Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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i still think you're amazing, you know

I'm trying not to confuse the issue or take away from FA's actions, which were by any standard completely wrong, but I'm really hitting hard against how we're devaluing ourselves (and you know, other people) in response.

FA fucked up. They were asking for money for their servers and vague 'educational' somethings untyped. They weren't applying for the purpose of a concrete concept with a complete explanation of what it would need, what it would accomplish, and what the eventual goal was and who it would benefit.

The fact they are running a fanfic archive, or it had anything to do with fandom, is immaterial to that; they weren't doing it for the right reasons or in the spirit of Pepsi Refresh (I just typed the words 'spirit of Pepsi Refresh'. Some part of me just tried to die for that). Any group of any type who approached an organization this way would have fucked up; being fanfic does not make it worse or better, from an objective POV. From a concrete POV, as in, this is my community, I'm just as pissed that they didn't come to the whole community first if they were in dire straits--which I'm still not sure they are since the comments are pretty contradictory in themselves.

That disposed.

Art and community enrichment are legitimate enterprises on which to give or get money. A lot of the discussion ending up asking the question "how often do you beat your wife" in metaphor; as a general rule, unless you are either remarkably masochistic or you have an axe to grind, setting everything in the goddamn world against starving children is absolutely insane. I could have used my ridiculously large copay for surgery to, IDK, buy food for a homeless shelter; gall bladder stones are not necessarily deadly and what's pain compared to starvation? Thyroid medication isn't strictly necessary for my survival and my copay for that could feed a family of three in some countries according to certain commercials. All the time I spend learning coding and bash scripting is serving absolutely no purpose in the greater or even smaller scheme of things. The time I spent writing this entry could have been spent working in a soup kitchen.

Art is devalued in society. Literature is devalued in society. Music is devalued in society. Hobbies are devalued in society. Anything--anything--that isn't devoted to making money or acquiring skills to make money is devalued. Self-expression is devalued with the exception of socially acceptable individualism, which is associated with--right. Making money.

(Sports isn't. Even amateur. Now think about why I'm not listing that as an exception, because it's not an exception to the rule. It's actually the reason for the rule.)

Forever ago, there was an article on Madonna. I read it I don't even know when. It traced her career, her controversies, the usual about-Madonna article (her music is junk, her performances are junk, blah blah blah) which are a matter of personal taste; the article was complimentary thought. They loved her business sense. There were several paragraphs talking about it. This stuck with me; in general, when expressing admiration of an artist, their art is secondary to their ability to sell themselves and their product. In the last year while wandering through the fields of RPS and for the first time in my life going to actively read articles about musicians (for context for fic, obviously) about Pete Wentz, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, they talked about their behavior, their private lives, their controversies--but man, they could and would be forgiven anything at all because how well they sold themselves. Their business sense. Their art was secondary.

Less than a week ago, I was sitting with some people making the argument bash scripting is a tool of the devil. Someone asked why I still was working on it, and I answered, knee-jerk "For fun." Why did I build a server? For fun. One person at that table didn't look like I'd suddenly turned purple; he is also a fanboy.

Think about that one--programming is like, not even art! It's a legitimate job and everything! (Yes, it fucking is art. It can be.) But it had no value for all but one person at that table because I wasn't using it to make money or to increase my skillset to make more money or to lead to a different job for the purpose of--yes--making money.

Stamp collecting, collecting comic books, coins, all are considered huge wastes of time--right up until the person in question finds their three-legged buffalo penny or Superman #1. Then they're lauded--for making money. There is absolutely no activity or hobby in the world that is not legitimized--not for existing for it's own sake--if it makes money. Because then you aren't doing it for pleasure; you are showing business sense.

The one and only place I have ever connected with any art or artistic-endeavor snob is here:

If I were a serious artist of any kind who was engaged in a mainstream-like artistic enterprise that could be used to make lots and lots of money like, IDK, music or painting/sculpting or writing non-fanfic novels, by this point in my life I would have snapped. The constant questions and scorn for the fact I wasn't a superstar or living in a loft off Central Park in New York or starring with Angelina Jolie in the next blockbuster or opening for The Fray and why was I doing this shit instead of getting a real job managing people in some sort of corporate office--why am I doing anything that isn't leading to a six figure income--okay, yeah, by this point in my life, I would with complete sincerity be saying shit about selling out and how all art that makes money sucks and true artists don't make money. I'd probably even believe it.

