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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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huh
another frog
seperis
wickedwords talks about Community, Readership, and Writing the Field.

But there was this one part that just tickled me, because it's so true.

There is more risk in it for me as an author as readers tend to prize writers who are consistent, and they know vaguely what they can expect. And I'm not just talking quality of technical work here, but focus characters, relationships, and characterization. It's a brand, and readers want to know going in that if they pick up that brand, they will be getting a certain sort of thing: a story that focuses on their favorite characters, situations and relationships.

For some insane reason, mayo popped up in my head. Like, there are only two kinds I can tolerate and I only buy one of them, Kraft. There is, for me, no other mayo. I know them, I like them, they are consistently what I want in a food condiment.

Now I keep thinking brand names, though, and association, and reminds me of that association meme that went around, where people asked for three words to describe them. This is one of those many, many Deep Fannish Issues that I always think I have something to say about, but I really don't. I think part of it is that someone else said it better, and part of it is that I live in exceptions. I don't read outside my pairing except when I do, and only these people, unless it's someone they rec, and only off this community. And then there's this entire Return to Gen thing which is basically another way for me to say It's All About John Sheppard for me in SGA. So actually, my fandom is SGA/John Sheppard. Well, that was easy.

And there's the kneejerk, really unworthy reaction that I've carried for *five fandoms* of wanting to break out with "But I'm not *interested* in any other pairings/characters." It's like *herpes*; the defensiveness is so ingrained. Which is totally an autodefensive maneuver which I am honestly not sure ever, ever had a reason to exist. It *doesn't*. I have never actually been actively involved in a ship war. I just heard a lot about them. And seriously, for the newbiefangirl of yore, that was all I needed to know. Somewhere, [insert OTP] is being harassed by Other People. With the assumption that Somewhere Out There, my ship is under siege by these Other People, and I'd damn well better be ready.

I actually have no idea where I'm going with this. Except wickedwords is very, very smart.

Right. So thought. I'm wondering, from my carefully protected slope of SGA real estate, where literally, I've managed to work my flist and filters to a point where I only see exactly what I want to see on any give day--what's the difference between perception and reality in fandom really? Is there a chance--a small one, but there--that we actually can remake fandom based on how we perceive it to be? Like--um. And this is so off the point, but what the hell--if I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

In my defense, I haven't slept much in the last week, so seriously, if this makes no sens, I can't even *tell* you how much that doesn't surprise me.


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*volunteers a possibly incoherent thought*

Whether or not it's possible, the idea that it *might* be possible is why people are so hot to be BNFs.

Re: *volunteers a possibly incoherent thought*

*purring* I like how you think.

Re: *volunteers a possibly incoherent thought*

It is how you create a good fanwar, I know. But there's a certain charm in teh idea of being able to *pull* an entire fandom over to your way of thinking by sheer persistence, numbers, and the ability not to shut up.

Okay, *now* I get why people want to be BNFs.

And there's the kneejerk, really unworthy reaction that I've carried for *five fandoms* of wanting to break out with "But I'm not *interested* in any other pairings/characters."

I experience that a lot, too, even though I've never really been involved in any shipper wars or really any kind of war ever. I think it's because of the fairly ubiquitous rants about rare-pairings not getting any feedback and that somehow being the fault of people who refuse to read anything but their OTP. Or the also fairly common position that reading more pairings somehow makes you a better fan. Even though I have never really engaged on either of these points, I see them often enough that I do have a sort of constant, low-level irritation on that score.

f I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

I don't really think so, mostly because I don't really see fandom as one particular community. You might convince some people of the horrible oppression of the Weir/Lorne shippers, but I don't know if you could make that oppression happen simply by complaining about it. There will always be those pockets of people who can't abide Weir/Lorne and keep on writing their Lorne/Zelenka epics. There will be people who don't intersect with your part of the fandom at all who aren't even aware you and your f-list are leading the anti Weir/Lorne revolution. I think honestly people read what they like and don't switch preferences just because someone told them they shouldn't like that anymore.

I replied to you below. I must've hit the wrong link. Oops.

