TWC Panel Chat Transcript

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If you missed any of our posts celebrating the release of Transformative Works and Cultures20th issue, check out our Symposium feature and our Q&A with contributors to the journal. Below is the transcript of the panel chat held on September 19th which concludes our week’s celebration. We would like to thank all the panelists as well as our Q&A participants for helping us make this event possible. Thank you also to the production team at TWC who have made each of those 20 issues possible, and made such an excellent contribution to the OTW’s overall mission.

The transcript has been edited for arrivals and departures in the room and greetings from the audience.


This week the Organization for Transformative Works is celebrating the 20th issue of its academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC). Today we will be chatting with four contributors to TWC.

I’m your moderator, Claudia, and I’m a staffer with the OTW’s Communications committee. Our panelists today are:

Lucy Busker is a writing professor at Parkland College in Illinois, USA. She was the founder and site maintainer of the original Fanfic Symposium, and the owner of the Fanfiction Critic’s Association mailing list. Her recent interests include gender in children’s media, including a strange fascination with her daughter’s Barbie movies.

Cathy Cupitt has been an active member of fandom since the late 1980s, first writing fanfiction for Lotrips. She’s been a writer, reccer and vidder in Stargate: Atlantis, Torchwood, Supernatural and Teen Wolf, among others. She has a Doctorate in Creative Arts, and is currently a Research Fellow for the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

Amanda Odom has served as an instructor at several institutions, including the University of South Alabama, the United States Sports Academy, and Front Range Community College. She has also worked as an editor. She loves finding connections between the characters in comics, video games, books, and movies and the people who write and read them.

Dana Sterling has published a romance novel under a nom de plume, and teaches writing at Oklahoma State University’s Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. She studied journalism, and previously spent 20 years as a reporter, editor and broadcaster. She has been a fan of comics, Star Wars, Stargate, and The Lord of the Rings among others.

We have some prepared questions for the panel, but we’re happy for the discussion to evolve organically. So a good morning or evening to everyone here, and let’s get started!

How did you first hear about TWC, or plans for its launch?

Lucy

You know, I’m not entirely sure (I was pregnant that year, and had the memory to match), but I think I knew about it before the official-official announcements. I wasn’t involved in the actual official discussion, but I got lobbed the occasional question or bit of info, usually involving the by-then-closed Fanfic Symposium. After that, I saw the early announcements with everyone else.

Dana

I had already met its editors in fan communities we both frequented, and when the OTW and the journal were announced, I heard about it then.

Amanda

Coeditor of Transformative Works and Cultures Kristina Busse was a colleague and friend of mine when I was working at the University of South Alabama. We shared an office, and we enjoyed many conversations about fandoms. She introduced me to TWC.

Cathy

Waaaaay back in 2007, I was approached by Naomi Novik about joining the original Board for the OTW — this was back before anything had been built, or any of the legal incorporation stuff had been done yet. It was all just a dream in fandom’s collective heads. Anyway, I wanted to contribute and help get things started, so I said yes. From very early on, the Board agreed we wanted an academic journal to be a part of the OTW’s outreach to the community, along with the fanworks Archive, legal help for fans, and the fan history wiki. We also wanted all the major projects to be open, so that they could be accessed easily by anyone who was interested, and that has really paid off with the TWC. It’s just so damn easy to point people there when they are looking for resources on fandom, and you know they’ll find something relevant and useful.

TWC was very much the baby of Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson. They really got the journal off the ground, putting so much work and thought and cleverness into it.

What I loved about most about this project – and still do! – was the Symposium category, which opened a space for fan voices and meta within academic discourse, without them needing to be part of the academy to be taken seriously. Too often, people being studied have no way to speak back within the formal publications of scholars, much to the detriment of the field. I thought this innovation was not just a good idea ethically, but would enrich both academia and fandom, by making possible a richer conversation and understanding of what fandom and fan practices were and are.

Lucy

Amanda, that’s nifty. I love when work and fandom overlap serendipitously.

Claudia

Yes, a great point about Symposium, Cathy.

Dana

Cathy, I too thought the Symposium section was a great idea. It encouraged people who might not have seen it as a possible outlet for their work to submit.

Amanda

I do, too. I think that is why I am an English major. 🙂

Claudia

Amanda, you were one of the first contributors — did you talk with Kristina about the topic early on or was it something you’d always wanted to discuss?

Cathy

Lucy, is TWC’s Symposium a lot like the Fanfic Symposium? Or are they completely different?I’ve always wondered.

Amanda

I concur, Cathy. The new issue’s article “Fan Studies: Researching Popular Audience” is a good example.

Lucy

They’re similar, although the Fanfic Symposium was a lot less formal. I took what was submitted, all of it.

Amanda

I’d been talking with her about comics and gaming for a few months, and the topic grew from that.

Lucy

But the idea of something a bit more developed than a mailing list/blog post was always the idea.

Dana

I devoured Lucy’s Symposium website when I discovered it! I’d say, yes, the Symposium section of the journal is much more formal.

Lucy

I think the idea of providing a venue, though, is very much the same.

Claudia

I noticed that several of you had personal ties to someone involved with TWC early on.

Amanda

I think that is one of the ways that fan communities reflect academic ones: we share data, inspire each other, and help each other bring our concepts to life. 🙂

Claudia

Do you think that the fan networking was more useful than academic networking you’ve been involved in? Or are the two pretty much the same?

Dana

Claudia, useful in what way?

Claudia

Useful in leading to specific contributions being made, such as writing an article, editing an issue, doing peer review, etc.

Cathy

Great point, Amanda.

Dana

In my case, definitely.

Lucy

Likewise.

Cathy

There’s a lot of overlap for me, but yes, a lot of opportunities have come my way thanks to the fannish grapevine. It’s really effective at getting word out to people, once you’re in the massive web of contacts.