We're fanfic writers, fanartists, vidders, we build websites, organize cons, and acquire skills in the pursuit of something that cannot ever make money, ever. It's barred to us by the law and we built a culture around it. We built a culture that is at its foundation based on acts of creation that have no purpose other than to give and receive pleasure and has no business application whatsoever. Christ, we can't even claim a higher religious, philosophical, or social purpose in the foundation of our creation, though I believe we are engaged in all three and more anyway, because that's like, pretentious and you know, making ourselves feel better about being total losers. I don't want to say we are goddamn fucking special snowflakes, because that is wank bait that drags out accusations of pretension (moreso) and getting above ourselves, but it's okay if it's said about us, but as long as it's spelled 'speshul' because otherwise we might like, take it literally and not understand in our bones we are beneath contempt. We're kind of stupid like that.

You know what I mean, right?

Those fangirls who like porn, those girls always acting like their stupid little hobbies are like, important and shit when there are children starving and archives are stupid and I hope FA is totally destroyed forever wouldn't that be a comeuppance to lose that and what do you mean it's fannish history and the work of thousands it's not important and it would be hilarious, I'd laugh, and if you think it's important there are people starving and homeless why aren't you thinking about that. They're lonely women with no lives, hey, do you know any fangirl who is successful professionally IRL and has a family because all I see are losers, they can't get a man, fangirls who claim they are 'bisexual' just want attention, they're all fat disabled virgins, look at HP and Cassie Claire, look at Supernatural and all that shit stalking Jensen, look at that woman, she's a psycho, she's crazy, she's one of those Ianto fangirls, Dean fangirls, LOTRIPs tinhats, HP plagiarists, Adam Lambert fangirls like do they think he'll fuck them or something, she's a fangirl, they're crazy, they're goddamn fangirls, it's not art it's just how you get yourself off and it's not important, it's just fandom and none of it matters and are you like, upset or something, be upset about the war in Iraq or famine, God, why does this matter you're just proving that it's true, all of it, acting like this. I'm so ashamed.

Then there's what people who aren't in our community say about us.

I don't give a shit what people not involved in fandom think; I mean, on random days I have an attack of rage, but it's transitory because they don't matter. I don't hang out with them, go to cons with them, read their flists, exchange email and presents and advice; why would they matter to me in how my life is lived? Whatever, play your fantasy football and WoW with a sense of superiority, or continue your climb up the corporate ladder or whatever it is that makes you happy, non-community people; I'm a fanfic writer engaged in a pursuit that will not and cannot contribute to my professional life in any way; I am by my very existence all about people being happy. My culture is based on it.

I'm a fanfic writer and I'm not respected because my hobby is writing fic based on the works of other people; it's useless. The endeavor itself. It has no business value; I cannot and do not make money from it. I don't even want to. I'm not doing it to improve my chances of being published. I'm doing it because it's fun and God do I like my fun to be shared. Fanfic is worthless; professional derivative fiction is not, and I won't even go into this debate again because this is an absolute fact of existence. If fanfic was a legally protected enterprise that fell under parody and I became a different person who would take all my fanfic and sell it and I made money at it? I'd be praised for my business sense.

That's the value that is placed on my hobby and my life by people not in fandom. It's about as relevant to my life and interests as the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

I care, though, what we think of ourselves; this shit is what we're perfectly willing to trot out at a moment's notice like it's goddamn gospel written on the mountain. My last post was too mixed up with the FA thing to hit this as hard as I wanted to, but as a member of this community this is fucking relevant to my life and interests and I'm entitled to ask this question; is this what you think about when you're reading your flist, posting fic, art, vids, meta, media commentary, feedbacking, beta'ing, building websites and going to cons?

