soapbox

Why It's Bad Fandom Etiquette To Put Other People's Fics On Goodreads

Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t speak for every fanwriter in fandom, but I do know for a fact that I speak for several of them.

Books and fics exist in different contexts. Fandom has its whole other set of tropes, conventions, and expectations. Some tropes and conventions are common across different fandoms, but often individual fandoms have their own conventions and things that are only recognisable to the reader within the frames of that particular fandom.

As a fandom writer, we write for the fans within our little corner of the internet. We write based on their expectations, we interact with tropes and ideas from other fics we’ve read. Fanfic is a conversation between fans of a source, and are often products of each other. Taking fanfic out of its context doesn’t work - people not familiar with those fandom codes won’t get it.

Books are commercial products that are written over long periods of time, and have gone through many rounds of editing. That is not to say that all books are good, or that a lot of fanfic isn’t actually better than some published books because they certainly are. But books are longterm projects, and fics are definitely not always that.

We write comment fics for our friends because they were screaming about that new headcanon they have. We spend a single week writing a pinch hit for a fest because someone dropped out and we want people to have a gift. We write while on a sugar and feelings-induced high at 3 AM because that gif set on tumblr sent us into an emotional crisis.

And that’s the fun of fandom. As a fanwriter, that’s what I love. I don’t publish books, because that’s not what I want, at least not at this point in time. I want to have fun with my fandom friends and contribute to the fandoms I love with both more and less thought-out fics.

Do you know the best way to take away that fun? Take my fics and put them alongside published books on goodreads and rate them from 1 to 5. Because, suddenly, my fics all potentially have to hold up next to published books on a site that isn’t made in the context of fanfic. It doesn’t matter if my fics are rated 1 or 5 - it’s the pressure of it. It’s the knowledge that even the silliest comment fic I might write and put on AO3 will suddenly be put on goodreads and judged along with books that people have spent months or years writing.

If you want to put fics on goodreads - ask. Don’t put fanwriters in that position, because it’s also really difficult to get them removed.

I don't ever claim to be a good person I'm not.

I don’t ever claim to be a good person I’m not.

I don’t normally write about fandom politics because I normally don’t care, but when a 21-year-old bares his introspective thoughts on the internet, especially when his thoughts will be read by so many people, it takes a lot of courage.

Which is NOT what it takes to ridicule, attack, and bully.  People are allowed to express themselves, and they’re allowed to work through their thoughts while expressing themselves.  It’s why YOU have a blog in the first place.

The idea that Liam doesn’t think he’s a good person is upsetting, and when you think about all that he does, how he cares for his fans, how he warns them to stay away from snake habitats, how he cares for his boys, how he tattooed an arrow for each of them on his arm, how he saved his best friend’s life from a fire, the list goes on, time and time again, Liam has shown his true character.  Spoiler alert – it’s a good character.

But yet, he thinks he’s not a good person.  But how can he think he’s a good person when people online continue to tell him that he’s wrong and problematic?  Imagine if every time you put your thoughts here on tumblr, someone attacked you and told you that you were wrong and problematic?  Would you take it to heart or would you ignore it?  What does your answer say about you as a person?

..with a huge lack of trust I don’t understand much of it but what I do hurts me entirely… 

Liam wants to make the world a better place.  And maybe he’s not sure how to do that yet, but at least he wants to.  And he’s not trying to do it by telling anyone that they’re wrong, he’s trying to do it by calling everyone to action.  See the difference?  How are you trying to make the world a better place?  By telling someone they’re wrong and problematic?  That doesn’t work.  It never has and it never will.  

But inspire someone, ask people to help, lead the charge, those are the ways you make the world a better place, and that’s exactly what Liam is doing.  He’s hurt.  The world hurts him.  The world is bigger than your thoughts on him.  He wants people to not starve, and you’re attacking him for semantics.  Interesting.

so find a way to help donate to any charity and help change the world today. please from me

 And Liam will be successful at this.  Because good people who are inspired and impassioned usually are.  He’s going to do what he can to make the world a better place, and there are enough rational people that will join him on this journey.  It’s up to you to be part of the solution.  In time, Liam will learn more and become more educated about the very things that everyone seems to attack him for, the question is, will you learn more and become more educated to stop being judgmental, stop bullying, and stop attacking those that are trying to make a difference?

I don’t ever claim to be a good person I’m not.

That’s the thing about good people, they never have to claim to be good since their actions speak louder than words.  What do your actions say about you?

2

“…And here is the proof that it really was me, all those years ago in Sidmouth… There’s a small bridge over the river, just at the end of the prom… and there I was in 1960… looking wistfully upstream.
And here I am in 2012… feeling lucky, and…. well, just compare… you can see I never had any dress sense!!”

- Brian May (via Soapbox, May 2012)

How can anyone not love him?

