A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘fan fiction

[NEWS] Five culture links: AO3, dating apps, mainstream Islamophobia, Notre Dame, Buttigieg

  • That Archive Of Our Own has won a Hugo nomination is surprising, but deserved, news. Motherboard reports.
  • CityLab notes that people interested in opposite-sex dating, when they make use of apps, look for people near them geographically.
  • NOW Toronto looks at the extent to which anti-Muslim sentiment has made it into mainstream journalistic discourse in Canada.
  • Adam Rogers writes movingly at Wired about the extent to which Notre Dame, for all of its age, is also constantly changing.
  • Vox suggests that Pete Buttigieg, with his rhetoric full of hope, is trying to mobilize the same coalition of voters that saw Obama elected.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shows four different images of nearby stellar nursery NGC 1333.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the hot Saturn TOI-197, and the way it was detected.
  • D-Brief notes how galaxy NGC-1052 DF2 has been confirmed as the second galaxy apparently lacking in dark matter.
  • Gizmodo notes new confirmation, from an orbiting probe, that Curiosity detected methane emanating from Mars back in 2013.
  • Hornet Stories tries to correct some misconceptions about the Burning Man festival.
  • The Island Review links to a New York Times profile of post-Maria Puerto Rico.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Martin Shkreli has been tossed into solitary confinement.
  • JSTOR Daily notes the work of psychologists in the 1930s US who profiled individuals who did not fit the gender binary. Would these people have identified themselves as trans or non-binary now?
  • The LRB Blog notes the fondness of Jacob Rees-Mogg for extreme-right German politicians from the AfD.
  • Language Log shares a written ad in Cantonese from Hong Kong.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money compares China now to the Untied States of the past, and finds interesting correspondences.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the deep and significant commitment of China under Mao to providing foreign aid.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the complex, once-overlooked, life and career of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, writer of “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
  • Out There notes that, while dark matter is certainly real, “dark matter” is a poor name for this mysterious substance.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog considers the challenges to be faced by Hayabusa 2 when it fires a sampling probe into asteroid Ryugu.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers how into the universe a spaceship could travel if it accelerated consistently at one gravity.
  • Strange Company examines the life and adventures of Jeffrey Hudson, a royal dwarf in 17th century England.
  • Daniel Little at Understanding Society builds on the work of V.K. Ramachandran in considering the ethics of development ethnography.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the new identification of Azerbaijanis as victims of genocide by neighbours, and what this means for the relations of Azerbaijan.
  • Arnold Zwicky has fun, in a NSFW fanfic way, with figures from comics contemporary and old.

[NEWS] Five social science links: Canadian Jews, US mafia, Miles O’Brien, online fandoms, Monopoly

