News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: Changing the 'mainstream'

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - 10:11pm
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    Banner by Bremo of the Power Puff Girls, Spiderman, The Flash and a Young Avengers #1 comics cover along with the post title.

    • A blog post in the L.A. Weekly asked if fandom is doing enough about diversity. "I had attended a panel called 'Beyond Cliches -- Creating Awesome Female Characters for Comics, Film & Video Games.' It was an interesting discussion that touched on the struggles that writers have when trying to sell female-centric animated TV series...But the panel was lacking in some areas. One of the audience members pointed this out...that the panelists, who were male and female, were all Caucasian...[and] made the point that issues of race have to be included in the discussion. He had a point, but, unfortunately, the comment didn't prompt the lengthy discussion that it deserves."
    • At Unleash the Fanboy, Jay Deitcher spoke about the difficulty of finding works to spend money on, even though he wanted to support small businesses. "Even Marvel, the big monster, understands that adding color, religion and diversity to their comics sell. Sadly, it is the mom-and-pop stores that are standing in the way of diversifying the market, and they are going to go broke doing it...Their shelf was filled with the old school Ultimate Peter stories, but the shop only ordered 1 copy of Miles Morales’s origin. When their 1 copy sold, they didn’t order more...you would think they would see that I have Young Avengers, Miles Morales, and others titles on my pull list, but somehow I am still invisible to them."
    • At the New Statesman, Laurie Penny discussed how the literary world needs a reality check for its views about sex. "I can open my laptop and access reams of smutty stories – some of which, like EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, end up as paperback bestsellers." So "[t]he squeamish sensibilities that produce the Bad Sex Awards have, in common with commercially produced pornography, the assumption that there is an objective scale by which the goodness or badness of sex may be judged, and a standard script from which one ought not to deviate." Instead, we ought to say that "[b]ad sex is what happens when we believe that talking about sex is 'redundant' and writing about it is 'crude'. It’s what happens when sexuality becomes a shameful, angry place at the forbidden centre of culture."

    What mainstream changes do you see that need to be made? Write about it 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Reading fandoms

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 5:43pm
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    • Fanworks as an element of fandom activity seems to be growing, even among media outlets that cover fannish topics. Pop Crush decided to poll its readers on "Would you rather read fan fiction about One Direction‘s Harry Styles or Austin Mahone?" while Hardwood Paroxysm began mixing fanfiction and analysis. "Here’s a new feature we’re trying out at the Ol’ Paroxysm. It’s called Fantasy Fiction. One writer, Kyle Soppe, gives you a fantasy basketball update for the week–who’s been good and who’ll be good pickups. Another writer (this week, it’s Jordan White) writes some fan fiction about the week’s players."
    • Meanwhile on the literary front, fanfiction is fitting right in. In a book review of A Little History of Literature in the New Statesman they note that "[t]here is no hand-wringing about the death of the book...[n]or does he bewail the popularity of the fan-fiction websites...These forums for the common writer revive a form of storytelling that, like the Odyssey, “is not commissioned, nor is it paid for, nor is it ‘reviewed’, nor is it bought. It is not, as the term is usually applied, ‘published’. 'Fanfic' is part of an evolving online republic in which writing is not a commodity but a 'conversation.'"
    • Mashable asked about the future of book clubs while discussing Tumblr's reblog book club. "Fershleiser made sure that she chose a book that would appeal to Tumblr readers. `In choosing books, it’s a combination of what do I feel comfortable recommending [to someone] as young as 13, but also will be compelling to adult readers, and what will resonate with the Tumblr community, which skews a little nerdy, a little progressive and a lot fandomy'." Being only online and "moderating a month-long book discussion ...was much more time-consuming than hosting a physical book club. `The challenge is how much time it takes to do right — trying to respond to every question and concern, making sure everyone's being heard.'"
    • Novelist Daniel R. Pike told the TriValley Times about the difficulty of getting published, even if he first succeeded at 17. “Final Fantasy 7 is the reason I went to college to be an English major” because “I started writing fan fiction for that game when I was in high school."