Dana

My professional field is not related to fan studies, so I would not have run into any of the people whose work I’ve read in TWC or with whom I’ve interacted in fan communities through my academic work.

Claudia

Do you think it may also feel less intimidating to network with other fans?

Lucy

I’m endlessly amazed at how useful fan networking has been in so, so many areas of my life.

Dana

Well, my background is as a reporter, so I’m not really intimidated by talking to strangers or trying to elbow my way into brand new groups. So for me, not really. But the personal angle is very nice — makes everything warmer and more fun. Even when it’s hard work.

Amanda

Hmm. The potential fan contribution can be so broad, from large goals like publication, production, etc. to moderate ones like hosting a panel or chat, to smaller ones, like getting a game together or a comic swap. I think one benefit of the fan network is that one never feels alone; there is a community if one looks for it for any fandom. How useful that community is may depend on how active one wants to be in it.

Lucy

I think so, even when I’m making connections for non-research-based things. There’s a common bond, there, and at least for me, an assumption of goodwill.

Cathy

It’s a lot less intimidating when you’re young. Also, there are so many things you can do as a fan. When I went to America, people were just amazingly kind, and took me around to visit all kinds of cool things. Academics are nice too, but they not quite as open in the same way.

Dana

That assumption of goodwill, of feeling like you already have common ground, is wonderful.

Amanda

Vocational openness lends itself to professional warmth and courtesy, while some fan communities can feel like family, too.

Lucy

It’s hard for me to imagine another academic just opening her home to me for the MLA convention, based solely on an online relationship.

Claudia

That’s a good point, Dana and Cathy, about age and experience making a difference in the networks as it sounds like it might be most helpful for new academics or graduate students.

Amanda

Exactly, Lucy. 🙂

Cathy

There’s nothing like that first conversation when you compare fandoms, and discover you’ve read the same fics and know some of the same fans.

Lucy

Yes!

Dana

Another yes! That “OMG it’s you!” moment.

Lucy

It really would, Claudia.

Cathy

I’d agree with that, Claudia. When you’re a poor student, still trying to create a professional network and reputation, fandom is incredibly supportive.

Claudia

So speaking of starting out: What got you interested in fan studies?

Amanda

I think fandom can be a great way to teach folks about the importance of hard work to create great things, and the importance of finding work that you enjoy so that you get the full benefit out of it.

Lucy

I actually came at things kind of backwards. I discovered fanfic (or rather, that other people wrote their own Trek stories!) on usenet, and almost immediately noticed that while most of the posters on the discussion groups were men, most of the fanfic was being posted by women. I was hip-deep in grad school at the time, and thought there might be a paper in it. Turned out someone had already written the book (story of my life), but by the time I’d read Textual Poachers, I had also read a LOT of fanfic, met other fans, and was hooked. But the analytical lens never went away, especially since I was writing/had written a dissertation on asynchronous online discussion. There’s very little I like writing more than something that combines rhetoric and fandom.

Claudia

So true, Amanda.

Dana

Discovering communities on LJ like metabib and the Symposium website. Then I started finding articles to read, and at the same time found fans online that turned out to be academics too.

Cathy

I’m a creative artist doing my Doctorate in Creative Arts. I wanted to be a better writer, and understand more about technique and how they impacted on audiences. I was already part of fandom in real life, and had recently discovered online fandom and the amazing stuff that was happening in that space. Fandom is such a great place to hone your skill, because the feedback is so generous, thoughtful, and voluminous. There were also creative things happening in fandom that I’d never seen anywhere else, and I thought they were really exciting. Put all those things together, and I wanted to know more about what made fandom tick. That’s when I started to spread out from looking at how to write, to looking at the writing/reading fan culture that was so good at turning people into writers. I started with Jenkins, as so many people do, but rapidly gobbled up a bunch of other stuff, although there wasn’t that much back then. TWC has been such a boon in opening up the conversation.

Claudia

Hah, Lucy, people keep writing that book and from the media I see, a lot of people keep failing to read them!

Lucy

Dana, that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. 😉
That is a fair point!

I think there are a few ways to answer that. Before I ever thought about becoming a scholar in an academic or professional sense, I was definitely a fan. The first ‘essay’ I wrote was on Bram Stoker’s life and how it impacted Dracula. The book that I based my essay on was pretty terrible and not particularly accurate (at that age, I really did not differentiate between relevant data and pabulum as these related to research), but I wrote the essay because I was really starting to love Gothic literature and I wanted to know everything I could about the writer, the characters, etc. I think the moment I stopped being interested in the text alone and became interested in the context marked a turning point for me.

Of course, it was not until I was about 20 that I went to my first Dragon Con, and that changed everything again. Seeing thousands of people coming together in a shared experience like that was wonderful. Seeing the texts come alive via the costumes, the games, the plays and the stories (I remember there was a lower level where fan fiction was shared on huge reams of continuous form printer’s paper) was an enlightenment for me.

Cathy

Sorry, tense error. I was doing my PhD back when I discovered fandom, way back in 1999 ish.

Claudia

Dana, those communities have been so important in launching discussions — are you aware of how widespread meta-type communities are across fandoms?

Dana

Claudia, that is so true. I was so glad to see the Fan Fiction Reader come out. Once again our fearless editors using the comprehensive perspective they have to enrich the writing in the field.

Claudia

Cathy, what ways do you think TWC has expanded the discussion?

Lucy

“I think the moment I stopped being interested in the text alone and became interested in the context marked a turning point for me.” Amanda, I think I want to embroider that on a pillow.

Amanda

Ha! Thanks, Lucy. 🙂

Claudia

Amanda, I love what you said about the difference between the text and context.

Dana

Claudia, it’s a great question. I spend most of my fannish time on Dreamwidth these days, under a fannish pseud, and there’s a community there called metanews that rounds up fannish posts on topics of interest to specific fandoms and more general topics too, in the mainstream media. Back when I was more active fannishly on Livejournal there were several communities of that type that came and went. I am clueless about Tumblr so someone else can speak to that.

