thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, so a recent casual mention of blanket permission statements on Twitter taught me that:
  1. There are a lot of authors who would love to be podficced who don't have blanket permission statements. (If you're in this boat: a permissions statement doesn't guarantee anything, but the lack of one certainly lessens your chances considerably.)
  2. Many of these authors don't necessarily know what a BP statement is, or how to write one. (Spoiler: I'm going to cover this in considerable detail starting in about three paragraphs.)
  3. A lot of people don't know that podficcers keep track of who has a blanket permission statement and refer to the list regularly. (In other words, you basically only have to do it once, and then you're done unless something changes. Good deal! Also, good idea to check to be sure you're on it if you want to be.)
  4. A lot of people don't know how important having a statement - any statement, even if it's "no" or "maybe" - is to other fans.
So I thought I would talk about permission statements, since they are the greatest thing ever and I want everyone to have one.

Many years ago, I used to have the following experience:
  1. PM arrives from a person I don't know.
  2. I cringe and recoil and try to pretend it hasn't arrived, because PMs freak me right out.
  3. I avoid with varying levels of success for varying levels of time.
  4. Eventually I open it (maybe).
  5. It is a podfic request! That's awesome!
  6. ...Now I have to PM the podficcer back. Oh no.
  7. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. Because communication is hard.
  8. If I don't, guilt.
  9. If I do, podfic!
It was an elaborate and moderately horrible process, obviously made that way entirely by my own idiosyncratic brain, and I loved that podfic happened but wished there was a way to tell podficcers to JUST DO IT PLEASE DON'T ASK JUST DO IT. For a while I tried putting JUST DO IT in my profile, but my profile was wordy and no one ever read all the way through it, so it didn't help (that I know of).

And then someone told me of the concept of blanket permission. And it was like the sun had risen. There was a way! A way to say yes, fine, go transform with my very best wishes, no need to ask! So I left a comment on some long-ago post saying so, and my relationship with podfic became a guilt- and stress-free one. Bliss.

Blanket permission is wonderful, is what I'm saying. Since I know podficcers now, I know that the stress was not entirely or even mostly on my side during my long, drawn-out struggles with my brain; the podficcer, who I used to sort of blithely assume had sent the PM and then forgotten about it, was actually probably checking her email reeeeeally regularly and hoping hoping hoping and oh god just GET BACK TO ME I just want to KNOW either WAY oh god are you even ALIVE? So blanket permission saves considerable wear and tear on both sides.

I am a big fan, basically. So, first, here's an example blanket permission statement. If you're already sold on permissions statements, go write one or modify this or just copy it and add it to your AO3 profile or wherever else you post your stories (if you comment here saying you've done so, I can make sure you're on the BP list, even!) and you're done.

"If you want to podfic any of my stories, go right ahead - no need to ask permission. Just please link back to the original story when you post your work, and let me know so I can go revel in whatever awesome thing you've done. Same goes for art or other creative or transformative works you might feel inspired to do. Just don't use my work for anything commercial, please!"

If you want to know more, or you aren't sure, or you have special circumstances, read on!

If you're thinking, yes, but I don't actually just want to say yes to everything, fear not! Blanket permission is a misnomer. (Or, okay, it isn't - it just means "this is the statement that covers everything you need to know." But it sort of sounds like you have to say yes to everything, no limits, no conditions when you give one. You don't!) You can say "sure, do what thou wilt" in one, but you can also be more specific. It's more like negotiated consent, actually - you say what you're comfortable with and what you want and need, and then a podficcer who is thinking about doing one of your stories can read it and decide if it matches what she wants and needs, making the process safer and easier for everyone.

So, for example, you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything except any story I've tagged juvenilia." Or you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything, but if it's posted archive-locked, I would like the podfic to also be archive-locked." Or whatever! State your conditions up front, basically.

You can even say, "I'm very open to podfic, and I will mostly say yes, but I still would like you to ask." This seems like a useless statement, but it includes two very important points: you are open to podfic and you will probably say yes. Many podficcers spend time trying to figure out if an author is potentially podfic-friendly before they ask permission. I have seen people do a LOT trying to figure this out, including:
  • Checking the blanket permission list
  • Checking all the author's profiles and masterlists everywhere, hoping one got missed (it happens, which is why it's a good idea for you to check, too)
  • Checking to see if there are other podfics of the author's work (which means she gave permission before and thus might again)
  • Checking to see if the author has pro-podfic friends
  • Asking the author's pro-podfic friends or betas if they know how the author feels about it
  • Asking other podficcers to see if they've ever asked the author for permission
  • And so on
Seriously. This process is a tense one for podficcers. Many of them work really hard to alleviate that tension somewhat before they take the leap of emailing a stranger for permission to do a fanwork. (Many of them have given up entirely and only podfic people with permissions statements, which is why not having one really reduces your chances of getting podficced.) So just saying somewhere public that you're into it is useful.

Your blanket permission statement can even look like this: "Please do not podfic any of my stories." (Or, in other words, a blanket no.) If you're going to say no to every request you get, why not just say that no in front and spare everyone, including you, the extra work? Plus, if you put yourself on the blanket no list, it will apply forever. Podficcers keep track. (Truth. When I started modifying my blanket permission statement, I was surprised to discover that the exact comment I'd left on that long-ago post had been carefully copy-pasted to Fanlore, which started years after that comment was made.) If you make a public statement of blanket no, you're done with podfic (unless you change your mind), and you've made everyone's lives easier. GO THERE, is my suggestion.

If you have other questions, I'm here to help. (Or more likely just ask people who know the answers, actually, but I stand willing to do that.) I want everyone to have a permissions statement, so we can have a world of blissfully consensual transformative works! (And don't forget to comment if you've added one, or if you've got one already but you're not on the list.)


Thanks to [ profile] ParakaPodfic for reading over this and giving me a podficcer perspective on it. Further viewpoints welcome, of course, from podficcers, authors, lurkers, fanknitters, all kinds of people - comment away. But please don't say "podfic is creepy" or similar. I want this to be a place of fanwork acceptance. Thank you!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
There are some older movies that are an absolute joy to watch, that keep you totally riveted. After they're done, you turn to your partner and say, "Why don't they make movies like that anymore?"

This is not that kind of movie.

Anchors Aweigh. Oh, Anchors Aweigh. I first realized we were watching something truly stupendously special during the scene where Clarence is sitting in a rocking chair, staring happily at Joe's underwear-clad ass - said ass having been carefully positioned outside the covers by someone who surely had some good reason for it - as Joe sleeps. Clarence also glances from time to time at the clock, which shows it's after one; Joe had a date at twelve. Clarence is making sure he misses it.

There is a name for that, Clarence. It is cockblocking, and I don't care if you're a naïve choirboy from Brooklyn (no, I am not kidding), dude, you don't get a pass. In all honesty, there's no pass in the world that could put an innocent interpretation on that maneuver.

The rest of the scene - including the crotch-cam shot, as Clarence lies on his back with his legs in the air, while Joe tells him he will have to be Joe's slave forever (really not kidding) - follows logically from that opening, stopping just short of the actual assfucking.

Although you can tell it happens.

But I don't want you to think this review is a recommendation. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay. I have been threatening to do this for, oh, about three years, but the time is now. Largely because I keep seeing people squeeing about Avatar: The Last Airbender, and being simultaneously thrilled (someone loves my shiny!) and woestruck (they are not loving my shiny the way I love my shiny). The latter is a sign of internet insanity, and the cure is doing it my way, out in public, where everyone can see me and point and mock. (And in this case, the mockery is worth doing, because - yeah, totally unbalanced on this subject.) So, without further ado: three animated canons you should really watch. Right now.

Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Here is the thing. Everyone who squees about this talks about, like, the plot, and Aang and Zuko and Katara and Sokka and Uncle Iroh, and the world and the worldbuilding, and while they are right to do so - all those things are so awesome I basically cannot stand it, especially Uncle Iroh, who can be my uncle any time, I tell you what - they are also wrong, because they fail to mention the single most awesome thing about Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is:


Appa is a six-legged flying bison, and he is wonderful, one of my favorite characters of all time anywhere. (This is, uh, not surprising. When BB had watched the first season of A:TLA, she decided it was time to try to get me to watch it. Normally this is an uphill battle, to say the least - I hate trying new TV shows. It's hard! It's scary! There could be - stuff! I suspect she sets aside six months for the persuasive conversations alone. But not with Avatar. It took one conversation:

BB: You will like it.
Me: Um. I don't know.
BB: There is a FLYING BISON. He is best friends with Aang. He is loyal and wonderful and true. Also huge and furry. His name is Appa, and you will love him.
Me: Can we watch it right now?)

I love Appa so much I forced [ profile] cherryice to make a vid about him. I love Cherry, and I was really excited to win her in a Sweet Charity round, but I also knew we were about to have a painful conversation. See, I have been the winner more often than the person won, but I do know what that initial "Here's what I want!" email feels like from the other side. You're all tense, thinking, Oh god what if she wants something I can't do? What if she wants me to rec only Pride and Prejudice crossover AUs? What if she bid on me and thought she was bidding on calf's-foot jelly? Oh god I cannot possibly make calf's-foot jelly. Both of my winners were awesome, with awesome ideas, but the fear was still there until I actually knew what they wanted. And when I won Cherry I knew I was about to make all her fears come true. No one wants to do a vid about a bison. And normally I give people choices, because I do not want to make them wretched, but with Cherry, I just, you know, got carried away.

It went like this:

Cherry: ...But I'm not sure there's enough footage.
Cherry: Well, you know, um. Maybe, maybe with the right song choice -
Cherry: It's a wonderful song! But. See. Um.
Cherry, bravely: I'll try.

And she did it, and it is fucking brilliant. So I can confidently say that Cherry, if you win her, will try just about anything, and succeed at it beyond your wildest dreams, and also she does not give up. She is worth your top charity donation currency unit of choice, people. Assuming I haven't scarred her for life and driven her out of the charity auction world forever.)

So, yeah, the world is fabulous, the plot is great, the characters are awesome, and all of that is true. But the real reason to watch this is that it has the best damn flying bison in the multiverse. And if you need more reason than that, I don't understand you at all.

Hikaru no Go

I remember the first time I heard of this Hikaru no Go thing. It was before I had heard of, and I was new to vids, and really really really new to AMVs (as in, I don't think I had seen any before), and I somehow came upon [ profile] obsessive24's Rivals. (Scroll down; it's under Hikaru no Go. And please note that because I was seriously vid-impaired when I first watched it, and I've now seen the canon and memorized basically every detail of it, I can't really say if this works as an intro vid.) Now, this was before I got vids at all, but Best Beloved was already the Vid Ninja, so our post-viewing conversation went like this:

Me: There's anime about Go? And, um. Who dressed the dark-haired guy? Because those clothes...
BB: I think I'd like to see that show.

(For the record, everyone who sees Hikaru no Go has at least a moment or two of wondering about Akira's clothes. They are worth pondering, let me just say.)

So I still had no clue, but then I got my hands on the scanlated volumes of the manga, and I remembered that BB had been interested, and we started reading them. The two of us spent the next few weeks mostly huddled around my laptop, not so much reading as breathing each page, squeaking or shrieking or crying as necessary. It was amazing. And then we got the anime. And it was also amazing.

It's also one of the slashiest canons I've ever read or seen. I can't even tell you how slashy it is. The whole thing, as BB has pointed out, borrows the structure of a classic romance novel, except instead of sex, there's Go. And, in all honesty, most of the later Hikaru/Akira Go sequences are more slashy than an actual sex scene would be. (If you're skeeved out because in the beginning the characters are all wee and cute, don't be: one of the great things about this series is that they grow up, visibly and noticeably, and by the end it does not seem at all inappropriate to be planning their eternal wedded happiness. During which they will probably break at least one Go set a week, but that's fine. That's just how they show their love.)

But here's the single biggest reason why you should read or watch Hikaru no Go: there are long sequences in which two people play Go, and that is all that happens, and it is amazing. You watch all tense and on the edge of your seat. You care deeply about each play (and this is even if you know nothing about the game at all). I'm quite serious.

I mean, sure, there are other reasons - Sai, Touya Meijin, the epic romance, the incredible plot that never misses a step, the secondary characters, Akira's wardrobe - but really you should just watch it so you can become profoundly invested in imaginary Go games.

Princess Tutu

I believe there are some people reading this who are interested in writing or storytelling or meta about stories. Could I get a show of hands? Okay, who out there is interested in fairytales? Or ballet? Mmm-hmmm. And ducks? Does anyone like ducks?

People, Princess Tutu is for you. Seriously: this thing could have been written for fan-fiction-writing fandom.

Princess Tutu is another canon I first learned about through a vid (on and on YouTube), the justly famous Hold Me Now. (Seriously. It was a canon I didn't know set to a song with lyrics I couldn't understand, and I still watched the thing a million times. It's that good.) I didn't know entirely what was going on - there were ballet dancers? And there was a duck? And there were crows? And also sword fights and writing? But I knew this thing had to be awesome. And I was right.

Princess Tutu is anime that has faith in your intelligence. It doesn't just hand you all the answers, and you have to keep watching for a few episodes to get into it, and then suddenly you're so fucking into it and OMG on the edge of your seat and simultaneously thinking Deep Thoughts about Stories and really really concerned about a duck. (For everyone out there like me: the duck is fine. Repeat: the duck is fine.)

It also defies your expectations. In the commentary, one of the English voice actors talks about how shocked she was when she found out the entire plot. (I totally appreciated the expectation-defying, since the expectations it defied for me were largely ones I was happy not to see go through, but be warned that some people may have issues here. I am thinking specifically of the Amazon reviewer I saw, many years ago - sadly, her review is no longer with us - complaining about a character getting "the rear end treatment." For the record, there is no actual buttsex in this. Nor do I think anyone got metaphorically fucked in the ass. But, well. Obviously someone thought so, and Best Beloved and I have been referring to the rear end treatment ever since.)

And - look, you want a strong heroine? She's here. You want a male damsel in distress? He's here, and he's also, uh, passively kickass, which I think you will admit is a neat trick. You want a slash pairing? Indeed you can have one, my friend, and you can choose your flavor: boyslash or girlslash! You want character development and secrets revealed and characters you think one thing about and then you learn more and change your mind? It's all here! You want random talking animal characters? You've got them! You want to learn about ballet? YOU CAN HAS. This series is just so, so incredible. I can't tell you how much. Every time I meet a media fan who hasn't seen it, I cry a little.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The earthling is at a point in his life where he can go to restaurants, but it works better for everyone if, after I give my order (often to BB to relay to the waiter), the earthling and I go wander around outside until BB texts me to say the food has come.

Obviously, this means we pick restaurants based in part on the outside having nice places to walk. Tonight, we ate in one that's near a theater. There is a lot of nice landscaping, and a pedestrian area, and also there are multiple fountains. This means it is Earthlingland, basically. So the earthling and I callously abandoned BB to do whatever it is she does while waiting for the food, and went to visit the fountains.

Except immediately we noticed that something was different. There were - people. All over. Like they were camping. After some study, I figured out that they were more or less in a line, and that the line ended near the movie theater. I texted BB this strange news, and while I waited for her response, I inspected them further.

They were almost all female.

They were mostly young. (Although there were a few middle-aged ladies out there, too. I salute you, middle-aged ladies! Own your love!)

They were - oh. They were wearing TEAM JACOB and TEAM EDWARD t-shirts.