    What fandom reading have you been doing? Write about it 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Social media wins and losses

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 - 5:01pm
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    • With both fans and entertainment projects utilizing social media, it's important to understand the playing field. Mashable cited Dr.Who for knowing "How to Keep Secrets in a Social Media World" while The Guardian looked at Tom Hiddleston's publicity skills. "Hiddleston though doesn't seem to be going through the motions, which is why it works. Like Jennifer Lawrence, his is an unfiltered realness that is fast becoming the ultimate asset in post-Twitter, post-PR Hollywood."
    • Aside from celebrities utilizing social media to go straight to the audience, Mirror Online's use of a One Direction fan to write about 1D day will likely be one of many efforts to connect to fans' by utilizing their voices in published pieces.
    • Not Literally Productions used fandom's practices to create a parody version of Icona Pop's "I Don't Care," titled "I Ship It", and are offering the single for sale, moving from social media to commerce.
    • The Verge discussed how facilitating more connectivity among fans can backfire. Sony PlayStation 4's 'Playroom' allowed users to broadcast themselves to other gamers. "Sony was seen to be rushing to slam its ear to the ground, picking up current video-game trends without truly understanding them." As a result, "[t]he rise, rapid descent, and subsequent banning of The Playroom on Twitch is a lesson for Sony. Racing to be part of the fastest-growing subsection of the largest entertainment medium in the world is more difficult when the people who inhabit that space already are entrenched, and have their own specific ways of doing things. As for the worrying content: it may just be human nature that given a camera and a means to communicate, we'll do so in a way that is by turns ingenious and disturbing."

    What social media fandom trends have you been seeing? Write about them on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom in classrooms & history

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 15 December 2013 - 8:37pm
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    • A post on the New York Times' Learning Network discussed students confronting 'what ifs' in classwork. "In this lesson, students will discuss how they 'read' their favorite television shows in order to make predictions about what will happen, then apply these skills to speculate about what happens to literary characters after their favorite novels or plays end. Finally, they will use the inferences they gain through close reading to create imagined futures for these characters in comic strips, next chapters, letters, journals or videos."
    • Fandom scholar Henry Jenkins' hosted an exploration of comics fandom in Poland on his blog. "In the 'Participatory Poland' report a group of Polish aca-fen makes a preliminary attempt towards defining the specificity of an Eastern European country’s participatory culture shaped both in the communist and post-communist periods. By placing the development of selected fan-based activities against a broader socio-historical background, we are trying to capture the interplay between the global and the local context of participatory culture, as well as take preliminary steps towards making its Polish branch available for academic research."
    • Pinboard creator Maciej Cegłowski gave a presentation titled "Fan is a Tool-Using Animal" on fandom communities online and their use of bookmarks. He discussed his interest in having fans come to his site after observing their intriguing use of Del.icio.us, but due to their attachment to the site he had no luck until the site changed enough to drive fans away. He also spoke about the importance of fandom culture and its endurance over time. "Part of the reason our television sucks less than it used to is because people are more sophisticated about the way they watch them...fandom analyzes this stuff to death and deconstructs it...and this percolates back into the culture." (Audio only)
    • The University of Iowa, which houses Open Doors' Fan Culture Preservation Project, released a video about the Doctor Who fanzines in their Special Collections & Archives to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary. Although there is no transcript available, the post description includes a mini guide to the collection.