Cathy

It’s hard to give a succinct answer, Claudia. But as we said before with Symposium, it allows ideas from meta to move more easily into academic discourse without losing the fan author’s connection, just to start with.

Dana

Things have changed so much since I became aware of online fandom in 2001 or 2002 when the Lord of the Rings movies came out — a fan I know collects links to fan fiction topics in the mainstream media, and it’s just exploded. I do see people saying that Tumblr changed how meta happens. Was Livejournal around 2004 a high point of fannish meta?

Amanda

I like establishing connections. I love seeing pieces fit together. The great thing about the Humanities field is that pieces fit in more than one puzzle, so you can get some pretty wild and beautiful configurations.

Dana

Yeah, a great quote, Amanda!

Cathy

But it’s also widened my own understanding of fandom, and I’m sure other people’s too. I didn’t know about quilting as a fandom really, until I read about it on TWC, but now it seems so obvious.

Lucy

It might have been, Dana. Before LJ, it was so hard to reach an audience with longer, more thought-out posts.

Cathy

Amanda I loved your comment about context too — it was a big part of it for me as well.

Dana

Cathy, was that the Q and A I compiled about fancrafts? If so I have a big grin on.

Lucy

Mailing lists were awesome for discussion, but not so great for longer pieces.

Lucy

Amanda, I agree re: puzzle pieces. It’s what I love about rhetoric and literary studies, and also what I love about fandom.

Amanda

True, Lucy. And earlier fanzines were so spaced out between discussions.

Dana

And the mailing lists were fandom specific, too, so it was harder to have a sense of the wider discussions.

Claudia

Following up on that Lucy, and Dana’s earlier mention of Tumblr, what do you all think about the importance of the technology platform fandoms use when it comes to the development of meta about their canon or their own activities?

Lucy

I think it’s very important.

Cathy

Dana, I read that one too, and yes, that was part of it. I was also thinking of this one: “The labor of creativity: Women’s work, quilting, and the uncommodified life” by Debora Halbert is a great article published way back in #3.

Dana

There’s been a lot of discussion about the impact of platforms lately in the fannish circles I inhabit. The features of the platforms have a huge impact.

Lucy

I wrote a long post applying Bakhtin’s theory of utterances and responses to LJ, and I wish I had time to learn Tumblr well enough to update it.

Dana

Cathy, I missed that Halbert article! Will go back and check it out.

Lucy

I think the key difference of Tumblr is that it carries text with the response.

Amanda

These provide a record in a way that is fairly permanent.

Cathy

It’s really great, Dana. You’re going to love it. The part that talks about copyright and gift culture gave me chills: women’s work and fan work. They just seem to overlap over and over.

Lucy

You will still get different contextual streams for various discussions, but I have a suspicion that the end-user variety, as it were, is very different.

Dana

Lucy, say more about “the end user variety.” I’m not sure I grok.

Lucy

Whereas with LJ, you got a fixed context for comments, but wildly different contexts for each post in the overall discussion.

Lucy

Variety in the context in which each user sees a given post.

Dana

Ah, got it.

Cathy

I find Tumblr harder to have nuanced conversations on, the way that LJ was so good at. It always feels like you’re speaking from a pulpit instead of discussing.

Lucy

Cathy, my understanding is that it was designed specifically that way, although I could be misinformed.

Cathy

I enjoy it in a different way — it’s very easy to share stuff, and the multi-media aspect is really fun.

Lucy

I hear that from a lot of people, Cathy.

Dana

Amanda, your point about the fanzine permanent record is very good too. I’ve been watching the coverage of the Univ of Iowa’s archives of fanzines and applauding from afar.

Cathy

Lucy, as far as I’m aware, you’re right. I just find that a limitation instead of a feature, having come from previous platforms that enabled deeper discussion.

Claudia

What about the speed of updates. Does the blur of content make any difference in terms of being able to extend conversations?

Lucy

I agree on that. Discussion is everything for me.

Amanda

Dana, that is an amazing project. The Internet Arcade at the Internet Archive is doing something similar with old games.

Dana

Yeah, I love the discussions that I found on LJ and now on Dreamwidth. Because I’m not that focused on visuals, I didn’t gravitate to Tumblr, and because I don’t like streaming updates in realtime, I didn’t embrace Twitter. So I’m becoming something of a tech dinosaur, I fear.

Claudia

I’ve seen many people compare Tumblr to a firehose, whereas even LJ at its most active might have been more manageable due to features like filters?

Cathy

Claudia, Tumblr is a very strange thing in terms of speed. It’s ephemeral 99% of the time, with posts gone and forgotten as soon as they’ve scrolled of people’s feed. Except, that 1% of the time when a post goes viral — then it can have a life much longer than LJs. It’s a very strange experience.

Dana

LJ for me was manageable because I could catch up and read and respond at my leisure. It wasn’t a real time stream.

Lucy

Dana, I’m right there with you.

Dana

*dinosaur fistbump*

Amanda

Tumbler is kind of like Ulysses, only longer. But like Joyce, there are some sublime moments.

Claudia

Very true Cathy, and one thing both sites share is that their search features are lacking.

Cathy

And the reason I call it strange is because you’re on a rollercoaster much more than with a popular post on LJ. You always had some control of the content/context on LJ, even when things got very intense. But viral on Tumblr just is out of your hands entirely. It just goes.

Dana

*applause* for Amanda.

Amanda

🙂

Cathy

“Tumblr is kind of like Ulysses.” Ha! I’m going to remember that one. 🙂

Claudia

So speaking of finding things: If you were reading the announcement post for a future TWC issue’s release, what article description would make you click immediately? (Feel free to propose a title for this imaginary work)

Dana

I’m most interested in fan fiction. I read most of the articles about that.

