This Week in Fandom, Volume 51

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening. Before we start, did you see the OTW’s panel at Whedoncon this past weekend? We’re turning 10 this year, and in celebration OTW personnel Claudia Rebaza (Communications) and Betsy Rosenblatt (Legal) held a discussion about the incredible ride we’ve all been on over the past decade.

Related to last week’s discussion of the Shimadacest fandom, The Mary Sue posted an article about fandom callout culture. The article is a good breakdown of the phenomenon for those who might be unfamiliar with it.

“What I find more insidious and worrisome is when the importance of identifying and pointing out systemic fractures within society becomes a stick with which one can beat on fandom participants, wielded by a few who have appointed themselves the moral voice of fandom at large. There’s the content policing which suggests that certain restrictions should be enforced on fic archiving sites, beyond the warning system and content tags which exist precisely to help people avoid triggering content. Then there’s the bullying which masks itself through the appropriation of social justice movements and a callout culture which affords no scope for learning from past mistakes.”

There was a kerfuffle in this vein in the Yuri!!! on Ice fandom this past week. (Note: There is limited linking here to avoid encouraging wank.) A user on Tumblr made a list of YOI fanfic authors whose works use elements that are on a “shitlist” of things the user considers “unsafe.” They did not advocate bullying the people on the list, but some fans claim that it happened anyway, and some consider the existence of a public list like that to be bullying in and of itself. While some fans are dismissive of the list, others are upset. Some have made calls for people not to bully anyone over this, no matter what their stance is. A group of fans even started a fanfic fest specifically in response to the ordeal.

What do you think? Is it an example of fandom callout culture? Did one side go too far? Did both sides? Let us know in the comments!

In other news, a writer for Wired named Angela Watercutter was surprised by the existence of a fandom for the 2015 movie Carol. Femslash needs more love, so let’s talk about this. According to the article, “the fact that [a fandom] exists for a measured drama about two women falling in love says something about how cult movies are christened now. […] Repeated midnight screenings and overzealous video store clerks are no longer the litmus test. Now films gain traction through Netflix recommendations, Alamo Drafthouse double features, social media, and literal word-of-mouth.” Despite the modest fandom size, the people involved are still enthusiastic: “One woman and her daughter showed up [to a screening of the movie] with homemade Carol and Therese ragdolls.” Welcome to the party, Angela.

Lastly, The Verge published an article about using fans and fanworks in the marketing campaign for the upcoming move Baby Driver.

“Wright has been sharing fan art inspired by the two-and-a-half-minute trailer for Baby Driver for the last two months, and the film’s official social media pages followed suit shortly after. Bryan Lee O’Malley, the artist behind the Scott Pilgrim comics, has even gotten involved. Now production company MRC and Sony-subsidiary TriStar Pictures (Baby Driver’s distributor) are organizing a fan art contest, encouraging people who love a movie they haven’t seen to create and submit Snapchat geofilters that the film can then use (for free) in theaters throughout the US.”

The article notes that “it’s becoming far less rare for a brand to realize that it can leverage an enthusiastic fan base to do its marketing work for free,” but it also acknowledges that there’s not much in it for fans other than notoriety: “The only prizes [for creating a geofilter] are the knowledge that Edgar Wright will personally sort through the submissions and choose the winner, then getting to show your friends your filter on Snapchat.”

Would you enter a contest like this? Would you be more interested in tie-in promotions like Snapchat filters if you knew they were created by fans? Or do you resent this official commodification of fanworks? Leave a comment with your opinion!

We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

This Week in Fandom
  1. Stella from Marketing commented:

    Here’s something I find interesting: You open a discussion about bullying in fandom that is NOT about policing problematic issues or ships … but about sharing meta and headcanons … and the issues police show up anyway.

    Clearly, there are groups of people out there who are, as the Mary Sue article points out, Puritanical scolds just waiting to scold you, Puritanically. When you’re a hammer, eventually, everyone else starts looking like a nail.