And of course, the only thing I answer is the "off the point" part. ;)

And this is so off the point, but what the hell--if I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

Possibly. In one of my fandoms, I'm *fairly* certain that the perception of a shipwar and a lot of resentment between two groups of shippers (and attempts to silence one (huge, huge, huge) group by another (very small) group) were created in the recent hate meme, and didn't actually exist before then. But then lots of non-BNF-types (on both sides) saw that, though, "Oh, wow? Does that happen? Do they *hate* us?" and have been flailing about it ever since.

Which is sociologically interesting, when it doesn't make me want to thump people over the head with a haddock.

I vote for haddock-thumping, myself. I've seen too many formerly sane-or-at-least-reasonably-fun-to-hang-around-in fandoms get et up by that kind of paranoia.

I think it's because of the fairly ubiquitous rants about rare-pairings not getting any feedback and that somehow being the fault of people who refuse to read anything but their OTP. Or the also fairly common position that reading more pairings somehow makes you a better fan.

I've run across this so often it just makes me sigh when I see it. It is ever so very annoying. My thought is, if you (generic you) wants to write stories about certain characters, go right ahead. But don't blame me if I don't want to read it because my favorite characters aren't in it/are paired up with people I don't like to see them paired up with. It's not that I don't give other pairings a chance, I do. But usually I find that if I'm OTPing, almost any story I read with one of those OTP characters paired with someone else is not my cup of tea.

Hmm. I thought I was replying to nymphaea1, up there, but I guess I hit the wrong link.

will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

You know, it might be possible. I'm wondering if group think would apply to online meetings. Group think, in case you don't already know, is a psychological term for when a group of people get together and start agreeing. Like a corporate meeting: someone brings up an idea and it sounds great and everyone's sitting around nodding; even if someone notices the plan's gaping flaw, they don't say anything--either they're afraid of disagreeing with the group or they don't think it's as gaping, since no one else said anything.

Also related could be the Ash (think that's the name) Line Test: it's another group thing. You go in for an experiment about visual perception with some other people, and are told to determine whether two lines are longer or shorter than each other. But what you aren't told is that the other people in the group are plants, who've been told to give the wrong answer. So you go through a few lines and then you get to one where the two are obviously different lengths. But everyone else says they're the same. Most of the time, when it got to the test subject, he'd agree with the group, even though the lines are beyond blatantly different. (We're talking one's easily twice as long as the other.)

Can you tell I took a few years of Psych? There's also vivid example (where people are more likely to remember the unusual but striking things: this is responsible for the legend that more babies are born on a full moon--people notice the babies because it's an unusual coincidence, but records show there's no difference in numbers to any other day.) And another thing that I can't remember the term for where the way you phrase something can sway other people's perceptions of it. (The difference between saying, "how fast was the car going when it collided with the tree?" to "how fast was the car going when it crashed into the tree?")

So my point is that you very well might be able to sway fandom. But you'd probably have to get some people to help and it'd take work. (And hope you didn't mind the psych lecture...)

if I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

For me, the question is: If it's all a matter of perception, and you and your five friends are all talking about the Weir/Lorne bias, then that becomes your perception which becomes reality, whether or not you actually influence anyone outside your circle to that belief. It's the blind men and the elephant, really.

*grins* It can be both. If you believe you're persecuted in your fannish thing, you wno't see anything else. Which is so normal in fandom that it's something we barely notice. We all bring a certain level of that to fandom no matter what.

It's when you start convincing people ouside your five fannish friends things get interesting.

I'm finding that as I'm coming back into fandom that like largely calls to like. That includes interest in particular characters or particular styles of stories, yeah, but it also seems true of the personality types. People who are in it for fun and love of the characters seem drawn to each other, while folks who are involved fannishly as a means of creating personal drama tend to flock. (Erm, YMMV on that unintentional LJ-based pun.)

