Consider participating in sociological research, co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland. Both researchers are doctoral students who love Glee just as much as you!
We know how important fandom is to the lives of the people who are participating in it, and we think it’s an important part of understanding the lives of many young women today. Our mutual loves for both fandom and social science drive this project - we are both long-time fandom participants and well-prepared social scientists.
The goal of this project is to help social scientists and the broader public better understand what fandom is, why people choose to become involved, and how it may influence the way that young women think about things like relationships, sexuality, and romance in their own lives.
This is where we are asking for your help. We are hoping to interview approximately 50 women age 18-24 to better understand the role that fandom plays in their lives. We would like to interview participants over Skype or Google Hangout, so the interviewer would see your face, but all of the information you provide would be completely separate from your “offline” life. All information that we collect will be 100% confidential, and cannot be associated with your name or online identity in any way. You can even give us a fake name - we’ll never know!
We would like to interview each participant once a year for three years to see how the role of fandom in your life changes over time. All participants will be entered into a drawing for $100 cash as a thank you for your time.
Each interview is expected to take approximately 2-3 hours and will be conducted at a time that is convenient for the participant.
We are looking for participants who fit ALL of the following criteria:
- Identify as female
- 18-24 years old
- Have been involved in the Klaine fandom for at least 1 year
- Spend at least two hours a day on average doing fandom-related activities (browsing tumblr, reading/writing fic, making videos, etc.)
- Live in the United States
If you fit these criteria and would like to participate, please fill out this form and we will contact you.
The study has been approved by the University of Michigan’s Institutional Review Board, which means it meets the University’s strict standards for high-quality and ethical research.
Unexpected end-of-semester hilarity: watching my students try to come up with non-profane synonyms for “eyefucking” in their analyses of fan vids. Several of them are getting points for originality.
I’m resisting the urge to write “LOL” in the margins, because that might come across as mean when no, actually, I’m just amused.
A long time ago, I had a lot to say in rants about how people were DOING IT WRONG and should NOT WRITE THIS WAY but rather THIS OTHER WAY. (And, if I’m gonna be honest, those rants are all still there, just waiting for me to type them. Let me tell you about the Should You Use the Pluperfect? flowchart I made the other day. Or not, because honestly, TFV, nobody wants to hear that.) I was all, “People! Write better!”
Sorry, past me — you were wrong. What I should have been saying was, “People! Write more! (Even if it’s really bad!)”
Because, yes, I still think the word sensitized needs to be left to lie fallow for a decade. Where it can maybe cavort with its friend, lave. I still sometimes want to ban thesauruses. I still feel like maybe those weeping cocks should see a doctor, or perhaps a therapist.
But these days, I also think we’re lucky to have those stories. I probably won’t be reading them, but I’m happy they exist, for three reasons.
Writing is good. People are writing! For fun! Good news! Seriously, if I had spent more time writing down the hideously painful Mary Sue fan fiction I dreamed up when I was a wee teen, I might have spent less time on, you know, drugs and sucking the cocks of random strangers without protection. I’m always happy to see someone making better choices than I made.
Maybe you’re now saying, “Okay, fine, but do they have to post those Mary Sue stories where I can see them?” If so, you’re being a dick. Cut it out. The Archive of Our Own is not the Archive of Just What You Want to Read. It’s the Archive of Fanworks. Is it a fanwork? Then it belongs there! And if you’re incapable of scrolling past something, it’s not that the Mary Sue writers are in the wrong place, it’s that you are. (Also, I’m sorry, but I don’t know where would be the right place for you. Everywhere is going to have stuff you don’t like, because tastes are individual and all that. Maybe the internet just isn’t for you.)
Crap is important. Sturgeon’s law is right, but it misses the point. Ninety percent of everything has to be shit. That’s how you get the 10% that’s good.
Your favorite writers, fan fiction, published fiction, published fan fiction, whatever — they didn’t start out writing that way. There was a time when they wrote unspeakably awful crap. Writing unspeakably awful crap is how you learn to write only moderately awful crap, and then eventually maybe decent stuff, and then, if you’re lucky, actually good things. There are not two classes of people, those who are good writers and those who are bad writers, so that all you have to do to have only great stuff is scare away all the bad writers. There are people who used to write bad stuff, and there are people who are currently writing bad stuff, and there’s a lot of crossover between the two. Some of the second category will one day be the first category. (Also, tomorrow some of the first category will move back to the second. No one hits it out of ballpark every time.) If you want to read new good stuff tomorrow, encourage the people writing bad stuff today. (And also maybe help them get betas. Betas are great.)
