hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
[personal profile] hradzka
And it's interesting. A lot of stuff doesn't work for me, which is okay and was expected, but one reason I asked folks to provide current recs is because I wanted to see to what degree my sense of what fandom was writing was more or less representative. I was surprised to find that it was a lot more representative than I'd expected, in terms of the kind of things folks are writing. I didn't see any *kind* of fiction that struck me as really new. The surprise comes because, in my nineteen-odd years in fandom, I've seen fanfic change quite a bit. When I started, fanfic was mostly gen; you had slash and porn, but it was much less common and was confined to dedicated forums, which was still an increase for that stuff over earlier years. RPF used to be completely anathema, but then became accepted and wildly common (my sense is that it really took off with bandom, because it would be hard to write anything but, but I don't know LOTR fandom at all and I know RPF was *huge* over there, so that might've been where the change occurred -- timelines, anybody?). Fandoms used to start off writing the more gen stuff, and then start to collect more porn and slash as they grew older, whereas now folks come home from the theater and start a kink meme. Fandom used to just write about the pretty white boys, and now fandom still mostly writes about the pretty white boys but there are chromatic challenges and more calls for representation from fans of color. And so on.

Lately, though, I haven't seen fanfic change as much. The change I keep expecting to see is more female-character-focused fic, but while there's been more in recent years it's still lagged behind what I've been thinking I'd see, given feminist fandom's increasing activism. To me, the biggest change in recent years is the increasing prominence of flashfic, with kink memes. But that doesn't seem to have changed the type of things that folks are writing so much as it's changed length. The recent popularity of texting fic is interesting, but I don't know how much of a change it represents. With tumblr, fannish activity has changed -- the popularity of fannish memes is a new kind of fannish activity all its own -- but this still hasn't changed the kinds of stories folks seem to be writing. Fanfic is wildly popular, and it's in more places than ever, but I don't know if it's still changing. Or if it's on a path to being subsumed by something else.

So is fanfiction in stasis? What do y'all think?

Date: 2012-03-08 08:08 am (UTC)
jadey: greyscale a woman's face (ani difranco) eyes upward  (Default)
From: [personal profile] jadey
I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but when I started in fandom ten years ago (eep!) everything felt a lot more insular between fandoms. Maybe it's because I was still new and generally drawn to either obscure (unimported anime!) or fairly dead fandoms (shows from the 80s and early 90s!), but finding a new fandom always felt a bit like striking out into the wilderness and hoping to stumble across a welcoming enclave of traveller folk willing to share food and a warm spot by the fire.

Now it seems like everything is a lot more blended and rather than thousands of tiny groups, people are more plugged into a pan-fandom subculture (possible evidence: increases in the number of multi-fandom fics and fic challenges? Not sure if this is a thing or my own biased recall). Or maybe I just stumbled out of the wilderness finally. The increase in social networking sites would account for it. Hell, I joined livejournal when it was still invite-only! Before that it was yahoo groups and such. Now livejournal is huge, dreamwidth too, plus tumblr... In the old days there were still cons, but I don't think that con-goers ever were a representative sample of fandom - travel time and cost are pretty powerful selecting factors.

Anyway, if this is a legit observation and not just cognitive bias on my part, I wonder if this might not be having a bit of homogenizing effect? More normative influence on participants and less opportunity for divergent "evolutionary paths" in relatively dispersed groups? (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) I always had a pet theory that creativity, while not exactly something that thrives in total isolation, is nonetheless more apparent/necessary in groups living on the fringe or lacking sufficient external stimulus (replace with internal stimulus!). Perhaps then not stasis exactly, but oversaturation?

Date: 2012-03-08 08:44 pm (UTC)
elanya: Pensive pony (Default)
From: [personal profile] elanya
I was actually going to ask you, in response to your post, how long you think fandom has been self aware of itself as a phenomenon, and whether/how you think this self-awareness affects progress. Also I think that what grey-Bard says below, about the social justice wars and how that sort of theme is seeping into the fic world is ... well, notable, anyway, but I don't have the experience (in time or breadth of exposure) to judge if that is new/on the rise/really all that prevalent.

Date: 2012-03-08 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Yep. Either that, or I'm completely missing where the vibrant new fanfiction is being published (quite possible -- because I don't write, I am out of most loops).

I, too, expected more women, but if one looks at our society, it honestly hasn't changed all that much in 20 years, when it comes to women's rights, and fiction tends to reflect society in a lot of ways.

Date: 2012-03-08 09:19 pm (UTC)
ambyr: pebbles arranged in a spiral on sand (nature sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy) (Pebbles)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
Mm, I think you may be looking at a somewhat narrow subset of fandoms? There's certainly places beyond Xena where female-centric stories are the norm. I mean, Rizzoli and Isles? Warehouse 13? Fringe? Once Upon a Time? The L-Word? Even bigger fandoms--yeah, Buffy has more than its share of slash, but it's got more het. A:TLA is overwhelming het and female-focused gen (although I admit the most popular character is a dude, on account of two rival het ships both involving him). The most popular character in ASoIaF fanfic fandom--by an order of magnitude--is Sansa. Even fandoms that look very slash-dominated on AO3, like HP, end up looking more het-dominated once you move off into ff.n and other territories.

