[personal profile] dysprositos
The conversation over in [personal profile] oliviacirce's posts about the differences between the Scary Ponies Oh No (commonly referred to as "book fandom", "SF fandom", "con-going fandom", and "those fanboys over there") and the Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh (a.k.a. "media fandom", "LJ fandom", "us fangirls", and "LJ-centered Western media fandom which reads Metafandom") is spawning all sorts of interesting discussion.

There have been all sorts of distinctions made, among them:

  • Demographics: mostly white men versus women with a more-proportional white:nonwhite ratio;

  • Fanacs: LARPing, collecting, trivia, filk versus fanfic, meta, fanart, fanvids

  • Primary location: conventions versus Internet

  • Thinking style: linear versus hypertext

  • Relationship with the PTB: worshipful with a side of "I'll be one someday" leading to a tendency to side with them, friendly, officially-sanctioned versus neutral or adversarial, resistive to attempts at commercialization, and little interest in becoming a PTB

  • Attitude towards fanacs: commercially viable and potentially career-launching versus fun and non-commercial amateur hobby

  • Attitude towards canon: love or hate, but don't criticize, only fixable by fanwank, only one canon versus love and hate, criticize even your favorite shows if they deserve to be, fixable by fanfic, multiple canons

(Note that this is about the overall culture, not individuals by any means. There's far too much overlap for this to be at all a useful metric on the individual level.)

These differences lead to larger differences like the Scary Ponies Oh No dismissing activities, like fanfiction, associated with the Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh, often either because it's not being used as a launching point for a career (because the path from consumer to creator is so much a part of Scary Ponies Oh No expectations, if you stop midway, you're not an amateur, you're a failure); because it's perceived as trying to "fix" or, worse, redo canon and is thus an insult to the PTB; because it's a girl thing; or some combination of the preceding.

(Or, just thought of this, the tendency of Scary Ponies Oh No to bring their "squee, not critique" attitude to bear on themselves, so there are a lot of celebrations of fannishness but not so much introspection of what it means to be a Scary Pony Oh No or what needs to be improved or fixed. There tends to be a lot of "what do we do about the graying of fandom" hand-wringing, but also a marked resistance to any kind of change within fandom, without which young people are less likely to be interested. [Have you seen the SFWA website?] And not many discussions of things like sexism, homophobia, racism, and so on within fandom--whenever people do try to bring it up, the reaction of "we're not like that!" or "if we are, it doesn't matter!" or "we are like that and it matters, but there's nothing we can do about it but wait for the Old Guard to die off" is strong. Whereas one of the defining features of the Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh is a tendency toward introspection and self-critique; that's what Metafandom is for, after all: discussions of fandom, like this one.)

One of the points I made was

I think it is also worth noting that (it seems to me that, standard disclaimers apply) Scary Ponies Oh No expect a greater degree of homogeneity of interests outside the obviously fannish. I.e.: cats, computers, chocolate, RenFaire and/or D&D (or GURPS or whatever), a passing familiarity at least with Morris dancing, anti-Microsoft, &c. I'm not really sure what the equivalents for Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh would be; it's my perception that we're (much?) more likely to be liberal or leftist in some way, while Scary Ponies Oh No have a higher degree of libertarianism, and certainly if nothing else Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh fandom as a whole seems to expect anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, &c. sentiment.

to which [personal profile] aamcnamara replied

I think that the Pretty Princess Monsters Blargh also (to a certain degree) are anti-Microsoft--there are definitely expectations, just different ones. Like you, though, I am not certain exactly what those are.

So, lest this question get lost in the larger discussion: what expectations do we (Western media fandom as found on LJ and other journaling services, and united with such communities as Metafandom, Fandom_Wank, Fandom_Secrets, and so on) have of each other that are not related to fandom but that are not expectations we would have for humanity at large?

I'll start, adding to my comment above: I think that we have a tendency to expect each other to have some familiarity (even if only in passing, through reading each other's meta and reaction posts and out-of-fandom fic) with particular source texts that have or had large fandoms, e.g., Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, Firefly, the Sentinel, the Man From UNCLE, Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: SG-1, Harry Potter, Doctor Who and Torchwood, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Star Trek, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more recently Merlin, Supernatural, and Dollhouse. Not necessarily be fannish about, not necessarily have seen the canon for, but at least have heard of it and maybe have some knowledge of what it's about, main character names, &c.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-06-09 11:46 pm (UTC)
dachelle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dachelle
Hey, our fandom even made it into the Guardian! I got into Libs fandom just after that article was written - my first fic was written in September 2006. I think it's sort of funny that indie RPS fandom seems to have been forgotten about or viewed as "dead," because for a while I think it was the big music RPS fandom on LiveJournal. And now I wonder if part of the reason for that is that the people writing in it largely didn't fit the model of the Metafandom fan, and then when bandom came along it brought in a lot of Metafandom types.

Hee, I can't imagine in what situation you'd need to impersonate a Libs fan, although I think I'm on record at immigration in the U.K. as being a Pete Doherty fan, which may create its own set of issues when I fly there on Thursday. The band as such doesn't exist anymore (please visit Wikipedia for a condensed version of the sordid soap opera tale), although Peter and Carl and Gary played together recently and they've hinted at a reunion next year. Well, Carl's hinted. Peter's said flat-out that it's happening. Should it happen, I will be on the first plane over (Peter's not allowed in the U.S., sadly, so I must travel to see him, which I've done twice now).

After I commented here I was trying to think of what sort of things we all have in common in our fandom, and it's hard! Libs fans are a very diverse bunch. I mean, I came out of Buffy fandom, and my beta is a big Buffy fan, but I have another friend in the fandom who'd never seen the show. It is a fandom heavily populated by people from the U.K., so points of reference do tend to be U.K.-centric. I also find that for many of the older participants in the fandom it's their first fandom or at least the first in which they've been actively engaged in producing and reading fic, while the younger ones are more likely to have at least read fic for some fandom before. A brief survey on my journal reveals previous involvement in Harry Potter, X-Files, and bandom, and I also have a lot of friends in the fandom who I would say were heavily involved in band fandoms (Manic Street Preachers is a common one), including participating in online forums/messageboards, but not in any sort of fic fandoms for those bands. Also, I would say the older fandom members are more likely to be involved in writing in other ways. In fact, a group of Libs slash ladies is involved with putting together an online literary magazine, which I'm sure they won't mind me pimping here. It's really good. http://vagabondagepress.com/

Oh, and we're pretty much all lefty-liberal types. If anyone went to the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in London last year, chances are you gave a donation to a volunteer who's involved in Libs fandom.



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