  • The Conversation hosts an article looking at the evolution of Jewish identity in Canada from something religious to something cultural.
  • The state of the American mafia, so thoroughly Americanized, is remarkable in a lot of ways. VICE reports.
  • There is definitely something to be said for the idea that Star Trek’s Chief Miles O’Brien is one of the best representations of someone Irish and of Irish culture in popular culture. entertainment.ie has it.
  • This Wired article takes a look at the online interactions, positive and malign both, that have complicated so many fandoms like that of Harry Potter.
  • Monopoly, this article reminds us at The Conversation, was a board game invented to remind people about the pitfalls of capitalism.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthrodendum reviews the book Fistula Politics, the latest from the field of medical anthropology.
  • Architectuul takes a look at post-war architecture in Germany, a country where the devastation of the war left clean slates for ambitious new designers and architects.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at newly discovered Kuiper Belt object 2008 VG 18.
  • Laura Agustín at Border Thinking takes a look at the figure of the migrant sex worker.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Al Jackson celebrating the Apollo 8 moon mission.
  • D-Brief notes how physicists manufactured a quark soup in a collider to study the early universe.
  • Dangerous Minds shares some photos of a young David Bowie.
  • Angelique Harris at the Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at what the social sciences have to say about sexuality and dating among millennial Americans.
  • Gizmodo notes the odd apparent smoothness of Ultima Thule, target of a very close flyby by New Horizons on New Year’s Day.
  • Hornet Stories notes the censorship-challenging art by Slava Mogutin available from the Tom of Finland store.
  • Imageo shares orbital imagery of the eruption of Anak Krakatau in Indonesia, trigger of a devastating volcanic tsunami.
  • Nick Stewart at The Island Review writes beautifully about his experience crossing the Irish Sea on a ferry, from Liverpool to Belfast.
  • Lyman Stone at In A State of Migration shares the story, with photos, of his recent whirlwind trip to Vietnam.
  • JSTOR Daily considers whether or not fan fiction might be a useful tool to promote student literacy.
  • Language Hat notes a contentious reconstruction of the sound system of obscure but fascinating Tocharian, an extinct Indo-European language from modern XInjiang.
  • Dan Nexon at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the irreversible damage being caused by the Trump Administration to the United States’ foreign policy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a paper suggesting users of Facebook would need a payment of at least one thousand dollars to abandon Facebook.
  • Lisa Nandy at the NYR Daily argues that the citizens of the United Kingdom need desperately to engage with Brexit, to take back control, in order to escape catastrophic consequences from ill-thought policies.
  • Marc Rayman at the Planetary Society Blog celebrates the life and achievements of the Dawn probe.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that so many Venezuelans are fleeing their country because food is literally unavailable, what with a collapsing agricultural sector.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog breaks down polling of nostalgia for the Soviet Union among Russians.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that simply finding oxygen in the atmosphere of an exoplanet is not by itself proof of life.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy reports on how the United States is making progress towards ending exclusionary zoning.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi shares an interview with the lawyer of Santa Claus.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on a fascinating paper, examining how some Russian immigrants in Germany use Udmurt as a family language.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes a look at the lives of two notable members of the Swiss diaspora in Paris’ Montmartre.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Anthrodendum offers resources for understanding race in the US post-Charlottesville.
  • D-Brief notes that exoplanet WASP-12b is a hot Jupiter that is both super-hot and pitch-black.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining various models of ice-covered worlds and their oceans’ habitability.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the value placed by society on different methods of transport.
  • Far Outliers looks at how Chinese migrants were recruited in the 19th century.
  • Hornet Stories notes that the authorship of famously bad fanfic, “My Immortal”, has been claimed, by one Rose Christo.
  • Marginal Revolution notes one explanation for why men are not earning more. (Bad beginnings matter.)
  • Peter Watts has it with facile (and statistically ill-grounded) rhetoric about punching Nazis.
  • At the NYR Daily, Masha Gessen is worried by signs of degeneration in the American body politic.
  • Livejournal’s pollotenchegg maps the strength of Ukrainian political divisions in 2006 and 2010.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is afraid what AI-enabled propaganda might do to American democracy in the foreseeable future.
  • Roads and Kingdoms notes an enjoyable bagel breakfast at Pondichéry’s Auroville Café.
  • Drew Rowsome celebrates the introduction of ultra-low-cost carriers for flyers in Canada.
  • Strange Company notes the 19th century haunting of an English mill.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Crimean Tatars, and Muslims in Crimea, are facing more repression.

[WRITING] On queer content and fan fiction and representation generally

The title for Rae Binstock’s lkatest entry at Slate‘s Outward, “Why Do Queer People Write Fan Fiction? To See Themselves in Mainstream Culture.”, is admittedly clickbaity. The content, which examines why people write so much slash fan fiction, deserves something subtler. The desire for better queer representation remains an ongoing issue that these fan fiction writers try to fill.

One writer of slash fan fiction, who wished to remain anonymous—professing, like many I interviewed for this article, to being “ashamed” of her involvement with the fan fiction community—pointed to the double standard between onscreen romances for straight and queer couples. “The sort of love stories I like are totally reflected and visible in [mainstream media’s] canon straight romances,” she said. “Professionally produced media doesn’t give me that sort of well-written, emotionally devastating love story with LGBT+ characters.” The eroticism, the passion, the high stakes—in most cases, these are all reserved for straight characters. It’s up to the queer fans to claim them for themselves.

Take, for instance, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the superpowered members of the Avengers are mostly male, toned as hell, and love to banter: Right out of the gate, fans were eagerly exploring the possibilities of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, becoming lovers. On Ao3, there are almost 10,000 stories pairing the two romantically; that’s 3,000 more than the next most popular pairing, which also features two male characters in a queer relationship (Agent Coulson and Hawkeye). Parks and Recreation, one of television’s most beloved sitcoms, has more stories that romantically pair protagonist Leslie Knope with her female best friend, Ann Perkins, than with her husband, Ben Wyatt. And in case you were wondering, Shakespeare fan fiction does exist, and yes, Henry IV’s Prince Hal does fall in love with his childhood friend Ned.