Lucy

I would love to see an article on the layers of narrative “reality” in Barbie movies (I mentioned I’m obsessed), on how things like the reuse of digital dolls and voice actors actually create a fairly sophisticated universe that contextualizes these movies in a way that is similar to shared fannish constructions and shared universes. Perhaps, “Where No Doll Has Gone Before”? Okay, maybe I should write this one myself. I would actually read just about anything on Barbie media, because it’s a fascinating, untapped world. Other media specifically targeted at little girls would be interesting, but Barbie is definitely a favorite.

Dana

Also gender and fandom.

Claudia

Audience, if you have any responses to that, please chime in!

Cathy

Anything on vidding! I’m also interested in articles on copyright and how it relates to transformative work, especially the way it relates to issues or gender. So I guess the ideal imaginary work for me would be: “The copyright of imaginary movies made by women for women: A practitioner’s insights into current theory and practice.”

Amanda

I’m very interested in seeing more discussions about transformations of canon as canon; Disney has certainly been working toward that in the Star Wars Universe, and Star Trek’s reboots are moving in this direction.

Lucy

Oooh, that’s a good one.

Amanda

In addition, I’d love to get insights into the writers and producers who are themselves coming from a place of fandom when they are working on their projects. Jame’s Gunn is a particular favorite of mine; he worked on the Troma Team for years (writing things like Tromeo and Juliet) before he worked on Guardians of the Galaxy. When Lloyd Kaufman (the co-founder of Troma Entertainment, which produced such classics as The Toxic Avenger, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, and Class of Nuke ‘Em High) was given a cameo in Gunn’s work (in the same way that Stan Lee often cameos in Marvel work), that itself felt like a shout out to the transformative work as much as a nod to one of his mentors.

Dana

Ooo, Amanda… I’d read that!

Cathy

I really liked issues #20s, “Dead links, vaporcuts, and creativity in fan edit replication” by Joshua Wille. It offers a look into a world of vidding I was only peripherally aware of, and then mainly because my housemate had a go at it to remove a misogynist subplot in a recent movie. Knowing people like Soderbergh have a similar hobby is fascinating stuff. I also like that older movies are getting a new lease of life this way. It makes me want to try my hand at it!

Claudia

Lucy that sounds like a great paper topic: the shared constructions angle especially.

Dana

I think we are definitely seeing people who grew up as fans enter the professional, commercial creative pool now. For sure.

Joshua W.

Thanks, Cathy! I’m happy you enjoyed my essay 🙂

Dana

Also isn’t there a discussion going on about tie-in novels and the Hugo awards?

Lucy

Also, having seen the documentary on fantasy sports, I would love to read something on the Rotisserie League as fandom.

Joshua W.

Cathy, which film did your housemate re-edit?
And which films would you like to re-edit yourself?

Amanda

The Hugos have led to several interesting discussions recently, Dana. I’d love to read more on award criteria as professional/fan response.

Dana

Yeah, more communication between those who study sports fans and those who study media fandom would be fascinating. I bet the different conceptual frameworks would yield some interesting contrasts.

Lucy

The thing everyone talked about was taking *ownership* of this thing they loved (baseball), of transforming it (my word, admittedly), and making it do something new. I kept flailing at the tv.

Claudia

What have you heard about tie-in novels and the Hugos, Dana?

Cathy

Joshua, I knew someone would ask me that, and I’ve been racking my brain all day, but can’t remember! She’s deep deep deep in a dueSouth marathon, so I didn’t have the heart to interrupt her to ask.

Dana

Apparently some are in favor of giving the award to a tie-in novel one day, and others are of the opinion that tie-in novels simply can’t be any good because they are derivative. Sound familiar?

Claudia

🙁

Joshua W.

Cathy, if you find out more information please get in contact with me. I’d like to see your friend’s work!

Dana

Lucy, that is amazing.

Cathy

I often find action films poorly plotted, but beautifully filmed, so my fingers itch to re-work them. I’ve been thinking about having a go at the Three Muskateers film with Orlando Bloom, and making it all about the villains, and letting them win.

Amanda

Ditto! It would be great to see. 🙂

Cathy

(They were the best part)

Amanda

Villains often are.

Lucy

It really was. The ties to RPGs are obvious, but the ties to fandom were definitely there.

Dana

Exhibit A: Loki

Lucy

As Milton learned.

Dana

Lucy, so many parallels.

Amanda

Exhibit B: Jareth

Joshua W.

That’s a nice approach. I’m finding that refocusing the narrative on a different character perspective is something fan editors enjoy doing.

Dana

Okay, Lucifer can be Exhibit A. You got me.

Claudia

Yes, the little black dresses of fandom — that would be a pretty interesting article too, exploring the development of fandom terms.

Lucy

I was just typing that 😉

Dana

Refocusing the narrative on a different character — exactly the discussion about the two novels of Harper Lee lately!!!

Joshua W.

🙂

Lucy

It really would. They’re not all villains (see Dick Grayson).

Amanda
Good example of the old school, Lucy. 🙂

Cathy

Joshua, my housemate didn’t publish it, but I’ll ask her and let you know. I find the whole thing interesting, because my favourite type of vid is the constructed reality, and I’ve made a few of those with found footage to change the story. So this longer form really appeals.

Lucy

That really sounds interesting.

Cathy

Jareth! Now there’s an idea. 🙂

Joshua W.

Last year a fan editor created a Loki movie by recutting a handful of Marvel films. You might want to see that one!

Claudia

Or Mary Reilly.

Dana

So much cool stuff going on with vidding! Technology sure impacted that fan art form, going back to the earlier question.

Lucy

For obvious reasons (I have a mini-fan), I am very curious about what the next big leap will be. I don’t think fanfic is going anywhere, but audivisual texts are ripe for new approaches.

Amanda

Cathy, I think Labyrinth was the Rocky Horror Picture Show of my generation. 🙂

Cathy

Oh, I doooooo, Joshua. Do you have a link?

