Fifty Shades complicates the concept of prosumption, however, as (E.L.) James “built a following within a community founded in part on the explicit rejection of monetary gain in favor of fannish love, and then used that community and the work it helped her to produce in order to make a name—and a fair amount of money—in mainstream publishing” (Wanenchak 2012). James thus straddles the line between producer and fan, stealing from commodified culture to create Master of the Universe while stealing from fandom to make a success of Fifty Shades. The question of whether James’s fans would have been so involved in supporting and reviewing her work if they were aware that their efforts would result in her profit—although ultimately unanswerable—is nevertheless a valid one, and I would suggest that these debates suggest a subtle change in the relationship between fan and producer. From being in a position of cultural marginality where they poach from texts, fans are now the ones potentially being poached from (Andrejevic 2008; Milner 2009).

One major issue in the 2007–8 Writers Guild of America strike was an insistence that Web content was creative work and was thus eligible to be paid at creative rates, rather than promotional work that creators were obligated to participate in for free (Gray 2010; Leaver 2013; Russo 2010). The kinds of paratexts or pieces of ancillary content that were at stake in the WGA strike are quite like what fans produce, and turning to fans rather than paid staff for such work thus looks increasingly good for the bottom line. After all, even against the baseline of declining labor strength in Hollywood, fan work is a bargain for industry.

Mel Stanfill and Megan Condis, Editorial: Fandom and/as labor (via fanhackers)

On a more doctrinal level, respecting creativity as a human force should lead us to think differently about fair use, among other things, by encouraging us to take account of noncommercial motivations even in contexts current doctrine sees as commercial. Joanna Russ, the feminist science fiction writer, suggested that the“what if” of slash fanfiction was “what if I were free?” What would I read, what would I write, what relationships would I have with the external world and with other people? Asking “what if I were free”is very different from the claim-staking of the rhetoric of opensource software, which focuses on the idea that open-source software is “free as in free speech, not as in free beer.” That common phrase has always struck me as hiding within it many unexamined and problematic assumptions about what free is with respect to speech and how it relates to a commercial marketplace. What free is with respect to women’s voices, of course, has been fiercely debated at least since John Stuart Mill (and his wife) wrote The Subjection of Women. Slash and other fanworks come from a background of constraint, where acting as if we were free to write our own versions is a different kind of act than using our already-extant freedom to create open-source software instead of proprietary code. Women as writers have rarely had the luxury of exclusive control to give away.

One aspect of that unfreedom has been an inability to participate in the money economy on the same terms as men. Fanworks represent an alternative outlet for creative energies.

On Fanfiction

roachpatrol:

valnon:

shadesofmauve:

I was cruising through the net, following the cold trail of one of the periodic “Is or is not Fanfic the Ultimate Literary Evil?” arguments that crop up regularly, and I’m now bursting to make a point that I never see made by fic defenders.

We’re all familiar with the normal defenses of fic: it’s done out of love, it’s training, it’s for fun. Those are all good and valid defenses!

But they miss something. They damn with faint praise. Because the thing is, when you commit this particular Ultimate Literary Evil you’ve now told a story. And stories are powerful. The fact that it wasn’t in an original world or with original characters doesn’t necessarily make it less powerful to any given reader.

I would never have made this argument a few years ago. A few years ago I hadn’t received messages from people who were deeply touched by something I wrote in fanfic. So what if it’s only two or three or four people, and I used someone else’s world and characters? For those two or three or four people, I wrote something fucking important. You cannot tell me that isn’t a valid use of my time and expect me to feel chastened. I don’t buy it. I won’t feel ashamed. I will laugh when you call something that touches other people ‘literary masturbation.’ Apparently you’re not too up on your sex terminology.

Someone could argue that if I’d managed the same thing with original characters in an original world, it could’ve touched more people. They might be right! On the other hand, it might never have been accepted for publication, or found a market if self published, and more importantly I would never have written it because I didn’t realize I could write. The story wouldn’t have happened. Instead, thanks to fanfic being a thing, it did. And for two or three or four people it mattered. When we talk about defending fanfic, can we occasionally talk about that?

