News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: Grabbing the Spotlight

    By Janita Burgess on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - 4:32pm
    Message type:

    OTW Fannews Grabbing the Spotlight Banner

    • A post by Denise Dorman at Bleeding Cool raised some hackles when she suggested that comics creators were losing money due to cosplay at cons. "Conventions are no longer shows about commerce, product launches, and celebrating the people who created this genre in the first place. I’ve seen it first-hand – the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers–rather than the famed industry household name – to pose for selfies. The hard-working artists and creators who are the very foundation of this industry…have been reduced to being the background wallpaper against which the cosplayers pose in their selfies. At what point do you start to wonder if...the general fandom population even gives a shit about the creators more than they care about their Instagram profiles?"
    • Certainly more creators are taking note of the power of fan gatherings to help market their work, such as at Wise Ink Blog. "At a recent book launch in DC, a couple twenty-somethings approached one of our authors and asked if they would be willing to do another event in the future. Talk about a writer’s dream! Not only did they show up to the launch, they wanted to come to another one! But these were not average book launch attendees. They were part of a DC Meetup group called Geeks’ Night Out. Why does that matter? Because they were a built-in audience for the book and we had no idea they existed. The fandom/meetup/Con trend is sweeping the nation and it’s high time that indie authors took advantage of it!"
    • Netflix has been doing various studies on user viewing patterns. Their latest one addressed spoilers and who spoils. "Today, talking about spoilers is just talking about TV; in fact, people aren’t willing or even interested in censoring themselves anymore. McCracken attributes this to better TV storytelling. Over the past few years, writers and showrunners threw out the rulebook, which has created a new and improved TV that is complex and morally challenging. TV has gotten so good that we need to talk about it. McCracken found that as TV evolves, so does the language and behavior of how people talk about their favorite shows. In his research, he identified five personality types -- based on how and why they might convey key plot points to their friends." These include The Clueless Spoiler, The Coded Spoiler, The Impulsive Spoiler, The Power Spoiler and The Shameless Spoiler.

    How are you seeing creators marketing to fans? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Celebrating Art

    By Jennifer Rose Hale on Saturday, 11 October 2014 - 6:05pm
    Message type:

    Artist painting multiple characters on canvas
    • A Los Angeles art gallery presented exhibited fan art based on the work of Joss Whedon, with Whedon's enthusiastic encouragement. At the opening, Whedon praised the artists and spoke in favour of fanwork: "If I could do this, this is what I'd do. I'd do fan art, I'd do fan fic of the stuff that I love ... I just love the art so much... It's hard to process the idea that it has anything to do with me." [No transcript available.]
    • Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead is saying thank you for "the truck loads of amazing fan art" he receives by publishing a "compilation of artwork made by his fans. The Norman/Daryl archetype is created in tattoo designs, cakes, pencil sketches, mosaics and more ... It’s real art made by real people for real people."
    • FranceTV interviewed Emmanuelle Wielezynski-Debates about her new documentary on fans and fanworks. "Citizen Fan presents people who assuage the need to extend the life of fictional characters (of novels, manga, television, movies, video games etc...) who are important to them." The documentary covers a variety of fandoms and showcases fanworks based on Harry Potter, Disney, manga, and video games, in addition to analysing the "cultural, sociological, economic and also legal" implications of fanwork.
    • Media scholar Henry Jenkins also interviewed Wielezynski-Debates and declared Citizen Fan "may just be the best documentary about fan culture that I have seen." Noting that France is "a country which provided very little protection for fair use and transformative works...I had questions about how a culture built on transformative cultural production would thrive in this particular national context. At a time when many of us in fandom studies have been calling for more work in the global and transnational dimensions of fan culture, it’s exciting to have access to this rich database of how fandom operates in France."

    Have you been moved by multimedia fanworks? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Guest Post: Jamie Broadnax

    By Kiri Van Santen on Saturday, 4 October 2014 - 4:54pm
    Message type:

    Graphic by caitie of an OTW-themed guest access lanyard

    From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

    Today's post is an interview with Jamie Broadnax, founder of Black Girl Nerds , an inclusive site for women who embrace geek/nerd culture. Jamie is the Digital Vice President at the She Thrives Network and has written for Afropunk and Madame Noire.

