptable behavior, and not to allow that in myself.

So no, I don't consider it an acceptable ethical stance for an adult. It's just as close as I can get at the moment and still be honest.

f_w is LJ's version of reality television.

If it wasn't human nature's base and secritive guilty pleasure to have this desire to laugh at other people, Firefly would still be on the air and Joe Millionaire would never even have been conceived.

I've just decided I'm better off not watching either any more :)

Doon't get me started on my blank horror at the existence of Joe Millionaire. I actually GRIND MY TEETH every time I see a commercial for that.

*shudders*

And this is supposed to replace Firefly. It's like being offered a china dining room set and given instead a used paper plate. DISCOUNT used paper plate.

Yes, you can tell I'm really hungry right now, right?

*g* Good comparison.

f_w is LJ's version of reality television.

ROFL!

Though, in a way, all blogs and LJs are like reality TV. Fandom_Wank is like the Fox network's version of reality TV.

I also don't think she's saying it's an acceptable ethical stance. Other posters elsewhere have put up reasons as to why fandom_wank's purported goals are ethically suspect. I read this as Jenn doing the same, but entering the subject through a more personal and confessional mode -- i.e., admitting that sometimes f_w has the attraction of watching a car wreck, and that it's easy to convince yourself it's okay.

BTW, guys, there's another interesting post on this whole thing at popfantastic -- check out the entry "From Within You, It Devours." I especially like her point about criticizing the way other people prioritize their time.

I could be wrong, because I'd never read f_w before the whole mess with Te, but isn't what they did to Te just the sort of thing they're set up to mock?

I know how rough it must have been for you to get this all out, but I'm glad to see you did it.

As someone who has been the subject of mockery in fandom_wank, I love the whole thing. I think it's good for allowing people to take a step back and say, "I really was an idiot over so-and-so," because there are too many people who take themselves far too seriously.

Of course, I have a very different idea of the Te situation, since it's one of those "it was cool until someone I like got hurt" things. I don't know Te either, so this may just be an opinion of someone on the fringe. *shrugs*

I'm no fan of Wanking, but I have seen it to look at what the kerfluffle is about, and I really don't think it's the devil, either.

It isn't high art, it's gossip. Sometimes nasty, sometimes not. Possibly rather cruel and unfair. At least it comes labeled as what it is.

As long as people keep it *on* fandom wank and don't email, comment to, or otherwise harrass the person they make fun of there, it's positively kind compared to ye old "I hate you" thread on a mailing list. If fandom wankers can manage to keep the comments on their home turf, one might even see it as a public service. You could consider it a reservation for fandom's darker urges.

Fandom wank is a tabloid, okay? I'm not saying that to attack it or any of you. It's just an analogy that I think fits. It isn't the mainstream press, it's a thing set aside for a different kind of entertainment and everyone knows what it is.

Reading Fandom Wank doesn't mean that you're a Fandom Wank zombie, either, blindly following whatever posters say, suggest, or suggest is wrong.

Sometimes readers may look at it to laugh at the people described, but just as often they may read it to laugh at what the writers think is a story. A reader doesn't have to agree with the opinions expressed to want to read it. Most of the time they may not.

I feel that Fandom Wank is a better outlet for fans with vitriolic impulses than spewing them forth on, say, fiction or discussion lists, where people may want to read about fiction the discussions at hand without the disruption of flamewars or mocking.

A reader doesn't have to agree with the opinions expressed to want to read it.

I agree with that completely--occasionally I've followed links on fandom_wank to see exactly what they were laughing at, and came away thinking that the person being pointed at was perfectly reasonable, while the original wanker was the one acting stupid. That's the drawback to wanking in public--you can really make yourself look bad. It's the ol' "one finger pointed at someone, four fingers on the same hand pointed back at you" problem.

I feel that Fandom Wank is a better outlet for fans with vitriolic impulses than spewing them forth on, say, fiction or discussion lists, where people may want to read about fiction the discussions at hand without the disruption of flamewars or mocking.

You have a point, but I think spending a lot of time immersed in that level of negativity can be harmful, both to the self and the community. Don't get me wrong--I think bitching and getting things off your chest once in a while can be a very good thing, but fandom_wank is probably too much of that particular good thing.

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