The former group has seems to link up even outside of their fandoms. I've met some gloriously fun, anti-drama folks in LJland not because of our fannish interests, but because of our approach to fandom. A lot of SGA fen started chatting with me when I first joined LiveJournal not because I'd done Jack Taco for SGA, but because they were genuinely nice people. In the end, their enthusiasm has been enough to make SGA fun for me to read in because squeee! and lively, intelligent conversations are largely what I want out of fandom, even if it's not my own.

(So, yeah, that's how to go about converting me if I'm your target demographic outside of your five fannish friends, at any rate. *g*)

The other group -- the Help, Help, We're Being Oppressed! group -- they seem to have a higher turn-over rate because their need for persecution and other forms of DRAMA! eventually cannibalizes some part of their little group. You're absolutely right. They don't seem to see anything but the persecution because that's what they're looking for.

Attention created through drama is easier to come by rather than attention earned through fannish contributions. The trouble is, that's a far flimsier, far more fleeting sort of attention. However, I honestly don't know whether they would be capable of creating the perception that their fandom is one of DRAMA! or if they'd just create the perception that their circle of five fannish friends is one of DRAMA!

Well.

An atmosphere woul be enough, I think, provided enough people picked it up. It's like fanon--you absorb it whether you mean to or not.

Hmm.

Fair enough. As long as they could create the impression of Here There Be DRAMA! around their fandom then, yeah, all those five would need is to create the sense of a charged atmosphere.

Now that you've said this, I know I've certainly let my impression of particular fandoms get shaped by the bits that wafted my direction rather than because I knew any of the fen or witnessed any actual drama. And really? News of the friendly, happy bits is rarely the news that make it all the way over into other fandoms.

Attention created through drama is easier to come by rather than attention earned through fannish contributions.

Witness the MsScribe saga -- she became a BNF in HP through drama; by all accounts her actual fannish product wasn't all that and a bag of chips.

And yes, even without the sockpuppets, her circle was apparently all about the DRAMA!

*delurks*

This isn't quite the same thing, given that the tennis RPS fandom was basically non-existent as of two years ago but it kind of runs along the same lines. I looked for a pairing that was, to me, obvious and found the fans of each guy hated the other guy with passion, almost unanimously. There was no fic, no thought of even slashing them. To which I thought fine, whatever, and slashed the two of them anyway. A friend joined in slashing the same two guys, then another friend, we got another friend in on it and set up a community to draw more people in, with the focus heavily on this one pairing. Two years later, there's an 'introduce yourself' post on the main LJ tennis slash community and a *lot* of the hundred or so people who've introduced themselves quote this one pairing as their reason for joining the fandom or a favourite pairing. It's become almost the default pairing of the fandom; there's more fic, more pictures, more dicussion about it than any other. You wouldn't believe that a couple of years ago it was considered something of a taboo.

Which at least proves you can strongly bias the creation of a fandom towards a certain pairing with just a small, isolated group focusing on it. :) An existing fandom... it'd be interesting to try at least.

*goes back to lurking*

I'd say that creating a bias in any fandom, whether new or well-established, depends on why the individuals involved are actually involved.

See, you made me smile a bit because I'm currently watching an anti-main-OTP effort underway in a fandom I'm not a part of. (Thus, no particular investment in the show, the characters, or even the fen.) What caught my eye about this particular anti-OTP effort is that one of the participants is in it neither for the characters nor the fandom, but for the chance to just try to score attention for herself.

Right there, that's the difference in why what you did in introducing your taboo-at-the-time pairing into your fandom met with its success. From what you describe, you wrote for yourself and for love of the pairing and the characters. You were entirely content to invite like-minded folks to play in your sandbox and always happily made room for anyone else who wanted to join you.

While the shift that's occurred in your fandom to embrace your pairing must be deliciously satisfying, from my understanding of your comment, you sound as if you would have been entirely happy to just keep playing in your little corner with the handful of folks who joined you. Y'all were in it for the OTP, not to create drama that would put you personally at the center of attention.