    What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about fandom blogging?

    Having an opinion on a particular fandom and seeing how others respond to it. Whether they agree or disagree. I'm always interested in other people's perspectives on things even if their point of view contrasts mine.

    You started Black Girl Nerds after googling the phrase in 2012 and finding 0 results. In the past years, though, nerd culture has continued to infiltrate the mainstream. In your experience, is the “nerd” world moving toward racial/ethnic and gender inclusivity? And is inclusivity the goal, or do you believe we should focus on creating our own nerd spaces rather than fighting to be allowed into established ones?

    Excellent question. I would love racial/ethnic and gender inclusivity in nerd culture. It's very important that we see ourselves in comic books, TV shows, tech industries, science conventions, and several other industries that tend to marginalize women of color. However, I'm not completely against creating your own nerd space. BGN was created because of the lack of representation within our subculture. I believe taking the initiative to create your own space is what helps foster growth in spaces that are less diverse. I also think it is important that there are safe spaces on the web where people can connect to a community of individuals that identify and relate to them. It is a form of empowerment that is a basic part of the human condition.

    Where in nerd culture or fandom hasn’t progress been made?

    Mainstream nerd websites and TV shows like "Big Bang Theory". I always find it interesting that by default nerds in media spaces are always white and usually male. The tech space also has a ways to go, but luckily more organizations like Digital Undivided and Black Girls Code are bridging the gap. There is still more work to do and having niche communities like Black Girl Nerds is just the beginning to helping diversify all things in nerd culture.

    What do you think is the most important political/legal/philosophical issue in fandom right now?

    Hmmm...that's a toughie. I don't necessarily associate fandoms with serious political or philosophical ideologies. However, one issue that comes to mind is the issue of race playing a factor in cosplay. Many cosplayers have chatted with me online and on my podcast about dealing with vitriol from non-Black cosplayers. My friend Chaka Cumberbatch, a well known Black female cosplayer, was questioned by white nerds as to why she was cosplaying as Sailor Moon.

    The irony of this bitter criticism is, why are white girls cosplaying as an Japanese character?

    Let that one simmer for a minute.

    What book/movie/show/game/etc are you most excited about right now, and why?

    I'm reading Greg Pak's Storm comic which is awesome. She's my favorite superheroine in the Marvel universe. I'm also interested in starting on The Strain book by Guillermo Del Toro. I'm currently a fan of the TV series and really enjoy live tweeting it on Sunday nights.

    The Organization for Transformative Works is a fan-run nonprofit dedicated to preserving fanworks and advocating for fans. Do you believe that these goals are important? Do fans need advocates?

    I love that concept! Absolutely fans needs advocates. I believe having a partner, team, group, or community that is willing to serve and help you makes us all better people. It helps us to grow, connect, and develop new innovative ideas and to overall just have fun with people who get you. It's important, especially for nerds like us who are used to feeling isolated and excluded because many others didn't share our same fandoms.

  • OTW Fannews: Educated Readers

    By Kiri Van Santen on Thursday, 2 October 2014 - 5:51pm
    Message type:

