Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, did you see that the 2018 Hugo Award nominations have been announced? There are some pretty awesome nominees this year, including the recently deceased Ursula K. Le Guin, nominated for her work No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, and fan writer Foz Meadows, who recently did a guest post with the OTW.
This past week included The Day of All Days for the internet–April Fool’s. There were many jokes, pranks, games, and minor disasters to be found. There were a few standout highlights, including Google Maps adding a Where’s Waldo mini game, a feature which is still live as of this post being written. Another joke to make it big was a short spoof episode of Rick and Morty created by Michael Cusack. Vanity Fair has an article breaking down the short if you missed it.
But one of the biggest jokes that hit fandom was Tumblr’s cryptocurrency Tumblcoin, a parody of Bitcoin, which users could “mine” by posting, liking, and reblogging. The value of Tumblcoins varied wildly by the second, and users could spend the currency on features like a profile picture frame and a virtual pet called “horse friend.” It was a bizarre and surreal day on the fandom-heavy platform.
Which jokes were your favourites? Which did you think were lame? Let us know in the comments!
In less irreverent news, the movie Ready Player One was released this week, and many people have things to say about it. Let’s go through some of those reactions. (Warning for minor spoilers ahead, but since the book has been out for seven years, they might not actually be spoilers.)
Bustle published an article about how Ready Player One celebrates men and ignores women. The article points out that the male protagonist, Wade, is elevated over the more skilled female character, Art3mis.
Ready Player One elevates Wade as the hero, the only gamer pure enough of intent and knowledgable of fandom and gaming to take them across the finish line and beat each of Halliday’s challenges. The only character who comes close to Wade’s skills when it comes to Halliday is Art3mis (aka Samantha). When we first meet Art3mis, there is no question that she is a superior gamer… Wade’s role as the only person deserving of beating the Halliday challenges and inheriting the OASIS is pure white boy fandom.
Vox published an article that details the effect GamerGate has had on the way in which the story of Ready Player One has been received.
The world of Cline’s escapist fantasy is a world of elitist gatekeeping. It is a world in which a person’s value is determined by their knowledge of esoteric cultural trivia, where those of lesser value must be defeated and wiped away, and where gaming is all that matters. And, crucially, it is a world specifically for straight white men…
All of these issues may have seemed trivial or unimportant pre-Gamergate — but by 2015, that was no longer the case. Now, they were all many critics could see when they looked at Cline’s work. What used to seem fun and frothy and harmless in Ready Player One was dead; Gamergate killed it.
The Washington Post published an article focusing on the same gender issue, but extrapolating it to the changing world of Hollywood and the relationship people have with media as escapism.
If Wade and his friends make the Oasis a more appealing place to spend time, saving it from becoming an ad-cluttered wasteland, they may make escape even more enticing, sapping energy from making the world habitable and enjoyable again. Tweaking the exact organic composition of a drug doesn’t make it something other than a narcotic.
It’s also true that “Ready Player One” quietly rebukes the idea that giving women and people of color the opportunity to tell their own stories would automatically result in very different stories getting told.
BuzzFeed published an article that goes deeper into the concerns about media as escapism. The article calls Ready Player One “a cautionary tale about burying ourselves in pop culture while the world burns,” and says that “it all feels like a nightmare recounted with a cheery lilt.” Given the virtual reality nature of the OASIS, one might even call it a lucid nightmare. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But seriously, is datamining not a thing in Ready Player One?)
Neither mode of fandom is superior to the other, obviously, nor are they exclusive of one another… In my experience, while most fans definitely fall in one camp or the other, they end up doing a lot from Column A and a little from Column B.
In terms of understanding the conflict between the two, you also need to understand that transformative fandom is overwhelmingly queer, diverse, and female, while curative fandom is overwhelmingly straight, white, and male.
It can feel like a shock to the system to see that validated on such a stunning scale. I mean, curative fandom gets a film directed by Stephen kriffing Spielberg, essentially earning a thumbs up from one of its greatest influences, while transformative fandom gets blamed for ruining Sherlock by Martin Freeman.
There’s no tidy way to conclude the section. Discussion is happening, and that, at least, is a good thing.
To wrap up, here’s some nifty data on fandom. Slate published an interview with Casey Fiesler (one of OTW’s Legal staff!) about her research into fandom platforms. It’s an interesting examination of how fans use online platforms and why they migrate from one to another. Go check it out and tell us what you think!
We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.