Date: 2012-03-08 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
That's why I think it's the society. As long as people in general have strong social assumptions about how men and women act, men and women will keep acting in ways defined more by their gender than by their personality. And then writers will apparently be more interested in writing about one gender.

Date: 2012-03-08 04:04 pm (UTC)
musesfool: River from objects in space (it doesn't mean what you think)
From: [personal profile] musesfool
I think until there is a major shift in popular sources - until there are canon gay and lesbian relationships at the forefront in popular genre shows (and not hidden away in webisodes or deleted scenes, I'm looking at you, BSG), for example, instead of bromances that the PTB back away from with a horrified "No homo" while simultaneously pandering to a fanbase that wants to see the relationship as queer, and until there are a lot more shows with a lot more women in them - fandom in general is going to keep writing the same types of stories, because for many (not all, obv.) fans, it's about what canon doesn't/won't provide.

Date: 2012-03-08 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
Precisely. It's not because there are no fandoms available with queer characters.

Date: 2012-03-08 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] saralakali
Hm. I can't really answer your question because I haven't been in fandom that long. Oh, I've been a fan for almost thirty years, but I only became aware of fanfiction and other fannish things as a social activity rather than a solitary one in the last twelve. If I've noticed a stagnation in fic, I've attributed it more to developments in canon than an actual shift in fandom.

Or maybe that's just me.

Date: 2012-03-08 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] saralakali
Well, hardly anyone is writing nuDCU that I've found. They're either writing pre-reboot or they've moved off into other fandoms. I came into fandom through Harry Potter. After the epilogue of the last book and Rowling's post-series revelations, nobody seems to be writing any HP fanfic at all. I've only seen a few Star Trek fics since the reboot and there's nothing thematically new about any of them.

But as I said, I've only twelve years of fandom experience and I don't always find (or look for) the fandoms for the properties I'm interested in.

Date: 2012-03-08 07:30 pm (UTC)
grey_bard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grey_bard
I don't think we're in stasis, but I do think we've hit a bit of a lull. There have definitely been periods of about five years or so of slowed change before and I suspect we're in one.

What I have seen an explosion of (blame Sherlock Holmes) is asexual fic, which makes sense, as fandom becomes more educated in the complexities of human sexuality, and that topic tends to interest fans.

My guess is that the mental energy that drives fannish change is currently being channelled into the mindfulness and social justice wars. A new one appears to be kicking off over "Is it domestic abuse if they're both guys what do you mean my idfic is not romantic how dare you". I think there's only so much fannish zeitgeist to go around, and it doesn't always channel directly into fic. And usually, something needs to set it off. I feel like the next N'Sync or Smallville or Supernatural is around the corner, ready to Change Everything OMG, but these things can't be predicted. I'm sure it will surprise us all.

Date: 2012-03-09 02:29 am (UTC)
grey_bard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grey_bard
The periods of slowed ficcing change... I'd say about 94-98 when most of the changes were technological, and in the early eighties after zine and slash fandom had gotten established.

Supernatural set off changes because it violated previous fannish taboos but was still id-crack. SGA didn't really set off changes so much as be a mega-fandom that served as a playground for changes set off by other things, and amplified by the huge concentration of BNFs - much higher even than in Sherlock.

Date: 2012-03-11 12:58 am (UTC)
ivorygates: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
No, fanfiction is in its usual state of wild ferment and evolution, honest. It's just hard to see from the middle of it. New, we're seeing fusion in addition to crossover, and there's a groundswell in the direction of sound editing. We don't see a lot of Machina at this end of fandom, but it's essentially a creation of new narrative in ways that can be indistinguishable from primary source. In vids, I see an upswing in willingness to use non-canonical elements, elements from other fandoms, and even elements outside of fandom to create vids that are not merely a dramatization of song lyrics, but a unique narrative with music. Some vidders have successfully vidded outlier fandom creations, such as the vid "Half Jack" which was a vidding of the fic "A Howling In The Factory Yard". And as fan-owned archives (or even *a* fan-owned archive) develops a more pervasive presence in pan-fannish life, I'm sure it will also drive additional change and possibly spark new forms. We're already seeing a resurgence of "drawn" illustration as opposed to manips, which I believe is partly due to having a safe place to put them [and to the new accessibility of scanning technology of course].

But the main thing I want to bring up, though I know it's a matter of debate in some circles, is my asseveration that fandom actually began with bandom RPF, so neither RPF or bandom is new. The fans who began publishing Star Trek fanzines in 1966 had spent the previous two years publishing Beatles fanzines that were specifically fic-driven. Those young women (their ages would have ranged from 18-25, as fandom used to skew not only entirely female but significantly older) would take the various skills they learned in what we can only now identify as the first bandom fandom and use it to create fandom itself...

[NOTE: In all uses of the word "fandom" in this post I am pretending that print media driven SF Fandom, or "trufandom", which dates from the 1920s, does not exist. It's easier that way.]

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