Chat transcript for “The Future of Fanworks” fan panel

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On March 15th the OTW held a chat with fans. If you missed it, here’s the chat transcript! This has been edited for arrivals and departures in the room and greetings from the audience.

Visit our post about “The Future of Fanworks” discussions if you’d be interested in future events.


*Jintian
Hello and welcome! As advertised, the Organization for Transformative Works is running a series of chats during the month of March about the future of fanworks, in celebration of our Milestone Month in February.

Each discussion features a panel focusing on a different perspective: academic, fannish, industry and legal. Transcripts will be made public by Monday. (You can see the transcript for last weekend’s academic discussion)

You are currently in the fannish discussion. I’m your moderator, Jintian, and I’m a staffer with the OTW’s Communications committee.

We have some prepared questions for the panel, but we’re happy for the discussion to evolve organically.

If time permits, we’ll open up to questions from the audience — I’ll just ask you to type “raise hand” and will call on people in order.

Thanks so much to our panelists Lucy, yhlee and yifu for your time and your participation! (For our audience, their chat usernames and mine are all prefaced with a * symbol.)

yifu = Eve

Ladies, would you like to briefly introduce yourselves? Perhaps give a quick summary of your years in fandom, primary fandoms you follow, and anything else you’d like to add.

*Eve
Hi, I’m Eve, from Indonesia. I’ve been a fan since the early 80s and my primary fandoms are anime, manga, and wuxia (Chinese martial arts lit.). The anime/manga series I follow are mostly shounen. Nice to meet you all!

*Lucy B.
I’m Lucy, aka cereta. I’ve been in fandom not quite twenty years. I probably spent the longest in DC Comics, but these days, I’m mostly into quirky stuff like Murder, She Wrote and whatever show my six-year-old is into. I ran the Fanfic Symposium way back when, and I do something on my journals called Grading Hell Theater. Hello!

*yhlee
Hi, I’m Yoon Ha Lee and I’m a sf/f writer. I first encountered fandom in college with an anime club and seeing anime music videos, which would have been 1998. Then several years later I encountered Western fandoms like Buffy. I tried to learn to write fanfic so I could learn to write sex scenes and instead became real good at fading to black, woe. These days I mostly follow anime, The Vampire Diaries, and whatever fic/vid recs come by on Dreamwidth. Howdy!

*Jintian
Thanks, panelists! 🙂 We’ll begin by posing a question and then asking for each of you to answer, after which if you’d like to engage with earlier replies, please do. So, first question…

What do you remember as your first encounter with fanworks or issues surrounding fanworks?

*Eve
My first encounter with fanworks was through the internet in the late 1990’s, when I discovered fanfic and fanart for my major fandom. If issues here refer to problems, I remember some authors forbidding fanworks of their books. This was later, in the early 2000’s. I remember being surprised at that time but acknowledging their right for forbidding it.

*Lucy B.
You know, that’s a hard question. Was it when I made up stories about Spider-man after watching him on The Electric Company? Was it the continuation of V:The Series (the 80’s one, not the new one) that my friend and I co-wrote for two years? Was it the online RPG set on Deep Space Nine that I played on my first BBS? No, I think I’d have to say it was Star Trek fanfic on Usenet. I think the thing I remember most was the way I gradually, tentatively edged into slash, and the way my own realization that hey, I really like this stuff seemed to parallel it becoming more visible. Of course, I started looking into it because I wanted to write a paper about the gender disparity between discussion and fiction on the newsgroups, but woe, Henry Jenkins had already written the book. Story of my life.

*Eve
Now I’m not so sure? I mean, I personally would be flattered if people create fanworks for my stories. But maybe legal ramifications is one of the major problems here.

*yhlee
My first encounter with fanworks issues was in Legend of the Five Rings (L5R), a USAn collectible card game/tabletop RPG that’s been releasing canon/story for 15 years. Fanfic in L5R normally runs backwards in that the norm is to NOT write about canon characters, but about OCs (like your RPG character). One fanfic writer wrote a series of parody fics that involved things like dubcon gay sex. L5R’s game company asked her to stop and she did. The writer took down all her fic without argument, so there was no dispute, but there were a lot of people really unhappy because she was very popular in the fandom and a very good writer as well. I find it hilarious that the dubcon gay sex was more of a big deal than the sometimes graphic violence and outright torture in canon, but okay.

*Lucy B.
Okay, that’s funny. I helped beta test that game. I knew the developers.

*yhlee
I think AEG (L5R’s company’s) issue was partly that the author was using L5R canon characters, not just doing dubcon/etc. things with her own RPG characters; again L5R’s norm is backwards.

Hee.

*Jintian
*nod* I think that creator–>fandom relationship will come up throughout this discussion as an “issue” which has changed and will likely keep changing. In fact, my next question is…

Since that first encounter, have there been any notable changes you’ve seen regarding fandom and fanworks? And are there any things that have endured, or that you think may never change?

*Eve
Back then trigger warnings barely existed, so fanfic readers were more likely to stumble into triggery things in the fics they read. Now that trigger warning are more common, readers can sort out the fanworks they might not be comfortable with.

*Lucy B.
I think the biggest change is that fandom has gone from being centered on sources (a show, comic, franchise, book, etc) to being focused on fans themselves. Livejournal, Dreamwidth, and even tumblr tend to be focused around a person rather than a show or movie or book series. I think that’s brought about all SORTS of changes.

*yhlee
I had to be introduced to trigger warnings/content notes, but tags! I love tags. They make it so much easier for me to find what I want or avoid what I don’t want.

*Eve
The number of sites where fans can post fanworks has also grown, so not only it’s easier for fan creators to make their stories visible, they can also connect more easily with their audience. I personally believe the availability of these sites plays a great part in preserving, even increasing, fandom enthusiasm in creating fanworks.

*Lucy B.
Including the increasing breakdown between creator and fan that you mentioned above. With writers and actors on social media, there’s more interaction.

*yhlee
I have this memory of Geocities shrines to individual shows (?), and now when I go looking for fanfic or fanworks, Lucy B.’s right, I am more likely to go to FF.net or AO3 or look for recs from friends on DW.

