Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, have you seen the newest trailer for the upcoming Black Panther movie? Tell us if you’re excited for it in the comments!
A text fic about the K-pop group BTS has been gaining mainstream recognition since going viral on Twitter. As ComicBook.com reports, when creator flirtaus began publishing “Outcast,” an alternate universe horror story told through screencaps of fictitious text messages exchanged between BTS members Min Yoongi and Jung Hoseok, the story and its hashtag #BTSoutcast quickly amassed a huge following and trended worldwide on Twitter for several consecutive days.
Forbes describes “Outcast” as “a spectacular show of the fan experience in the social media age,” crediting its popularity partly to flirtaus’s incorporation of interactive reader polls in determining the direction of the plot as the story progressed. BTS fans united around the story on social media and have also created an outpouring of fanworks for “Outcast,” ranging from fanart, gifs, and trailers to some more unique contributions:
— jules (@minhollystans) January 9, 2018
Although flirtaus does not plan to create more text fics right away, she has posted to Twitter taking suggestions for “genres of AUs” to write in the future.
In less pleasant news, Vulture is one of the news outlets reporting that people are talking about the upcoming NBC show Rise and its co-creator’s decision to rewrite its protagonist, based on a real-life gay man, as straight. Adapted from the nonfiction book Drama High about teacher Lou Volpe’s high school production of Spring Awakening, Rise will reimagine Volpe, a gay man who was closeted at the time of the events of the book, as Lou Mazzuchelli, “a straight family man.”
According to IndieWire, co-creator Jason Katims “explained he changed this aspect of his main character to be able to connect with the story.” However, many fans are upset both by the change and by Katims’s rationale for it:
— Reije (@Reije) January 10, 2018
The Mary Sue contrasts Katims’s unwillingness to write a gay protagonist with Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s choice to make character Will Schuester straight, even though Murphy himself is gay. The article criticizes Katims for refusing to write a primary character as gay when LGBTQ writers like Murphy have themselves been doing the reverse for decades, explaining:
When I think about Volpe putting up productions of shows like Spring Awakening (a story about the ways in which parents repress, shelter, and control their children’s sexuality, ultimately doing more harm than good) in a working-class town that might not be too receptive, it seems like his struggle with accepting and revealing his own sexuality made manifest… Now, it’s just a rehash of every other “inspiring mentor” story about a straight, white dude. It’s Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s Boy Meets World. It’s Finding Forrester, Good Will Hunting, hell, it’s Star Wars.
And yes, it’s even Glee. Except again, in that instance a gay man managed to climb the (apparently) huge mountain of understanding to find his way into the mind of a straight man.
Why can’t Katims? And why is NBC okay with that?
Elsewhere, there’s been an interesting development in the world of automated online copyright enforcement. In an attempt to prevent the illegal sale of unauthorized merchandise for the TV series Outlander, Sony and Starz are using a Counterfind bot that has instead been flagging and blocking fan accounts and communities on social media, according to an article published by CarterMatt. While problems with the bot’s ability to discern fan talk from merchandise sales have been known for months, the bot’s algorithm appears to still be flawed despite the attempts made to correct it, with legitimate fan pages still facing new shutdowns today. The article summarizes the continuing problems and shares new comments from the owners of one such fan page, I Love Outlander.
[B]ringing in a bot to destroy enormous fan communities felt like a callous way to go after fandoms that have promoted the show for so long… As page co-owner noted, it’s the lack of communication that is the most frustrating: “It feels like there’s no one you can talk to. There isn’t anyone.” He notes that he “would like to get the fan page going” so that he and his wife can be admins again, but as of right now they are trapped between a rock and a hard place. They don’t have the ability to change their status with Facebook (he notes that they “can’t look into everything because the advertising account’s shut down”), and they have not been able to get an answer from those operating Counterfind.
What are your thoughts on this bot? Have you or a friend been affected? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Lastly, something a little lighter. Kotaku has released an article that discusses the origins of shipping. It’s a nice primer about the historical context of shipping within modern fandoms and the ways in which shipping has evolved alongside changing technology and platforms used for fanworks and fannish discourse.
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