I carefully inspected the theater marquee, and observed that these people were almost certainly in line - at four in the afternoon - for a 3:00 a.m. IMAX showing of Eclipse, which is, for those of you on Mars (which I kind of was, I guess; I had no idea this was coming out), the latest movie in the Twilight Saga.

And, you guys, it was so awesome. Because I cannot remember the last time that I saw a lineup like that, of pretty much all fangirls, all young, all just - being fans, out there in public, like they had a total right to do it. Usually that is a privilege reserved for teenaged and twenty-something boys and sports fans! And they were so cute, all happy and waiting to see their own true love. (Which, admittedly, is not one I know much about; I know that Edward is a sparkly vampire, Bella is a clumsy mortal, and Jacob is a werewolf. I mean, Jacob doesn't even get an adjective, that's how little I know about Twilight.) And wearing their t-shirts proclaiming their allegiance to Jacob or Edward. (I guess there is no Team Bella? Or is that not how that works?) I kind of felt like I had found my people, even though there was no one wearing a t-shirt reading TEAM EDWARD DOES JACOB, which is, let's be honest, probably what my actual people would be wearing.

And, remember, I was there with the earthling, which meant that my first and foremost thought was: I am glad these t-shirts are all text only. And the second I thought that, of course, I noticed three girls with identical shirts that said TEAM EDWARD on the back but had full color renditions of Edward's face (and let me tell you how amused I am that I, even though I cannot recognize any faces, have come to know the outline of Edward's hair so well I can mostly recognize his; this is the price I pay for having an earthling) on the front.

The earthling noticed this shortly after I did. His first reaction was to try to join the line, and after I hauled him away, he stopped directly in front of the girls with full-color Edward and went: *staaaaaare*. Such was the force of his laser-like stare that the girls actually noticed him after a while and stopped talking in those slightly-too-loud voices that fangirls use when they get together (although I did not hear the word "cock" once, which was strange for me). "He likes your shirts," I offered, and they gave the uncertain giggles you hear from girls who are not entirely sure they get the joke but are pretty sure they are the punch line - you know the giggle, the one that says, "I'm such a good sport that I'm willing to laugh along with you as you laugh at me." But, no, girls! I was entirely sincere! My son did like your shirts, and he was probably wishing that they made Edward shirts in 2T, because he is devoted and dedicated to his membership in Team Edward. (Or, as it apparently must be written, TEAM EDWARD.)

Eventually, I managed to tow the earthling away by reminding him that there was a fountain calling his name. (Sorry, Pattinson. Awesome you may be, but fountains are even better.) And I spent the rest of the evening just a little more happy than I would otherwise have been. Because, okay, they may not share my precise interests, but I still felt great kinship to those girls, out there caring enough about fictional characters to line up twelve hours in advance to see them, visibly blissed out on that potent neurotransmitter cocktail fans on the cusp of a major fannish event experience. They cared enough to wear t-shirts with their favorite fictional character's name on them. They cared enough to bring copies of their Twilight Saga books to read out loud to each other while they waited in line to see the Twilight Saga movie. They cared enough that when the extra security guards (yes, the theater had laid on extra security guards, possibly because they feared some sort of confrontation between TEAM EDWARD and TEAM JACOB, and those were some confused-looking security guards, let me just add) came over to try to move their line around a little, at least one of them tried to get a guard to declare an allegiance to Jacob. (He didn't feel it, apparently.)

It was just. It was wonderful and awesome and adorable. And as I sit here, with my sleeping earthling in the next room, I am thinking of those girls still in line waiting for Edward and Bella and Jacob, and I am thinking: you go, girls. I hope the movie is everything you want it to be.

Oh, and girls? Please don't laugh along with people you think are laughing at you. Nothing you're doing is stupid or embarrassing. You care about something. You love something. It's important to you, and that makes it valuable. If people think that's funny? Please, please: just tell them to go fuck themselves. (Unless they are following a little boy who is staring at you in great awe, because that would be me, and trust me, I'm not laughing. And neither is the earthling. He thinks you're wonderful. Unless you're on TEAM JACOB, of course.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This is going to sound strange coming from someone who reads a bucketload of slash, but I don't actually like romance. In movies, when the couple (m/m, f/f, f/m, other/other, whatever) leans in for the big kiss, backlit by an exploding planet, I tend to be thinking, Oh my god, people, would you get out of the way? There's an EXPLODING PLANET back there! Or in a book, when the couple takes a few minutes out of saving the universe for a roll in the hay, I am generally thinking, Save the universe FIRST. Fuck in your own damn time. And you never, ever want to go see a romantic comedy with me. If you're lucky, I will just leave the theater in the first act and you'll come find me in the hallway when it's over. That's if you're lucky.

So romance novels are not the best fit for me. But Best Beloved reads a lot of them, and if she's interested in something, generally I end up interested in it, too. Some months back, we started a deal where she recommends some of the romance novels she thinks most appropriate for me, and I read them, and then we discuss them. And I find them fascinating, both as a comparison to fan fiction and in their own right; it's amazingly interesting to figure out the rules and tropes and interests and focuses of a genre that is in no way your native territory, and it is just indescribably gripping to figure out what those things say about the writers and readers of romance and the society they come from.

And of course I explain all that to Best Beloved at - well, let's be polite and simply say at great length - and she asks me questions and makes comments and provides necessary context (like the time, early on, that I noted that I felt the relationship in the book had been rushed because the protagonists got together after only six months, and she, after she stopped laughing, noted that often protagonists meet on the first day, have sex on the second, and are married by the end of the week) - and we discuss it all extensively. And then, usually right before one of us looks at the clock and realizes that we once again have lost an entire evening to the analysis of romance novels, given that it's approaching midnight and the earthling will be waking us up at six, Best Beloved says this:

"But are you enjoying the book?"

And I just stare at her in utter confusion. To me, that is a wholly nonsensical question, coming at that point in the conversation. But recently I decided she'd asked it enough that it had to have some meaning that I just was not getting, so I asked her what she meant by "enjoying the book." And she said, "Well, like, do you look forward to reading it?"

I was floored, because that would never occur to me as a possible definition or symptom of enjoying a book. I expressed, at some length, how completely alien that was to me - I mean, I can be dreading reading something and still absolutely enjoying it - and she asked me what I meant by enjoying a book. And I gave what is, to me, the obvious answer: if the book gives you something to think about, both while you're reading it and when you're not reading it, then it is an enjoyable book.

Best Beloved found that equally strange, although she noted that that explained a lot about how I deal with entertainment just generally. (It also, though she didn't actually bring this up, partly explains why I love fan fiction - fan fiction is someone writing out her thoughts about some media that she's consumed. In other words, fan fiction is a way for me to experience other people's enjoyment of some media.)

But the thing is, BB and I have been together for 18 years, and for all that time, we've been watching the same movies and reading a lot of the same books and stories. And yet we have totally different ideas of what enjoying entertainment means. So now I'm wondering what you all mean when you say you're enjoying a book or a movie or a TV show or a manga series or whatever. How does your entertainment entertain you?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I would like to expand on one point of my previous rant, which is:

It matters when you are part of the audience.

I spent my childhood reading stories about kids who find various magical things and go on adventures, and also just about every children's book ever published in the UK. I couldn't imagine myself in those books - it was obvious that I was never going to find a magic amulet or a secret corridor or a sand fairy; our house didn't even have a basement - but I certainly knew they were written for me.

And then I became a teenager. I was still voraciously reading, and struggling to find the genre that fit me as well as my childhood reading had. I read everything I could find - hard SF to Anne Rice, Dorothy Sayers to Charlotte MacLeod. I also read an awful lot of stuff published before 1900. (My flirtations with plain fiction and romance novels didn't pan out. I'm just not that type of girl, apparently.)