Joshua W.

I will try to find it — brb

Amanda

Thanks, Joshua. 🙂

Cathy

Lucy, totally agree. I was playing around with off-the-shelf animation sites the other day, and they are *almost* there for the kind of dream project I’d love to do that merges found live action footage and animated characters. But it’s just not quite there yet.

Lucy

Right. My daughter is hooked on those youtube videos in which people use dolls (mostly Disney) to act out stories with the characters.

Cathy

Your mini-fan will have it though.

Claudia

This discussion of vids makes me think of the importance of current technology when it comes to fandom activities and fanworks which leads to our next question: If you could time travel to a different era of fandom, which one would it be?

Dana

Exactly.

Cathy

I’m going to cheat and give two answers to this question. Because my number one answer is: the future! I really want to time travel fifty years into the future and see what fandom looks like then. Will copyright still exist? Will the line between fan and pro have completely collapsed? Will women still be denegrated for doing work that men a praised for? Also, what is the hot fandom in 50 years, and how good is the fic???

Lucy

Speaking of: You know, mostly I would want to go back to periods I already experienced and get into other fandoms. My best memories involve first the discussion lists and then the heyday of LiveJournal, the really intense communities (formal and informal), and I would love to experience them again in new fandoms. Otherwise, I would like to jump ahead 10 years and see what my daughter and those other wacky kids are up to. Whatever they do, it’s going to be amazing.

Amanda

I would not have to travel very far back to answer this. I really like Twin Peaks, but I was a bit too young to watch it when it first came out or to follow fanzines like Wrapped in Plastic, which shared fan speculations about the show, fiction, and related items. I would have loved to be able to follow the speculation as the show was coming out each week. By the time I got to it, the cat was out of the bag, story wise.

Dana

You know, I’m very happy with this one. But I think it would be sometime in the future!

Claudia

Yes Lucy, sometimes it’s impossible to follow all the interesting stuff at the same time!

Cathy

We are all such fans, with our preferences for the future. 🙂

Amanda

That’s a great idea, Lucy. If you could keep the memories of your present self and add to them by engaging in different past experiences…wow!

Cathy

Anyway my second answer is the 1960s, back when Star Trek was on the screen, and slash fandom was in its infancy. I’ve heard stories about the secret slash conventions that used to take place in the US with fake/respectable names like “Science Fiction Appreciation Convention” (that’s my made up version, as I’ve only heard these stories third hand). Respectable women met up and traded fanzines that had glorious illustrations of Spock’s double-ridged penis, and Kandy Fong was just inventing vidding. It sounds like it was pretty amazing, and I would have loved to meet those women. So much of what we have now was invented by them.
I agree with Amanda, Lucy. That would be really cool.

Claudia

How do you feel about the series starting again, Amanda. Do you think the experience will be similar?

Joshua W.

Ok I’m back. One of the unfortunate effects of fan edit publicity that I touched upon in my TWC #20 essay is that the more attention fan edits get, they become targets for DMCA takedowns. That’s what happened to “Loki: Brother of Thor” by Loki Odinson. See this story about the fan edit from AV Club: Loki Brother of Thor. However, the fan editor re-uploaded the film as a private video. Here it is: password is “Loki”.

Lucy

My daughter made her first “fan film” using her low-tech phone and dolls when she was seven. I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in transformative works as a generation who’ve grown up with video cameras in their pockets comes of age.

Claudia

Thanks, Joshua. I’m sure that’s going to get a lot of clicks 🙂

Cathy

Thank you so much, Joshua! Should Claudia redact that when the transcript is published?

Amanda

I am so torn on this one! I’m very happy everyone is coming back. And I would not watch it if David Lynch were not involved. However, Lynch can sometimes be a bit sadistic to his fans, so his involvement does not save ‘my’ characters and plotlines from peril. I will absolutely be watching it, though.

One way the experience will definitely be similar: Lynch believes in intuitive context rather than plot specific context.

Lucy

There’s always that tension when something gets an official sequel/update. I do like getting creators’ take on things, but it closes doors of speculation.

Claudia

Cathy, you mentioned a lot of important changes for the future in how fandom is viewed and acted on by the larger culture. Is there any key factor you think would be the most important shift (that might leverage the rest)?

Joshua W.

Cathy, I don’t think redacting that information would be necessary; the fan editor shared the link and password on Twitter and I blogged about it.

Amanda

He told actor Michael J. Anderson (the dancing man in Twin Peaks) that “nothing happened before his scene” and nothing happened after it when asked about his character’s motivation.

Cathy

Great, thanks Joshua.

Amanda

What happened to Dale Cooper will definitely set the tone for the rest of what will happen.

Lucy

Claudia, you didn’t ask me, but I think the combination of YouTube, phone cameras, and simple editing software will be a big factor.

Claudia

It’s absolutely a question open to everyone, Lucy.

Lucy

The other day, I saw a second or third grader at my daughter’s school with an Elsa/Jack Frost t-shirt.

Cathy

That’s a hard questions, Claudia, and once I’ve thought about a fair bit. Right now, the really top-notch video editors are verging on unintuitive. You can do a fast and easy job, or a good and difficult job. So I think when we have multi-media editing suits that are largely automated (the way a Word document is now, for those who ever used word processors back when you had to actually type code to get effects), I think we’ll see a lot of really exciting stuff happening that we really can’t even imagine right now.

Lucy

The idea that you can take these two characters from different movies and make a love story is going mainstream.

Amanda

Good comparison, Cathy.

Cathy

For instance, if you can motion capture yourself, and then press a virtual button and that motion maps to the animated avatar you created… you have just made a really nice piece of animation.

Claudia

The tech development should definitely be a factor, but I was also thinking about other things you mentioned such as gender issues and legal actions.