And, no, those people don’t have to hide their work away until it gets better. They can share it with anyone who wants to read it. If they want to post it, they should. Wanting to is reason enough. (Although if you want another reason — posting is how community happens. Which is how things like betas happen. People who share their work get better faster.)
Crap is a sign of life. New bad stories are a sign that this genre — fan fiction, the genre I adore the most - is alive and well. Bad stories mean new people are trying to write in it, and people are trying to do new things with it, and maybe new people are joining the audience, too. When only the best and most popular are writing in a genre, it’s on its deathbed. (See: Westerns and Louis L’Amour.) I want this genre to be here forever, because I want to read it forever. So I’m happy that teenagers are posting Mary Sue stories to the Archive of Our Own.
Does that mean you have to be happy? Nope. I can’t make you do anything. (I can think you’re wrong, but hey, being wrong on the internet is a time-honored tradition among our people.) But when you start making fun of a writer and bullying her in the comments of her story, simply because she’s writing something you think is bad and embarrassing, well, that’s when I say: shut the fuck up or get the fuck out. Because she’s not a problem. She’s just doing what we’re all doing — having fun, playing with words, throwing something out there on the internet to see if other people like it.
But you. You’re trying to stop someone from having fun. You’re trying to shame people into not writing anymore. And that, folks — that is the definition of shitty behavior. (Mary Sue fantasies, on the other hand, are just the definition of human behavior.) It’s bad for people, it’s bad for the future, and it’s bad for the genre. So you’re a problem.
Please go away, problems, and let all of us write out our ids out in peace.
(And, yes, this was triggered by one specific story and some of the responses it’s getting on the AO3. But it applies to all of them, all the fan fiction we don’t like out there. Okay, I’m done.)
haley’s anon got me thinking.
I wonder if the ageist teens on here realise that the “old people” they think are creepy for being fangirls are larger in number than they suspect. I mean, I’m 30, and I’m a raging fangirl in all the good ways and I love it. I have fangirl friends from 16 to 46 and in fangirling we are all on the same level. most, if not all, of us read fanfic. quite a few of my “older” fellow fans write it - and do it almost freakishly well.
in fact, that really good longfic you read that had not only great characterisation but also really lovely, believable sex scenes and a language that flowed really well? odds are that it wasn’t written by a 16-year-old. some great fics are, but I know for sure that in my top ten longfics of all time? maybe one or two was written by someone under 20. half were written by people over or close to 30.
some of the people you fangirl with on a daily basis have husbands, wives, children, jobs and all that other “grown up stuff” you imagine we should be spending our time on instead of flailing about the colour of jensen’s eyes or the perfect shape of jared’s booty. but if you are one of the teens who thinks that “old people” fangirling is gross and creepy, I pity you. because it means you equate getting older with losing enjoyment in the things you love.
I fangirl because it brings me good things. because it’s an escape. because I have a creative outlet. because there are people here who are like me. because it’s just great fun, really. if you think age is in any way relevant in that conversation, you are wrong.
"old" fangirls, out yourself! flaunt your age!
Despite being OLD (and yup, I’m OLD. 39, man! ancient) I do understand younger fans belief that they will ‘grow out of this silliness’. Fandom and fanfic and wasting time with your weird internet friends are called by society silly and immature ways of spending time and energy. It’s for the young who have no friends and nothing better to do. It’s for people with ‘too much’ free time, and no life at all (yet). Once you get ‘a life’ you’ll grow out of these things.
So to you lovely fans who are young (young enough to believe that ‘a life’ is what you are looking for) I have great news for you: Getting a life (a career, a spouse, children of your own, financial independence, a house and a mortgage – however it is you define ‘a life’) does not mean you need to fundamentally change who you are. If you are someone who is passionate about seeing inspiring women in fiction and love to talk about it, why would that change when you are older? If you are someone who sees two characters with fantastic chemistry and continue to think of plots and situations about them long after the movie is over, why would your brain stop doing that because you have kids? If you are passionate about drawing or writing, and TV show characters are the easiest, most inspiring outlet for your talent, why would you stop because you have a career?
Your priorities change, your free time may lessen, your interests may drift to different fandoms, but YOU don’t need to change. YOU don’t need to ‘grow out of this’. Being a part of the fandom culture and all its insanity is who you are. Own it. Be proud of it. Get a life that accepts it, and find a balance with both.
You may change, you may no longer want to read fiction, or look at gifs of Chris Evans’ ass, or capslock your way through liveblogging a season finale – but let that be your choice. And not something that is determined by something as silly as your age.