I kept casting around, though. And I kept going back and secretly re-reading the books I'd loved as a kid. Partly that was because, okay, I read like I breathed, and there were only so many books in the world, and I couldn't afford to turn my back on old favorites. But partly that was because I missed something about those books, something I couldn't identify, something I described to myself as a feeling of safety.

When I found fan fiction, I realized what I was missing. I missed being part of the audience. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(I realize right now fandom is rightly and deeply upset about a whole other issue. I live in the past, okay? But I know for a fact that this particular one is comin' around again, so. Also, warning: possible triggers.)

Okay. I am really, really tired of professional writers - or maybe I should say published writers, since professional behavior is not these people's long suit, generally speaking - posting rants about how they don't like fan fiction and here are their random reasons why. (If they would just say, "It feels wrong. I don't have a reason - it just feels wrong," I still wouldn't agree, but at least I wouldn't have to question their maturity. It's when they try to justify their feeling that they start to sound like a seven-year-old explaining why his cousin shouldn't be allowed to come near his toys.)

So, I'm going to help you out, oh hater of fan fiction! No more do you have to embarrass yourself (and piss off rape survivors everywhere) with the inevitable reference to rape! (Please, someone, make a new internet law that reads: Here is what is just like being raped: being raped. Describing something that is not rape as rape indicates either a) the kind of irrationality where the flecks of foam are visible through the monitor or b) a total failure to understand what rape is. In either case, everyone should politely look away until you calm down. And buy a fucking dictionary.) No more do you have to issue legal proclamations that make it very clear that you don't understand what copyright is and, in fact, think of copyright as Captain Copyright, Defender of Whatever Rights You Feel You Should Have! (Note: Captain Copyright is totally fictional. Feel free to write stories about him defeating evil writers of fan fiction. Um, warning, though: that will be fan fiction.)

Sadly, this won't address my least favorite rant elements:
  1. Rants in which a published author makes it clear that she believes millions of people are writing fan fiction about her characters, when in fact there are four stories total in her universe, which makes me all hot with vicarious embarrassment, because she's just exposed her own screaming It's All About Me neurosis and made it clear she has no idea what she's talking about. It's a horrible two-for-one special in the embarrassment aisle.
  2. Rants in which a published fan fiction writer - someone who writes primarily tie-in novels in someone else's universe - announces that fan fiction is evil, because doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn't what they said in Sex Ed.
But, well. One thing at a time.

Good Reasons for a Professional Fiction Writer to Fear Fan Fiction
  1. Fan fiction folks might not like you anymore. People who are into fan fiction read a lot, and I do mean a lot, of stories at all levels of quality, from Holy Shit Pulitzer to Holy Fuck My Eyes My Eyes I See the Reaper Coming for Meeeeeee. Many of us also write. And when you do that, when you read and write a lot, you learn things. (Unless there's a baseline competence issue, and some of us do have those, but yay! Mostly not.)

    So we've all gotten better at reading, and reading critically, and at interacting with the story. And, yes, that means we might not like you anymore. We might now be painfully aware of how you suck or how you fail, in ways that we wouldn't have been before our time in fandom. And that's scary - readers who are now judging your work and maybe finding it wanting. If you want to rant about that, I will have sympathy.

  2. Fan fiction folks don't need you anymore. I mean, we still might like you, but the fact is, we can probably get better than you for free. Because, okay, yes, most fan fiction is crap, but so is most published fiction. (Anyone who wants to refute that has to read ten books selected by me first.) And the ten percent of fan fiction that is worth dying for is not just good, and in fact not just great: it's great and it's for us. It's written for our community, with our community standards in mind, by someone who shares at least some interests and probably some beliefs with us. So it's not just that we can get stories for free; it's that those stories are written to appeal directly to us. You can't write for us and you almost certainly don't want to.

    That's readers - a lot of readers, depending on what you write - who may not be shelling out for your next book, or who may be waiting for a library copy or the paperback. That sucks for you, and if you rant about that, seriously, I will have sympathy. (And I will try to refrain from pointing out that if you're good to your fans, we're your paycheck. We'll buy your hardcovers forever just because twenty years ago you created one character we love. We'll buy your merchandise. We'll go to cons to see you. We'll buy more hardcovers for you to sign. And so on.)

  3. Fan fiction folks took your power away. It used to be that the Anointed Few stood at the front of the room - sometimes a tiny classroom, sometimes a giant lecture hall with video cameras catching each golden word for those not lucky enough to hear it in person - and spoke. And everyone else was just audience: the listeners, the readers, the passively entertained. Fandom has turned your lectures into seminars. We keep speaking up. We keep having our own ideas. We don't even have the courtesy to raise our hands and ask to speak. And sometimes we lock you out of the room altogether.

    That isn't what you signed up for. I understand that. You want the podium back, you want the breathless admiration back, you want the silent, receptive audience back. You want the exchange to be: I entertain, and you applaud, and that's it. I can understand why you'd want that, and if you want to complain about it, I will sympathize. (I won't promise to fix it or anything, because it's better for me this way, but I understand that loss of power can be painful, and I swear if you want to complain about it I will feel sorry for you.)

  4. Fan fiction folks are better at the internet then you are. Oh, not all of you (or, for that matter, all of us), but, um. I don't know how to put this gently. A lot of professional writers (and editors, and others associated with the publishing industry) appear to lose their brains and their ability to write (and to understand what they've written) when they're online. It's sad, and it's pathetic, and it's hideously painful for those of us with an embarrassment squick. Meanwhile, fandom is organized, fandom knows the rules (fandom even codified many of the rules), and fandom is - well. If you're making an ass of yourself on the internet ("You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective!" "You're RAPING ME by writing fan fiction about my characters!"), fandom is mocking you. If you're proving that you're an ass in real life ("There's no racism! It's all classism!" "But there aren't any female writers of SF. I mean, I don't know any, so..."), we're probably pointing that out to you fairly loudly. (And we are not watching our tone.)

    And I do see that that sucks, that you think the internet is your playground and it turns out there are actual real people watching you and calling you on your bullshit. I think you could probably solve this problem (either have less bullshit or limit your audience, your choice), but I will still understand if you just want to complain about it.
But if you're going to tell me, yet again, that fan fiction is illegal! Immoral! Dirty! Wrong! EVIL! ASSAULT! RAAAAAAAAAAPE!, well, I cannot promise to have sympathy. I can't promise to care. I can't even promise to read your rant, or indeed anything you write.

I'll just read some fan fiction instead.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
[profile] brown_betty and I have been discussing woobies. Further research - for the good of science! - is now required, and so I come to you for help. I need a list of woobies.

TVTropes has a great page on woobies [Warning: [profile] cherry_ice and I have determined that TVTropes is a black hole. If you click on this link, there is a chance you will never escape from the website. Leave a message for your loved ones before you click. Also it's a good idea to pack a lunch.], which features this definition:

"[The woobie] is that character you want to give a big hug, wrap in a blanket and feed soup to when he or she suffers so very beautifully."

And there is, of course, a huge long list of woobies attached, but a lot of those people are woobies in canon more than in fan fiction, and I want the fannish ones. I'm looking for the person in a given fandom who is always being hurt (and then comforted), the person who you just know is going to have a secret shame or a secret trauma or a secret disease, probably while he is being raped and beaten in prison by Nazis with spiky boots. In other words, I want to know who, in your fandom, is the character who you'd immediately think of if you read this header:

Title: Recovery and Revelations Part 7, 1/???
Series: Hold Me Tight Tonight (Confronting the Darkness)
Author: I <3 Woobies!
Summary: To protect the ones he or she loves, Character X sold his or her body to evil slaver alien wizards. Now Character X is finally back home. Can the [team/family/friends/loved ones/etc.] help him or her recover?
Warnings: Noncon, dubcon, torture, past child abuse and incest, betrayal, cutting, slavery, underage sex, involuntary drug use, porn, some swears.

