This Week in Fandom, Volume 88

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, the Star Wars “toxic fandom” discusion is still ongoing, and according to ScreenRant, James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, thinks that toxic Star Wars fans should go to therapy. So we’re gonna leave that topic alone for a while and see how things go.

Instead, let’s talk about Tumblr. Kotaku published an article recently that was titled In 2018, Tumblr is a Joyless Black Hole. The article traces the history of Tumblr, saying that it was initially a welcome alternative to the limitations and social hierarchy of Livejournal.

Shelby, who joined Tumblr around 2010, said that the format of the site was a breath of fresh air. “Tumblr was much easier to navigate than say Deviantart or pixiv when it came to art,” they said. “[The early days were] the age of blogs like ‘fuckyeah[insert fandom here]’ so it was simple to find people and content.”

On LiveJournal, fandoms could be concentrated on communities, which were group blogs that could be either public or private. While these made fandoms very organized, they also formalized a kind of pecking order. In order to feel confident participating in a community, you had to study the vibe.

However, as the site grew, its features went from helpful to annoying, like the tagging system.

While tags were initially one of Tumblr’s benefits over community-oriented sites like LiveJournal, they would become part of Tumblr’s downfall as the site grew. While their openness initially invited new users in, tags also mean that in order to follow a fandom, you have to follow the tag. When you do, you see everything in that tag, including things you disagree with.

The article also details other issues people have with the platform, such as the fact that reblogged posts can never really be deleted, and the fact that the block feature can easily be circumvented. It concludes, perhaps ironically, by looking to a new platform called Pillowfort as a welcome alternative to Tumblr’s shortcomings.

Fans have had mixed reactions to this article. When I went looking for reaction posts about it, I discovered that Kotaku does not appear to have an active account on Tumblr, which was interesting. Their Twitter account, however, is a flood of tweets, and I had to go digging for the one about this article. The replies to the tweet (warning: some are quasi-NSFW) are an assortment of snarky, bitter, and offended attitudes. But one Twitter user, in a separate tweet, gave a bit of a different perspective:

What do you think? Does this article reflect your experience with Tumblr? Do you think that it’s just sensationalist clickbait? Does it have some good points and some less-good points? Let us know in the comments!

In other news, a columnist for The Duluth News Tribune recently attended a Harry Styles concert with her daughter that included a nifty fan art project. The project involved giving all 20,000 concert attendees a pink sticky note to place over a flashlight and shine it during a particular song. It was organized by a group of 15 teenage fans, one of which was Meghan Seavey, age 15.

Her fan project started a year ago with one friend, then expanded to include 15 people Meghan had met through Twitter, with six doing most of the heavy lifting — copying, cutting, sorting, distributing. The day of the concert was the first time they met in person, said her father, Scott Seavey, who accompanied her to the show.

Light colour displays are apparently an established practice at Harry Styles and One Direction concerts, but require a lot of work to pull off, especially for a group of teenagers with little in the way of resources other than the internet.

Lastly, Fandom recently published an amusing little article about which superheroes can and can’t get drunk. Fandom doesn’t usually make it into TWIF–though, according to Variety, they recently purchased Screen Junkies–but this was too funny to leave out.

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. alex_caligari commented:

    I was on Tumblr on 2012 and found it such a stressful and hateful environment, I left after a year and never went back. In trying to connect with people, I felt isolated and shamed. In trying to enjoy a fandom, I was told that I was a bad person because I liked something that someone else had a problem with. I avoid it to this day.