This Week in Fandom, Volume 50

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, apologies, but Eurovision is a mythical beast that is too great for this humble newsletter. Check out #Eurovision and #ESC2017 for flaily goodness, plus this indy100 article for a bit of controversy.

Syfy announced a rebranding this week. The Verge published an article detailing how the network is refocusing on fandom. (Warning for flashing gif at link.) In 2009, the name change was made from “The Sci Fi Channel” to Syfy in “an effort to capture a broad audience.” However, “the corporation now understands the need to do the opposite, by doubling down on Syfy’s roots. The end goal [according to network executive Chris McCumber], is to create a home ‘for fans to come in and celebrate the genre that they love.'” According to Collider, “[Syfy’s] focus will now be in four areas: science fiction (like The Expanse), fantasy (The Magicians), supernatural/paranormal (Channel Zero), and superheroes/comics (new series Krypton).” (Warning for potentially disturbing image at link.)

Fans are a mixture of positive and cynical about this change. This fan had an enthusiastic response to one part of the rebranding in particular:

While another fan was unimpressed with the aesthetics:

What do you think about the change? Are you excited for more genre content? Or do you want witches and superheroes to just go away already? Let us know in the comments!

In other news, Kotaku Australia published a thoughtful article on the Overwatch ship Shimadacest and the shipwar that surrounds it. For an article that starts by introducing the term “shipping” to readers, it goes surprisingly deep in its analysis of the pairing and its fandom. (It also gets bonus points for linking to Fanlore.) The article is long and worth sitting down to read properly, but here are some of the highlights:

“In the ribald world of shipping, incest is an occasional taboo. For some it is a fantasy too far. […] To others, creating a drawing of two fictional brothers making out is simply playful and, at most, the exploration of the forbidden within harmless bounds. […] While [some] acknowledge the incest taboo, they say it doesn’t factor into what makes the ship attractive: the codependent, almost destructive closeness of the two characters. […] And on the other [hand] you have the ‘antis,’ who say that it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, the potential for harm for survivors of abuse is too great to allow incestual ships to propagate. […] Antis fear the taboo has been erased from the conversation, and that the reality of what incest actually is — abuse — will also be erased. […] Each side is using the power of shame to try to suppress the other. […] Part of the problem lies with Tumblr. […] Even with proper tagging, there’s a possibility that someone vulnerable can and will see [Shimadacest content].”

The article’s ultimate conclusion isn’t in favour of one side of the other. Rather, it states that “If patterns from other fandoms hold true for Overwatch, people will just silently leave the fandom rather than face the animosity from either side of the conversation.” Given that, of the 13774 Overwatch fanworks on AO3, 259 of them–only 1.88%–are tagged as Shimadacest, it seems that the shipwar may be a small part of fandom with a much larger impact.

Lastly, the UK is making a return to the realm of political fandom. Buzzfeed published an article about so-called “Maylennials,” fans of British Prime Minister Theresa May. The fandom’s very existence is contentious, and its members are aware of that, though it’s not something the focus on.

“Many of the May supporters BuzzFeed News tracked down would only speak on the condition of anonymity and asked that this article posted no links to their blogs, for fear that anti-Tory activists would personally target them and send abuse. […] One young British female Theresa May fan, who asked not to be named, said she started her May-related Tumblr blog recently, after looking for ‘positive, fun’ content about May online but not finding any. She said she was a Conservative supporter but that she was more interested in May herself. The fandom is essentially like any other you could find on Tumblr, she said: ‘People just want to have fun online sharing their enjoyment of the people they admire and support with other like-minded tumblr users.'”

While some fans don’t view this as a political statement, and others are cynical about that fact, the general reaction seems to be unimpressed. Elizabeth Minkel of the Fansplaining podcast was off-put by the fandom, as well as its apparent misunderstanding of fans of British politician Ed Miliband. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know!

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This Week in Fandom

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