In the future, there will be a poll. But first, I need the names to go in the poll. So tell me: in your fandom, who is the woobie? To make this extra-challenging, especially for you people in Harry Potter and Supernatural: you can only nominate one person per fandom. I want to hear about the Woobiest in All the Land.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For various reasons, right now I'm thinking about Major Fannish Events I Wish I Could Have Seen. Now, when I say that, I don't mean the actual events, most of which are available on DVD or at least on some fourth-generation cell phone recording somewhere, but the fannish reaction to those events.

And since I can't discuss this at all without spoilers, I'm just going to say: spoilers in the post for Buffy, Star Trek: TOS, Stargate: SG-1, Star Wars. No spoilers in the post for anything that has aired in, say, the last five years.

ETA: Spoilers in the comments for everything. No, seriously: everything in the WORLD. Television! Movies! Books! Anime! Manga! Horror movies from the 1930s! The Fifth World War! The heat death of the universe! It's pretty awesome, but if you don't like spoilers, maybe the comments section isn't the place for you.

spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers OMG spoilers )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am having a crappy day, people. I come to you for entertainment and distraction.

So, the other day - or maybe it was the other week; I'm not exactly Speedy Jenny, here - [ profile] frostfire_17 said something that interested me. She said that she thinks Reboot Kirk would be kinkier than TOS Kirk.

My immediate reaction, of course, was to want to evaluate the Perceived Kinkiness (PK) of many characters on a set scale. This is a pressing and important issue in fandom, after all, and I think it's tragic that I can find no previous work on the subject in the literature. (Why is there no journal of Fandometrics? I know lots of people study fans, and, look, I love you guys and I find you interesting and all, but what I really want to read is studies on the characteristics of various OTP groups within a given fandom as compared to OTP groups within another fandom, and an ordering of perceived character intelligence plotted against six key traits one of which is total percentage of dialog, and data on the distribution of key adjectives associated with certain characters, and maybe how that relates to fannish migration over time. Plus, of course, PK.) Fortunately, we have this thing called polls, so I can at least cover the PK issue until such a time as Fandometrics starts publishing.

Obviously, answer this poll using your own personal definition of kinkiness. For bonus points (and a more distracted, and thus more happy, TFV), discuss what specific kinks you think a character is mostly likely to have in the comments.

On this scale, 0 is totally not at all kinky, and 5 is most kinky in all the land. Go! Rate! We will have our Fandometrics yet! (And now we do, thanks to [ profile] dramaturgca: [ profile] fandometrics!)

Cut for a big long list of characters with buttons to push. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Sometimes you may say to yourself: all these people have me friended. And yet I posted a story (or a link, or four extremely compelling pictures of my cat, including one where she almost had a ribbon on her head) and many of them have not commented! You may wonder why. You may even be downcast in your wonderment and confusion.

Well, wonder no longer! I have been doing some careful research on this very topic, and I have all the answers.
  • 15% of the people who have you friended have since left for greener fannish pastures, or perhaps for somewhere outside of fandom altogether (it's sad, but it happens; fannish scientists are working round the clock to discover a cure, except for the four hours they spent reading that Jack Harkness/Brian O'Conner epic last night). They no longer read your fandom-related posts. (Or, alternately, it's cats they don't like. My point is: whatever you posted doesn't interest them.)

  • 15% were planning to get back to that post later. It's open! It's in a tab! Or it's in Read Later!, busy, you know how it is. (Of course, if you're counting every comment and comparing it to a master list, maybe you don't know how it is. In that case you'll just have to trust me.)

  • 10% of the people who have you friended think you're boring. (Sorry! Sometimes science means having to say the hard truths.) They scroll past you, or they filter you. Or maybe they think everyone they have friended is boring, and they don't read their friends list at all; their friending is just a social nicety. It would probably be better if you believed that last one. Yeah, this segment is the one we'll call "social niceties."

  • 10% of the people who have you friended weren't reading the day you posted. Someone had horrible news and came home and went straight to bed with a dog and a hot water bottle. Someone has food poisoning and is puking too much to go near her computer. Someone is addicted to a flash game and can't click away until she beats level 77. Someone is in the South Pacific having a lot more fantastic sex than you ever have or ever will; she isn't thinking about you or fandom right now. (Okay, she's thinking, "I have to use that the next time I write Merlin/Arthur, or John/Rodney, or Bertie/Jeeves - ooo, yeah, Jeeves is probably mega-kinky." But she's not missing her friends list, is my point.)

  • 10% only read you on a phone, or a netbook or internet tablet that's impossible to type on, or a Kindle, or in five minute snatches at work or between dragging kids to soccer or whatever. They love you, but they never do manage to get back to comment.

  • 10% of the people who read you only lurk. They lurk everywhere. Maybe they can't type. Maybe they have tentacles and can't find a tentacle-ready keyboard. You don't know. And do you really want to risk displaying your prejudice against the betentacled?

  • 5% of the people who read you are still pissed off about the comment you didn't reply to. You know the one. (You reply to every single comment you get, you say? Even the ones obviously from bots? Even the ones LJ forgets to notify you about? In that case, these people are sulking about an inadequate response you left them, where you missed the point or missed the question or failed to thank them or sounded snarky. You can't please everyone. Not even with an incredible facility at hitting "Reply.")

  • 5% of the people who read you are still pissed off about that post you made. You know the one.

  • 5% of the people who read you are pissed off that you didn't comment on one of their important posts. They're withholding sex - sorry, I meant comments - until you understand how important they are, and maybe send some flowers or something.

  • 5% of the people who read you have broken internet connections right now. Fucking Comcast.

  • 1% of the people who read you hurt their hands this morning.

  • 1% of the people who read you currently have a broken spacebar.

  • 1% of the people who read you are heavily medicated. Their loved ones have taken away their keyboards for everyone's safety.

  • 1% of the people who read you are seriously undermedicated. Their loved ones have taken away their keyboards so they still have friends when the meds kick back in.

  • 1% of the people who read you read you in bed, and a loved one has threatened to take away the keyboard if they type at night anymore.

  • 1% of the people who read you are sockpuppets. They're only going to comment if they want sparkle pens.

  • 1% of the people who read you are, in fact, commenting, but they're doing so by telepathy. If you're not getting the comments, well, obviously something is wrong with you. They can't be held responsible for that.

  • 1% of the people who read you are aliens. They can't ever pass the prove-you're-human test, and for some reason they get the CAPTCHA every time. They are thinking of filing a lawsuit against LJ.

  • 1% of the people who read you cannot comment for religious reasons.

  • 1% of the people who read you haven't figured out that you have to hit the "Post comment" button in order to get the comment posted. They keep typing like it's an IM box, and nothing ever shows up, and they just do not know why. They've submitted several complaints to Support about this. (It's possible you didn't want to read their comments anyway.)
But wait, you say! That's everyone!

You're right. It is. So, hey, if you get any comments at all, you have beaten the odds. You must be really awesome and special. Can I friend you?

(P.S. I don't comment a lot, but I'm probably reading. And I'll repeat what I said in my info: I love all the comments I get, except the ones from the spambots who are cordially invited to DIE DIE DIE, but no one ever should feel obligated to comment here. I get the lurking, I really do.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So. Last year, during the [ profile] yuletide run up, I ran a prompt poll. (Not, you know, a very timely poll - a poll about prompts.) And, in addition to the things I already knew about prompts (I suck at them! They are harder than they sound! There's a science to writing prompts, and it can be mastered. Or, okay, that last one is just what I choose to believe.), I learned some stuff. And since Yuletide is approaching this year (yay!), I thought I'd kind of write up the results, post them, see if I couldn't figure this whole prompt mystery out.