*Jintian
Hah, Eve — I started in X-Files fandom. There was a pretty good warning culture even then, but it was still a wild and woolly place when it came to actual content. Stuff that was deemed romantic then would now raise a lot of eyebrows, I think.

*yhlee
Also, specific to fanfic, just being able to easily dump everything to an ereader format has made it *much* easier for me to carry around and consume fanfic, instead of having this ungodly mess of bookmarks.

(Or printouts, eep.)

*Lucy B.
We’ve found ways to aggregate – newsletters and stuff – but for a while I think there was a real “Where’s the fic??” going on.

HAH. I still have binders full of SGA stories.

*yhlee
Laura Shapiro sent me–Due South deadtree fan anthologies once? I remember being astonished that people had made these physical objects, because I wasn’t really in fandom circles where that happened early enough.

*Lucy B.
Oh, wow, there’s a big change.

*Eve
Ahaha! I did print out fics from favorite authors, still have some of them now. Being able to read fanfic on the screen is definitely an improvement.

*Lucy B.
Zines are still around, but there’s no question that they’re MUCH less common.

And the zine fandom v. net fandom issue is basically gone.

*yhlee
I do collect doujinshi (Japanese fancomics of shows, etc.) but I am not fluent in Japanese and I don’t know what the fan culture is like over there.

*Lucy B.
One thing that has stayed the same, I think, is fannish generosity in sharing source material.

The WAY we share has changed, but the impulse of, “Yes! Absolutely I can get you that show/movie/comic! You’ll love it!” is still there.

*yhlee
Yes, I’ve definitely experienced that on both ends.

*Lucy B.
I think astolat and cesperanza’s vid to Meatloaf was a fun example of how the more things change, the more they stay the same in that regard.

*Eve
Lucy: Though if the manga is licensed in Indonesia, I also usually encourage fellow fans to buy it. (a bit off-topic)

*Lucy B.
Oh, sure

*yhlee
What I usually saw was “Here, try this, and if you like it, please support the creator.”

*Jintian
What are some things you’d like to see happen — or not happen — with fanworks in the future?

*Eve
Acknowledgment from source creators? In Indonesia, at least one author has been known to hold contests where participants write fanfic for her books.

*Lucy B.
I hope the move to/back to archives continues.

*yhlee
I’d love to see more fanworks in more media. I used to vid (badly) and put together a couple tiny vids for which I scored the music as well as putting together clips; I’m a hobbyist composer and I’m out of the vidding scene, but when I tried to talk to people about composing for vids as well as adapting existing songs, I just couldn’t find a whole lot.

Astrid Vohwinkel and I once collaborated on an Angel fancomic, and I’d love to see more of things like that too, even if I can’t draw. Or games/interactive fiction; I don’t know what the legal ramifications are, but the one time I asked Emily Short, she said that (as long as labeled as a derivative work?) it’s fine to use Inform 7 (an IF programming language) to create a fanfic-game. Branching narrative/IF has a lot of interesting possibilities! (Maybe I am too much of a gamer at heart.

*Lucy B.
I’m also deeply excited to see where technology takes us. I’d speculate, but I think science fiction has taught us that we’re really pretty bad at predicting future tech.

*Jintian
Eve, that is awesome! There’s a self-published author who made it big named Hugh Howey, who’s allowed fanfic of his work to be self-published as well. And I’ve seen some of those works on bestseller lists for Amazon Kindle. Great generosity.

*yhlee
Yes: I remember being really excited that vidding tech had become something I could afford.

*Eve
Jintian: Yep, that’s audience appreciation right there. Lucy: LOL. But I’d love to see something interactive in fanworks creation. Something like a round robin, only with more people and a wider access to all sorts of media?

*Lucy B.
I’ll admit, interaction with creators makes me nervous. I always think of Fanlib’s line about coloring inside the lines. I remember how JMS’s participation on the B5 newsgroup kept discussion so…tight. I love creators who say, “Sure, have at it!”, but having them oversee the works would make me…I dunno, uptight.

This may be my fannish history coming out, though.

*Jintian
Re: tech and fandom, I am one of those who feels rather behind the curve when it comes to where a lot of fandoms are “located” now, like Tumblr and Twitter. Although I’m curious about whatever the hot new platform after those might be.

*Eve
Yes, if we as the creator see someone beginning to write a problematic element into a fanfic (victim-blaming, racism) and we point it out, it might be seen as policing.

*yhlee
I feel ambivalent about fan/creator interaction: I remember going to an sf/f con where an sf author talked about loving that she had fans who wrote fic for her books, but then complained that some of the characterizations didn’t seem to resemble her characters at all.

*Eve
yhlee: It’s a risk of putting your works out there, I guess? And it’s different than when fans complain about OOC-ness. When the author does it, she’s more likely to be accused as being entitled.

*yhlee
Well, my feeling is if you don’t want people to play with it in their heads, don’t publish it. It’s impossible to thought-police interpretations. But I am probably in a minority.

*Lucy B.
It’s definitely a tightrope, and there’s a part of me that wants fanfic to stay OURS. Of course, the line between Us and Them is pretty fuzzy (present company case in point).

And Jintian, you are not alone re: tumblr ;).

*yhlee
I also think creators chilling fannish comment can be a problem when the source itself is problematic on whatever dimension–fan creations can function as critique and I’d hate to see that stifled.

*Lucy B.
*nods*

*yhlee
Okay, so who *are* these people who understand Tumblr? I’ve never met anyone even who uses Tumblr who claims to understand it. I use it and…I can’t deal with the interface. But maybe I am too old.

*Eve
I agree. Confession: I’m a traditionally published author and I’m curious to see how readers interpret my stories in stories of their own. No one has ever done that so far though 🙂 As someone who also creates fanworks, I’d like to see how it feels like to be on the other end. If that should ever happen, I’d better get ready for… anything.

*Jintian
I understand that Tumblr is full of pretty pictures which often move too fast for me to keep up with them. 🙂

*Eve
yhlee: Tumblr is great for sharing fanworks but not for commenting on them, in my experience. Tags and comments can get unwieldy. But maybe that’s because I’m old too.

