Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Readercon: Fandom and Rebellion

I called this "Fandom as Rebellion" the whole panel. Whoops.

Description: ifeelbetterer on Tumblr writes, "No one is more critical of art than fandom. No one is more capable of investigating the nuances of expression than fandom—because it's a vast multitude pooling resources and ideas. Fandom is about correcting the flaws and vices of the original. It's about protest and rebellion, essentially.... Fandom is not worshipping at the alter of canon. Fandom is re-building it because they can do better." Our panel of creators and fans will dig into the notion of when, why, how, and whether fan works and remixes are "better" than the original, especially when they come from a place of protest and challenge.
Gemma Files, Catt Kingsgrave, Kate Nepveu (leader), A. J. Odasso, Ann Tonsor Zeddies.

See prior report for usual disclaimers.

We immediately disposed of the "fandom is about" proposition of the quote as "well, some of fandom, but not all of it."

I set the panel up in two parts, after touching base with the panelists: the first, which I thought would be shorter, was what characteristics of fandom lent themselves to rebellion and critique. The second was how works could specifically could rebel.

The first part talked mostly about motivations to make transformative works, which I see from rereading the description right now was entirely sensible! Some were: curiosity, resistance of closure (paraphrased: it's like denying death!), addressing a hurt/injury (my notes here are very scribbled, but I think, that canon has dealt you?), general desire for more of that--more people in relationships with each other, more plot, more whatever. Somewhere in here we mentioned lack of canonical same-sex relationships and I made my usual complaint about erasing canonical female love interests, rejecting homophobia by falling into sexism. I think this was all kicked off in response to an audience member who raised the question about whether fandom-eating slash pairings get kind of reductive, basically, like that kind of closeness could only be in the context of a sexual relationship. As was a theme for the panel, people suggested embracing the power of "and." (And yet somehow I don't think anyone said "the solution to a love triangle is an OT3!")

I also tossed in a conversational ball about meta and analysis, by the fans who don't write fic *raises hand*, and the relationship between transformative works, meta posts, and general creation of fanon/fandom interests. Someone pointed out that you often see meta on Tumblr followed by a ficlet in response. Panelists had varying experiences about ability to find meta on Tumblr, seems to be matter of following good curators.

Somewhere in here we had a discussion about feelings of ownership. Gemma, who writes professionally-published works as well as fanfic, strongly disagreed with fannish claims that if creators fuck up stories, the stories are now theirs (fans') to make better. Even understood as claim of emotional investment not actual transfer of ownership, it crossed a line for her. Catt said that as a singer, she thinks of it like the folk process: once it's out there, someone's going to riff on it. Ann read a quote from Annie Proulx about Brokeback Mountain movie-only fans (as I said, ah, the power of two somewhat-plausibly attractive white dudes!): they failed to understand what was about (uh, the Author Is Dead) and made up happy endings (gasp! oh no!) and came to her house to give her fix-it fics, usually prefaced by "I'm not gay but" (okay, that is seriously not cool). Later we talked about breaking the Fourth Wall in response to an audience question, and generally the opinion was "someone will have asked the creator, and you can find the creator's opinion on the Internet, and you should respect that."

We moved to particular ways fan works could be rebellious. One of the first things people said was "villains"; decade and a half of trying to figure out Snape, less time (but still lots of pixels) making sense of MCU!Loki. Part of general project of understanding that all characters are, or should be, well-rounded people (that is a terrible paraphrase, I'm sorry). ...I just lost five minutes to trying to remember what else, here, sorry, I am tired. I noted that we'd talked a lot about character development, was rebelling against canon's worldbuilding a harder skill or less common for another reason? I think the consensus was to the extent that worldbuilding didn't come with character development, yes, it was a harder skill.

Oh! We mentioned constructive criticism. Catt said that she did get it and that she thought it was a good thing about fandom, and I was surprised because I was under the impression that fannish culture had swing very strongly away from unsolicited concrit. It's possible that people see that she cultivates that in her comments.

And, seriously, I know we talked about more, and I am completely unable to remember what--I took no notes during the second half of the panel, and then I did one right after, so a lot of that brain space got overwritten. If you were there and would like to chime in, please do! (Also, as mentioned in the prior panel report, concrit of my moderating very much desired. I think I may have had some angst about how I tried to keep the panel moving with regard to audience questions for this panel, too.)

Finally, I am very sad that I didn't figure out an organic place to have Catt mention how Marvel comics writers are fanficcing Stan Lee right now.

ETA Gemma's follow-up thoughts, pasted together from tweets:
The "Fandom and Rebellion" panel was really interesting and inspiring, but seeing @katenepveu's notes reveals that I skipped part of what I wanted to say, re fans' impulse to claim and revise canon they feel has let them down. I said: if you love my work, you don't own it; if you hate it, you don't own it; if I agree you're making a valid point about me fucking something up, you don't own it. But: (The part I should have said): I don't own YOUR work, either. What we make is always ours, be it directly commenting on something else or what. Once it's out in the world I'm done with it, just like i can't re-edit a book once it's published. And for myself, I'm always interested to see what other people have to say, because I personally don't fic anything I don't respect. (I save total revision and transformation of canon I want to fix for my pro work, because I like to get paid for being annoyed.;))
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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Tags: cons: readercon: 2015

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