This Week in Fandom, Volume 17

The big news of the week is the release of Pokemon Go, a mobile game that involves travelling around to catch, battle, and level creatures from the Pokedex. While the game has not yet been released in all planned countries, it has taken the internet by storm, prompting memes, fanworks, and even hoax news stories. (But, seriously, #DontPokemonGoAndDrive, folks. It’s not safe.)

Some businesses are apparently unhappy with people stopping by to play the game, while others are using it to promote their products, or even offering discounts to players.

The other big story of the week is the confirmation that Hikaru Sulu will be shown as a canonically gay character in the upcoming movie “Star Trek: Beyond.” According to The Melburne Herald Sun, John Cho, the actor who portrays Sulu in the new film series, confirmed this fact during a promotional even in Australia. The Star Trek franchise has had few representations of the LGBTQ+ community in its 50-year lifetime, so this is a particularly noteworthy event.

While many people were happy about the news, or even used it to find courage to come out about their own sexuality, there has been one notable voice objecting to the decision: George Takei, the actor who portrayed Sulu in the original Star Trek series and movies. As Trek Core reported, Takei, himself a gay man and activist for LGBTQ+ rights, considers this an ‘unfortunate’ dvelopment: “This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them.”

Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto, actors in the new Star Trek movies, both responded to Takei’s comments in support of the decision to have Sulu be gay. Says Pegg, “We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism? […] Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline.”

On the copyright side of things, there has been a new Digital Economy Bill tabled before the United Kingdom Parliament, and the OTW’s ally, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, is expressing concern over several elements of the Bill. “Secondly, the Bill also increases the penalties for online infringement by five times, from a maximum of two years imprisonment to a full ten years. This changes is proposed despite clear evidence from an earlier public consultation that most people considered a ten year prison term for copyright infringement to be excessive. For those who like to relate online copyright infringement to stealing a car, it might be worth noting that the maximum penalty for aggravated vehicle-taking under UK law is only two years.”

In happier news, another of the OTW’s allies, The Harry Potter Alliance, is planning activism work surrounding the upcoming movie adaptation of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” In an interview with Inverse, HPA Communications Director Jackson Bird spoke about using the passion of fandom to encourage positive action in the world. “Fans, for decades, have been great activists for their own fandom cause. They’re incredibly well-networked with each other, usually on a global scale. They are very creative, they create pieces of art, they do a lot of writing, they’re great critical thinkers because they do analyses of stories. They’re passionate and can activate their networks really quickly. Those are all skills that you need to be a great activist.”

Lastly, The Cap Times of Madison, Wisconsin, posted a review of an unusual type of documentary. “Raiders!” is a making-of documentary chronicling the filming of “Raiders of the Lost Arc: The Adaptation,” a fan film remake by teenage boys in the 1980s. Says the review, “In the end, ‘Raiders!’ is both a love letter and a cautionary tale, showing us that fans are more than just the sum of their obsessions. In a day where middle-aged fans rant on Twitter that “Batman vs. Superman,” “Ghostbusters” or some other piece of pop culture “ruined their childhood,” we see how loving “Raiders” not only saved these boys’ childhoods. It saved their adulthoods, too.”

This Week in Fandom

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