*Lucy B.
The closest I’ve come is having someone write fanfic off my fanfic. It was interesting ;).

*yhlee
Yes: similar, and I’m dying to see what would happen. I suspect I would be envious because there are plenty of ficwriters who can write rings around me. But, I mean, that’s not a reason for them not to do it.

*Jintian
Re: fuzzy lines between Us and Them, I was going to note examples of fans who’ve produced original work and become source creators themselves. With, of course, a few examples of fanfic being repurposed into that original work and meeting with large success.

*yhlee
I’ve participated in a couple remixes, that’s true.

*Lucy B.
I think that’s why tumblr loses me. I want the discussion, and I just cannot track a tumblr conversation.

*yhlee
Lois McMaster Bujold and Vorkosigan Saga? Or am I misremembering?

*Eve
For discussions, LJ and DW are still the most convenient for me.

*yhlee
Ditto here.

*yhlee
Oh Us vs Them, I have to admit that I fic’d a Harlan Ellison work for Yuletide and kept waiting to be served with a notice because I remember back when I first joined the SFWA he would send these letters about illegal downloads or sharing of his works online, something like that, and I didn’t think he would take any more kindly to fic…

*Jintian
I’m not that familiar with Bujold, if she’s an example of a fan turned creator? I was thinking of, more recently, E.L. James and other Twilight authors who’ve re-written their fic into original work. (Back to that Amazon Kindle bestseller list: I’ve seen a handful of Twilight stories with serial numbers filed off ranking pretty high.) I’m sure there’s fanfic of those works existing now, bringing it all full circle….

*yhlee
I *think* Bujold’s Vorkosigan first book started out with some sort of Star Trek related inspiration, with serial numbers filed off. A lot.

*Lucy B.
Who was the slash author who repurposed her Pros fic? Mel Keegan?

*Eve
I do seem to remember a list of works stated as Twilight fanfic turned into original novels. Same for 50 Shades.

*Jintian
I think Lucy and Eve touched on a couple of interesting points earlier about fans being the focus of fandom, and fan creators being so in touch with their audiences. Particular fanfic writers with large followings can, and have, leveraged that into connection into readership for their traditionally published stuff.

Kristina B.
Yup Lucy, Mel Keegan.

*Jintian
*leveraged that connection

*Lucy B.
Funny story: her author blurbs used male pronouns.

*Lucy B.
That’s true, Jintian.

*Lucy B.
OTOH, I don’t mind that so much, because it means stuff that I’ll probably like gets published 😉

See: Mel Keegan.

*Jintian
I meant to say something at the half hour mark, but got caught up in the discussion. As we’re now coming up on one hour: for newcomers to the chat room, I’d just like to say welcome to the OTW’s fan panel discussion on the future of fanworks. Our panelists are Lucy, yhlee and yifu and I’m your moderator Jintian.

*Eve
Though I mostly keep my fannish identity separate from the trad-pub author identity. Readers of my novels don’t really need to know about my passionate multichapter Saint Seiya fics… do they?

*Jintian
Unfortunately our chat room isn’t able to show a user the discussion prior to their entrance, but the full transcript of this chat will be available by Monday, so you can see anything you missed.

*yhlee
I made the mistake of writing fanfic under my real name and really regret it, mainly because you can always unpseud but you can’t repseud. So to speak.

*Eve
yhlee: Do you mean they change their fannish identities after they’re traditionally published, that’s why they’re hard to find?

*yhlee
I find it slightly maddening that there are a couple fanfic writers whose works I’ve adored, whom I know have published traditionally, but since that connection will not/cannot be made public and I don’t know the right people, I will probably never figure out where to find their stuff.

*Lucy B.
Oh, that must be frustrating.

*Lucy B.
It’s really interesting to me the waves pseuds and real names go in.

*yhlee
No–I mean, I want to read the trad. published stuff along with the continued production of fanfic, because the one makes me think I’d like the other, and I have no way of finding (or knowing about) the trad. stuff.

But anyway, I suppose that’s getting OT.

I joined the internet through BBSes/fidonet in the late ’90s where everything was (presumed) real names, so it just never occurred to me that I could pseud when I joined LJ. Oh well.

*Lucy B.
I did, too. I started using a pseud because I thought academia would care that I wrote gay porn on the internet. Now I give talks on it at my school…

*Jintian
Yes, fandom is becoming so much more visible, so maybe those days of fiercely protecting the pseud will one day see an end? Not that I’M ready for it! Which leads to my next question….

*yhlee
Ha!

*Jintian
Given the increasing visibility of fanworks to both content/source creators and the public, what do you think are some important points to emphasize — or sources to use — when explaining fanworks to people who are unfamiliar with them?

*Eve
Readers’ freedom in interpreting sources. This might include explaining fanworks that are, say, rated NC-17, for series often assumed to be targeted toward the younger audience, like Naruto.

*Jintian
(This reminds me of the Passover dinner party I attended last year where the host proceeded to explain to everyone how 50 Shades used to be “slash” fanfic, because “slash” is any fanfic which has explicit sex.)

*Lucy B.
I really believe that the gender issues in fandom, the large number of girls and women who write and vid and draw, is important. It seems like an odd thing to emphasize, but I think it goes a long way toward breaking down stereotypes, plus I’ll be damned if we get written out of the history of THESE artforms.

*Eve
There might have been at least one case when an Indonesian non-fannish person posted on the internet that Naruto has porn on it!! not safe for our children!

Phil
I think one important point is that it’s not all just sex. That’s probably the worst part. There have been fanworks that have made me cry and feel such indescribable emotion. It’s more than just sex. There’s so much more.

*Lucy B.
Also, *headdesk* on the definitions of “slash.”

JessieB
Slash has taken on a new meaning in the 21st century

Psyga S.
Wait, I thought they labeled sex fics as “Lemon”.

Phil
Lemon, smut, so much. Lemon is one of the terms used on websites where those things are banned.

JessieB
Never heard that one before

*yhlee
I’ve seen “lemon” most in anime fandoms. Maybe other places.