    What academic explorations of fandom have you come across? Write about them on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Legal stands

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 14 December 2013 - 10:55pm
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    • Online platform WordPress recently took a stand against abuse of DMCA takedown notices. They decided to join with journalists using the site in a suit "for damages under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which allows for suits against those who 'knowingly materially misrepresent' a case of copyright infringement. Until there are some teeth to the copyright laws, it’s up to us — websites and users, together — to stand up to DMCA fraud and protect freedom of expression...We’ll also be actively involved, on behalf of our users, in trying to change the law — both through court cases and in Congress — to make sure that everyone has the right to share their voice on the internet without threat of censorship."
    • The University of New Hampshire's student newspaper reported on a challenge to courses using pop culture texts. "Over the summer, UNH offered an online class to children grades four through eight using Harry Potter to teach the kids grammar and literature tools. Warner Brothers, however, sent the university a cease and desist letter regarding some of its copyrighted material." The "cease and desist letter asked UNH to change the class so that those interested in it did not think Warner Brothers sponsored the course."
    • Fans interested in learning more about copyright can take a free non-credit online course. "CopyrightX is a twelve-week networked course, offered each Spring under the auspices of Harvard Law School, the HarvardX distance-learning initiative, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The course explores the current law of copyright and the ongoing debates concerning how that law should be reformed. Through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, weekly seminars, live webcasts, and online discussions, participants in the course examine and assess the ways in which law seeks to stimulate and regulate creative expression." Registration begins December 13.

    What legal fandom issues have you become aware of? Write about them on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom books

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 11:48pm
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    • Various books and projects revolving around fandom are making the rounds of media sites. The Chicago Tribune interviewed the authors of Fangasm about their experiences in Supernatural fandom. When asked "What makes fandom worthy of academic study?" the authors responded that "Fandom is a way people express and work through a lot of their stuff. When I was a clinician, I used to practice narrative therapy, which helps people rewrite their life stories and make meaning out of them. People do the same thing through fandom, through writing fan fiction or making fan art or any of the creative pursuits that go into fandom." Plus there are "a lot of commonalities between how 'othered' groups in the 18th century were being talked about and how fan communities in the present time were being talked about...on some level what people in that fan community were doing then was not being valued as art or as something worthy of study."
    • The Pacific Standard would certainly agree, calling fanfic The Next Great Literature in its discussion of the book Fic. "In 1850, William Makepeace Thackeray ...published Rebecca and Rowena, a satirical novel motivated by his dissatisfaction with the ending of another book: Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe...Thackeray didn’t know he was a shipper...because the term didn’t exist in the 19th century. It’s a relatively recent invention, coined not by literary scholars or critics but by members of the fan fiction community, a vast network of people—mostly amateurs, mostly women—who read and write stories using characters and settings created by professionals."
    • Hypable also took a look at the book, discussing the various essays and the current environment into which the book has been released. "Readers should not be put off by the academic appearance of the collection. Although Jamison is a professor of literature, she utilises a more anecdotal style as she details the experiences within different fandoms, and chronicles various controversies within the fanfiction community."
    • In the meantime, more people and entities are looking for ways to get fanfiction into bookstores and not just digital archives. The Geekiary wrote about one such effort, Big Bang Press, which is using Kickstarter to launch its company, with three planned novels. "Fan fiction is already a resistive act, but this is taking things to a whole new level. It’s an opportunity for stories featuring a diverse range of protagonists, including POC and queer characters. Stories that have been ignored because they is too much of a risk; stories that the mainstream media does not think are economically viable; the kind of stories that fandom has been demanding for decades."

    What fandom books have you been reading? Write about them on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom in development

    By Claudia Rebaza on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 10:46pm
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    • While it's generally known that fandom is a major part of life on Tumblr, several researchers from Canada's Simon Fraser University will be presenting the results of their fandom study at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing conference in February 2014. Their paper is already available. "We investigated Tumblr fandom users’ motivations behind participating in fandoms, and how they interacted within the Tumblr community. Our results show that fandom users feel their Tumblr experience is ‘always-on’ where they participate at nearly any point in the day. They have also adopted a unique set of jargon and use of animated GIFs to match their desired fandom activities."
    • RocketNews24 discussed how Vocaloid fandom has become a milepost for distinguishing otaku generations. "The real rise in Vocaloid’s popularity began in 2007 with the introduction of Hatsune Miku, though the software existed years before. Songs like Melt and The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku led to the character, Miku, becoming the axis of Vocaloid fandom, and people first falling into the series for more than just its capabilities as music-making software adopted the perspective that Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid are synonymous. According to Febri’s article, these people belong to the first generation of Vocaloid fans."
    • On Grantland, Molly Lambert uses the Brony fandom revealed in its documentary to discuss adopted personas. "Defining yourself by the media you consume has always been commonplace, but it took social media to really demonstrate how inadequate it feels to reduce your personality into a series of lists. The ownership we feel over our favorite things is false, and Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook really served to drive this home. You like The Big Lebowski? Cool, so does everyone. The things you thought made you unique when you were the only person you knew interested in some genre of music, independent film, or corner of history turn out to be laughably banal. Even personality traits are memes, picked up and transmitted or willed into place."

