If Devin Faraci’s proclamation that ‘fandom is broken’ had you seething last week, you aren’t alone.
In an article for Vox, Constance Grady discusses a number of anti-fanfic essays and blog posts and reminds us that bashing women’s interests is nothing new.
What is scary about transformative fandom is that it’s a place where young women love their media without reservation, and where they can make stories for themselves. That’s why as a culture we’ve decided that transformative fandom is weird and gross and morally wrong, and that’s why all the articles in the world explaining that transformative fandom is a totally legitimate way to interact with a text aren’t really making a dent in the never-ending stream of repulsed investigations of fandom. Because fandom is the province of young women and, culturally, we find young women terrifying.
Grady also corrected the persistent myth that fanfiction is ‘meant to replace and correct the work that inspired it,’ sharing her own experience as a fan of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Dany Roth also used Buffy to explain why fandom is not broken, remembering fan reaction to controversial events in season eight.
And the reason that happened was because the fans had, for years, been the inherited custodians of the Buffy legacy. They had built a community of friends and creatives to imagine exciting new places Buffy could go. So, having someone who was largely a stranger swoop in and wipe those stories away in favor of an “official continuation” felt like a slap to the face. Writing new canon that was the opposite of what this fan community wanted was seen as an invasion of this tribe that many Buffy fans had created together.
At fusion.net, Charles Pulliam-Moore made the very important point that [f]andom isn’t ‘broken’—it’s just not only for white dudes anymore. (Not that it was ever actually only for white dudes.)
While that sort of viciousness from a self-proclaimed fan is indeed a terrible thing, the essay seems to be missing the fact that this behavior isn’t a symptom of a fandom’s newfound brokenness. This is what fandom is like on the internet and women, people of color, and queer-identified people have been dealing with it forever.
On The Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw agrees that geek culture has a harassment problem and suspects that Faraci’s issue may be more with women than with fandom:
I can’t help but suspect that Faraci’s dismissal of lighthearted fanfic is rooted in sexism. Most fanfic is written by young women, and coffeeshop fic falls into the same category as Gilmore Girls or Pride & Prejudice—stories about relationships, played out on a small scale, but with satisfying emotional impact. There’s always a happy ending, but are these stories any more frivolous than your average Spider-Man movie? It certainly isn’t “the opposite of good drama.” Good drama is a well-told story; bad drama is Batman v Superman.
The Daily Dot’s Aja Romano put out a post on her tumblr blog calling out Faraci’s uncomfortably ignorant tweets on fanwork and fan theories and focusing on his complete blindness to social justice issues:
Faraci makes no acknowledgment of the way his attitude dismisses marginalized fans, other than to lament that “social justice” has attached itself to fandom. (He did update with a response that fails to acknowledge most of the criticisms being leveled against him.) But he also perennially mocks and dismisses the fans who would take matters into their own hands by creating fanworks by and for themselves.
Do you think fandom is broken? Let us know in the comments!
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