But, first, let's talk about what the poll confirmed: I suck at prompts, and last Yuletide was no exception. I wrote the kind of prompt that no one hopes to get, that more than half of writers fear, and that almost no one gives. In other words, I wrote really detailed prompts. Um. Oops? (Look. I knew I was doing wrong, but I couldn't stop myself. This is obviously a sickness, and I am more to be pitied than censured.)

On the other hand, I got an awesome story last year anyway. (Thank you, [ profile] astolat!) No matter how much my prompts have sucked over the years (and I think they especially sucked the Yuletide I went with "Would prefer slash" as my only prompt for all four requests - yes, my shame is real), I've gotten good stories. Clearly, the Yuletide gods look after the pathetic. Or maybe Yuletide writers just try harder than any reasonable human could ever expect. (I mean, yes, I try hard to write to my recipient's prompts, but then I've been lucky - three years of entirely sane recipients. Well. Sane as far as prompt-writing goes. I can't speak for the rest of it. They may dress potatoes in lacy undergarments in their spare time, but their prompts were entirely sane and potato-free.)

My point is: bad prompts don't mean bad stories.

However, bad prompts may lead to crazed writers (and mods, if the bad prompt drives some poor writer over the edge). So I am determined to beat this thing. (It will be a Triumph of the Human Spirit! Perhaps, when I am formally declared to be Awesomest Prompt Writer Ever, I can sell my uplifting tale to Reader's Digest.) Thanks to the poll, I now have strategies. I have Lessons Learned! And, of course, I'm going to share them, because what would fandom be without a lot of random blither? Not the fandom I know and love, that's for sure. (Also, quiet.)
  • Learn from the best. I had a resource available to me this whole time, and I didn't even know it. [ profile] makesmewannadie writes fabulous prompts, and I have vowed in the future to follow her example. I will also get her to beta my prompts, for the good of the community and as a service to all writerkind. Behold the wonder of the MMWD-style prompt!

  • Everyone enjoys a deluxe assortment. Specifically, your assigned writer is most likely to be happy if you provide a few story ideas. ("A gen piece about A's time in the Solar Defense Militia. Or anything A/C, post-canon. Or maybe you could bring D back from the dead.") This allows your writer to go with whichever idea makes her happiest. It also staves off the impression that you're married to one specific story idea, and that your Yuletide will be ruined if you do not get that A/C crossover AU in which A is a rabbit and C is a zombie. This is important, because -

  • Almost everyone takes prompts really seriously. Try to remember this when you're writing prompts. Whether you take four seconds to dash off a few suggestions - "Possibly some light, frothy, funny BDSM incest with a dash of serial killing!" - or four days to detail a complete list of everything you like and hope to see - "...And I want a pony, and also peace on earth, and, Santa, if you could get the story recorded as a podfic read by Alan Rickman, then that's what I hope for most, and also did I mention the pony?" - your writer will certainly spend the next six weeks or so pondering every single word of it. She will likely also IM her betas and friends. ("And I'm wondering, when she said pony, did she mean a Mustang? Did she mean pony play? Does she want a shot glass? OMG I hope she didn't mean a Mustang, because I do not have time to research cars.") My point is: your words are going to be considered very, very carefully, so weigh them with equal care.

  • Your prompt may be the only thing your writer knows about you. You can do things to change this - write a good Santa letter (more about this later!), leave LJ entries unlocked, provide an exhaustive catalog of your loves and hates, zip the complete contents of your hard drive and upload it, etc. But what you can't do, at least in Yuletide, is assume your writer is coming into it knowing anything at all about you.

    Last Yuletide, I wrote two stories. One was for someone I knew. The other was for someone I didn't know at all. I worked just as hard on both stories, and judging from the comments, the stories were equally good (or bad) and equally enjoyed by their recipients. But I worried more about the one for the person I didn't know. Or, let me put it this way:

    When I got the prompt from the stranger, I read her Santa letter. I went to her LJ. I read her fan fiction. And I still didn't really know if she would like my idea or the story I wrote for her. I didn't know if we had similar senses of humor, if my take on the canon matched hers, if we used the same definitions of the words in her prompt - and these are things it's tough to learn about a stranger. So I, for example, deleted several jokes from my rough draft, on the grounds that she might find them offensive. I mean, she might have been a Scientologist. There was no way I could know! I played it safe where I could, because, well, I was already taking a somewhat risky approach to her fandom and pairing, and I didn't want to add to the risk.

    When I got the prompt from the friend (as a pinch hit), I read her Santa letter. But the thing was, since I know her, I knew immediately that she'd probably like my first idea for the fandom. (Like, I only realized after I'd posted her story that I never for a moment considered that she might want gen.) And, since I know her, I was able to recruit betas who knew her, too. It's amazingly reassuring to have your betas send you feedback that starts, "OMG, she'll LOVE this!"

    But there were 900 participants in Yuletide last year. (With luck, we'll break that this year. Wouldn't that be cool?) I didn't know most of them. Most of them didn't know me. The likelier scenario, in other words, for both you and your assigned writer, is that you'll be strangers until the reveal. Which means it's best to plan and act as though that's what's going to happen.

  • You and your writer may not be from the same parts of fandom. Especially in Yuletide, people come from all over fandom, and are assigned to each other based on knowledge of and love for a rare fandom. You may both be very interested in a sitcom that aired on British television for two years in the early 1970s, but that doesn't mean you're both into slash, gen, or het. It doesn't mean you're both media fans or anime fans or whatever. It doesn't mean you share a gender, a political affiliation, a religion, or a cultural background. In other words, what looks like an easy prompt to you may be impossible for your writer to imagine. This is why a prompt assortment works well. It's also something you should keep in mind as you read your story.

  • Make sure the words mean what you think they mean. The kind of prompt that showed up most frequently in the text answers to "hardest" and "strangest" was a slash pairing request accompanied by the words "no slash." If you ask for "gen McShep," your writer is going to be confused. Also distressed. So don't use fannish terms unless you know what they mean - and if you're new to this, it might be a good idea to have someone else read your prompts, just to be sure. Also, if you use terms that seem mutually contradictory ("Angsty death schmoop!"), it might be helpful to go into a bit more detail in your Santa letter.

  • This is not a menu. Do not order a #2 with an extra enchilada and no sauce. Your assigned writer is not your slave for six weeks. She's not here to fulfill your every whim, although she is going to try damn hard to fulfill one of your wishes. So, in general, avoid prompts that look like you're giving orders for a tailored suit. Detailed story outlines ("After A leaves B at the end of the canon, he goes on a journey to Tibet to find himself, and meets C along the way. Red-hot A/C lovin' follows, and then they meet the Old Man of the Mountain. It all ends well, although B is dead!") will probably leave your writer wondering why, if you know exactly what you want, you don't just write it yourself.
But here are the two most important things, hands down:
  1. Say what you don't want. If you are squicked by all mention of snails, share that. If you really, really do not want deathfic, say so. If any mention of any bodily fluid leaves you needing to lie down with a cold cloth on your eyes, mention this. If your "no" list is fairly short ("No animal harm of any kind, please") or contains fairly common things ("No slash, please.") put it in your request itself. Otherwise, put it in your Santa letter. But say it somewhere.

    In either case, try to remember - again! - that you don't necessarily have anything in common with your writer. She may love snails. She may have dedicated her life to the study and protection of snails. You can't know. So try to phrase your "no" list politely. "ABSOLUTELY NO SNAILFIC. I *mean* it. Snails = gross!" may, in fact, come off as an insult to your writer. The wise requester will avoid this whenever possible. Remember: the thoughtful, considerate writer, which 99.9% of writers are, will hear you the first time. And the rest of the writers won't hear you no matter how many times you repeat it. So why waste the space?

