This Week In Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 137

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening! Before we get stuck in, did you see these very cute fandom-themed pregnancy announcements from Florida blogger Grace Navarro? She posted a different one each week throughout her pregnancy! Do you have a favourite? Let us know in the comments!

In an effortless segue from birth to death, the first news item that we have for you guys today is an article from the Atlantic. In ‘How to Murder Harry Potter’, journalist Kaitlyn Tiffany explores something that she calls “deathfic”: ‘the kind of fan fiction in which a beloved character dies, typically in a way that is as painful for the reader as possible.’

Some fan experts questioned the breadth of Tiffany’s working definition:

But however esoteric the categorisation, we did find the article respectful of the works and readers it explores; and in consequence, the conclusions at which Tiffany arrives feel valid. She finds that such stories serve a number of purposes. Some writers use them ‘to give a beloved character the mourning that the commercial narrative didn’t have time for’; others to ‘sort out experiences from their own life’. In the end, she concludes, it comes down to control: deathfic ‘stuns the system and then allows an easy exit’. Sometimes, that’s what we need. Read More

This Week In Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 136

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. Have you ever written heartfelt love letters to your crushes, and kept them secret? That’s the plot of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which took the internet by storm in 2018, and this week its sequel To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You was released on Valentine’s Day. Did you watch it? Are you going to? Feel free to gush and squee in the comments!

Another new item on Valentine’s Day was the publication of an article by the BBC dealing with the backlash around the Sonic the Hedgehog character design and other fan movements, asking whether “fans are too entitled”. The article tackles issues of resistance and incorporation paradigms, what fans want and what fans need, as well as deconstructing the current social climate within fandoms. For example, it compares fan campaigns such as the one to rewrite the end of the Game of Thrones TV series to other more political and discriminatory movements like the abuse directed at Kelly Marie Tran during The Last Jedi, which ended in Tran leaving social media to shield herself from harassment. Academic Suzanne Scott explains that:

“In my view, the relationship between these incidents and our current political moment is completely symbiotic: in retrospect, these incidents seem like a subcultural sign of things to come, but our culture war isn’t a product of fandom. If anything, this moment in fan culture is evidence of how long these culture wars have been waged, and how deeply they permeate our interactions with society, culture, and each other.”

While many fan campaigns seem justified or understandable, with for example Sonic The Hedgehog smashing the box office with a record-breaking $57 million in its opening weekend after fan backlash prompted a redesign, other sub-movements are rooted in prejudice and it’s clear that fandom isn’t a united community. While most of us were excited to see the all-female Ghostbusters reboot or having a black character, Finn, as a major character in the latest Star Wars franchise, a minority of fans felt entitled to voice their discontent at such diversity — and that’s the kind of fan entitlement we don’t like to see. Read More

This Week in Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 132

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. It’s Copyright Week and appropriately enough, we have several stories for you that all operate at the intersection between fanfiction and traditional publishing. Buckle up!

First off, an article by Sian Cain for the Guardian on how Fifty Shades of Grey “changed our sex lives”. Focusing on EL James’s native country, the UK, Cain explores the ongoing legacy of James’s trilogy, ‘the runaway bestselling books’ of the 2010s. Cain’s account traces ripple effects across the publishing industry, the BDSM scene, and even the law. She gives space to the criticisms leveled at James’s work by ‘BDSM practitioners and domestic abuse campaigners’ and acknowledges its problematic effects, but she also finds some positive consequences from the international obsession with Grey’s story and sexual behaviors. In any case, it’s a thoroughly-researched insight into what is still online fanfiction’s most famous mainstream success. Read More