Cathy

It’s related, Claudia. Because women and people of colour tend not to be able to access high-end studios or animation suites. But if you can use your own body as a puppet, the whole game changes.

Joshua W.

Some of us here have mentioned vidding in comparison to fan editing, and I thought it would be good to briefly clarify their distinctions. Tisha Turk and I had a nice chat about the differences between these forms. Vids generally being short-form and set to music, while fan edits (not photo manips like those you can often find on tumblr) tend to be feature-length alternative narratives. However, they’re driven by the same consumer technology and are usually non-sanctioned expressions of fan creativity.

Claudia

A good point, Cathy.

Cathy

As I said, I was checking out some of the ‘idiot proof’ animation sites out there right now, and we’re about 2 generations off the game changer, I think. Right now you can voice capture and animate a mouth, and you can almost make a do-it-yourself cartoon that looks decent. But you can’t easily do both.

So imagine you want to make your Loki movie, but you don’t want to have to deal with DRM and all that. If you can use your own body as a puppet, you can film it and make it yourself — every character, and just get the computer to generate it.

Lucy

Wow.

Joshua W.

Great idea, Cathy! Consumer motion capture and fan-made CG character models could lead to some exciting fan films.

Amanda

Definitely.

Cathy

Anyway, that’s my guess.

Cathy

It’s what I’ve been working towards with constructed reality vids for a while now, and as soon as the tech is there, I’m going to be all over it. 🙂 But I’m sure other people will come up with even more awesome stuff and surprise us all. That’s what always happens.

Claudia

Ultimately technology access is more relevant to diversifying participation than legal arguments, which tend to lag behind technical development (and tend to be misunderstood by most of the public anyway)

Dana

Yeah, copyright law is already way behind. It doesn’t surprise me that that lag between the technology and the law is continuing.

Joshua W.

I remember that some fans made a shot-for-shot remake of Toy Story using stop-motion and actual toys. And when the first XBOX Kinect was released there were people chaining them together and making their own home-brew Avatar motion capture stage. 🙂

Amanda

It’s true. A phenomenon has to occur before laws, etc. can be expanded to fit.

Cathy

Copyright is so broken. Although another great TWC paper that talked about how fandom might not even exist without copyright was “’I’m Buffy, and you’re history’: Putting fan studies into history” by Nancy Reagin and Anne Rubenstein in #6.

Amanda

But it seems to take forever thereafter.

Dana

Another one I need to go back and read!

Cathy

That is really cool, Joshua. I don’t have the know-how for that, which is why I’m biding my time.

Claudia

Speaking of how easy it’s becoming for people to express their fandom interests these days: Is there some tipoff to your fandom interests that appears in your everyday routine (something in your office, on your car, something you wear, etc.?)

Lucy

Hahaha. My daughter, who is named after a Stephen King character, just named our new car after a character from Disney’s Descendants. Do I need to say more? There is more, lots, but nothing tops that.

Dana

I do actually have a jean jacket with SG-1 patches on the shoulders.

Amanda

Well, I collect action figures, so the display that is full of Joker, Puppetmaster, and Buffy toys would be a big tip off.
My partner writes fiction, and there is also a wall with fan art depicting Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, and a few other sources of inspiration.
As for an item of clothing, one of my favorite T-shirts right now was from Loot Crate. It has Loki from the Marvel Universe sitting on a throne wearing the colors and makeup pattern of the Joker from the DC Universe.

Lucy

I am also very proud of the office poster of Barbie in every Starfleet uniform ever seen.

Claudia

Audience, please jump in if you can share something on this topic!

Amanda

That is awesome, Lucy!

Cathy

My favorite piece of art in my office is a series of Warholesque multi-coloured TARDISes. Think the Marilyn Monroe head-shots Warhol is famous for. A friend made them for me, because he knew I loved Warhol and I’d been bemoaning how hard it was to find work-suitable fan art that was also about remix culture. That piece gets a lot of comments. I also have a Warhol Campbell’s soup print on the other wall. 🙂

Amanda

Nice juxtaposition, Cathy. 🙂

Dana

I have various Lord of the Rings memorabilia in my office: action figures, popcorn cartons, etc.

Lucy

That sounds awesome, Cathy. I have the Van Gogh TARDIS poster.
And God, SO MUCH Dark Tower fan art.

Dana

Cathy, the Warhol inspired TARDISes sound wonderful.

Claudia

Some of the examples you all have given about older fine art styles representing current pop culture activity make me want to ask what you all think of the division between these two traditions and where the dividing line begins when something is given “high art” status?

Joshua W.

My home is full of fan-made movie posters, and when I look at them I’m reminded how fanworks can be more creative/inventive/beautiful than the official products (especially contemporary movie posters that are often just uninspired photoshop collages). To me that ties in with other transformative works, fan edits, etc.

Cathy

The Van Gogh TARDIS poster is really cool — it’s the Starry Night one, right? I love that. It came out after I got mine, which has old skool TARDISes from the Tom Baker era.

Lucy

That’s the one.

Claudia

So true, Joshua, so much fanwork is more expressive than commercial marketing.

Cathy

I totally agree, Joshua.

Lucy

I do, too.

Amanda

While I do think we can create genre discussions and say something is ‘camp’ like Sontag mentioned or kitsch, I do not think there is a high lit or low lit, exactly.

Cathy

And Claudia, I think Warhol is one of the people at the crux of that change, which is why I’ve come to love his work.

Lucy

And I love fan art of books. I have a hard time visualizing characters, so I love seeing how others do it.

Cathy

Everything he did was about reinscribing meaning onto mass produced goods, which by their nature are standardised and unvarying, and often made by machines, not artists.

Claudia

So was that perhaps one of the earliest forms of fandom meta?
Iona

I wear fandom t-shirts to work every day and every now and again get asked about them or people recoginse where they come from or what they are. And the background on my work computer is the Avengers as the illustration from where the wild things are and I have various fandomy things around my house (the most obvious being a Darth Vader and Stormtrooper spatulas that I never use).