  2. Write some kind of prompt. Yes, a few writers would rather not have one, but in Yuletide, they can ignore your request. (And those who don't want a prompt probably won't sign up for exchanges where they can't.) And almost everyone dreaded getting no guidance. It's hard to figure out where to start. It's hard to figure out where not to start. And, if you end up being a pinch hit, it will be very hard for someone to take your request and hit the ground running (which is what pinch hitters have to do) if there are no details to use as a springboard. (Um. Mixed metaphor, but you take my point, yes?)
And then there's the Santa letter. It's a good idea to write one. And if you want to write a good one, well, here's what I will be remembering, or trying to remember, when I write my Santa letter in just a few weeks (eee!):
  • Do not use your Santa letter to fix problems with your request. (In other words, don't be me.) If there's a problem with your request, fix it there. Resubmit the sucker. It's worth your time. Otherwise, you run the risk of, for example, getting a pinch hitter who picked up your request based on the prompt you overrode in your Santa letter. She'll probably write the story she had in mind anyway, because she may not have time to do anything else.

  • Do tell your writer about yourself. If you have an "all about me" post, link to that. Or just tell a little about yourself - likes, dislikes, whatever. Trust me, your Santa will appreciate it.

  • Do tell your writer about the canons and characters you requested. This is vastly helpful to your writer - someone who loves the canon because "it's funny, and totally like what real life would be if you were dead" is going to love a different story than someone who loves the same canon because "it's got a concealed edge in its humor - like, you're laughing, but you're gutted at the same time." Someone who loves character A because "he's such a dork OMG" is going to love a different story than someone who loves him because "he has these moments of incredible insight, and he does important things even though they're hard for him."

    You can also use the space to link to resources your writer might find helpful. I mean, if you're obsessed with the canon, you probably know a few things about it, and, hey, why not be helpful? Perhaps your author is indeed searching for the full-text version of your canon, or for a place that really knows boats, or a complete dictionary of obsolete medical terms. The time she doesn't have to spend on research is just that much more time for writing.
And now is the portion of the post where we summarize what we've learned. Here's what I've learned: I just wrote more than 2,000 words on prompts. I got two pages of comments on prompts. And people had long, long memories for the prompts that hurt or helped them most. In other words, prompt-writing is hard, and writing to prompts is also hard. So, if you can, be charitable and generous when you're writing them and when you're writing to them. And if you are, for example, me, and thus you write really sucky prompts, well, there's always next year. Someday, you will be Prompt Queen. Keep trying.

And, no matter what kind of prompt you write, no matter what kind of story you get, remember to thank the writer who makes Yuletide happen for you.


[ profile] liviapenn has also posted thinky thoughts on prompts. And her thoughts come with the details of the mythical but fascinating canon Ghost Soup! You don't want to miss this.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Older fandoms, you confuse me so. The story I'm reading right now has piercing gazes, searing gazes, cuddling, comforting, lengthy descriptions of eyes that change color (Green! Hazel! Gold! No, I'm not kidding - really, gold, and this isn't the right fandom for him to have been implanted with a Goa'uld.), marriage proposals, men of action sharing their feelings in astonishing detail and with great (sometimes searing) honesty, a guy telling another guy how beautiful he is, holding hands, kissing, and two adult men (of action!) with extensive disposable incomes living together and sharing a bed.

And it's gen.*

I am patiently waiting for the mutual declarations of eternal love while hugging (or crying; I'd totally take crying) in the rain. Then, and only then, will I be able to stop reading.

So, does anyone have a story from an older fandom to recommend to me? You people have mostly been at this longer than me - surely you've got some nice gen or slash story favorite from a pre-LJ fandom that you could link me to. Gen or slash welcome - especially gen that I can read as gen. Seriously. Save me from myself. And this story. I am just bewildered, here.


* Another gen story in the same fandom (but by a different person) features a noted canonical horndog turning down NSA sex with a beautiful woman because he's in love with someone else - that someone being, of course, the guy who is his Entirely Not Slashy Totally Hetero Life Partner. (It also had a paragraph about their great and abiding love, and the Totally Hetero Life Partner isn't even in the story. Nor is there any explanation of why the THLP would want his "friend" to turn down the sex - I mean, seriously, it was just presented as "this is what you do when you're in love with your THLP, forswear sex and cleave only unto him, but in a straight and manly way." I guess I am just not straight enough to understand that.) And the author's note contained a diatribe against slash. Oh, my people.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
My annual bout of vid-meta came on early this year. Also, it's another feedback project. And, further, it's on a topic that's not going to be of great interest to many of you.

There is a specific person to blame for this, and that person is not me. I'm a totally innocent party, here. (As you will see, I fought this whole thing like - well, kind of like a first-level magic user who doesn't know how to cast Magic Missile, but I tried, is my point.) That person (the Party You Should Blame) is Scintilla, aka [ profile] scintilla72.

See, many moons ago I made a post about anime vids for media fans, and in it, I sort of vaguely implied that you don't need to leave feedback on anime vids, and in fact it might be better not to. Actually, let's just revisit my exact words, okay? They're kind of key to this whole thing. I said:

You don't need to leave feedback. [Ed.'s note: the writer was lying up above when she said she only implied this.] That's kind of a controversial statement, but - anime vidders seem to want, and get, very detailed opinions from other fans, and by "detailed" I mean "you need, at minimum, a master's degree from a reputable film school in order to give them." If you have such a degree, I encourage you to go check out ZeWrestler and Iserlohn's Guide to Opinions. Everyone else, well. My advice is to just use the star ratings on AMV, and concentrate your actual written feedback on live-action vidders. You don't need an eight chapter guide to do that.

Scintilla found this post eight months later, and said: not so.

And thus was born Yet Another Goddamned Project. Surely there's medication for this condition. )

Oh my god, TFV, screw the meta. Just take me straight to the AMV recs, please.

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, I experienced what was apparently a fever-related critical intelligence failure and imported all my bookmarks to

There were 4000 of them.

Three thousand of those were fannish.

I expect that sorting, tagging, and fixing those 3000 will take me approximately the rest of my life.

But this process, though apparently interminable, is also interesting, because I've realized that these bookmarks are my fannish history. Looking at them, I can see precisely where and how I started reading fan fiction (you don't want to know, and I don't want to tell you), how long it took me to find good fan fiction (so painfully long that I'm still not sure why I didn't give up), when fan fiction became an all-consuming hobby, displacing all my others (October, 2003). And what interests me most of all is that, in retrospect, I can see which bookmarks are epochal.

And, hey. If I'm going to wade through my fannish history, why not share? So here it is: A History of TFV as a Young Fan: A Tale Told in Links. (Part one. I'm only up to August 2004 in my bookmarks.)

The One That Gave Me Hope: Silence, by [ profile] cinzia.

In the summer of 2003, I was, as had become my custom, browsing around archives of LotR fan fiction, and what I was finding was, well, basically really horrible. I would get a list of all the stories in a given site, and I would go through them methodically, and inevitably I would end up reading something involving Legolas braiding Boromir's hair and making daisy chains that involved actual flowers. (Or, god forbid, orcs. Or, typically, both.)

I was tough, then, a brave young fan, not crabbed and aged as I am today. But even so, it was, well, disheartening. I loved the concept too much to give up, and I loved my brain, my eyes, and the English language too much to keep reading. Those were hard times, is what I'm saying. Then, on a magical day in July 2003, I bitched about this to Best Beloved.

Me: My god, every story on this site is from hell. These people obviously don't know English and yet they insist on writing entire conversations in Elvish. Also, someone needs to explain to these people that quotes from Nickleback and original Elvish poetry do not belong in the same damn story. Or even in separate ones, actually.
Best Beloved: Huh. Maybe you should, um, stop?
Me, helplessly: I can't.

[There is a pause while we both consider how pathetic this is.]

BB: So what are you reading right now?
Me, staring dispiritedly at the screen: Something about Aragorn crying because Legolas - oh, wait, sorry, Leggy - doesn't love him enough. With apostrophe-laden plurals. And - oh, god - Elvish love juice.
BB, clearly impressed: Wow. This I have to see.

