Hell's Half Acre (hells_half_acre) wrote,
Hell's Half Acre
hells_half_acre

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Fandom at the Crossroads - a review

I just finished reading Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships by Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larson (AKA the two lovely ladies who write Fangasm!)

I had bought it for myself (shipped up from the states no less) as a housewarming present. Because I'm the type of person that buys myself books as gifts instead of more practical things like clothes. It cost me a pretty penny, but it was worth it. (I also bought myself a Moriar Tea mug.) 



It's a really interesting book. The first 2/3 is about the psychology of fandom, specifically the psychology of female-dominated fandom and fanfic. I never studied psychology, which I think might be part of the reason I was fascinated. I love learning about things that I haven't studied before, and it was even more interesting because it was someone talking about a culture that I'm actively involved in - and basically grew up with (although I wasn't a participatory member of the culture until I discovered Supernatural). 

One thing the book really sheds light on is this ingrained fan-shame that we all (or most) seem to have to some degree or another and how we internalize and externalize it. I always thought that I didn't talk about fandom because...well, I was mostly just reading it for the porn when I was a teenager (Hi Mum!)...but even though that's not true anymore (90% of what I read is gen or I SKIP the porny bits and just read for the plot/characters/emotional-porn), the instinct is still to NOT talk about it. 

Therefore, most of my family and friends don't actually know that I've already written the equivalent of three or four novels...or that I READ the equivalent of 3 to 4 novels every week (and yet struggle to finish a regular book in time for book club every month). 

And the weird thing is, even if I DID only read for the porn, I'm actually of the opinion that sex and sexuality is something that people SHOULD talk about. That it shouldn't be something that anyone is ashamed of...I mean, there's a reason that they're called Pride Parades. (And even unhealthy sexual inclinations should be talked about so that people who have them can get the help they need, rather than living in constant fear of having their life destroyed and trying and possibly failing to manage it themselves...but that's an extremely sensitive rant that I won't go into right now).

I mean, there are kinks that I just do not understand...enemas, pregnancy, feeder, D/s....but that doesn't mean that I think people who get off on that kind of thing are wrong or should be ashamed of themselves in some way...after all, it's all about perspective. Just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean that it's wrong. I could tell an enema-kink fan about one of my kinks, and they could recoil in horror and say "Oh god! How on earth could you like that?! Why don't you read this nice enema fic instead..." and then I'd vomit and it'd just be a horrible scene...and someone somewhere would probably get off on it - and I'd be okay with that.

Basically, I'm saying that society is a bit fucked up - and it's also REALLY misogynistic, and sometimes I don't even realize HOW misogynistic until I read a book about women's psychology. It's amazing how much of this stuff is ingrained in people's psyche's...

For instance, the book talks about the fourth-wall breaking episodes and the divided reaction to them (The pre-S7 Chuck and Becky episodes especially)...and to be honest, I never realized how much some people didn't like these episodes. I really hate negativity, so I rarely read people's episodes reactions...I just don't want my squee harshed. The book actually includes some of the unfavourable reactions - and I found them interesting. They didn't piss me off and get me defensive about the show, instead, they actually just made me really sad for some people - because it was quite obvious that their dislike for the episodes wasn't really about the episodes, but about how their own self-perception. 

I've always had a sort of fucked-up gender identity (in my opinion anyway, I'm probably just normal)...but one thing I seem to have avoided (thankfully) is this notion that women aren't allowed/supposed to have complex sexual lives. And man, after reading this book, I realize just how much I avoided it. And I also realized how important it is for feminism and society as a whole that we all try to avoid it...I really do think that women should be less ashamed of their extremely complex sexual lives and more proud of them. We'd all be a lot happier (the men included).

Even with the sex aside - it's interesting that there's shame about just being a FAN of something...being a nerd/geek about something. I was talking about the book at bookclub (we have a slightly weird book club where we all read separate books)...and there is one other person at bookclub who is a "geek" like me. And I was describing what the authors were saying about fan-shame, and the other members of bookclub were confused and curious about...and they said to my friend

"So, do you find your censor yourself around other people?"
"Yes. All the time."
"Really?! This is you censoring yourself!? Wow! Well, please don't stop!"
...and we all had a laugh...but honestly, they had just made the book's point, and at the same time declared that it WASN'T okay for my friend to be THAT enthused about something or to actually be open and honest about her life...suggesting that she DID have something to be ashamed of, when she really does not.

(I should point out that one member of bookclub seems to be a walking hypocrisy machine).

(Of course, we later made the point that there's a difference between censoring yourself out of shame, and censoring yourself because whoever you are talking to just doesn't care. I mean, we've all been in the situation where someone is going on and on to us about football/computers/model-trains/history/fishingboats/finances/BattlestarGalactica and we've been saying "uh huh, yeah...uh huh" and inside we are screaming "OMG shut-up, can you not see that I don't care!!")


The last 3rd of the book talks how modern technology is breaking the 4th wall, and how Supernatural has embraced that more than any other show out there. This section was a lot of fun, of course, because it had interviews with Jared, Jensen, Kripke, and many many others from the show. And it's not your standard interviews, where they are just like "We love the fans" and "Wait until you see what we're bringing you next season!" Instead it's interviews about how Jared and Jensen manage their public personas, whether the creative team actually do listen to the fans or not, and what the creative team (Jared and Jensen included) really think about fanfiction and slashfic.

And this is where the whole internalized shame thing comes into play, because I was at a convention where someone asked Jensen a question about Dean/Cas, and I was pissed off, and the audience was pissed off, and Jensen looked pissed off too...so, naturally, my conclusion was "asking about slash pisses Jensen (and everyone) off." So, I thought it was rather hilarious that in reality, we only THINK it pisses him off. He doesn't actually give crap. (That being said, I do think that questions at conventions should only be about canon...but then, I'm a crazy canon-nazi, you may have noticed).

Jensen actually has the same opinion about slash as I do! (with the exception that he doesn't read it). He thinks he understands why people do it, and he doesn't care one way or the other about it...but he does wish that sometimes bros could just be bros. (And he says all this in the midst of a very adorable long speech about how awesome his friendship with Jared is.) Jared's opinion can basically be summed up as "whatever floats your boat."

Jared's interviews, of course, only made me like him more...which I thought was pretty hilarious, since in one of the interviews he basically says that I only like him because I've chosen to like him, and it doesn't really matter who he actually is...(and likewise, he likes me because he's decided to like me, and he doesn't really want to know who I actually am either, because this way we can all just love each other and be happy...seriously, what's not to love there?).





Anyway, yeah...interesting book. I could babble on more about it...but uh...I have a lot already, it seems. Hopefully whatever the heck I said makes sense.


Tags: fandom, sometimes i read books
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