Cathy

That’s why he called his studio The Factory: he was really funny, but had such a straight face that I think a lot of people didn’t get it. But he really drew attention to the conceits of “high” vs “low” art, and we still use a lot of his visual ideas in both commercial and fan art.

Dana

Star Wars Kitchen!

Claudia

Because they’re too cool to use or because spatulas are never needed? 🙂

Lucy

Iona, that background sounds nifty.

Joshua W.

Star Wars Kitschen 🙂

Dana

Zing!

Cathy

Iona, one of my friends can do a ‘fandom history’ presentation that’s super awesome, just by showing his collection of t-shirts from different eras. 🙂

Amanda

Kitschen should be a store. I would so shop there.

Iona:

Because they’re too cool and because I’m kinda a terrible cook, so there has never been an opportunity to use them. I think my brother wanted to use one, once, and I let him use the Stormtrooper. 🙂 It’s the most awesome background. I haven’t changed it for about 3 years.
Cathy, that is awesome. I’ve bought most of mine in the last 4ish years, but they cover the a huge range of fandoms and in jokes.

Cathy

But I think I like the idea of a kitchen full of fandom utensils even more.

Amanda

Agreed, Cathy. 🙂

Iona

I don’t think I have anything else for the kitchen, but a friend of mine bought Star Wars cookie cutters. I was very jealous.

Joshua W.

Agreed. So far we have a Death Star ice form, but that’s all.

Lucy

I have R2D2 measuring cups.

Amanda

I have a tea container that is based off the movie Reanimator, but it only comes out for Halloween.

Cathy

I’ve seen salt and pepper shakers. Not Supernatural, sadly, and a missed opportunity, but for both Dr Who and Star Wars.
Iona

Sweeeeet – both the Death Star and R2D2.

Cathy

And housemate has dinosaur ice-cube tray, so you can have T-Rexes in your drink.

Claudia

Yes, Supernatural was a huge fandom with practically no official merchandise for the longest time.

Iona

I keep meaning to go and find some awesome ice-cube trays. I don’t think I could mess up ice somehow.

Claudia

Fandom was far, far ahead of them in producing work.

Cathy

I keep expecting to see an impala salt shaker, but so far no luck.

Amanda

They’ve definitely been fixing that problem. Our car has a sunshade of Sam and Castiel; it looks like they are in the front seat.

Cathy

Amanda, that’s delightful.

Dana

What fun!

Amanda

Dean is giving him ‘the look.’

Lucy

I really love how creative fandom can be with merch, too.

Joshua W.

Iona, Star Wars fan? There are Han Solo in carbonite ice cube forms out there.

Claudia

Speaking earlier of technology and the law, do you all think it’s likely that merchandising may be increasingly turned over to the audience through ‘do it yourself’ platforms?

Cathy

I don’t know how I feel about frozen Han looking up at me from my gin and tonic.

Joshua W.

🙂

Lucy

The official Evie necklace from Disney’s Descendants is basically plastic junk. I found a (much smaller, admittedly) nice swarovski crystal one on Etsy for half the cost.

Iona

Amanda that is awesome. I love the sound of that 🙂

Amanda

Claudia, Disney is definitely on to that in several ways.

Dana

I’m not sure, Claudia — as long as they can keep making money on it somehow, maybe so. The money is the thing.

Iona

If I had the money and the room, I’d want the fridge of Hans in the carbonite. That would be amazing.

Amanda

For example: the park bands can be customized by color, fandom, jewelry, and more. The park mouse ears can also be customized for fan preference. You could get a pink, top hat, Darth Vader, wedding themed mouse ear hat, for example.

Lucy

Claudia, I think it will depend. Disney is never going to let go of merchandise, although they will branch into whatever is making money. But look at what The Middleman did.

Claudia

I’m thinking of how many fan creators are now either getting work directly from official creators, or having their work incorporated somehow in canon.

Joshua W.

Iona you can get a fridge sticker that covers the entire door.

Lucy

Claudia, I was just about to type that. 😉

Claudia

And the creativity in merchandising seems like a next step.

Cathy

That would be so creepy at night, Iona, when you go to the kitchen to get your midnight snack, and Han’s face looms out of the dark.

Lucy

I have a Jollyfats Weehawkin Employment Agency shirt and mug that are made on cafepress using the actual art from the show.
Amanda

And the “Art of Disney” stores allow for fan mash ups in the art. For example, you can see the Star Wars robots as Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion.

Lucy

That is mostly because the fan knows the creator, but that’s an increasingly closing gap.

Cathy

And by ‘creepy’ I mean in a ‘ultimate fandom cool’ way.

Iona

That’s a good point, Cathy. I couldn’t go that anyway. My fridge is one of those ones that’s hidden behind a cupboard door, so I can’t use any fridge magnets. But how cool would it be to keep being frightened by Hans Solo?

Cathy

I’ve seen those kinds of stickers, Joshua, and they’re awesome. You can get them for regular doors too.

Dana

Is there Game of Thrones merchandise yet?

Amanda

Iona, opening the cupboard and then seeing it would be even creepier!

Lucy

I really like the kind of merchandise that looks like it comes from the world of the show.
Dana, there’s jewelry.

Iona

Hahahaha, yes it would be.

Lucy

The Hand of the King pin, Cersei’s necklace.

Joshua W.

It’s also fascinating when fans recreate official merchandise but make it more screen/page-accurate, or more personal. I’m thinking of recently when Bethesda announced that the upcoming game Fallout 4 would have a “Pip-Boy Edition” that included an actual Pip-Boy to wear on your wrist. The game can use a smartphone as a second screen, and the Pip-Boy holds the phone on your arm just like the character in the game. However these limited editions sold out immediately when the pre-orders were available. Now you can find tutorials on YouTube about how you can make your own, more more realistic looking Pip-Boy for your phone.

