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meta rec - I probably shouldn't post about this, but... (Merlin fandom)
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I probably shouldn't post about this, but . . . by linaerys regarding the Merlin fandom in response to thingswithwings post on Merlin (linked in entry).



This is pretty much a lot of what I wanted to say on the subject after reading thingswithwings's post, but a.) I am not even in the Merlin fandom and have only watched a little of the show, so authority, see I have none and b.) I'm not terribly objective since I was in comments there and being sane, I'm not going to post on something when my feelings are hurt or blah blah whineycakes.

It's more--I'm not sure I have the right to take it personally when I think there was actual escalation involved, and I'm not entirely sure I'm not to blame for getting frustrated with the concept that seemed to be running through the essay and much more specifically in comments regarding a social obligation not to be fannish on source text that's problematic. So, yeah. I'm still reading through it to make sure I didn't misinterpret, but it's still bothering me, because a.) really, no, fans are not now responsible for the creators actions and b.) I'm not comfortable fans themselves be judged by what they are fannish about. I know there are exceptions to this--I can think of several off the top of my head I'd find problematic, like fangirling Nazis, because it's not a good post unless I can Godwin it--but I'm also extremely wary of skating toward your kink is not okay.

Like I said, linaerys said it far better and more clearly than I can.


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See for me, it's not that I have a problem with people being fannish over problematic texts because the fact is, one of the things that makes a show appealing to fandom is plot holes and incomplete character development and other things we feel a need to fix. But for me personally...well it's like someone said in the comments to thingswithwings's post: I'm just tired of being all emotionally involved in a show that left me, more often than not, so infuriated that I had to calm down after watching what should have been a brilliant episode ("Vegas" isn't the first time that happened to me with SGA but it's certainly the most recent example).

So, yeah, I'm hardly on a crusade to tell people what they should and should not be fannish about, and for all I know, I could get bored one night and watch and fall in love with Merlin. But I would love it if my next obsession didn't leave me with the need to go over to deadbrowalking and rant after each episode.

Ooh yeah. Smallville seasons two through four when I stopped because I was no longer physically capable of getting through an ep.

Your Vegas review is one of the reasons I'm wary about the ep (no Teyla and Ronon? That doesn't even make *sense*.).

God, what I wouldn't do if a show didn't skeeve me, or at least made a brave and valiant attempt at it. OTOH, personally, part of the attraction to writing in a fandom (as opposed to watch or read only) is trying to fix some of the problems in it, so I'm wondering curiously if I would write for a show that was that good (watch, God yes, write, that I wonder about).

So agreed on that one. My objection was more the social responsibility aspect of not fanning Merlin (insert show). That part bothers me in the idea of the fan becoming responsible for the source material and the idea of fans being judged by it. It's way too close to the kink issue.

Heh, the morality rant never works to prevent people from going into fandoms you don't care for. Best example: the whole RPS popularity rise.

I find it actually awesome that Merlin retells and twists Arthurian legend to an extent that you can't really predict the plots anymore. And it is far better that they chucked out any pretense at "historical accuracy" right away, starting with the tomatoes that get thrown at Merlin, rather than try for it and constantly aggravate viewers by failing.

Edited at 2009-01-06 09:42 am (UTC)

At the beginning, there was the immorality of slash, and then there was rps and incest adn rape and not even necessarily in that order. I am not one to say anyone's kinks are not okay, but I see a more relevant objection to people willy-nilly writing rapefic than Merlin, so I am weirded out.

I skimmed the original post and came away with 2 thoughts:
1) Seriously, making any sort of argument that Merlin is too problematic for people to become fannish about while bemoaning the fact that people were drifting away from SGA boggles my mind because having watched both, I'd say they each have gender/race/etc issues and given the sidelining of Teyla and Ronon this year in SGA... Well, let's just say I had a problem finding her Merlin objections believable given she is fannish about SGA.

2) Whenever there is upheaval in a fandom due to loss of new source material or whatever there is inevitably fannish drift. Trying to make it a moral obligation to stick with one fandom because another one has hinky issues becomes an exercise in futility pretty quickly. SO it has been and so it shall be. Better not to piss off the people still in both fandoms rather than try to keep the people who haven't drifted over to it yet from drifting away in general - they'll just go to a different fandom maybe.