    What stories of fandoms developing do you have to share? Write about them on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Troubling tech issues

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 7 December 2013 - 9:12pm
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    Banner by Diane of the post title and OTW logo in striated colors as if they were going through interference.

    • Attack of the Fanboy wrote about various troubling issues affecting gaming fandom. One of the most recent involves the data Sony is gathering from users. "Sony’s updated Terms of Service reserved their right to prohibit the sale of used software, but tucked away in the updated version, the company also reserves the right to monitor users voice and text communication on the PlayStation Network."
    • Attack of the Fanboy also ran an article on forced labor used to build PS4 consoles. "Students in the programme have fainted from fatigue. The Yantai factory has already come under fire for a 300+ worker brawl at the factory in September, and denied previous speculation that people were left dead after the event, and rumours of rape around the factory are also being heard across news outlets...Despite such a bad reputation, Sony are using this facility to build PS4′s, and it certainly casts a small shadow over the companies brand identity as the PS4 launch draws closer."
    • Google's decision to force people commenting at YouTube to create or use their Google+ accounts is meeting resistance due to Google+'s insistence on real name usage. X-box players are off the hook for now. "Microsoft has made some talk about the ability for someone to use their real name for their gamertag. This, according to Microsoft, may prevent actions that some deal as unsavory or trollish...and to help identify yourself to your friends." However "[u]nlike Blizzard’s short foray with Blizzard Real ID that forced users to use their real names and subsequently backfired, Microsft will only offer it as a choice."
    • TeleRead posted about problems in reading content away from Fanfiction.net. "It’s worth mentioning that Fanfiction.net has also removed the ability to select text from its stories for copying and pasting. It is no longer possible to highlight or mark text with the mouse on its stories. And some users have complained that Fanfiction.net has upped the amount of advertising on its pages as well." Demand for downloads is high. "The author of the Fanfiction Downloader app noted that he had to disable the email-based interface of his app, except for emailing directly to Kindles, because after FLAG was blocked its load went from about 100 requests per day to more than 5,000 per hour. It seems there are a lot of people out there who would rather read fanfiction on their e-readers or mobile e-reader apps than from a web browser."

    What tech-related fandom issues have you come across? Write about it on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Wanting more