Claudia

Fandom always comes through, Joshua — it’s the ultimate crowdsourcing.

Amanda

Dana, I have seen bar items and lots of games.

Joshua W.

Agreed, Claudia. 🙂

Dana

I’m remembering all the Hogwarts scarves, too.

Claudia

So we’re entering the last 15 minutes of our chat today
I’m going to ask our final question after which we’d really like to hear from the audience with any questions they may have for our panelists.

Amanda

This has flown!

Claudia

What would you tell someone to encourage them to submit an article to TWC?

Amanda

I would ask them to pick any issue and spend an hour browsing it. Anyone likely to submit an article would be hooked. 🙂

Lucy

TWC accepts a wide range of styles, topics, and approaches. It’s the ideal place for that thoroughly documented article and also for that essay that’s been germinating in your head for a month. Also, the staff are awesome.

Dana

Amanda, I second this.

Cathy

I’m actually really terrible at this kind of advice. But, for what it’s worth, I’d say that TWC is a good experience, and it’s especially so for those who haven’t submitted to a journal before. It’s very fan-focused, so while everything runs like a typical academic publication in terms of quality control etc, there’s a good vibe that makes the process more fun than usual. If you’re a meta writer who has been thinking about submitting something, it’s definitely worth having a go.
Apart from that, the journal is Open as well, of course, in keeping with the OTW’s philosophy, so the response to your work once it’s published tends to spread more widely than is otherwise often the case. That is a pretty great experience too, as a lot of the time academic work can get buried under a paywall, and you never get the chance to talk about it with people who aren’t specialists in the same field.

Amanda

Good point, Cathy. The vibe is welcoming and encouraging. 🙂

Claudia

That’s an interesting point about the distribution, Cathy
Have any of you received feedback for your work in TWC?
This is something that a lot of fandom turns on, feedback from others, so I could see that as being a real factor for fans thinking of submitting something.

Lucy

I’ve gotten some comments both at the site and on my journals when I pointed to my articles.

Dana

And I’m curious, more broadly, what impact TWC has had among academic journals/conferences/etc.

Joshua W.

To Q6, I would also point out that TWC encourages media in its articles. When you’re writing about video, from fan edits to vids or fan films, it’s most effective when you can show your readers the actual videos in context.

Cathy

I have, Claudia! There are several comments on the article in #1, and I’ve seen it spontaneously crop up in discussions online sometimes.

Claudia

Very good point, Joshua, they do encourage that.

Lucy

One of mine was also used in a class, which sort of boggled me. I really wish I could have heard the discussion.

Dana

Lucy, that’s wonderful.

Cathy

Excellent point, Joshua. It also makes it a really enjoyable read for that reason too.

Amanda

A Longman book published one of my TWC articles: The fact that school textbooks are focusing on fan culture is a sign of impact.

Dana

Awesome!

Lucy

Oh, cool!

Cathy

Cool, Lucy and Amanda.

Claudia

That’s fantastic news, Amanda.

Joshua W.

Excellent, Amanda! Agreed about the sign of impact, too.

Claudia

Audience, anything you’d like to follow up on from earlier in the chat, or any questions you have?

Jamie

Hi Dana, Lucy, Cathy, and Amanda! I’m loving this live chat so far. 🙂 This question is for all of you, and anyone else who’d like to chime in. I’ve just starting diving deep into fan studies, and I’ve got my heart set on doing something in the field for my senior capstone project. However, I was wondering, how do you justify from an academic standpoint that a certain media text or media fandom is culturally significant enough for academic study (besides relying on just your fannish interest)? Especially if you’re doing research into a text/fandom that has never been studied before?

Cathy

Dana, I’ve wondered that too.

Amanda

Great question, Jamie. 🙂

Claudia

Excellent question, Jamie.

Lucy

Jamie, I generally think that anything that has as broad a community as fandom is worthy of study. However, I keep going back to those youtube videos of dolls. Telling stories about/with characters we already know is a very common human impulse. Also, I very much like the Henry Jenkins quote about taking back our cultural narratives from corporations, and demanding the right * as * a culture to shape the stories that shape us.

Cathy

Is cultural significance even the criteria you want? I don’t ask this frivolously. If that is an important marking critieria, you need to enagage with it, and you might want to anyway, as a stepping stone to further studies. But here’s the thing. You have a certain freedom to explore as an student that you don’t always get later when funding and departmental interests can be an issue. Sometimes, it’s worth doing a project just because it interests you, while you have the freedom to do so.

Lucy:

Cathy, I think that’s an excellent point.

Cathy

It’s a way of finding out if it’s for you and you want to explore it further; understanding your own interests when you’re heading into a career is no small thing.

Amanda

In addition, citing precedent is a good way to establish a relevance for many topics, and fan communities are based on pre-existing items, so this helps.

Cathy

Does that help, Jamie?

Jamie

Ah, I see. Thank you so much – those are all really good points!

Amanda

You’re very welcome!

Jamie

I will be mulling those over for a while. 🙂

Lucy

Good luck to you!

Jamie

Thanks Lucy!

Cathy

Yes, best of luck. I hope it goes well, however you decide to tackle it.

Amanda

And have fun!

Jamie

Haha, yes, definitely! I’m enjoying the research process immensely so far.

Claudia

Anyone else?

Jamie

And this live chat has been really cool to listen in on.

Cathy

I’ve really enjoyed it too! Everyone has had such interesting things to share.

Lucy

Likewise!

Joshua W.

Thanks for hosting this chat!

Dana

Yes, it’s been great. Thank you for inviting me.

Claudia

As sleep or mealtimes are undoubtedly calling our panelists now, we unfortunately need to bring this chat to an end. Many thanks to our panelists Amanda, Cathy, Dana and Lucy for coming here today and making this such an interesting discussion. Thanks too, to our audience members for adding to that discussion.