    Graphic by Lisa of a bookcase and window in a modern library

    • LancasterOnline introduced its readers to the basics of fanfic in an article that gave a broad overview of fic types and issues--good, bad, and ugly. In an interview, a local library employee discussed her history of reading and writing Supernatural fic and shared her experience stumbling across uncomfortable elements: “'There have been times where I’ve come across summaries or some such, you honestly don’t know — should I call the police?' she says, only half-jokingly. Plenty of fan fiction is benign, though, she says, noting, 'You kind of have to wade through.'" The article also covers shipping and alternate-universe fics.
    • Another librarian described bringing fandom into her workplace in Steal This Idea: I Dig Fandom. Autumn Winters described using fandom-based events to draw teen readers into her library for the summer reading program. In addition to asking teens what fandoms they were interested in and researching them online, she wrote, "I also thought about ways to remake previously successful programs with an eye toward fandom. For example, Perler beads to Minecraft pixels or button making to My Little Pony cutie marks." Ultimately, her Doctor Who and Minecraft events turned out to be the most popular.
    • In other Minecraft news, We all know Minecraft draws kids (and adults) to their computers and consoles, but a popular book series is now encouraging kids to read. TheLedger.com reports on a Scholastic guide series that has become popular with the game's target audience. In the article, a parent of a 7-year-old notes that "there are books kids are reading for schools and books that they hopefully like in their free time. And if ‘Minecraft' books are a motivation to read, that's a good thing, right? At the very least, they're developing skills, reading skills." The article also cites the popularity of fanfic and another hit book based on The Legend of Zelda.

    What have been your guides to fandom? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Interpreting Transformation

    By Kiri Van Santen on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 - 3:26pm
    Message type:

    Graphic by Bremo of a gavel

    • While many identify fanworks as derivative creations, at Sequential Tart, Olwyn Supeene considered that same issue in regards to One Direction's music. "My interpretation of this, which I admit may be overly charitable, is that this is the next step on their way toward genuine and original artistic expression. They seem to be trying on different styles to see what best suits them... Like a collage or a mashup, Better Than Words repurposes existing material, compiling it to create meaning in a new context. The derivative becomes transformative."
    • A recent court case about transformative works had U.S. Circuit Courts in disagreement, although they agreed on the end result. "The court said it was 'skeptical' of the fair use approach that its sister circuit took in a 2013 copyright infringement case, Cariou v. Prince...The problem with focusing only on whether a work is transformative, the Seventh Circuit said, is that derivative works to some extent will always transform an original work...The Seventh Circuit instead focused on the four fair use factors set forth in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §107, saying, 'the most important [factor] usually is the fourth (market effect)'...'I don't think there is a circuit conflict,' Professor Shubha Ghosh of the University of Wisconsin Law School told Bloomberg BNA. 'Easterbrook just balances the four factors differently than what the 2nd Circuit would do.'
    • The Velveteen Rabbi looked at transformation and regeneration in relation to Dr. Who. "I doubt highly that the folks at the BBC had any notion, in 1963 when Doctor Who began, that they were creating a text which might evoke the journey of teshuvah for Jewish viewers for half a century to come. But I believe that it's our task as readers of any text (whether written or televisual) to find our own meaning in it, and that the finding of meaning is an essentially creative act. In coming to our own interpretations of what we're given, we become in a way co-creators of the text we're reading."

    What examples of transformative works are your favorites? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Caution, Advice Ahead

    By Janita Burgess on Sunday, 28 September 2014 - 4:13pm
    Message type:

    OTW Fannews Caution Advice Ahead

    • Advice columnist Prudie from Slate reassured a mother who discovered her 13-year-old daughter reading "fan fiction for a very popular all boy band which describes in explicit detail sex acts between the male band members." (One guess?) In her response, Prudie reminisced on her own illicit Playboy reading as an adolescent and suggested that the mother address the issue but understand she can't police everything. "Your discovery is the kind of thing that does call for a talk," she wrote, "but first you have to both gather yourself and find your sense of humor." She finished by speculating that "the writers of this series didn't think their most avid fans would be teenage girls!"
    • Of course, not all advice is always well understood. Writer Michelle R. Wood discussed her discovery of the OTW's mission to protect and preserve fanworks but stated, "It's important to remember that technically, all of this work is still illegal. Without authorization from the author, publisher, or studio, a fan work is still in violation of copyright." In fact, as the OTW's Legal Advocacy project often explains, fanworks are creative and transformative, which are core fair uses.
    • Then there's also advice that isn't advice at all, such as a post in The Guardian that raised the hackles of some fanfic writers. Its author later apologized, saying "Piece was meant to be quite tongue in cheek, but as we've presented it as a 'how to' that could be misleading. I know fanfic is a big universe, and people do it for all sorts of reasons, inspired by a ton of different ideas. I love that it exists and as far as I'm concerned the more people that are writing stories the better. Sorry to offend!"