This is why I'm inclined to guess that any effort not based in being happy with whatever part of a fandom satisfies you, no matter how popular or how taboo to the "mainstream" in that fandom, won't meet with any real success. People who are in it for attention -- who bash the BNFs through mouthfuls of sour grapes; who want status just because status seems like something they should have and isn't something they've come into through their fannish contributions -- those are the people who will ultimately kill an effort to change the status quo. The only bias that they want to create in their fandom is a bias directed toward themselves, not the characters. As such, they'll eventually get unhappy for all of the reasons they've always become unhappy and stomp off to shit in someone else's sandbox, rather than enjoy the chance to play in their own.

So, hmm. Yeah. That was a lot of prose. Hopefully, some of it even made sense. Cheers!

It's All About John Sheppard for me in SGA. So actually, my fandom is SGA/John Sheppard. Well, that was easy.


Yep. I'm with you all the way on that one. Same way as SPN is all about Dean for me. Some things are delightfully easy to define!

"So thought. I'm wondering, from my carefully protected slope of SGA real estate, where literally, I've managed to work my flist and filters to a point where I only see exactly what I want to see on any give day--what's the difference between perception and reality in fandom really? Is there a chance--a small one, but there--that we actually can remake fandom based on how we perceive it to be? Like--um. And this is so off the point, but what the hell--if I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?"

The difference 'tween perception and reality is the same as in RL: reality is what the the general concensus makes it, and that in turn is made by those who catch the attention of the greatest number. So, your five friends alone won't make whatever (Weir/Lorne) This how It's Supposed to Be, but if you and those other five get another six to support the whatever, and they in turn get another six, and then it's mentioned on several noticeboards, commented on as a de facto canon item, and so on, soon, that really is how it is. So much so, in fact, that whatever happens in the show, the concensus reality will be accepted as more real than canon.

If you doubt the veracity of this, you only have to follow politics for a short time to accept This is How Humans Think.

so seriously, if this makes no sens, I can't even *tell* you how much that doesn't surprise me.

Actually the scary thing is how much sense it makes. After all, fandom is all in the mind of fangirls, right? So you and five friends talk about and agree that it's Weir/Lorne (huh, interesting, just saying it as a possibility is bending my mind towards it). So you and those friends start writing fic, and talking about the Weir/Lorne dynamic while you watch the show, and with other fans, who then also start to understand what you're saying, and so on. You change their minds, you change fandom.

Then there's anti-whatever. Sheppard/Weir makes me feel kinda ill, and I don't want to think about it, and don't let it in my world. So I come across things of that nature very rarely, and when I do, I make sure it's extremely short. So it almost doesn't exist for me.

Er. Will go back to mostly lurking on your lj now.

And this is so off the point, but what the hell--if I sit there with say, five friends and keep *talking* about how the fandom is biased toward Weir/Lorne fic, will the fandom eventually conform to that based on the expectation of readership and/or because they think That Is How It's Supposed to Be?

I don't know about "fandom," but the fandom you see would, I think. Right?

In wickedwords' entry, you and she talked about how LJ's balkanization was a good and a bad thing, and that pretty much sums it up for me. On the one hand, you can shape the experience you want. You can avoid people that drive you nuts.

On the other hand, I think the balkanization has the negative side effect of creating a sort of... "heard it through the grapevine"/game-of-telephone effect in fandom. What you said here actually reminded me of that:

Which is totally an autodefensive maneuver which I am honestly not sure ever, ever had a reason to exist. It *doesn't*. I have never actually been actively involved in a ship war. I just heard a lot about them. And seriously, for the newbiefangirl of yore, that was all I needed to know. Somewhere, [insert OTP] is being harassed by Other People. With the assumption that Somewhere Out There, my ship is under siege by these Other People, and I'd damn well better be ready.

And it rings so true -- how many times have I started up a fannish conversation with the BFF, opening with, "So, people are saying..." Which people? When? Who exactly? Who knows? It's been off my flist for a day now, I don't remember.

Or there's always that familiar scenario where Fan A says something, Fan B writes a critical entry without naming names and speaking in generalized terms, people comment without seeing the original issue at hand, and suddenly, these commenters think there's wank. (I think comms like metafandom actually help cut down on this, which makes me happy.)

Thanks for writing this entry -- it made me think.

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