I've had a few fandom ideas floating around my head of things I wanted to put into a post, but have been waiting for whatever reason. As a result I've had the outline of this post up since before Christmas, and want to get it out before I forget about it. Even if I still haven't read up on it as much as I originally wanted.
So when I first got back into reading about the controversy regarding the OTW, I spent a *lot* of time reading the comments to the post that scalzi, and here are some of the things people kept saying that drove me crazy.
Please keep in mind that that post was based mostly on the legal aspects of the OTW, and that there were quite a few fandom outsiders there.
-First and foremost. I hate, hate, *hate* when people bring the word rape into these discussions. Rape is a very serious and horrendous thing, and anyone who's ever experienced it in RL knows that the feelings and emotions related to that experience can never be applied to most other things. I object to people using the word casually in any circumstances, but come on people, we're talking about *fictional* characters here. I think the best response I've read to that accusation was from tacky_tramp here:
If you've been raped, and this really feels that terrible to you, I suggest you seek counseling -- you may be suffering from PTSD. If you haven't been raped, and you think that what you're feeling is in anyway comparable to what a rape survivor feels, I suggest you issue a public apology immediately and donate a large sum of money to RAINN --and get a frickin' clue.
Rape is horrifying because it robs the victim of control of his or her own body, a basic human right and the foundation of our sense of security and self. It also feeds off society's ideas about sex and purity, and makes later intimacy problematic for many survivors. This is not like fanfiction at all. I do not hurt you when I write fanfiction. I do not take anything away from you. I do not traumatize you. I do not make you question your worth as a human being. I do not make you afraid to get close to people you love. Fanfiction is not like rape.
(Do people really say this? I mean, come on.)
-It gets me how outsiders seem to constantly bring up the fact that there are a lot of works out there that it is legal to write fic about, so why waste our times on ones where it's questionable. Or wait to write/publish our fanfic until it's in the public domain.
I mean come on. People *do* do that. But you kind of have to be immersed in something if you're going to write fanfic about it. There are quite a few fandoms (or at least parts of fandoms) that die when a show is over. We rely so much on the anticipation of new episodes, or installments. We rely on the interest generated. We'd kind of be waiting a long time if we were waiting for the next installment of the Bible. Or think of how many fics would be lost if we waiting until our shows were in the public domain (never mind the fact that there's a good chance that won't occur in a fans lifetime, certainly not the way the companies out there are trying to hold onto their products). When I was most active in the QaF fandom it was still airing, and that's where I really experienced it. I'll occasionally go back to it though, and I've noticed that 1) Most of the places that were popular at when I was in the fandom are dead now, and 2) The fans have changed. You get a really different perspective of a show if you're watching it all at once rather than episode by episode. For one, you don't stop to think about each as much, for another, you don't build up the same ideas of a character (most shows take place over *years* and they're emotional reactions are also that slow, but an adventurous fan could probably watch an entire series in a week, if not less, which means they don't have that same slow build up).
So, in short, fandom would be a hell of a lot smaller if we just waited for things to come into the public domain. We're a fickle bunch that rely on the here and now, and the waiting involved makes us a more diverse and full community.
-God, writing fanfic is really different from writing original fic. They are not interchangeable!
One of the suggestions that kept being brought up in that thread was "why don't some particularly talented members of fandom just create original fic that the rest of fandom can use instead of whatever fandom they're in now"
This opinion bothers me, for a couple reasons:
1) Stop trying to take our specific fandoms from us. For one, it would hurt TPTB, because, personally, I only really watch shows that I'm in the fandom for.
2) This implies that fans get to choose what they are fannish over. Obviously there is choice involved, but you can't just point to something and say "fan *this*". It doesn't work that way. I know there have been a couple fandoms out there that I've heard great things about (The Sentinel, Farscape, The L-Word, and Battlestart Galactica for example), I've heard the premise of the shows, and heard that they have a really great fandom built around them. Hell, I have DVDs for 3 out of 4 of those examples sitting in my room right now, but no matter how much people tell me they love that fandom, how much they love the show, I don't. There's just something about the show that doesn't do it for me (and I can't be in a fandom if I don't like the source, it's a thing of mine). You can't just hold something shiny up and hope that fandom will look at it instead, it doesn't work that way.