Guys, Wally is so important. He has what appears to be asthma; breathing difficulties that clear up in the fresh air of Verdanturf. He accomplishes many things, he grows as a character, and he is great representation for those with asthma. He’s a great character first and foremost and I can identify with his struggles and making sacrifices, like moving or getting rid of pets, in order to breathe and not be miserable.

I looked up to him as a kid because having asthma isn’t easy. Especially considering things like Jimmy Neutron being on TV at the time (Carl Wheezer is bad.) I mean here is a character that has asthma and IT ISN’T A PUNCHLINE! I am so sick of nerdy/geeky characters getting asthma attacks and pulling out that ol’ inhaler as a “look how loser and outcast this character is! Lululul!”

The night I discovered I had it, I was hunched over in a chair, unable to breathe enough to cry because I hurt so much. In the Pokemon world where walking and being physical is a necessity for a trainer, not to mention sudden happenstances and scares, I can imagine it being very difficult for asthmatics.

So Wally is important. Thank you, Pokemon, for an awesome character that a new generation of asthmatic kids can look up to and see a role model. You made an awesome character that is so much more than his illness!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Find out what it means to me)

I’ve posted about this before, but seeing that yak from USITT floating around makes me want to talk about it again, so here we go kids…

My job as a stage manager, and every other theater tech’s job as well, depends on actors. An empty stage doesn’t need someone to manage it. If you want to build things and not deal with performers, be a construction worker or a seamstress or a cabinet-maker or an architectural lighting designer. You cannot make theatre without actors. That’s kind of the whole fucking point. That’s like saying “I want to be a doctor but I just really hate sick people.” Guess what, bucko? You probably shouldn’t be a doctor.

Our jobs are never going to garner the kind of attention and praise that an actor gets. If you’re in this business for the attention, you’re in for a long and bitter journey of feeling unappreciated. Self-martyrdom is not attractive in an employee or a coworker. It’s like that thing that happens a lot in college where people turn “whose all-nighter was the longest” into some kind of competition. The fact that you didn’t sleep last night doesn’t mean you get a medal, it means you need to plan your time better so you’re not pulling an all-nighter in the first place. [full disclosure- I pulled many an all-nighter in my college days. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but it’s still not a badge of honor.] [That is not to say, however, that you will be perpetually unappreciated. I’ve had huge award-winning directors thank me in front of the whole company for being on top of my shit during the designer run. I’ve had actors toast the crew at the opening night party because “You guys just take such good care of us!” I’ve done scene changes that got applause from the audience.] The appreciation is actually pretty common, but when it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t change how hard I work or, more importantly, how much I enjoy my work. 

Yes, some actors are shitty people, but guess what- so are some technicians. Some actors are totally ignorant or oblivious to what is happening around them, but they usually either wise up fast or don’t get hired again. Nobody wants to work with someone who cannot collaborate.

Venting about problematic people or behaviors can be cathartic, but when it comes into the rehearsal room/the theater, then you have become the problem. Equally problematic- tarring all actors with the same brush. 

This attitude happens mostly in high school and college theater kids, in my experience. Perpetuating it makes you sound incredibly immature, and is a big indicator of who isn’t going to last very long professionally- again, because nobody wants to work with someone who’s a shitty collaborator.

Basically this all just boils down to respect. Respect for other artists. Respect for another person’s work. Having enough respect for someone else as a person to appreciate their contribution to the work. Respect for the creative process. Respect for the work that makes personal conflicts unimportant. Eliminating the sense of “the other” or “the inferior” so that all members of a company are viewed as equals.

I am not a fan of how abstinence is always taught with men in mind. I mean they preach it to young women but it more about men than for the actual woman.

Example:

“girl save yourself for your husband”

“girl ain’t no man gonna want you if you have been with everybody”

“you must not respect/love yourself, how will somebody else?”

When I hear abstinence being preached I don’t hear promotion of women making smart decisions with her body. I hear her being threatened to save herself or die alone. In relation to abstinence its rare that I hear “ save your self girl, protect your soul.”Tell young girls to make smart decisions about there bodies as if men do not even exists. There bodies belong to no one and are not promised to no one, except the ones they deem worthy. This vision should clear without any male opinion or any of their expectations. Perhaps I’m a bit jaded, but I don’t know wherever bae is in this world but I know he wasn’t taught to wait for me, and that doesn’t change how much I will love him, I just hope he enjoyed life safely before he met me. And if by chance he did wait for me I want to spend the rest of my life making up for lost time.

Moral of this story: Abstinence shouldn’t be gender exclusive and it should be focus on the individual who chooses that path and no one else.

Rewriting Firefly

I saw Firefly when it aired, because at the time I was a huge Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, so I’d heard the buzz about Joss Whedon’s new show. I was looking forward to it, and while I’m aware the show was aired out of order, I actually enjoyed that. The first Firefly episode that aired was the second episode which was supposed to air, The Train Job, and I thought it was super-gutsy to jump into the action that way, without spending a long time introducing any of the characters. What an innovative pilot, I thought.