This re-pairing of characters can be written off as unsatisfied fans indulging in wish fulfillment and the occasional erotic daydream. Outsiders who have ventured into the world of fan fiction—including Slate’s David Plotz and Laura Miller—have struggled to remain neutral while describing the genre, referring to an “obsession with emotional intensity” that has “spawned slash” or raising eyebrows at “romances, often torrid, between ostensibly straight male characters.” But when you are a member of the product’s original target audience—when you identify with characters whose sexualities are socially approved and unthreatening—you are much less likely to understand how empowered one can feel when writing queer romance into straight stories. There is power in giving Harry Potter a crush on Draco Malfoy, or creating a world in which Scandal’s Olivia and Mellie leave Fitz for each other; there is power in creating a means by which those in the mainstream might see from your sidelined point of view. It’s easy to trivialize, but the fact is that fan fiction is one of the few outlets that an increasingly frustrated queer audience has to engage with material that refuses to engage with them.

There’s a few things I’d like to engage with here. The first is whether or not queer authors have a responsibility to represent queer realities in whatever form they can. Another is the extent to which this representation has to be plausible and artistically compelling: In Deep Space Nine, for instance, I find an O’Brien/Bashir pairing much less plausible and interesting than a Garak/Bashir pairing. As well, is this something that will change over time, as things continue to improve? Will more explicit queer content, and characters, and representation lead to a decline of slash?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 31, 2016 at 9:59 pm

[WRITING] “The entire board of the Organization for Transformative Works has resigned”

This is noteworthy. From the Daily Dot‘s Cynthia McKelvey:

Following a controversy around its most recent board election, the non-profit group that runs the fanfiction hub Archive Of Our Own (AO3) announced on Sunday its entire board had resigned.

Now the leadership of the Organization for Transformative Works is up in the air.

Andrea Horbinski, a current member of the seven-member board, was up for re-election to two open board seats, but she came in last in the members election. The membership, made up of roughly 8,000 fans who paid a $10 membership fee, voted for Matty Bowers, Atiya Hakeem, Alex Tischer, Katarina Harju, Aline Carrão, and Horbinski in that order.

During a public board meeting on Sunday, the OTW board appointed Horbinski back onto the board to fill an unfinished term on a third open seat not included in the election. Horbinski voted in favor of the motion to re-appoint herself to the open seat, rather than abstaining from the vote. The board meeting came to an abrupt halt after several OTW members voiced their opposition to the decision, pointing out that other candidates got more votes than Horbinski in the election.

OTW board members work on a volunteer-basis only. In addition to running AO3, OTW also runs a legal committee, a fandom wiki site, the fansite preservation project Open Doors, and an academic journal.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

[LINK] The Vulture on Fan Fiction

Vulture‘s Laura Miller describes for a mass audience in her article “You Belong to Me” the growing popularity of fan fiction. Is this the genre’s moment to enter into the mainstream?

Annie Proulx got ficced. In a recent interview in the Paris Review, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author confessed that she wishes she’d never written her most famous work, the short story “Brokeback Mountain,”about the star-crossed romance between two cowboys. Having fans is a good thing, especially for authors of ­quiet, spare realism — not exactly a cohort with a healthy surplus of readers. But in the last few years, writers, filmmakers, and other artists have seen fans seize control of their creations and re­imagine them as fan­fiction, or fic, as its aficionados like to call it. Proulx first got ficced when a whole new audience came to “Brokeback” after the Academy Award–winning film adaptation was released in 2005. Less reverent than her typical reader, these fans have busily set themselves to producing what Proulx has termed “pornish” fiction based on her story’s two main characters, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar. “Unfortunately,” she said, “the audience that ‘Brokeback’ reached most strongly … can’t bear the way it ends — they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed.” The resulting stories, Proulx grumbled, “just drive me wild.”

