What It Feels Like for a Fangirl in the Age of Late Capitalism
July 15, 2019 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Both the fans and the media companies want to cheat a little. The media companies want to parade their Web savvy in the marketplace and they want to funnel all the ‘Net traffic into a few commercial sites. The fans want to have freedom of speech and assembly in sites of their own choosing and to have fewer constraints on the use of copyrighted materials than in any other medium. - Keidra Chaney on What it Feels Like for a Fangirl in the Age of Late Capitalism.
posted by dinty_moore (4 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I half expected to see in this article and didn't see explicitly is the idea that fandom is setting the agenda for canon creators at a scale and a level of influence it never did before. I have come to strongly suspect that Disney is taking cues from the most popular Star Wars fanfiction to prioritize the canon novels that get greenlit. Which in a sense shouldn't surprise me...but which totally shocked me when I realized it. Like the author of the article I've been around a while and the idea that the powers that be might be...looking at what fans read??? and trying to purchase and market stories with stuff in common with the ones that are popular??? kinda blew my mind. Because Back in My Day the idea that anyone would look at what female fandom wanted and make more of it was just...inconceivable.

Of course, in 5 years when there's an entire explicit smut subsection of the Star Wars section in my local bookstore I'll look back at this shock and shake my head at how naive I was...and of course it's infuriating that the (mostly) women who are doing all this writing for free aren't the ones getting the contracts directly, given how wildly popular their writing is.
posted by potrzebie at 7:48 PM on July 15, 2019 [8 favorites]

Like the author of the article I've been around a while and the idea that the powers that be might be...looking at what fans read???

pssssst the people writing the canon novels are fans (I mean fandom fans, not just "people who like a franchise"), at least some of them
posted by praemunire at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I thought this was going to discuss the anti phenomenon, which I couldn't really describe to you in depth because I've only been back in fandom for a few months, after being out for seven years.

From my perspective, this is fans who have seen success in bringing criticism of e.g. harmful romance tropes to bear on professional content creators, now turning their attention to other fans and trying to control what other fans create the same way.

Typically these policing fans speak in a radical way and may see what they are doing as a form of activism... or they may just be trying to signal their status as a member of an in-group that disapproves of certain kinds of content (generally sexual content of various kinds), to other members of the group to preserve their relationships.

And it intersects with teens trying to create their own teen space in fandom where they can discuss and/or gossip with fellow teens without any meddling from adults. Which obviously, short of restricting membership to people you know or requiring the use of government names, will not be possible but we all use the tools at our disposal to obtain the results we desire.

Then you see a lot of just straight up middle school style exclusion tactics, calling people freaks and so on, which were a lot less common when I was a fan in the early aughts and we just assumed that everyone spending a lot of time online was a weirdo, so we were all weirdos together.

But I'm not really sure about any of this, as like I said I only recently got back into fandom, and it probably varies a lot from fandom to fandom as well. I've heard this is a general phenomenon though, not confined to any one fandom in particular.
posted by subdee at 10:11 PM on July 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

I do get the impression that tumblr's bullying using social justice is (slightly) on the downswing - most of the egregious examples are now a few years old. Though apparently someone tried to sic the FBI on AO3 not that long ago, so.

There is a tension between the people who remember the threats of lawsuits and sites being taken down without any sort of warning and those who don't, especially when it comes to discussions about AO3. And yeah, we can see how the disintegration of the 4th wall matters when we're talking about RPF.

Anti-/cancel culture is still a lot more prevalent than it was fifteen/twenty years ago, and part of it is teenagers learning about social justice and not quite getting it and acting like teenagers (not surprising). It's using social justice terminology to fight classic ship wars, and not having very much experience with how to like problematic things.

One of the things that really brought home how fandom really has changed for me was when some of the younger folk tried to go from Tumblr to Dreamwidth last year. They didn't grow up with public/private entries, and there was a wariness of anyone who would set their default to 'friends only'. The only reason why you wouldn't want to have everything out in the open is if you wanted to talk behind someone's back!

I ended up linking this essay a lot whenever I'd talk about Captain Marvel, because it was one of the times I really felt this uneasiness around people catering towards my taste. Because I was very much the target audience, and it definitely let me know that. And it's great that gigantic movies like this are targeting more than teenage boys now - even as small as this is. But there's still this sense of loss of the DIY aesthetic - for the longest time fandom was, for me, about taking other people stories and making them your own. Now it does feel like the corporations are plucking what they want from fandom* and claiming ownership of it.

*And, I mean, we can talk about how this happened in the 2010's when fanvid-style teaser trailers started popping up everywhere, but youtube also started using more song recognition software to remove the sound from actual fanvids (this is why most of the fanvids you find on search today have bits of dialogue interspersed in the runtimes - it's a less recognizable copyright violation).
posted by dinty_moore at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

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