You are just as responsible for your fandom activism as creators are for their fanworks.
More so, in fact, because your primary purpose is telling people what to do or not do. Any instructive value in creative work is understood to be subordinate to entertainment and self-expression, but if you’re out there explicitly advocating for something, you’d damn well be ready to own it. Including all its implications and potential negative effects.
That means: If you’re urging people not to create some kind of fanwork because you think that’ll protect a vulnerable group, you’d better be ready to account for the members of that group who make it, enjoy it, and find solace in it.
That means: If you’re urging retaliation against creators, you are absofuckinglutely responsible for the harm that befalls them as a result, including harm to members of the group you’re trying to protect.
That means: If you’re holding everyone else to high standards about how they could affect someone with a trigger-able mental illness, you need to hold yourself to the same standards, including effects on people whose anxiety manifests as over-scrupulosity or intrusive thoughts.
That means: If you’re shaming erotica you find “gross,” you don’t get to blow off conversations about how that shame plays into conservative sexual-purity enforcement. You don’t get to wash your hands of the implications, whether or not that’s what you meant. Explicit activism has far more duty to consider indirect implications than anyone’s personal pursuit of sexual fulfillment does.
That means: If your activism has garnered you a huge follower count, you are responsible for the exposure you inflict on the people you pick fights with, and the dogpiles or hate mobs you incite. This can be a tough thing to learn if you get popular overnight, and even well-meaning people fumble with it at first, but it’s something you have to figure out. And don’t fucking give me that “it was just a block list, I didn’t mean for anyone to go into their askboxes on anon and tell them all to kill themselves” crap, the only people fooled by it are the ones looking for an excuse to be fooled.
That means: You are responsible for assessing the relative power and influence of the people you’re addressing, and not griefing marginalized subcultural small fry over artistic sins that are far more egregious among canon creators. Especially canon creators who are just as accessible on Twitter as fanwork creators are on Tumblr.
(Pre-emptive response to objections to the preceding paragraph: Only going after people you know you have social power over isn’t activism, it’s bullying with a thin veneer of activist lingo smeared over it. Only trying to clean up your immediate surroundings isn’t activism, it’s complaining to the local homeowners’ association–valid enough if someone’s running their chainsaw at 2am, but if you just can’t stand Betty’s problematic lawn flamingoes, dressing it up as concern for what tacky decorations say about the neighborhood is a little precious.)
If any of that is too burdensome for you, I suggest you take the advice fandom activists tend to have for fanartists and authors: if you can’t do it without doing damage and you’re not prepared to deal with the consequences, abstain. Restrict your activism to shit that’s not going to hurt people, even if that’s just being the best role model you can be.
You want to set yourself up as a moral authority? You want to dictate what people can and can’t create without activist blowback? That’s power–and yes, local power in a community can exist irrespective of society-wide systemic advantage. With power comes responsibility. Use it wisely or not, as you choose, but don’t act like you get to hold anyone accountable for their art’s indirect potential to harm if you don’t want to be accountable for your direct advocacy.
romeo and juliet: suburban july. scraped knees, bruised knuckles, blood in your teeth. bare feet on hot concrete. restlessness. your high school’s empty parking lot. love poems in your diary. a window open to coax in a breeze. burning inside. an ill-fitting party dress, a t-shirt you cut up yourself, the time you tried to give yourself bangs. biking to your friend’s house. bubble gum. gas station ice. the feeling that you’ve met before. rebellion. a car radio playing down the street. cheap fireworks. a heart drawn on the inside of your wrist with sharpie. switchblades. red solo cups. dancing in your bedroom. screaming yourself hoarse. running out of options. the forlorn-looking basketball hoop at the end of the cul-de-sac. climbing onto your roof at night while your parents are asleep. flip-flops. a eulogy written on looseleaf. the merciless noontime sun.
hamlet: speaking in a whisper. holding your breath. a browning garden. a half-remembered story. furniture covered with sheets. fog at dawn, mist at twilight. losing touch. the ethereal space between winter and spring. the soft skin at your temple. the crack in the hallway mirror. things you’d say if you knew the words. uncombed hair. books with writing in the margins, books with cracked spines, books with lines scratched out. prayers on all souls’ day. a chipped ceramic bathtub. a cold stone floor. uncomfortable awareness of your own heartbeat. the sparrow that got in your house. shadows. the creek you played in as a child. a dirty night gown. a big black t-shirt. a collection of your favorite words. soil under your nails. ghost stories. the strangeness of your own name in your mouth. deep silence. exhaustion. a cliff with a long, long drop down.