*Lucy B.
It has, but in terms of it being a useful term, I still firmly believe that keeping the same-sex element is important.

“Slash,” I mean.

*Eve
Hears about lemon, not about the being banned part.

*Lucy B.
This is one of the few hills I plant my aged flag on, to mix a metaphor 😉

JessieB
When I was first in fandom slash refered to non-canon m/m pairings

*Eve
Lucy: Which stereotypes are these?

*Lucy B.
The stereotype of the fan as, well, Comic Book Guy.

Phil
There was one website I was on where you weren’t supposed to post any sexual content, so it was tagged lemon.

Honestly, if it’s not allowed there, you shouldn’t post it. There’s other places where you can do that.

*Eve
I asked because the stereotype I often hear is “those fangirls who write fanfic just as an excuse to get two men into bed.”

*Lucy B.
Also, the stereotype of girls in fandom as sexy cosplayers who are only cosplaying sexily to show off for men. I should be clear that I fully approve of sexily cosplaying women.

I see that one sometime, but not in the wider culture.

JessieB
who quotes the stereotype?

*Lucy B.
Well, MY wider culture.

JessieB
where does it originate?

*Lucy B.
Sorry, that was imprecise.

Originate? I honestly don’t know. I just know that when I see someone talking about Batman or Star Trek on TV, it’s usually a man.

JessieB
nnods

*Jintian
Unfortunately I’ve seen that a lot, too, Eve — or the variation of “fangirl who only cares about hot actors.” Which is frustrating, because I came into fandom as a young girl who was clueless about a lot of stuff, and I valued being in a community that was majority female because it contained so much more than that fangirl stereotype. Er…but I could write a whole memoir about my feelings on this.

*Eve
The stereotype about girls writing men in bed came up a few years back, during the Diana Gabaldon brouhaha, but I couldn’t remember the exact source, sorry.

*yhlee
I must have missed the Gabaldon thing.

JessieB
I think I missed this. What Diana GAbaldon brouhaha?

Psyga S.
Most stereotypes I find are just girls writing about bad boys and trying to justify how they’re really good or who refuse to let things change.

Phil
Yes, please. Forgive my ignorance. What’s the Diana issue?

*Lucy B.
http://fanlore.org/wiki/Diana_Gabaldon

*yhlee
Thank you.

*Lucy B.
NP

The entry understates the massive upset on her part.

JessieB
interesting. I used to enjoy her work too

*Lucy B.
She entered the Anne Rice stratosphere.

Phil
That’s sad, because I see fanfiction as an appreciation, not a legal issue.

*yhlee
Oh dear.

Zalia C.
Damn, I remember that blowing up and I don’t even know her stuff

Psyga S.
Everyone has their different tastes on fandoms.

*Eve
Yeah, I read her books too. I stopped after they get far less plotty and after that scathing post on fanfic.

*yhlee
OTOH, on the sf/f pro writing end I used to hear that even if you didn’t mind fanfic, you were better off being silent or not officially okay with it because of legal reasons because of some trouble Marion Zimmer Bradley had had.

Now, I’m just a short story writer and I don’t make a living off my writing so it’s not like I have a horse in this race wearing that hat, but I’m pretty sure at least some writers were scared off by that whole lien of thought.
* line

*Lucy B.
I think, for good or ill, as fanworks become more visible, we’ll see more creators coming down on one side or the other.

*Jintian
That actually gets into another question we wanted to ask: Do you think the scrutiny of fandom from academics, legal practitioners, entertainment industries and the media, have affected the creative freedom of source creators or fan creators? Not just authors putting the kibosh on fanworks, but for instance, cases where creators have engaged with fans in their own spaces regarding criticism of work they were connected to. There have also been cases of the media forcing those in the entertainment industry to engage with particular fanworks in an interview setting.

Phil
Yes, like the Sherlock incident. It’s supposed to be amusing.

JessieB
that was abysmal on her part

I know who the writer was

Phil
That was horrid. I remember the backlash. It wasn’t an okay thing to do. Poor thing. I also know who the writer is too – she was not happy about it.

JessieB
she’s a damn good fanfic writer imho

*Lucy B.
I don’t really think academics have TOO much to do with it, since the stuff we/they write usually tends to be read by a couple hundred people (she said ruefully).

But the popular attention is a different story.

Phil
Although many writers say that writing fanfiction is a bad platform to develop your own writing skills. That factors a bit into academics, I guess.

Zalia C.
Academia usually (not always) also doesn’t have a stake in making fandom look bad for the camera

*Lucy B.
Honestly, and this may be my cybertheorist lens here, I think social media is one of the biggest factors.

JessieB
Why do they say fanfiction is a bad platform to develop your own writing, out of interest?

anyone got any insight into that?

*Lucy B.
The filtering mechanisms that used to separate creators and fans is just not there any more.

*yhlee
On scrutiny: I remember Cat Valente once saying she would *not* engage with fanworks not because she disapproves of them–she does approve–but because she didn’t want to stifle fan creativity.

Phil
Because people say that you should be able to come up with your own characters and plotlines, not “steal” anyone’s else’s.

*Eve
Because the universe is already there and you don’t have to develop one of your own? There’s AU fic, but the characters are still created by another person, not by you.

*Lucy B.
What they said 😉

*yhlee
That’s BS. You can still learn description, pacing, tension, plot (if you’re writing plotty fic), etc. etc.

*Lucy B.
Oh, sure.

JessieB
I can see why they would say that but I disagree with it

Zalia C.
By that token, professional comic book writers also don’t count

Phil
I agree. As long as the writing’s original, there shouldn’t be a problem.

*Jintian
Yes, social media — yhlee mentioned The Vampire Diaries earlier, which is a fandom I share, and the writers/producers/actors are all over Twitter and fan polls, to the extent of fans even influencing storylines and relationships on the show.

*yhlee
Fanfic may tend to emphasize a different tool set. But God knows there are published sf/f writers (hard sf usually gets the knock for this, but it’s hardly alone) who can’t characterize their way out of a paper bag.

