OTW Fannews: Commercial Weirdness

banner by Alice of a cartoon octopus with a book and television set

  • A post at Wired featured images from a new book on science fiction zines of the 1940s through 1960s. “Despite being produced with a limited tool set, and existing in a vastly different milieu, these hacked-together pamphlets laid the groundwork for modern day fandoms. ‘The most surprising thing I noticed about the zines was how closely the format—editorials, letters, essays, reviews—paralleled the format of blogs,’ says co-author Jack Womack. ‘All this stuff is proto-blog, proto-Instagram, proto-snark, proto-troll, and naturally, also an active exchange of ideas that motivated some very weird people to do great things in their life,’ adds co-author Johan Kugelberg.”
  • The word “weird” seems to be perpetually attached to fanworks, as an article in Yahoo! Movies UK made apparent. The word seems to go missing though when discussing commercial contests, even when they are pitched at underage fans and propose improbable sources. “Mondelez will pick 10 finalists for Wattpad’s community to vote on. The company will then turn the winner’s story into an animated digital film and promote it on Sour Patch Kids’ social platforms. ‘We’re really just continuing to further build out our relationship with influencers…We know that these are the new celebrities for teens, and they have a much more authentic voice, so we’re really putting our brand in their hands and allowing them to create on our behalf.'”
  • Efforts to enroll fans as company pitchmen seem to be booming. A post at Good E Reader spoke uncritically about Skrawl’s business model, also directed at kids. It “is already in place in more than 20,000 schools in 60 countries and has been responsible for more than 2 million writing contests, allows story collaboration based on engagement and a points system. One user will post a story, then others will add their own sections to it.” Skrawl’s CEO stated “[A]s publishers hunger for popular content while cutting promotional budgets, such ready-formed, literate and eBook submissions are likely to become a great place to find talent.”
  • Perhaps some of the term’s use comes from anxiety. In discussing romance fandom, The Washington Post said, “Fan relations are enormous in the romance world, and romance readers come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds. But they’re almost never male. ‘The last thing popular romance needs is a man in a suit ‘mansplaining’ what belongs in the canon,’ said DePaul University professor Eric Selinger, the rare man at the conference who actually adores romance fiction…’There are not a lot of us who read these books,’ he admitted. ‘There’s this thinking that men are not interested in love, which doesn’t make a lot of sense when you look at popular music. For many of the men, they find the books tremendously intimidating.'”

What terms are you tired of seeing connected to fandom? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.