Co-organized by BigLove Alliance and Pink Alliance, and supported by Covenant of the Rainbow, the third edition of the annual event was held this year at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Nursery Park. Organisers chose a different venue this year, as compared to the first two years at the city’s Tamar Park, in order to ‘accommodate more activities for everyone, young and old’.
Yeah, Mid-Autumn Festival is over and mooncake season has come and gone, but I realized I never shared images of the awesome Star Wars mooncake from Hong Kong that my friends Claudia and Calvin gave me…
“Two skeletons have been discovered in a London graveyard which could change our view of the history of Europe and Asia.
Analysis of the bones, found in a Roman burial place in Southwark, discovered that they dated to between the 2nd and 4th Century AD and were probably ethnically Chinese.
Dr Rebecca Redfern, curator of human osteology at the Museum of London, told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One the find was “the first time in Roman Britain we’ve identified people with Asian ancestry” and it was “absolutely phenomenal”.”
i like that you’ve started tagging certain things as “tumblr folklore”. i never thought of it like that before, but that’s totally what that stuff is
They are, aren’t they? It’s interesting that the Ginna stories are still called “fics”, even by their original author. Although I can appreciate degree to which fandom culture is embedded into Tumblr culture, I can help but wonder (worry) whether the result of our out-of-control copyright situation is that we aren’t totally used to the idea of a story that isn’t “owned” by anybody, or a subconscious belief that stories that aren’t private property are, on some level, not quite “real” stories the same way a Harry Potter book that can be bound and sold is. Calling these stories “Tumblr Folklore” is my own personal way of rejecting this idea.
And now my mind turns to China, where “copyright enforcement” is practically non-existent. A lot of people tend to antagonize them for that, as though they’re just amoral shrews looking to make a quick buck off other peoples’ hard work. But then I remember a silly little Chinese flash game I once played a long time ago (a really long time ago; its original site doesn’t even seem to exist anymore) called Bomb of Brave Boy made by some kid on the internet. It was about as original as you would expect; The game was a Bomberman clone featuring a Petey Piranha ripoff as its chief antagonist. But it still strikes me as interesting because:
1. The hero was an original character, who would then go on to star in his own games with a shared aesthetic and unique mechanics. The other characters were more of a jumping-off point, something to use freely as necessary to benefit the creative process, like in any free fanfiction, which is especially important because…
2. It was a free game. The creator of these games wasn’t trying to make anything off them, and was clearly just having fun making games.
It wasn’t too different from all of those free flash beat-‘em-ups that feature characters from fighting games and Shounen manga.
So the idea that using a copyrighted character makes you a money-hungry shrew and your culture ethically bankrupt doesn’t really feel very convincing to me.
You have to remember that there was a time when intellectual property was a new idea, even in the West. Nobody owned the rights to the Greek Gods or Pecos Bill, and nobody was supposed to. Shared mythology was the default.
I know little about China (so take whatever I say here with a tub of salt!), so I don’t know if this kind of media landscape is the result of widespread piracy leading to a storytelling culture in which everything is open for play, or if it’s just a place where the idea of stories being owned by individuals never caught on. Or neither, or both. And I’m not saying that the use of copyrighted characters in Chinese media is always benign (for sure, the more commercially motivated a product is, the more the pool of characters seems to shift toward “whatever’s most popular” and away from “whoever I like most.”) But I can say this:
Bomb of Brave Boy isn’t piracy, it’s mythology. (Fanfiction in general is shared mythology, but of course I wasn’t the first person to realize this.) We can insist that it and games like it aren’t as “real” as either Bomberman or Super Mario Sunshine. But such a mindset runs into trouble very quickly. Daicon IIIand Daicon IV were chock full of copyrighted characters, and had few enough original characters to counted on the fingers of one hand. But if you call it piracy, I’ll slap you in the face. It is mythology. It is the best example yet of fanfiction as mythology or mythology as fanfiction. The latter of them was one of the greatest short cartoons ever made, and it is as real as any of its characters.
That copyright law prevented these films from getting an official rerelease because of a song that probably nobody is making any money off of anymore is just one case where our conception of creative integrity causes more problems than it solves. Doesn’t quite feel so noble right here.
If you look at Bomb of Brave Boy’s “About Me” page, you get a picture of the designer bashfully covering his face next to the message “Who am I? I don’t Know!”, as though it seems strange to him to have the spotlight turned from the story to the storyteller. And why not ask if it is? Although I understand that there are serious economic issues surrounding widespread piracy, I think it’s important to be able to draw a line between those practical issues and the much more complex ethical issues surrounding authorship, credit, compensation, control and creator support, and not to tie morality to market forces so tightly that we conflate one with the other. You can imagine why this might be a bad thing.
It’s just funny, because most of the arguments we’ve made to China about the importance of enforcing copyright law tend to emphasize the moral aspect instead of the much more convincing practical aspect, in a context where said morality clearly developed to justify (at-the-time reasonable) practical necessities, and where “””””””defending copyright””””””” doesn’t seem as morally clear-cut, or even particularly “good”, outside the context of Western history, especially now. (Who’s really the morally bankrupt one here, pirates or the all-copyrighting Disney?) If I were in that position, and somebody tried to shove that down my throat, who’s to say I wouldn’t just double down harder on piracy out of indignation and frustration?
I mean, I’m still waiting for Sonic to go into the public domain. That would be awesome.