This Week in Fandom, Volume 55

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start… There are too many things to add here. Fandom is having a moment. Actually, several fandoms are having several moments. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights (and sad stories) that may have recently bombarded your social media feeds:

It’s interesting times in the world of Harry Potter fanfiction. Firstly, some poor confused soul accidentally got fanfic instead of a real copy of Order of the Phoenix (which is one of many reasons why you shouldn’t pirate books, folks). The results are pretty hilarious, though. Also hilarious is the fact that the neural network has tried its hand at writing Harry Potter fanfic. As io9 reports, PhD student Janelle Shane did some scraping of AO3 to teach a program how to generate fanfic titles, authors, summaries, and more. Here’s one of the highlights from Shane’s original post:

lily’s family by sharkle
Harry woke up in searching after a werewolf Sherlock’s picnic. He is furious.

I would be, too, Harry.

But as io9 points out in another article, fanfic is often the best solution for disappointing source material. The article refers specifically to Highlander: The Series, with its dated feel and cheesiness, but its sentiment is universal: “When a show goes off the rails, fanfic can keep people invested even if the show has lost them. [T]he quality of the fic can [even] outstrip the quality of the show. That is a good thing.”

But not all fans simply turn to fanfiction when source material disappoints them. Sometimes, fans turn to social media like Twitter to express their disappointment. Paste magazine recently published an article about how fans can go too far in their criticisms by personally attacking media producers. The article talks about fan response to character designs in an upcoming comic book based on The Adventure Zone podcast. While some changes were made based on audience feedback to a preview, Griffin McElroy, one of the podcast’s creators, was clear about the impossibility of pleasing everybody:

“The solution the whole team landed on for this graphic novel is imperfect. It has disappointed some people, and it is going to continue to disappoint some people. But there is no non-disappointing solution … And for that, we’re so, earnestly, deeply sorry.”

Teen Vogue also published an article on this topic recently, with specific reference to the series finale of Pretty Little Liars. The article reminded fans that messages sent directly to media producers should be taken seriously. “While it might feel like those comments… are disappearing into an abyss of other comments, they’re actually not. And just because you might feel anonymous on the internet, your words still make an impact – they matter.”

Social media is a complex type of platform, though, which can cause some confusion.

“However, there’s a catch-22 here – and it’s one that must be discussed. When fans are encouraged to interact with the show on social media to this degree, it creates a false perception where the viewers feel like they’re on equal playing ground with the cast and creative team. This can obviously be a great thing, as it creates a sense of solidarity among the fans and the show itself. [However], that accessibility seems to have caused some fans to wrongly assume that they have a sense of control in the outcome of the plot. But here’s the thing…writers aren’t virtual punching bags; they’re real people with emotions, just like you and me.”

What sort of interactions have you seen between fans and creators? Let us know in the comments!

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

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