twelfth night: wicker deck furniture. new england summer. big dark sunglasses and a blonde bob. a storm over the ocean, patio umbrellas flapping in the wind. chlorine smell. muffled laughter. sarcasm. starched cuffs. day drinking. bay windows. the idea of love, love for the idea of love, love for love’s sake. hangovers. wandering over the sand dunes. a vagabond with a guitar, a crab fisherman with tattoos, a pretty boy with a slackened tie. a light house. growing too close. boat shoes. feeling yourself change. finger guns. big floppy sun hats. double-speak. a song you keep listening to. turning red under their gaze. margaritas drunk on an inflatable pool lounger. string lights on a balmy night. sleepy june days. fights you’re unprepared for, hope you weren’t expecting, pranks that go too far. bad poetry. pining. pool noodles. becoming less of a stranger.
macbeth: the space where your grief used to be. a bird that’s lost an eye. old blood stains. heavy blinds. the smell of sweat, the stillness after battle. a fake smile. a curse. the taste of metal at the back of your tongue. your house, unfamiliar in the dark. a dusty crib. a sulfur smell. an orange pill bottle. streaks in the sink. a black cocktail dress. your hand on the doorknob, shaking. chilly breeze. crunching from the gravel driveway on a moonless night. clenched hands. a rusty swing set. a flashing digital clock stuck on 12:00. a snake that crosses your path, an owl that watches you, a dog that runs when you approach. red smoke. dark clouds. cool steel. tile floors. footsteps in the hallway late at night. a baggy suit that used to fit before. visions. insomnia headaches. nursery rhymes. being too far in to go back now.
much ado about nothing: the high drama of small towns. a pickup truck, military supply duffel bags in the hall, hugs all around. tulip bulbs. a wraparound porch, a pitcher of iced tea. barbecue. a rubber halloween mask. someone on your level. indian summer. ill-timed proclamations. stomach-clutching laughter. rushing in. not minding your business. crepe paper. white lies. secrets written down and thrown away. southern hospitality. homemade curtains in the kitchen, a sink full of roses. hiding in the bushes. old friends. the wedding dress your grandma wore, and her mama before her. a dog-eared rhyming dictionary. camomile with honey. the intimacy of big parties. lawn flamingos. gossip. a crowded church. friendly rivalries. unfriendly rivalries. shit getting real. love at five hundredth sight. not realizing you have a home until you’re there.
king lear: cement block buildings. power lines that birds never perch on. the end of the world. useless words. rainless thunder, heat lightning, a too-big sky. arthritic knuckles. broken glass. chalk cliffs. the pulsing red-black behind closed eyes. something you learned too late. wet mud that sucks up your shoes while you walk. a cold stare. empty picture frames. empty prayers. the obscenity of seeing your parents cry. a treeless landscape. bloody rags. grappling in the dark with reaching hands. the sharpness at the tips of your teeth. the blown-out windows of skeletal houses. decay. jokes that aren’t jokes, shutting up, holding your tongue. prophecies. aching muscles, tired feet. stinging rain. invoking the gods, wondering if the gods are listening, wondering if the gods are dead. white noise. shivers. numbness. the unequivocal feeling of ending.
a midsummer night’s dream: wet soil/dead leaves smell. listening to music on headphones with your eyes closed. wildflowers. the distant sparkle of lightning bugs. a pill somebody slipped you. fear that turns to excitement, excitement that turns to frenzy. mossy tree trunks. a pair of yellow eyes in the darkness. night swimming. moonlight through the leaves. a bass beat in your chest. a butterfly landing on your nose. a kiss from a stranger. a dark hollow in an old tree. glow-in-the-dark paint. drinking on an empty stomach. a twig breaking behind you. spinning until you’re dizzy. finding glitter on your body and not remembering where it came from. an overgrown path through the woods. cool dew on your skin. a dream that fades with waking. moths drawn to the light. giving yourself over, completely. afterglow. the long, loving, velvety night.