*Eve
And you learn to live inside the heads of a variety of different characters.

Zalia C.
also any writers for TV shows who aren’t the creators. Video game writers.

Psyga S.
Yeah. There was that article done on Movellas where it encourages not just writing, but reading through Fanfics as well.

*yhlee
Oh, is *that* why Vampire Diaries’ plot is all over the map? Hahaha. 🙂

Psyga S.
So there are some sites that view fanfics as a positive influence.

*Lucy B.
Heeee

JessieB
I wouldn’t have been published without having first written fanfiction, although mine hasn’t been as successful as 50 shades, more’s the pity

*Jintian
(Tumblr TVD fandom is…let’s just say there’s a narrative there about fans having a huge influence on the show.)

*Lucy B.
Very few have. That one struck a nerve.

*yhlee
Well, it’s a different narrative model. I’ll have to start following that.

Phil
I think someone said that 50 shades isn’t fanfic because the characters and plot are completely different. Haven’t read and never cared about Twilight, though, so I have nothing to say about that.

*yhlee
L5R is interesting in that it’s always had player involvement in the storyline–tourney wins influence what clan gets written into what storyline prizes, etc. I was on the Story Team for a year working for AEG, and I have to say that it really changes the dynamic.

*Jintian
On the other hand, I’ve seen The Powers That Be from Teen Wolf and Sherlock saying recently that fans who are there for slash interpretations are just flat-out reading the shows wrong. Which touches on Eve’s point earlier about the validity of a variety of reader interpretations.

Psyga S.
Well, from what I heard, it used to be “Master of the Universe”, a Twilight fanfic, but then the serial numbers got filed off for obvious reasons… Which has me wonder how the published fanfics will work…

*yhlee
I’m used to writing whatever the hell I want, freelance. But when you’re writing for customers of game product, and there’s a backlog going back 5+ years of story prizes for X Clan getting Cool Storyline, vs. whatever Marketing is doing that week, it gets interesting. So any sort of extended player/audience
control–isn’t worse, but it’s def. different.

*Lucy B.
Some people file more successfully than others.

*yhlee
Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Tor Books likes to explain reading as the process of compiling source code (the text) into the story (whatever ends up in the individual reader’s head). The author can control the source, but not what comes out the other end. Some creators have better luck accepting this than others.

DLChase
(Sherlock showrunners just flat out lie. Don’t trust what they say until the series is over.)

*yhlee
Of course, some readers/consumers also compile better than others, so there’s that too.

*Lucy B.
This is true

*Jintian
Heh, yhlee, there’s a joke somewhere in there about End User License Agreements…

Phil
About the Sherlock thing – I do agree that some people are reading the shows wrong. But I don’t understand how a lot of the things that the writers thought of – esp in TEH – came up with those ideas “Sheriaty”, etc.) However, a lot of people spend hours analyzing a show and believing in things that will probably never happen (hint: Johnlock). I’m just saying.

*Eve
Jintian: Tumblr talks about queerbaiting, which is problematic but sells. Might be an example of fan reaction influencing source material.

Phil
Queerbaiting is most definitely a thing.

JessieB
And yet Moffat has kind of been supportive of fan works

elaborate please, in what way queerbaiting?

*yhlee
As a creator, sure, I’d tend to play to audience, all other things being equal. :] From a purely money-grubbing standpoint.

*Lucy B.
Then there’s how Supernatural dealt with awareness of fandom.

*yhlee
Were those the parody-of-fandom eps?

Phil
It’s hard to imagine Moffat being supportive of anything wow.

*Lucy B.
Yeah.

Phil
Anyway, I have a particularly good link about queerbaiting I’ll try to find.

*Jintian
*nod* It’s an interesting time to be in fandom. We’re visible, we have voices and (some) influence — see also San Diego Comic-Con and how that kind of fan interaction is now seen as a great way to market — and yet personally, I don’t always *want* the creators to give in to fan desires.

*Lucy B.
* nods *

Phil
Here’s a link about the queerbaiting in Sherlock: http://mekbuda–old1.tumblr.com/post/43189667428/ I think it’s interesting, but I don’t have too many thoughts on it. I don’t think too much about these issues.

*yhlee
This is a good point. L5R experience again–if nothing else sometimes you lose narrative cohesion, and also, not all fans want the same thing so we can’t all get what we want at the same time in canon all at once.

Which is why I like fan creations–I get more *choice.*

*Lucy B.
There’s also the phenomenon when they THINK they’re catering to the fans but just really, really don’t understand what the fans want.

*Eve
Some fans would rather see actual queer characters on shows, rather than “hints.”

*yhlee
Yes, absolutely.

*Lucy B.
Which is another reason I think pushing “Girls watch scifi/read comics/etc too!” is important, among other things.

I have a six-year-old daughter who loves superheroes, and sometimes I want to despair.

*Jintian
Ohhhhh for a Black Widow movie!

*Lucy B.
YES!

*Jintian
or Wonder Woman!

Phil
There’s definitely a clear under representation of queer characters in the media.

Zalia C.
You get so used to ‘hints’t and queerbaiting, that when an actual queer couple turns up in your fandom’s source material, you don’t trust what you’re hearing/watching

*yhlee
I have a ten-year-old daughter. It’s the same story. I remember the time I took her into our local comic store and she made a beeline for the Wonder Woman 12″ figurine I couldn’t afford at the time.

*Eve
YES! (at the Black Widow or Wonder Woman movies, I mean)

*yhlee
(That was a few years ago and we moved, alas. Right now she’s on a dragon kick, so, Anne McCaffrey.)

Psyga S.
It’s sad when the odds of a Black Widow movie are significantly higher than a Wonder Woman movie.

Zalia C.
And feel gobsmacked when the creators actually confirm that the couples are queer

*Lucy B.
I mean, you tell me what you say when a little girl you love asks why Mcdonalds didn’t make ANY girl figures for Young Justice.

*Jintian
*nod* @Zalia — and then I also hope the queer characters’ storylines will be treated well and they’ll be portrayed as whole individuals

Phil
I definitely agree. I just like (pardon the pun) straight-forwardness. It’s sad that we have to doubt the best thing we can get – queer couples in the media.