Proulx is far from the only mainstream artist being dragged unwillingly into a new, fan-dominated world. Once exiled to obscure corners of the internet, fanfiction — amateur fiction based on characters from preexisting works or real-life celebrities — has lately become a force driving popular culture. As Proulx realized, fans these days aren’t satisfied to just sit back and consume. They want to participate. They want to create. And they don’t want to wait for anyone else’s permission to do it. Millions of fanfiction stories have been uploaded onto vast online archives where other fans read, rate, and comment on them. Romances, often torrid, between ostensibly straight male characters like Harry Potter and his onetime nemesis Draco Malfoy are especially popular, and there’s an entire category of fanfiction, called mpreg, in which beloved male characters and celebrities (e.g., One Direction singer Harry Styles) are able, bizarrely, to get pregnant. Fandom’s untrammeled imagination is also colonizing the wider world. E L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey started as Twilight fic. And what are J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek and Star Wars reboots — which take the original source materials (called “canon” in fic circles) and shape them to new ends — if not examples of the fanfiction spirit when enabled by hundreds of millions of dollars?

Although human beings have been stealing and reworking each other’s stories for millennia, fanfiction as we now know it began back in the days of Star Trek fanzines, on whose mimeographed pages female Trekkers wrote of Mr. Spock swooning in the arms of an ardent Captain Kirk. For decades, fanfiction communities — soon to migrate en masse to the web — ­functioned as a subset of science-fiction and fantasy fandom, where they were treated, by the mostly male nerds who ran things, like a younger sister best banished to her room whenever company came by. The internet changed all that by ushering in the era of the networked fan, often a girl who sampled her first taste of fic in Harry Potter fandom. Like it or not, the once-Olympian creators of the canon — known among fic writers as TPTB, or “the powers that be” — now have little choice but to listen to them. Robust, established online networks of Harry Potter and Twilight fans played a significant role in making The Hunger Games books into best sellers and, after that, blockbuster films.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are planning their customs union for 2015. Elsewhere in the cosmos, Will links to an astronomy paper summarizing the mysterious existence of three massive planets distant from their star.
  • Clay Aiken for Congress? Joe. My. God. notes it could happen.
  • Johnny Pez summarizes his successful year past creating a Wiki for Sobel’s alternate history book For Want of a Nail (and later fan fiction project For All Nails).
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money is unimpressed by David Brooks’ anti-marijuana column.
  • Mark Simpson shares a Gay Liberation Front poster from 1975 purporting to trace heterosexuality’s origins to any number of traumas.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that a fifth of children in China do not live with their parents; they’ve migrated.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer describes energy reform in Mexico and is very skeptical about the claims of New York City’s Stuyvesant High School to be truly elite and worthwhile.
  • Steve Munro describes the planning for the Eglinton light rail route.
  • Torontoist notes that a candidate for my riding of Ward 18 in Toronto is Alex Mazer, an acquaintance of mine from PEI.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Belarusians want European Union membership, wonders about Ukrainian Orthodox defecting from Moscow, and notes the below-replacement fertility in most of the North Caucasus.

[LINK] The Third Empire and the Mythos

Although I don’t read much fan fiction, I do make exceptions for the After-Action Repors and Fanfiction posted at the Paradox Interactive Forums by players of simulation games like Europa Universalis II and Victoria. The overly mechanistic nature of these games can produce some decidedly unlikely results–my favourite example of this is of the player who began hoping to restore Hungary’s frontiers to those of the defunct Kingdom and ended up conquering Europe–but they don’t have to do this. Besides, the heavily strategy-oriented nature of the game lends itself well to the sorts of timelines I’m familiar with from soc.history.what-if.

My favourite AAR report is the The Third Empire; a PDF file of some three hundred pages that excludes the comments is available here. The game begins with a France that, under a fictional Napoleon V born to the Prince Imperial, has entered the 1920s as an authoritarian Third Empire with certain fascist overtones. This France goes on to wreak havoc on a European scale, the player’s last post describing the French-led invasion of the Soviet Union, accompanied by its fascist allies in Spain and Italy and its neutered Nazi German satellite.

This story is entertaining enough, but what makes it especially interesting is the author’s infusion of the Cthulhu mythos into the mix–the Indochinese insects have just taken over FDR and prompted a nasty war with the British Commonwealth in alliance with Japan over old Indian ruins in Québec. I might be easily amused, but this is authentically interesting and creative stuff. I’m impressed.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 23, 2006 at 9:13 pm

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