But while I appreciated the show structurally, I ended up drifting away after a few episodes, disinterested and distracted by other things. I understand intellectually why it gained such a cult following, it’s just always been one of those shows I’ve never found much appeal in.

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Which Fall Out Boy Member You Should Fight

Andy Hurley

Who wins: Nobody

Andy probably has the capability to knock you out and absolutely destroy you in a fight, but he wouldn’t, because he is like a big adorable shirtless puppy. You can’t win because you wouldn’t dare hurt Andy Hurley. You just end up tickling and fake-punching each other. It ends in giggles and maybe collapsing. It’s great.


Pete Wentz

Who wins: Pete

How do you expect to beat Pete Wentz in a fight? He is incredibly strong. He has a guitar-neck-machete. And he can rollerskate. I have no idea what he would do to secure his victory. All I know is that you should be afraid. Do not fight Pete.


Joe Trohman

Who wins: Probably Joe. But you have a chance.

Let’s face it- every Fall Out Boy member is both strong and puppylike. Joe might fight you like he actually means it, or he might throw slow-mo punches at you while making “nyoooooom” noises and pulling a weird face. In the first case you are beaten in a matter of seconds, but in the second case, a regular speed, yet gentle punch will win the fight. 


Patrick Stump

 Who wins: You

Patrick first makes a bad pun about fighting, then insists that he can’t fight you. You continually try to get him to throw one punch. A gentle slap. Even a teeny weeny poke. Eventually, he reaches toward you with a tentative hand, intending to poke or nudge, but as he nears you his hat falls off. He is immobile. He is helpless. You have won. 

Then you buy him hot chocolate to help him cope with the trauma of losing his hat. He sings in a melancholy tone under his breath the whole time, very quietly. When he sips the cocoa he has to hum. You feel bad, so in a way, neither of you won. Good job.

3

I came across this scrap from Alfred Stieglitz a couple years ago about practicing in public (probably pulled from AS-X), which is always how I’ve thought of putting work on the Internet, and which has been moving through my mind at a glacial pace for a while now. Many things find their way online incomplete and unperfected, in the rough state born of our anxieties to share what we make with other people, or to combat the inevitable loneliness of making anything, or, more troublingly, to parade our personal victories in front of those whom we hope might care (or at least click). For all of its shortcomings – the endless promotion of nascent work to the neglect of sitting down and letting things develop, etc., etc. – I think of the Internet as a place to practice in public a la what Stieglitz says. And I wonder: do these things have more life and vitality for being young, fragile, and (potentially) personal? Maybe not.

Practice is – thankfully – amateurish, and it’s valuable not just because it makes us better, but because it reminds us that what we make needn’t always do something: it can just be itself, giving no shade or fruit or scenery or nourishment to anyone. It doesn’t need to answer to the economy or critics or politics, and sometimes it’s better that it doesn’t answer to our peers either. This is dangerous to say, because we can come to forget what shade, or fruit, or nourishment from art feels like – we just see the practice runs, and we feel tired and hungry and bored, scrolling unfed through our tumblr feeds. We also light on whole new territories of boredom here, where the meaning in the things we see – the political in the personal, the higher valences which the mundane gives us access to  – become obscure. While I’m hopeful that practice, and sociable practice in particular, makes us more acutely aware of the other things that images can do – make us more pensive and sensitive and humane, and occasionally reanimate the world under a different cast of light, if not a different ideological framework – I worry that what we send out is met with less and less care and consideration. Is this a new worry, or a new lament to meet it with? No. Am I worried enough to stop sending my own paper boats into your tumblr stream? I guess not. 

There’s value to the things we see beyond their ability to abate (however briefly) our boredom, and there is, as Adorno says, something which most truly approaches objectivity in a subjectivity that’s honestly explored. So why does this come up now? And why does it come out from atop this little soapbox?Well, I’ve been thinking about the creative windegg: the projects that lack a shell to protect them or a yolk to nourish them, which inevitably die before they are ever really born. It feels like I fall into stretches of time where I trade exclusively in these eggs, which are in many ways the obvious candidates for the shelter of the Internet, where someone will at least look at them, if not look after them. I say this only to pause and ponder, to question my own intentions, to feel a little dismayed at how much we all trumpet ourselves, or in our better moments champion our friends. Lewis Lapham’s essay last year in the Times Magazine may offer a helpful handhold: 

“Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.”

Lapham is, of course, the crustiest of crusties, a true NE blue-blood (have you heard his pre-cise el-o-cu-tion?), but I often like what he has to say. Anyway, here we all are, hungry, scrolling, looking at each other, bored sometimes, animated others, and I just want to say: cheers, here’s to practice, to figuring out our complicated human entanglements, and to failing better together.