    Have words of wisdom for other fanfic readers and writers? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Putting Out the Welcome Mat

    By Jennifer Rose Hale on Friday, 26 September 2014 - 1:57pm
    Message type:

    Image of male and female icons with text OTW Fannews Putting Out a Welcome Mat

    • At Suvudu, Matt Staggs urged fans to be more welcoming to others. "The first thing that those of us who have identified as geeks or nerds need to accept is that there’s nothing marginal about our interests anymore. Liking comic books, games, collecting action figures doesn’t make me or you or anyone else part of a subculture. Far from it, as a matter of fact: It’s all mainstream. Want proof? Go ask your parents or grandparents if they know what Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead are. Face it: Like the Borg always threatened (the ‘rents probably know about them, too!), we’ve been assimilated."
    • At The Houston Press, Chris Lane was more specific about who should be welcomed. "I personally feel that many of the classic comic mythologies are at least partially to blame. Most of the Silver Age comics that still seem to steer comic fandom's boat started out as wish fulfillment fantasies for powerless teenaged boys. There's a deeply rooted idea that a formerly weak and ostracized protagonist can earn the romantic attention of the girl he wants if he just is heroic enough, in essence 'earning' her affection. The problem is, real women and real romance don't work like that. It's why being a woman's close friend doesn't ensure that the friendship will ever blossom into romance. I think a lot of men have a serious problem understanding that, and accepting that scenario when they encounter it."
    • There are certainly many fans who continue to believe that tests of fannishness are a standard feature of fandom, but at Blackgate Sean McLachlan pointed out why excluding people is not the way to go. "Having celebrated my 45th birthday at this year’s Worldcon, I’m old enough to have seen a lot of these controversies, and they seem to be getting uglier. As women, gays, and ethnic minorities ask for real equality instead of just window dressing, the pushback is getting more venomous. A lot of white guys who claim they’re all for equality get downright nasty when they’re told to actually treat people as equals. This is only making the activists more committed. They say that as female, gay, or black fans, it’s up to them to make the community more equitable. They’re wrong. It’s up to us — straight white men like you and me. We’re the problem, so we need to be the solution."
    • Knowledge at Wharton posted a podcast with Mallika Dutt, who uses pop culture to defeat gender inequality. "I’ve found that using culture to change culture is an effective way of engaging people.  When I say 'using culture,' that includes social media, television, radio, print, short animations, documentaries, street theater, traditional theater and comic books. We’re not focused on one form of storytelling. We use all storytelling forms to bring people into the conversation. Media, arts and technology have been crucial to Breakthrough’s work. We’ve created several multimedia campaigns, three music videos, three video games and multiple documentaries."

    How welcoming have the fandoms you've taken part in been? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Defending Porn

    By Kiri Van Santen on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 - 4:01pm
    Message type:

    graphic by James Baxter featuring two men kissing

    • io9 shared a slam poem by Brenna Twohy to explain why people love erotic fanfic. "Twohy's message here is a clear and powerful one as she juxtaposes Harry Potter-themed pornography with more mainstream pornography—and how important (and valuable) it is to many consumers of erotic fan fiction that the sex is just one part of a larger story and that they know the personalities, names, and faces behind the genitals."
    • Carolyn Cox at The Mary Sue reviewed porn parodies of Doctor Who and more. "From what I’ve seen of Woodrocket, their adult films do have some similarity to slashfic in that the writers are cognizant of a fandom’s politics and pet peeves. That’s not always the case for porn parodies...there are a lot of ways to get your rocks off on this strange little world of ours, and if any of those ways for you involve certain characters or pop culture entitties (halp!), Wood Rocket likely won’t offend your politics or your fan sensibilities."
    • Hollywood may already be taking note of what The Telegraph discusses about women's interest in gay porn. "That ability to connect seems vital to the legion of women engaging with gay porn. Because they're not just watching it. They're writing it, talking about it - and even directing it. Dore, who has been directing porn for ten years and calls herself a feminist, identifies this new confidence in women's porn-viewing habits as political...“Women have a right to explore their sexuality in the same way that men do,” she adds... But, it's important to consider whether we're just turning the male gaze in on itself. Are women becoming the oppressor instead of the oppressed? Are we just fetishising another marginalised community?"

