This Week in Fandom, Volume 58

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, have you seen the new Dragon Ball Super chocolate that may reveal Goku’s new form? What do you think? Accidental leak, or just alternate colouration packaging?

OTW personnel have been in the spotlight recently! Or, well, in front of the microphone, at least. Betsy Rosenblatt, chair of the OTW Legal committee, was a guest on the Re:Create Coalition’s Copy This Podcast, talking about the legalities of fair use and how it pertains to fan conventions. “As OTW celebrates its 10th anniversary, Betsy discusses the vast range that fanworks can take, the profound impact the internet has had on fanworks, and why she works with OTW to fight back against Hollywood studios to advocate for fanworks as fair use.”

OTW Staffer Francesca Coppa was recently a guest on Refinery29’s Strong Opinions Loosely Held podcast, talking about young female fans and how they drive the tech and entertainment industries by being enthusiastically honest early adopters. “[Harry] Styles’ rejection of the trivialising language we tend to use to describe women’s passions is rare. And that’s actually quite odd, considering that female fans have been discovering and curating our best-loved cultural objects for a very long time. […] Female ‘early adopters’ predict market movements that ultimately dominate the mainstream — not to mention the ones that make serious money.”

The website Birth Movies Death published an article recently comparing how people react different to Mary Sues compared to Gary Stus. Discussing the character of Gordon Cole from Twin Peaks: The Return, the article explores the popularity of a character who is literally played by the show’s creator, and how that popularity is at odds with the negative attitudes shown to female self-insert characters.

“Of late, “Mary Sue” has become shorthand for any female character – usually in a popular franchise – who is beloved by those around her, effortlessly gifted, “exotic” in that she comes from nowhere special but is able to shift the story with her importance…. Which is why it’s very interesting that David Lynch’s Gordon Cole – perhaps the most prominent recent example of a Mary Sue, if we’re going off the textbook “author insert” definition – isn’t forced under the same microscope…

“[Cole is] arguably the most important character of The Return… He’s also, apart from the various incarnations of Cooper, the most visible character of this new series, appearing in almost every episode… None of these are digs at Lynch, necessarily, but it does stand in contrast to the way the series’ iconic female characters have been depicted in The Return… While the women suffer at the hands of men, Lynch’s Cole is sipping his private storage of wine and playing hero, his quirks less of a hindrance than they are traits that make him more lovable.”

What do you think of Mary Sue characters? Are they different from Gary Stu characters? Better or worse? Let us know in the comments!

Lastly, there has been another article comparing fans to Annie Wilkes from Misery. Bloody Disgusting, a horror genre website, published an article about how film fans on Twitter take things too personally. The article presents this comparison as an original idea, even though there was a huge kerfuffle over a similar article last year. This is why it’s important to know your fandom history, folks–you don’t want to retread old ground when comparing fans to horror movie villains. That’s just embarrassing.

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. Jewelfox commented:

    I once stumbled across a webcomic where JJ Abrams’ Captain Kirk and a male incarnation of Doctor Who team up to defeat Ensign Mary Sue.

    The webcomic’s creators apparently had no sense of irony.

    Whose wishes deserve fulfillment? Boys (and men) have learned from a generation of movies and video games that the hero always gets the girl, but if a girl or woman’s self-insert romances the canon male characters then male fans put her in her place.

    I don’t think that’s okay. But I do think that whoever you are, your Mary Sue is awesome.