I know my issues are not the deep thoughts about social obligation and morality as it affects the world we live in through our magic Tv screen, but I truly felt the rant was more about stopping people from watching Merlin because it would impact SGA than actually having much relevant discussion behind it.

I haven't even seen enough Merlin to make a judgment call. What I have seen, so far, isn't all that different from pretty much all shows in that category, so yeah. I probably need to see the rest to be sure, but so far, I haven't seen anything dramatically worse than SGA, SV, or pretty much half the shows out right now.

I know my issues are not the deep thoughts about social obligation and morality as it affects the world we live in through our magic Tv screen, but I truly felt the rant was more about stopping people from watching Merlin because it would impact SGA than actually having much relevant discussion behind it.

Oh yeah. I was sympathetic to the leaving-SGA thing, because I hate it when that happens in a fandom I'm in, but I'm not sure going the "this show is immoral so stay in SGA" is quite the way to go about convincing people.

Read your comments over there... I completely agree with you, and I don't know why the other people in the thread(s) didn't seem to grasp the distinction you were making between discussing Issues with the show vs. holding fans up for judgment for fanning it in the first place.

So yeah. Inarticulate comment is inarticulate. :\

I seriously re-read everything I said on that before posting it to be sure I was making the distinction. For the life of me, I can't see how I was unclear on exactly what I felt might be a problem there.

So--yeah. That was odd.

I'm also extremely wary of skating toward your kink is not okay

I also think that, well. Here I am, a committed feminist, and my current show is SPN. And before that it was SG-1. I'm not less a feminist, or a bad feminist, for enjoying those shows. I respond to the problematic stuff in those shows, definitely, in commentary and fiction; but I resent the hell out of anyone telling me I am trampling on the sisterhood by watching them.

Which is not to say that I have the right to insist that anyone who finds those shows too problematic for those reasons should watch them. Just because I can work with it, via spn_xx and halfamoon, doesn't mean everyone else must.

I respond to the problematic stuff in those shows, definitely, in commentary and fiction; but I resent the hell out of anyone telling me I am trampling on the sisterhood by watching them.

This, yes. This.

Which is not to say that I have the right to insist that anyone who finds those shows too problematic for those reasons should watch them.

I have so many words of yes here you have no idea. The lemming argument and the not reading the text critically argument drove me up the wall on that, too. I'm just not seeing how it's a good idea to interpret a fan's social conscience by their television viewing habits. Just--no.


Not being, sensu stricto, a slasher (I read and enjoy slashfic, but it's not my primary mode of engagement with the text -- if I have a fic orientation at all, I'd classify it as "plotty genfic with a side of het"), I really can't evaluate all of the political arguments as regards heteronormativity, homosociality, and why-are-all-the-witches-evil.†

On the other hand, as a quondam medievalist, I can state with a fair degree of certainty that historical authenticity and the Arthurian legends haven't spent more than five minutes in the same room with each other since the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth at the very latest. Malory's Camelot was high medieval; Tennyson's was Victorian; T. H. White's was full of mid-twentieth-century anxiety. If the BBC is rolling their own Arthuriana for Merlin rather than going for one of the ready-made versions, they're not the first to do so by a long shot.

†Though I have to admit that after having had noble persecuted peace-and-goodness-loving antipatriarchal magic users more or less take over the fictional landscape in the aftermath of Marian Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon, it's a bit of a relief to finally have some of them being villains again, or at least operating somewhere more in the tattletale-grey range as far as morality goes.

Edited at 2009-01-06 05:12 pm (UTC)

On the other hand, as a quondam medievalist, I can state with a fair degree of certainty that historical authenticity and the Arthurian legends haven't spent more than five minutes in the same room with each other since the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth at the very latest. Malory's Camelot was high medieval; Tennyson's was Victorian; T. H. White's was full of mid-twentieth-century anxiety. If the BBC is rolling their own Arthuriana for Merlin rather than going for one of the ready-made versions, they're not the first to do so by a long shot.