*yhlee
I spend a lot of time complaining about how the children’s adventures books my daughter loves to read (because dragons dragons dragons) are almost always some guy with a girl sidekick.

*Lucy B.
I think it’s flat-out criminal that to get a live-action Wonder Woman, you have to go to when *I* was a little girl.

ARG

Zalia C.
*Jintian: oh, so far both queer couples are being treated very very well ^^

*Eve
Lynda Carter!

*yhlee
Add to that that my daughter is biracial. How many biracial kids get represented? Or Asian heroine girls?

*Lucy B.
🙁

JessieB
coming back to the queerbaiting thing, I’m not sure how it can be there in Sherlock, not when one of it’s writers is gay (although I might agree with the sidelining of Bisexual) and has been friends with the other writer for 20 years…

*Eve
And not have the queerness (or disability, etc) fully define them.

Zalia C.
But I’m very lucky in my choice of fandom

*Lucy B.
yhlee, have you found Princeless?

*yhlee
I haven’t. Will look!

JessieB
how so, Zalia?

Phil
I honestly think John’s bisexual, but I think it’s not going to happen. Frankly, I know it’s not going to happen. The fact that others’ on Tumblr don’t think the same is both isolating and somewhat annoying.

*yhlee
I sort of hope there will be more queer characters, including non-cisnormative stuff, but in my daughter’s age category, I’m not…optimistic.

*Lucy B.
Which part don’t they agree with, Phil?

*Eve
One of the writers might be gay but Greater Powers might not want actual queer characters on the show. This is pure conjecture though.

Zalia C.
Two canon queer couples in it,neither of which are defined by their sexuality, none of them die, and they aren’t played purely for angst (none of their angst has been sexuality related actually)

JessieB
I very much doubt it should happen, even if John is bi, but I rather think the point was missed

*Jintian
As we’re now at the last half hour of the chat, I just wanted to note again for any latecomers that a full transcript will be available by Monday so you can see anything you missed.

And now seems a good time to open up to audience questions for the panel. If we could go the old school route of typing “raise hand” if you have a question, I’ll call on people in order. 🙂

Psyga S.
raise hand

*Jintian
Psyga, go ahead 🙂

Psyga S.
So, discussing about the “Future of Fanworks”, has anti-piracy laws like SOPA, TPP, and ACTA ever posed a considerable threat to said future?

Phil
I honestly think that ASIB was just plain wrong to Irene and indicative of how Johnlock will never be treated as canon, but no one really agrees with me.

*Lucy B.
You know, I honestly don’t know.

*yhlee
Ditto. :/

JessieB
I agree with you, phil

DLChase
raise hand

*Eve
Neither do I, sorry.

*Lucy B.
I think that if there’s a really serious threat it’s either to vidding – we may have some victories on the visuals, but the RIAA still has its head up its ass,

Katie
raise hand

*Jintian
We’ve got a legal Q&A with, I believe, similar questions to these coming up, and I’m sure they’ll touch on the anti-piracy laws.

*Lucy B.
or to sharing source material.

*Jintian
DLChase, go ahead?

*Lucy B.
(Disclaimer: really not a lawyer.)

DLChase
In fandom we have learned to read the ratings and ignore/accept what suits us. How do we protect preteens from not reading the ratings?

*Jintian
(here’s the info, Psyga — March 21 to 24)

DLChase
…and getting age-inappropriate material?

*yhlee
Honestly, that’s not policeable by individuals. I question whether it’s even a good idea, but in my household my daughter can read whatever she’s comfortable reading.

Phil
Thanks, Jessie. But if people actually don’t think those segments were just stamped with “you can turn a lesbian straight with the right guy” *in this case Sherlock* then what else is it about? Not to mention Moffat’s thoughts on asexual people – “boring”. He doesn’t seem open enough to “alternative” sexualities to incorporate something as earth-shattering as Johnlock.

*yhlee
And I was raised by parents who let me read whatever the heck I cared to, and I still believe that was the right decision for our household. Other households may vary, of course; not all kids are the same.

*Lucy B.
Yeah, I read a lot of stuff I just flat-out didn’t understand when I was younger.

*Eve
Talks in real life are very encouraged here in Indonesia, but that’s a case by case approach, I think. Depends on the adults, upbringing, etc.

*yhlee
My kid seems just to ignore sex bits, unfazed by violent bits, and really freaked out by hypnosis episodes in Justice League.

*Lucy B.
That said, I think that the move to/back to archives HELPS in that matter.

Because they tend to have more consistent ratings.

*yhlee
Yes, that’s a good point.

DLChase
Thanks, my family and me read anything and ignore what doesn’t suit us.

*Eve
Highly rated materials affect different young people differently, and the adults can adapt to that. Otherwise, let the kids read what they want.

*Lucy B.
When my oldest niece found fanfic and my sister freaked about it, I suggested I show her AO3 so that she could better choose what she was comfortable with.

Phil
I agree. Kids should get free reign over the books they read.

*Jintian
I feel like fan authors maybe used to be more concerned about legal ramifications of underage readers finding their stuff. But I haven’t seen this as much lately — maybe it’s just in my circles.

*yhlee
Pragmatic. I like it, Lucy!

JessieB
Phil, I think they were trying to make the point that Sherlock is the one who draws people to him like moths to his flame, despite their basic sexuality.

DLChase
(There are far more non-explicit than explicit fix on AO3, for example)

JessieB
My two kids read and watch what they like

*yhlee
What, because there isn’t enough non-fanfic highly-rated material for them anyway?

*Eve
Good point 🙂 sometimes kids get curious though.

JessieB
and I use what my kids watch to talk about things like exploitation and the difference between fantasy and reality

*Jintian
True enough! /said as an avid Stephen King reader from age 11, heh

*yhlee
They’re going to find something somewhere if they’re really determined to. I figure better to discuss openly so I have half a chance of monitoring in case the kidlet gets out of her league.

Phil
That’s also a good explanation. But some of it just didn’t seem right to me.