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 4 December 2013 - 10:07pm
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    • All sorts of works inspire the desire for more. Anthony Tommasini writes in The New York Times about the future lives of opera characters. "There is a lively realm of fan fiction focused on movie and television characters, in which viewers share ideas on how some breakup or betrayal might turn out. Opera fans, by contrast, are fixated on characters who have been around for generations, even centuries...Yet we, too, like to speculate on what happens after the final curtain falls. Several recent books grapple with Puccini’s 'Madama Butterfly,' imagining what happens to the 3-year-old boy, nicknamed Trouble, born to the caddish Lieutenant Pinkerton and Cio-Cio San, the geisha who commits suicide. Online, opera lovers are pretty playful about their fantasies of what might happen in favorite works, especially Wagner’s epic 'Ring.' One wag envisions a fifth installment to the cycle in which the Rhinemaidens, fed up after years of devotion and celibacy, open a classy brothel where clients must pay for services in gold."
    • Meanwhile Washington Post writer Alexandra Petrin complains about a new authorized Jeeves and Wooster novel. "I am trying to imagine a reader who wants to read this book. The only one I can conjure up is someone who actually has read all the existing Jeeves and Wooster tales and is baying desperately after more. And this isn’t that. This is caffeine when what you want is cocaine. I think? I am not very up on my drugs. Look, this is fanfiction. I am not an expert except in the sense that all former nerdy 14-year-old girls are experts. And fanfiction is not what they wrote. It is what you remember. It is what you loved, what spoke to you. It is what Faulks describes in the introduction. There is much good fan work out there, approved and un-. But as an introduction to the work in question, I cannot recommend it."
    • Salon posted a discussion of Jane Austen related works. "If 'Longbourn' is the porridge that coldly chastises Austen and 'Sense & Sensibility' is too warmly attached to its predecessor to breathe, then 'The Lizzy Bennet Diaries' (followed by 'Emma, Approved,' still ongoing) is just right." This is because "the best part of the series may be what it leaves to the audience. Costumed reenactments of off-screen scenes, alternate video diaries filmed by other characters, as well as tweets and Tumblrs posted in tandem with the videos, turn the viewing experience into a 'reading' experience, with fans asked to go back and forth between different media and draw inferences and make judgments on their own. It’s enough intertextuality to make even the most academic Janeite geek out."
    • While Amazon's Kindle Worlds has added a comics universe for its pay-to-play fanfiction program, the real buzz has been about a Batman fancomic posted freely online. "There is a lot of backlash at Hollywood with all the remakes and stuff, but if you look at the state of comics, I think it’s far worse; nothing ever changes. I don’t like that. Of course there is always great stuff out there, but what I mean is, when Stan Lee created all those wonderful marvel characters in the 60′s, he was coming up with them on a monthly basis, we forget that it was once all NEW stuff. I would love to read what the amazing writers of both Marvel and DC would come up with if they could do anything they wanted with the characters."

    What stories have you most wanted to see more of? Write about their fanworks on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Democratizing writing

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 30 November 2013 - 1:38am
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    • The University of Minnesota's Minnesota Daily ran an article claiming that fanfiction has revolutionized literature. "Fan fiction is a perfectly competitive industry into which anyone, regardless of age, sex, or economic status, can enter and in which anyone can prosper...Ours, then, will be the first generation in history to have a durable literature written by the common individual. Until extremely recently, authors were predominantly rich, educated males with leisure time to write and enough money to be published...Fan fiction, for better or worse, will one day be studied alongside Homer and Dickens...Historians will be able to look back on our time and see the interests of everyone, not just a select minority."
    • The Sydney Morning Herald followed up on the idea that fanfiction may reveal wider interests than mainstream commercial work previously allowed, stating 'The alpha male's seductive power may be waning'. "[A] new generation of romance writers and publishers are beginning to embrace metrosexual and bisexual heroes to reflect changing sexual tastes...Melbourne-based author Anna Cowan has caused a stir with a Regency romance that twists the gender role of her hero, a character partly inspired by gay fan fiction. Penguin's ebook, Untamed, features a dark, deeply damaged, cross-dressing duke who is bisexual. The Duke of Darlington sleeps with the heroine's sister, and with men, and is attended by a bunch of overtly gay dandies."
    • A researcher who asked for help from OTW News readers in 2012 has since completed her work, which reveals some of these same issues of diversity in taste. Dianna Fielding wrote Normalizing the Deviance: The Creation, Politics, and Consumption of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities in Online Fan Communities. "Communities of fan producers have been creating and consuming works labeled deviant by both laypeople and academics for decades. Fan producers take the popular media they enjoy and rewrite it to fit their needs and desires. Online, these fan producers have found a new space to re-write what it means to be normative. These fan producers often write about slash, which depicts homosexual relationships as normal, and genderswap, which plays with the idea of gender by physically switching characters’ sex...Through content analysis, a series of interviews (n = 26), and a survey (n = 224), of fan producers directly, this study gains a better understand of these producers’ motivations for producing fan works."

    How have you seen fanfiction democratizing writing? Write about it on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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