I still have flashbacks to First Knight. And that other one.

I've read a lot of Arthurian legend, and the only consistency I've ever witnessed is usually, his name is Arthur. And in the ones with a strong Romanesque influence, I think they were calling him Arturus or something. Which is why I love King Arthur like whoa. Never the same twice.

I've never understood the way some people in fandom (and elsewhere. see also politics where some people insist that if you vote for X you have to condone and defend everything they say and/or do) think that if you love a TV-show/book/movie/whatever you have to love all of it unconditionally. Is it really that hard to think "this show is awesome because..." and "this show is problematic because..." at the same time, to like something while also being critical of the parts that suck? It really seems to be a difficult concept to grasp for some people.

It's sad when your friendslist and your favourite authors move on to another fandom you don't particularly like, but telling them how much you hate their new shiny toys is not the way to make them come back to their old fandom.

Is it really that hard to think "this show is awesome because..." and "this show is problematic because..." at the same time, to like something while also being critical of the parts that suck? It really seems to be a difficult concept to grasp for some people.

That does throw me, because the assumption that we aren't thinking critically is just ridiculous. I have to admit, I don't record every single critical thought on every show, and in some, I don't think I've ever even mentioned them in LJ. Because really. I also don't mention how many times a day I brush my teeth, so assuming I am a hater of toothpaste from that is just unreal.

Haven't read this thread (since hi! just skated over from thingswithwings post) but I just wanted to tell you that I understood your initial argument there (the one were it started escalating) just fine, and I thought it was very clearly and concisely made.

I was shaking my head a bit at the continued misunderstanding. It looked like a complete case of color-blindness to me -- like, I see green and red, so I obv. understand you when you're talking about green on the one hand and red OTOH, but the subsequent commenters can only see green as red, and keep coming back to that. That was frustrating to read, and must have been 100x more frustrating to argue. [Still, your understated snark is delighful.]

I was actually getting freaked out by that; I kept going back and reading to make sure I didn't like, imagine what I wrote. It was surreal. I mean, I can get on a skim someone not getting context, but that was--well, odd.

I'm still reading through it to make sure I didn't misinterpret, but it's still bothering me, because a.) really, no, fans are not now responsible for the creators actions and b.) I'm not comfortable fans themselves be judged by what they are fannish about.

*nods* It's just... weird. I mean, my current favourite shows? Are Prison Break and Entourage. Now, iwth the first there are wildly unbelievable plot-lines, torture, truly skeezy characters and a lack of blondes (no, really, it's all brunettes and darker. Any recurring female character apparently cannot be blonde. This fact amuses me for no good reason) and I know that. I know the writers are slightly crack-addled and the show sometimes makes very limited sense, but it has a great sense of tension, an awesome respect for capable, intelligent characters and William Fichtner. It makes me feel fannish and want to write about it.

Entourage, on the other hand, I love reading about and I love watching. Despite the swearing, the high level of racist, homophobic, sexist jokes and language, and the way that the men treat and talk about women as little more than sex objects. (They all occasionally fall for a girl, but about 90% of the women you see in the show are just there for a quick one-night-stand and get no personality/anything else.) And yet, it's a funny, interesting show that I adore. The characters are surprisingly well-rounded and feel realistic, and I love it.

If the show itself -- or particular characters on a show -- have certain attitudes I don't agree with, it doesn't automatically mean that I have a moral obligation not to like it.

Alternatively, just because a show does certain things right doesn't mean I have to like them. I mean, reality TV has to get two thumbs up for showing a range of people (different races, sexuality, personal lifestyle, etc) but I don't personally like it. I'd rather watch something with a script and a plot. And no-one can argue with me that I'm obligated to support *entertainment* I don't personally enjoy.

Which is, y'know, a long-winded way of saying: each to their own, dude.

This. I have fanned problematic texts and as it is the nature of the world, will fan problematic texts. Nothing makes me itchier than the moral obligation stick of poking. Just no.

This is my short WHEE for your comments. How is everyone able to express perfectly what I spent five comments saying over there? Gah.

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