In spite of everything I love
Harley Quinn but, damn, writers treat her so badly. I swear, the temptation to
make her actually stupid must be terrible because it’s so often implied, or
explicitly stated, that she slept her way through school. First of all, it
does not work like that. Second, she’s
not a therapist or a psychologist, she’s a psychiatrist, she’s a fricking MD
and a damn young one too. Managing pre-med and collegiate gymnastics that she
relied on to keep her scholarship? Harley is fucked up, but she’s not the dumb
blonde she plays. (also stop making her stacked, she’s a gymnast. she is 4’11”
of pure muscle and is not top heavy)
If you want a good Harley
backstory it’s simple. She’s ADHD but medicated and slightly robotic because of
it. I want to take special care not to demonize meds but, rather, people’s
disapproval of neurodivergence and a lack of focus on what is best for a
patient rather than what is most convenient for others. So, maybe, around ten
years old Harley is a hyperactive space cadet who’s brilliant at tests but
sloppy at coursework, who would be a gymnastics prodigy if she could actually
focus on technique and put in practice time instead of fooling around. Then the
meds come and it’s actually really cool because she can do the things she needs
to do instead of just wanting to do them, doing something else entirely, and
getting in trouble. People are proud of her, she’s proud of herself. But now
there are expectations. Family and teachers and coaches overschedule her, find
worth only in her success and don’t care about her mental health at all as long
as she’s performing and castigate her when she does fail. Fuck if you don’t
internalize that. But she doesn’t look unhealthy and she’s doing amazing. She
actually has to choose between the Olympic trials and continuing her grad
studies. She probably has some issues with self-harm but it either doesn’t look
like self-harm or is well covered up.
When Arkham accepts her, fresh
from her residency, it’s not a mistake. The woman is amazing. All they can see
is a mountain of achievements rather than the seething ball of nerves,
self-loathing, and imposter syndrome boiling just under the surface. That’s
when Joker comes in. He’s got the Hannibal Lecter shtick down. Where everyone
else sees an intelligent driven young woman he sees a frightened overwhelmed
girl who is working her hardest to convince the world she’s anyone other than
herself. Sending her into a nervous breakdown would be too easy so he doesn’t even
bother. Instead he’s open with her, almost friendly. The other doctors are
amazed, Harley is amazed, she’s not done anything particularly revolutionary
but, for the first time in forever, it looks like the clown prince of crime is
showing progress. He unravels her and it’s a challenge, she flinches back and
gets very serious when he comes too close to the real Harley under the
professional. Still, soon she’s questioning everything. She doesn’t even really
like her co-workers. She hasn’t had a real friend in years. She’s forgotten how
to have fun. Did she ever want this to be her life or did she just do it for
other people? It starts so slowly that it looks, at first, like she’s getting
better at self-care. Maybe something totally silly one weekend, a trampoline
park where she can enjoy the way her toned body moves without stressing out
over landings, a face painting booth at a street fair, some garishly colored
downright tacky decoration that clashes with her sensible apartment. Suddenly
she realizes how much she hates knowing the difference between cream and ecru.
The beigeness of her life is repulsive. She hates the person she’s pretending
to be even more that she hates herself which is really saying something.
After her weekend of freedom she
would have called in sick if it wasn’t so suddenly important to see him. The
relief she feels at talking to one of Gotham’s most infamous supercriminals is
disturbing but it is relief and she’s been swallowing a slow-motion panic
attack for hours. She admits, though she shouldn’t, that she took his advice
about doing something fun and he teases her, what would straight-laced Doctor
Quinzel do for fun? Did she realphabetize her sock drawer or buy a new
clipboard? It’s not important to impress him, it’s really not. He’s dangerous,
cruel, and he looks so proud when she admits that she bought a lamp shaped like
a lawn flamingo. The only mistake, he says, is that she should have stolen it.
She hopes the wicked thrill it gives her doesn’t show on her face. It does. She
almost even laughs. He likes it when he can make her laugh and she likes it
when he likes things.