It's not that I have ever been completely oblivious to internalized shame or the fact as a group we are not overly eager to gain a spotlight in the public eye or not exactly thrilled every time mainstream media and some academics psychoanalyze or Jane Goodall us in the spirit of being open-minded about how we're all crazy lonely teenage middle aged middle class white housewives who want to fuck RPatz and own fifty cats blah fucking blah. Shock me; we are not huge fans of being the object of mockery and pity and derision from people who find the idea of what we do icky and weird and without monetary value (and therefore no value at all) because what we need is a deep dicking or a real life or a job or a family. People can and do make you ashamed of what you do, are, because we're human and we can do our best to fight it but man do we have bad days. But tentatively, and I am perfectly willing to be called on it if I'm oversimplifying or engaging in inflammatory rhetoric about something so terribly unimportant, adopting and supporting those attitudes while being in the community and engaging in community endeavors is a very high form of asshole.

I'm not talking about venting; yes, we all do that about each other, welcome to humanity, we're catty and judgmental as fuck and boy we get pissed about stupid shit; you should have seen my grandmother's genealogical society. I'm not talking about your vendetta against everyone who likes pairing X, or this fandom, or that actor; in a shocking turn of events, people polarize on things love to fight it out; have you seen people argue over yarn in the knitting communities? Build a community, they will come, they will argue, they will fight, they will polarize and clique and it's life and it's what we do. People do this shit.

What's getting to me here is, I'm not sure if any other group has such an internalized sense of shame about the entirety of their own goddamn hobby including everyone else who is engaged in it. It's not enough to personally feel that maybe writing MCR RPS is like, ick, though I'm not exactly thrilled if someone was engaging in fandom hating themselves as they answer five hundred pieces of feedback: that's painful and really, it's okay, love thy fic and thy encyclopedic knowledge of MCR and their various members, I admire you hugely and love it. Holding everyone else doing it in contempt while you do it yourself--your friends, cowriters, betas, mods, the chick you met through MCR that you spent the weekend with last week and got drunk with at a karaoke bar--is--help me out, what's a word for joining a group, getting to be friends with everyone, sharing your secrets and feelings and whatever and all the while secretly thinking "All of you suck and are terrible human beings who suck," while the group is buying you a beer and telling you how much they like you and like your work?

Being ashamed because mainstream values say we are freaks and our work has no value while acknowledging mainstream values are fucked up and working to overcome the internalization is one thing; externalizing that to the point where it's knee-jerk to agree every time someone calls a fanfic writer/artist/vidder/meta writer a [see the paragraph way up there for a complete list; I can't do it again], to actually believe that, isn't ironic realism or showing how really, you are really aware and smart. You are totally nothing like those fangirls who are about porn and stalking (and seriously, I'm so tired of the weight thing it's unreal); you know you suck, and though you're still doing it and everything, it's way superior to those losers who like, don't get how loser they are. You acknowledge you do worthless things and that makes it okay.

I was thinking I'd be angry about it; after everything I read today (in the last year, five years, ten years), Christ, it's like watching performance flagellation, but then it occurred to me; this is fandom and we shape our fandom experience to please ourselves. I can't sit here and say that just because you hold all of it and its people and works in utter contempt, you're doing it wrong. This is your fannish experience and this is how you are happiest engaging in it; be happy.

I honestly don't know if I'm being sarcastic; weirdly, writing this, I'm mostly not. I don't understand it; I don't agree with it; I'm kind of vaguely wondering how wanky this post is because fuck if can tell if I'm hitting crazycakes or tl;dr like the fist of god. It's a toss-up; I can't even blame drugs and surgery for incoherence or overinvestment, so there goes that defense, would it have killed FA to do this on Saturday when I was hopped up on mixing two painkillers and a muscle relaxant and hadn't slept in thirty-six hours? And I think [personal profile] svmadelyn right now is telling me I forgot to drink water again and I find it really surreal she doesn't have to actually be interacting with me to send 'drink water' vibes across the country. Possibly crazy, who can tell?

Mostly, though, I want to know when you're going to post the next part of that fic I love about my OTP, because I love your work and I love your writing and in every fandom we've been in together you just get better. Are you going to VividCon, KiScon, ConTxt, Escapade? Did you see last night's ep, I read your review of last season and kind of want to see the show now. I'm so glad you're here; we would have been infinitely less without you. I'm so glad I met you.

I just wish you could say the same.

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Tags: crosspost, meta: fandom
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