3) Although a lot of fandom is based in writing, since it's done on-line, there are a lot of things that would be lost in fandom where we to try that. For one, most of fandom out there is based in some way on media. There aren't all that many thriving book fandoms out there (granted two of the biggest book fandoms I know, HP and LOTRs, have movies to back them up). Most fandoms are based on TV shows, movies, animes, or the portrayal of real people in the media. That's not because there aren't a lot of kick ass books out there, but a lot of us require that visual aspect. People want hot actors to drool over, to *see* the cool special effects, to be able to analyze facial expressions, and see the intimacy displayed between characters. Certainly for myself, a vidder, who couldn't write a decent fic to save my life, it's a huge aspect of my fannish life. One of the reasons my time in the HP fandom was my shortest time in any other fandom was because I hated the movies, so felt I couldn't vid to them, and I lost my place in fandom (granted, I'm sure most of the SGA people on my flist are shocked over the fact that I call myself a vidder :P). Simply handing us novel open to fandom isn't going to satisfy a large number of us.
4) Personally, I think I would laugh if anyone on my flist (be they a first time writer, BNF or anything in between) were to write a piece of original fic and tell us to move our fannish attentions to it instead of the copyrighted materials out there. How incredibly pretentious of them. And I highly doubt anyone would be that dumb. Most of the responses left to the OTWs anti-fanfic bing card on that matter were that they realize that fanfic is an incredible compliment, and a gift. Just like you can't tell us not to think up fanfic (even if they could *try* to stop us from sharing it) we realize that you can't expect other fans to react to it on that deeper level.
-Don't rock the boat. Don't draw attention to us!
This opinion is one most often offered by people who are in fandom. And to some extent I understand it, but...
I think fandom is far too big to keep up the pretense that we're hiding. As I said to munchkinofdoom we're not flying under the radar. We're huddling in the middle of the radar range pretending to be a mountain. And most everyone in fandom *knows* we're not doing any harm, and most of us don't even feel we're doing anything *wrong*. It bothers me that we're trying to hide.
I also hate the fragile position fandom is in. I remember a few instances where fandom has been shut down by TPTB (from the lingering effects, or because I remember when it happened), and I've seen how much that *sucks*. I hate that any moment it could be taken away from us (or at least severely crippled) and we wouldn't do anything about it, because they have us afraid.
-The OTW is not lobbying for change. They set up a legal *defense* fund.
This is kind of a response to the above point. The OTW has *said* they're not planning on going out and lobbying for change. They are not going to actively *challenge* the PTB. Nor are they going to try and make a case that *all* of fandom is the same thing and should be treated as a while if brought to court.
So far, all they've said they want to do is promote the idea, and their reasonings for why fanfic is legal, and will do all they can to protect the works that fans entrust to their organization (be it through the archive, wiki, journal, or future projects). They have said, unlike other sites, that they're not going to leave any legal problems that pop up at the feet of the individual fan. They plan on treating things on a case by case basis. And if a case comes up, where they don't have the resources/willingness from the fan/ability or think that there's no chance of winning, they will give into demands rather than go to court and set a negative precedence.
-North American/European/Most of the rest of the world, is not Japanese Anime!!
I added this point because there was one(? maybe more) person who kept bringing up the fact that he, in anime, was perfectly happy with how things were and that the OTW should just shut up. I'm not really in the anime fandom, I've dabbled a *very* little bit, but I have friends and family who *are* in various anime fandoms, so know a bit about it. For those who don't know, here's what I know (please correct me if anyone finds anything I've said here wrong):
The copyright holders in Japan pretty much actively encourage fandom, because they've realized how much money it make them. They have fans from all over the world watching their shows, which brings to merchandise sales, and, more importantly, can lead to a deal to have it distributed in North America (and presumably other parts of the world interested in it), if that means DVD sales, or subbed eps making it onto TV. The fandom has some unwritten rules that it's ok to share copies of Japanese shows that don't have that deal with a N. American company. Most translations sites will only make subtitles for shows that aren't available legitimately (if it's a big enough show though, it'll be available anyways). That's a pretty sweet deal for the anime fandom, and I don't begrudge them having it in the least. In fact, I'd probably point to that part of fandom when making arguments about how fandom helps TPTB make money, but please, anime fandom, remember that most of the *rest* of fandom doesn't have that kind of freedom, and our trying to get that kind of freedom is unlikely to change the minds of the Japanese anime industry, they're making too much money to go back.
Ok, I had a bunch more to say on this, but I think I'll stop here anyways.