    How is erotica used in your fandom? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Finding the Spark

    By Jennifer Rose Hale on Monday, 22 September 2014 - 5:12pm
    Message type:

    Silhouette of person with arms raised looking into sunset. Text reads Finding the Spark
    • The Sydney Morning-Herald, in Oz Comic-Con puts the power of the geeks on show, reports on "the obsessive, every-so-slightly bonkers and very influential world of 21st-century pop-culture geekery," including one fan who identifies as a Disney geek and has been to Disneyland 27 times. "You just revel in what you love," says Carissa Avenhouse. "You shop, you meet the fans, you hang out, you watch things, you enjoy the panels, you dress up in your favourite costume or you just wear the T-shirt from your favourite TV show or movie or comic. You're just at one with your people."
    • A podcast on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Discussing Fandom from Down Under, features a conversation between the host and an Australian fan over the fun of fandom (including being bitten on the neck by James Marsters!). Guest Nikki says, "I've never met a fandom I haven't liked. I love that whole concept of … that you can find your tribe of something so obscure, and just be you, and love what you love, and be okay." About people who don't understand her fandom, she adds, "They don't get it, and it's really sad not to be passionate about something for you, like, you can be passionate about your kids, but you still need something for you." They also cover the lure of fanfiction and book recommendations for young readers. (No transcript available.)
    • City A.M. reports on Amazon's purchase of Twitch, a platform that allows users to create their own content, as part the new age of "creative consumption," noting that "the plummeting cost of making and distributing your own work means amateur has started to regain its original meaning: not a second-rate imitation of professional work, but the mark of passionate involvement." The article goes on to cover fanfiction, including Archive of Our Own's inclusion of a million works, a recent achievement. While this shift "challenges traditional business models," the article continues, "[p]latforms win out when they build and nurture communities that blend writing and reading."

    What parts of fandom have sparked your imagination? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Spotting Fanworks

    By Jennifer Rose Hale on Sunday, 21 September 2014 - 5:11pm
    Message type:

    Graphic of digital music play screen with text Spotting Fanworks
    • Business 2 Community featured fan video work in a recent post and looked at some stats. "In the past 30 days, Doctor Who has garnered 7.9 million views on YouTube with 355 videos uploaded about the show. Doctor Who also had its series 8 premiere in this window of time...By comparison, BBC’s Merlin (which has been off the air for nearly three years) had around 33 thousand views across 140 videos in the past 30 days. It is apparent that new official content drives views, but fandom still makes videos even without any new footage available. If we compare Doctor Who with smash hit Harry Potter for the past 30 days, Doctor Who still wins. But Harry Potter still has a healthy 2.8 million views across 89 videos."
    • The Asian Age looked at audio works. "In an emerging musical microtrend, fans of many such literary and cinematic fictional franchises have taken to creating and downloading 'ambient mixes' in a bid to recreate their favourite spaces and sequences from the narrative...Vasudev Rathore sees in ambient mixes a way to give your life a background score and make routine or even tedious things feel more exciting. Add to this an association with your favourite books or movies and the outcome is unparalleled. 'You can make a novel come alive by recreating its environment using ambient sounds. I have started reading Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter again with these new sound mixes in the background. It is a whole new experience.'"
    • The Hollywood Reporter's feature on the future of films included the role of fans, though it was perhaps a little behind the times in not acknowledging that fan films were already here. "The accessibility of tech makes it all possible for us to produce — and own. The intellectual property of our own tales will be ours to use and repurpose in new innovative ways. We’ll see them screened and voted upon (like The Voice), with the winners getting widespread release. It will be an entirely new business model. You've heard about Fan Fiction? Get ready for Fan Film, in which self becomes film studio."

    What fanwork features have you seen? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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