I once had an active serviceman who told me that my FF7 and FF8 fic helped get him through the war. That’ll humble you. People have told me my fanfic helped get them through long nights, through grief, through hard times. It was a solace to people who needed solace. And because it was fanfic, it was easier to reach the people who needed it. They knew those people already. That world was dear to them already. They were being comforted by friends, not strangers.

Stories are like swords. Even if you’ve borrowed the sword, even if you didn’t forge it yourself from ore and fire, it’s still your body and your skill that makes use of it. It can still draw blood, it can strike down things that attack you, it can still defend something you hold dear. Don’t get me wrong, a sword you’ve made yourself is powerful. You know it down to its very molecules, are intimate with its heft and its reach. It is part of your own arm. But that can make you hesitate to use it sometimes, if you’re afraid that swinging it too recklessly will notch the blade. Is it strong enough, you think. Will it stand this? I worked so hard to make it. A blade you snatched up because you needed a weapon in your hand is not prey to such fears. You will use it to beat against your foes until it either saves you or it shatters.

But whether you made that sword yourself or picked it up from someone who fell on the field, the fight you fight with it is always yours.

Literary critics who sneer at fanfic are so infuriatingly shortsighted, because they all totally ignore how their precious literature, as in individual stories that are created, disseminated, and protected as commercial products, are a totally modern industrial capitalist thing and honestly not how humans have ever done it before like a couple centuries ago. Plus like, who benefits most from literature? Same dudes who benefit most from capitalism: the people in power, the people with privilege. There’s a reason literary canon is composed of fucking white straight dudes who write about white straight dudes fucking. 

Fanfiction is a modern expression of the oral tradition—for the rest of us, by the rest of us, about the rest of us—and I think that’s fucking wonderful and speaks to a need that absolutely isn’t being met by the publishing industry. The need to come together as a close community, I think, and take the characters of our mythology and tell them getting drunk and married and tricked and left behind and sent to war and comforted and found again and learning the lessons that every generation learns over and over. It’s wonderful. I love it. I’m always going to love it. 

Okay, so, yay fan fiction, etc. etc., but I have to ask: Do literary critics sneer at fan fiction? Which ones? Where? I ask because most of the literary critics I know don’t sneer at fan fiction; they just don’t have anything to say about it, at least professionally. In many cases, they don’t even know it exists.

fyeahcopyright:

For those of you in school - and those of you who are out of school and interested in community organizing - this is going to be a terrific way to support the EFF, get engaged and spread real information around your community, and be a positive force against anyone who tries to restrict fair use and other rights we use to share and communicate online. 

If you want to be in the center of things if the Trans Pacific Partnership tries to step on transformative works or something like SOPA comes back some day (it isn’t now), look into this - and get involved if you can. 

Fandom stats master list

destinationtoast:

I have updated my fandom stats page.  It now starts with a link to the 221B slides and a table of contents:

April 2014 update: I just co-presented at 221B Con about Sherlockian fandom stats — here’s the master post of 221B Con slides.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About 
Shipping and relationship categories 
AUs 
Popularity metrics on AO3 
Other cross-fandom analyses 
Sherlockian analyses 
Meta resources 
Media coverage 
Fandom stats by other people

Click through for more detail.

Suggestions for how to further improve the page are welcome, as always (as are pointers to other people’s fanalytics!).

destinationtoast:

221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master post
Presented by destinationtoast, strangelock, and penns-woods - April 2014
Part 1: Why Stats 
Part 2: Popularity of Sherlock Holmes in fandom
Part 3: Genres of fanfiction
Part 4: Shipping and (a)sexuality
Part 5: Response to Sherlock Series 3
Full slide deck (you can view the details of slides more easily here)

destinationtoast:

221B Con Fandom Stats slides: Master post

Presented by destinationtoast, strangelock, and penns-woods - April 2014

Part 1: Why Stats 

Part 2: Popularity of Sherlock Holmes in fandom

Part 3: Genres of fanfiction

Part 4: Shipping and (a)sexuality

Part 5: Response to Sherlock Series 3

Full slide deck (you can view the details of slides more easily here)