*Eve
And “enter only if you’re 18 or older” only makes them want to know what’s on the other side. Speaking as someone who used to be a kid.

*Lucy B.
Heh

*Eve
Again, disclaimer: Other kids might not get curious.

JessieB
kids are individuals

*Jintian
Also true! That still makes me want to see what’s on the other side, in fact.

Corey
Or go “heh heh, suuuure I’m 18.”

JessieB
they come to stuff in their own time

*yhlee
I know! And, I mean, sure there’s skeevy highly-rated stuff. On the other hand, my daughter could be reading the Xanth novels I was reading as a child. Some of the sexism &c. I would be more concerned about then, say, fic that’s “just” sex.

*Jintian
Katie, you have a question?

*Lucy B.
My general feeling is that nothing I write couldn’t be sold in Barnes and Noble, so..

JessieB
do you know everything Barnes and Noble stock?

*Lucy B.
No, but I know what I’ve bought there.

Katie
Yes, I was wondering, I rate as high as I feel I need to for fics, but I get people who say I triggered them..

kids mostly…and I feel like it’s they’re own fault…

DLChase
(and once they have read one explicit fic they might decide they like fic with other ratings better)

*yhlee
I was one of the people who founded Festivids, which is a rare fandom vidding exchange, and content notes/trigger were one of the things we had to do with. The tough thing is that there are some very common triggers, but there are also less common triggers, and it’s a hard balance.

Katie
I’m more of making a statement, I guess…

*yhlee
* deal with

Melaric
As someone who has been producing 18+ material since 13-14, and then tagging it with “enter only if above 18”, I feel like the rating system can be really arbitrary, at best.

*yhlee
Katie, what kinds of triggers are you talking about? If you can say? Strictly sex/violence, or…?

Katie
sex, and crime…

*yhlee
For instance, Festivids decided not to require content notes for “just” violence (which we would have, I guess, if we’d been a community of war veterans with PTSD problems) but we did require it for *sexual* violence, which would much more likely to be triggery for the audience of vid-viewers.

Katie
medical can set a lot of people off I’ve found out, and the medical is gen.

JessieB
this is true

*yhlee
It really is kind of arbitrary, because people vary so much, and there’s no universal standard.

*Lucy B.
You know, I’ve actually had this argument in a professional context.

JessieB
surely you tag your fiction over and above the rating though?

*yhlee
I hear you on medical–my dad is a surgeon so I am impossible to medically squick, but my husband cannot deal with the sight of a needle. Worse in the context of a vid where you see it, not just read about it.

Katie
Yeah, it’s at M…

*yhlee
Do all archives have tags, though?

Katie
If you mean mine, I think so.

JessieB
this is an interesting question

Kristina B.
Lucy, have you seen last week’s trigger warnings on college campuses posts? I just taught that in my gender class this week.

Psyga S.
I doubt Fanfiction.net has any.

except for Genres and Characters.

Katie
No, they don’t.

I’m on there…

*Lucy B.
I’ve taught some books and stories with disturbing material, and you’d be surprised how strongly my colleagues argue against allowing students to do an alternative readings.

JessieB
me too

*yhlee
Yes, FF.net is a good example–unless the author adds extra notes I don’t recall seeing an archive-enforced tag system.

*Lucy B.
I haven’t, Kristina.

*Lucy B.
I should.

*Eve
That’s why I’m more comfortable on AO3, the tags are informative.

*yhlee
What are some arguments against alt. readings, Lucy?

JessieB
again, I agree

Corey
On fanfiction.net, it’s considered good form to announce potential triggers in the summary and/or an author’s note

Katie
What happened to don’t like, don’t read?

JessieB
people do post that in summary on ff.net

Katie
I mean some stuff I don’t like and I don’t read it.

JessieB
I’ve seen it a few times

Psyga S.
There are some who read even if they don’t like. Mainly for the fun of it (I.e. sporking/riffing)

Corey
(Not that everyone does though)

JessieB
true

*Lucy B.
Basically that while we might get, say, a woman wanting to forgo “River of Names” for sexual assault, the far, far more likely complaint we’ll get here in Central IL is “it’s against my religion to read about gay people.”

Kristina B.
Oh, it’s been fascinating. Lemme find you the links: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/05/trigger-warnings-can-be-counterproductive, http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2014/03/05/against-trigger-warnings/(they have further links)

*yhlee
Oh, I see what you’re saying, Lucy. (I’m in Louisiana and I am…not straight.)

*Jintian
It’s a hard topic, Katie — if something isn’t warned for adequately or specifically enough, a reader may not know there’s potentially going to be a problem. Just speaking generally.

*Lucy B.
Me, I’m pretty comfortable drawing a line between the two.

But still.

Katie
I warn a lot, so I guess I should get used to it…

I’m new at this…

Psyga S.
I’m new as well.

Katie
We’re talking about two years.

*Eve
I check the tags and notes. If something bothers me in the midst of reading, I stop. (I’m a simple person like that)

*something unexpected bothers me

*yhlee
I try to err on the side of lots of tags, but I sometimes guess wrong. IME it never hurts to apologize and add the tags. I like AO3’s “refuse to warn” as a catchall where you feel it would harm the story.

Katie
What’s that?

*yhlee
I’m like that too, Eve, but I have such a short memory reading material and vids don’t really traumatize me. If other people are built differently, then it doesn’t harm me to accommodate them.

Katie
“refuse to warn”?

Psyga S.
It’s good that AO3 has tags for the triggers, but I’m not sure what triggers what outside of the obvious ones.

Katie
Well there is medical, maybe?

*yhlee
“Refuse to warn”–oh sorry, it’s one of their categories? LEt me look it up.

JessieB
the trouble is, when do we stop? How can we actually know ALL the potential triggers? It could get ridiculous. I’m not saying don’t tag but how far do we go?

Psyga S.
Yeah. AO3 has that whole “does not use Archive Warnings” thing… I think that’s what Yhlee is talking about.

*Lucy B.
We can’t.

Dai-kun
IMO, what triggers what is really subjective, and so I only tag the obvious ones

*Jintian
Katie, AO3’s posting format for fanworks has a checkbox where you can indicate that you choose not to provide any warnings for the fanwork. So it’s a reader-beware catch-all category.