It’s wrong and unprofessional,
the relationship she develops, and she knows it but her whole life she’s been
so high strung. Nothing she’s done has been for her, she’s not sure she knows
how to really do selfish things anymore, but he knows the selfish things she
needs to do. It feels good when she follows his advice even when it’s small
things like the rainbow striped socks she wears concealed under her very bland
slacks and sensible shoes. She’s so happy, almost giddy, and he loves her
happiness, he loves her, he loves the real her that she’s had to beat down and
hide for so long, the her that even she isn’t able to love. She is able to love
him, though, and since he loves her she’s able to love herself for him, to
protect and nurture something so important to him.
When the choice comes between
her old self, the tedious endless labor of making the world proud, and Him, the
spectacular man that brought color into her life, it’s not even a question.
She kills Doctor Harleen Quinzel, she throws away the version of her that let
herself burn just for medals and hollow accolades. She embraces Harley Quinn
and it’s so much a part of her nature she can’t even see that she’s still
living her life for someone else’s approval, except this time that person is a murderous
clown. She hasn’t let her hair down, she’s just put it in pigtails instead of a
You’re only able to maintain the visage of being a person when no one’s looking, is that it? Or are you the only one who’s blind to what you really are?
(Just because you’re dead (ish) doesn’t mean you can’t have nice hair; one-upping Jack from beyond the grave (kind of). Also this whole thing begins because someone walked on his lawn. You’re not the only one with a lawn, JACK. His lawn has goth lawn flamingos is better than yours.)
Halloween is of course when the spirit world is closest to our world. In the spirit world, they also celebrate this time, with some different traditions:
-Monsters up as “humans” and pretend to have “occupations” and “responsibilities” for the day -People decorate their houses with seasonal ornaments, like lawn gnomes, flamingoes, political signs or even paint -Children still get candy cause there’s no other way to get them to go along with a holiday, but parents disguise it to look seasonal. Kids love blood dyed brown to look like soda, or delicious eyeballs decorated like peeled grapes -Lots of human puns, like “Boy, what a TAX-ing situation! I guess they’ve got to deal with that… in PERSON! MOR-TAL the point, if they don’t they won’t be a… LIVER!” -Everyone carves their own human out of marble, then disposes of the results in art galleries. The most normal looking wins.
Prompt: Bittyparse at Target buying things for their new shared apartment? Xoxo
“We need this.”
Bitty looked at the Roomba that Kent was pointing to and sighed. “We already have a vacuum cleaner.”
“Yeah, but this one picks up stuff on its own! Think of how much time we’d save if we didn’t have to worry about vacuuming.”
“No,” Bitty said firmly. “We have a list and we have a budget, and we’re sticking to it.”
Kent pouted for five seconds before finally agreeing to leave the Roomba. He trailed after Bitty for a while, only pausing once to check out a set of novelty salt and pepper shakers in the shape of cats.
Bitty slipped his hand into Kent’s, lacing their fingers together. Kent seemed pleased by this, and was content to let Bitty lead him around the store for the rest of the time with their hands entwined.
It had been two hours, so far, of them wandering around Target and trying to agree on what they needed for their new apartment, but just like the trip to Ikea earlier this week, they were having a lot of trouble agreeing on things.
Kent gravitated towards the flashy and unnecessary things that caught his attention. Bitty had to put his foot down and had to say “no” to about 95% of everything Kent picked up (because, really, a hundred fifty dollars for a chrome garbage can was too much).
To be fair though, it was usually the other way around whenever Bitty was in Williams and Sonoma. Except, instead of stopping Bitty from buying expensive cookware, Kent was usually the one who encouraged him. (”You work so hard! You deserve to treat yo’ self.)
Bitty sighed slowly and reminded himself they were moving into their apartment. Kent was going to be living there too, which meant he should be able to choose some of things he wanted too and that Bitty should be a supportive boyfriend. Besides, the set of dinnerware Kent had picked out hadn’t been that expensive. Bitty just objected to them because they were ugly, but he supposed he could live with ugly dishes for the sake of making Kent happy.
Bitty’s train of thought was cut short, however, by Kent insistently tugging at him. “Babe, I want these,” Kent declared as he held up two, decorative couch cushions with cats on them.
“No,” Bitty said immediately.
Well, so much for being supportive of Kent’s decorating choices.