*yhlee
Yes, that’s the one. But that only works if you use an archive where you know what the standardized warnings are.

*Lucy B.
OTOH, I think there are some that are reasonably obvious.

Psyga S.
The only thing we CAN do is find the triggers ourselves, or what we think are triggers.

*yhlee
JessieB, that’s the thing–again, it’s a balancing act. Decide what you’re comfortable with, and stick with it (or reassess if you feel that’s necessary). It’s up to you, ultimately.

*Lucy B.
I mean, as a teacher, I warn for graphic sexual assault, and that’s it.

JessieB
agreed, and hope nobody comes up with a trigger we’ve not met before?

Katie
Yeah, I agree. Sorry if I started something here.

*yhlee
No, it’s a good question, Katie.

I mean, as a writer of non-fanfic fiction, those stories don’t GET warnings at all.

And I regularly write about genocide, so…

JessieB
that’s true

*yhlee
(I guess “by Yoon Ha Lee” *is* the warning.)

Melaric
There is really no way to foresee what might be triggering for your entire audience though.

*Lucy B.
Heh

Kristina B.
Lucy, I warn for extreme violence, death, and torture in my Holocaust course

*Lucy B.
Well, and there are blurbs

*Eve
I hear you, yhlee. I hope that nothing in my books has triggered the readers, but…

*yhlee
True. Short fiction doesn’t always get that intro thing from the editor, and rarely gets blurbs beforehand. I have a book (short story collection), but the blurbs would be useless in telling about triggering stuff.

*Eve
Blurbs are fine, but the details in the story might still have something triggery in them. My experience as a reader.

*yhlee
But it’s interesting to me that the convention (having warnings/content notes) is so different in fanfic vs. non-fanfic.

*Jintian
We’ve got a few minutes left of the “formal” chat discussion time, but people should feel free to stick around afterward if you like. Many thanks again to the panelists and to the audience for participating! 🙂 And we just wanted to ask one last question, which we’ll open to everyone:

The OTW proposed designating February 15th an International Fanworks Day to celebrate all things fanworks. Anyone can participate by advocating for, creating, or appreciating the wide variety of fanworks available. How would you choose to celebrate the event?

*Eve
Create fanworks-related memes, e.g. a list of questions (share your experiences, etc.) or a list of mini-challenges.

Psyga S.
Hm… Not sure, but I think I might write up a meta fanfiction. Like, a fanfiction about fanfiction.

*Eve
Anyone who see the memes can play.

JessieB
Collaborative effort, groups of fanfic authors getting together to produce something together

Psyga S.
Fanfiception

*Lucy B.
It might be fun to challenge people to revisit a past fandom in some way.

*yhlee
Honestly, make a recs post (yes, I do leave feedback/kudos, I just read slowly). Goodness knows I have enough stuff accumulated and I should share!

Dai-kun
I think I will be making fanworks and encourage the fandom groups I manage to create some too, maybe making a challenge that ends on 15th Feb?

Zalia C.
See if I could get together another Iron Fanwork event for the fandom

JessieB
I like that idea LucyB

sukeb
I think Psyga’s fanfiception is a good idea.

*yhlee
I love the meta fanfic idea.

Psyga S.
Heck, it could even be a crossover between two fanfictions… That’d be epic.

*yhlee
Hahaha.

*Lucy B.
😀

*yhlee
Mini-challenges leading up to the day also sound fun!

Psyga S.
Ebony in Methods of Rationality 😛

*Jintian
I’ve perpetually got a backlog of recs and could fold that into revisiting past fandoms. Celebrating other fan creators!

*Lucy B.
I like that idea

JessieB
we managed a massive summer Mystrade gift exchange last year, it worked well. Writing for someone else is always a challenge. It might work for feb 15th too.

fulfill someone else’s requests

*yhlee
Oh, an exchange!

*Lucy B.
I’ve had a really great time, folks, but the pain meds are wearing off. Thanks for inviting me!

JessieB
I loved doing it, and it works well.

*yhlee
Yeah, I should turn in too; I’m still flu-ish. Take care all, and thanks for having me!

*Eve
I’ve reached a phase where I’d rather write for someone else than have my request fulfilled. 🙂

*Jintian
Thank you so much again for participating, and have a good rest of the weekend!

*Lucy B.
You, too!

JessieB
can I ask before you go, where is everyone based in the world?

Katie
Iowa, USA.

*Eve
Thank you for participating, Lucy and yhlee. Take care!

JessieB
I just wonder about different outlooks on fanfic coming from different countries

DLChase
Thanks for holding the chat and chatiing. Over and out from Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

*Eve
Indonesia.

JessieB
take care all and thank you

*Jintian
Great question, JessieB — I’m in Washington, DC

Psyga S.
Canada

JessieB
I’m in the UK

*Eve
Fanworks are very a niche-y activity here, but I did participate in one fanworks event at least, back in 2006.

Melaric
Currently US, but also Canada, UK, and China

Zalia C.
UK

*Jintian
!! Thank you so much for logging on, JessieB — we know this timezone was difficult for people in Europe

*Eve
Event in real life, that is.

*Jintian
time, rather, due to timezones

JessieB
I’ve enjoyed it

saw it last minute on tumblr

*Jintian
and Zalia

Dai-kun
*raises hand*

JessieB
where abouts are you, Zalia?

Zalia C.
Yorkshire

*Jintian
Did you have a question, Dai-kun? Or reporting in from Europe also? 🙂

JessieB
never… where?

oops, hit the wrong key

Zalia C.
Haha, I wondered

Um, near Huddersfield, if you know it

JessieB
where in Yorkshire?

if I know it

I’m in York

what are the odds?

Zalia C.
😀 Awesome. I get over there pretty regularly

JessieB
two of us from one county

Zalia C.
and not in London! \o/

JessieB
county. never mind country

Katie
*raises hand*

*Jintian
I think no need for raising hands for questions at this point, as panelists are taking off, but as I said, feel free to continue chatting informally. 🙂