[BB sits down at the computer. Two minutes pass.]

BB: I don't know what you're complaining about. This isn't so bad.
Me, bitterly: Well, maybe you and Leggy can consummate your love in a wooded glade with a series of random dots pretending to be ellipses, then.
BB: No, really. Read this. It's pretty good.

"This," as it turned out, was Silence, and it was the best story I'd read in LotR fandom. (Best Beloved, I feel the need to note here, had found it with a single random click. I had been diligently clicking on LotR FF for months, and I hadn't found anything even approaching readable, but - I'm totally over it. Delighted that BB could help me find the way, even if the way was apparently random clicking by someone other than me. Absolutely. Fucking. Delighted.)

I'd learned an important truth: the good stuff was out there. Of course, I still didn't have a clue how to find it. But that was, in comparison to the good stuff not actually existing, a really minor problem.

The One That Made Me Understand That Fandom Is a Conversation: The Elements of Slash: Inside the Wacky, Weird World of "Lord of the Rings" Slash Fiction, by Morgan Richter.

I started in fandom as an entirely passive consumer of fan fiction. I thought things about it - a lot of things, including that Legolas should never, ever be called "Leggy" - but I didn't articulate those things (excepted in hand-wavy dinner conversations), and I sure never considered that other people might be thinking about them, too.

Then, in September of 2003, I found this essay while randomly googling. (And, oh, until I saw some of the other links I'd bookmarked around that time, I'd almost forgotten how sad the random google phase of a fan's life is. Thank god for discoveries like this.) It was a revelation. There was another person out there! And she was interested in slash, and yet she could spell and punctuate and totally understood that in a reasonable universe, no one would ever have to read the phrase "his milky alabaster skin."

I was amazed. And pleased. And once I knew that this fans-discussing-fandom-and-fan-fiction stuff existed, I started looking for it. In short order, I found The Fanfic Symposium, and from there I branched out all over. I found the Mary Sue Litmus Tests and spent a happy evening reading about the ecology of the strange creature known as Mary Sue. (As I was going through the links, I realized the original Mary Sue Litmus Test, which I joyfully bookmarked three years ago, had been written by someone I read every day here on LJ. So, hey, [ profile] mtgat! I've apparently been loving your work way longer than I thought.)

The picture of fandom in my head started to change. I no longer imagined random individuals writing and other random individuals reading, all in strange solitude. I realized that fandom was a community, a community of people thinking about stuff, paying attention to it, talking about it, writing about it. My picture of the average fan changed, too, from a 14-year-old girl posting, "OMG I just saw part of Felowship and Orli is so HAWTTTT I had to write this! It's my first time! Review lots or NO MORE updates!!!!" to someone - well, interesting. Someone I might want to know.

Someone I might want to be.

The Fellowship of the Rings made me read fan fiction. But meta made me a fan.

The One That Gave Me Half of My Forty-or-So Fandoms: Out of Whack, by Bone, aka [ profile] thisisbone, and Aristide, aka [ profile] cimmerians*.

I spent the fall of 2003 exploring fandom and reading obsessively. (Or, okay, I've done that since the fall of 2003, but I'm specifically talking about then.) I learned that maybe random archives weren't my friend. More importantly, I learned that another not-my-friend thing was kind of integral to fandom. Namely, television.

I know a lot of people have a great relationship with television and I'm very happy for you (and by "happy" I mean "seething with sickening envy"), but mine has always been kind of a - well, let me put it this way. I just turned to Best Beloved and said, "I need an analogy for my relationship with television. I was thinking in terms of Kate and Petruchio, but that doesn't quite do it, somehow."

Best Beloved said: "Guido and those people who miss their payments to the mob. Or Henry the VIII and most of his wives." See. I just. It has never worked out between TV and me. I've tried, and so have several tireless, courageous souls, and I've gotten a lot better - I've probably managed to get all the way from Anne Boleyn to Anne of Cleves (TV, of course, is playing Henry VIII). But still. TV/TFV is never going to be a pairing of legend, unless the legend involves a lot of headaches, stupid questions, avoidance, and humiliating misunderstandings.

But I was learning that most major fandoms were TV shows. I felt - well, hampered. But in November 2003, I clicked on Out of Whack. Some careful reading later, I learned a great truth: fan fiction can be canon-optional. Later, I learned that I am actually much more likely to enjoy reading the fan fiction if I don't know the canon when I start, and TV fandoms became my happy home.

Due South, Sports Night, SG1, SGA, Smallville - I have all those fandoms, and many more, because of this story, because of the lesson it taught me. And that lesson is: stories about a guy listening to his "roommate" jerking off are the Rosetta Stones of fandom. The sex provides, um, helpful keys, and I can kind of build the rest of the canon's grammar and lexicon from there. (Actually, I would soon acquire an unholy passion for reconstructing canon from fan fiction. But that's a story for Part Two.)

Suddenly, my fannish reading wasn't limited by anything other than my interest, my time, my preferences, and my squicks. In any reasonable movie, this is the place where "Ode to Joy" would start playing.

The One That Gave Me This LJ: Confidence Men, by Dorinda.

In January 2004 I heard about [ profile] yuletide, and I was pathetically excited. I had developed a great love of small fandoms, and this was clearly the small-fandom-lover's holy grail.

I went to the archive and did my usual hopeful clicking. (Note: Yuletide is pretty much the only archive on the planet where this strategy regularly works for me. Yet more proof that it is a Christmas Miracle.)

My first click took me to Confidence Men. I was stunned. It was beyond good, beyond great; it was perfect. And I felt, welling up inside, something very familiar to me and every religious weirdo on this earth: the urge to proselytize.

See, when I read something wonderful, I want to tell everyone about it, get everyone to read it. I just can't bear to think of those sad, lonely, damned souls, unaware of the joy and peace they can find in the holy embrace of really good reading material. But at that point in my life, I had no outlet for my proselytizing urge. (Free advice: when you meet a proselytizer with no pulpit, run. In. Fear. The urge is so strong that, if not given a regular outlet, it can build to the point where the proselytizer is grabbing random strangers on the street and shouting, "OMG Ted Chiang read him now or you will BURN BURN BURN!") I'd been reviewing books, and that was a perfect way for me to meet my proselytizing needs without becoming (more of) a menace to society, but then my family found my book reviews, and I couldn't write them anymore. (For reasons unknown, I can share things with the entire internet or with people related to me by blood. Not both.)

So. It's January 2004. I have just read Confidence Men and told Best Beloved about it. And I need to tell other people, but - who is left to tell? (Yes, I did tell Dorinda, but, um. At that point, I wasn't exactly ready for prime time in the area of actual fannish communication. I mean, some would say I'm still not there yet, but I definitely wasn't there then. Dorinda was incredibly kind and good-natured about the whole thing, although I've always wondered if she passed my email around to her friends with, like, "Warning: Total Whackjob" in the subject line. I would've deserved it.) The urge to share the fabulousness - convert people to it, even - built and built and built, and by March 2004, when I set up this LJ at the encouragement of some folks from the late lamented Fametracker Forums - well. I pretended I wasn't going to post. But I wasn't even fooling myself, not really.

The One That Gave Me a Look at How the Other Half Lives: Untitled, by, well, me.

Obviously, I wouldn't recommend my own story - and if I did, for the record, it would not be this one - but this isn't a recs set. It's a history of my fannish evolution. And this was a big change for me; it gave me a sort of fannish superbranchial organ, and suddenly I could breathe on land for short periods. (The story also ushered in the Era of Having a Secret LJ, about which I will only say that it proved that I am much too lazy to have secrets. I came out as a fan fiction writer because I just could not take all the work, the intense and demanding labor, of logging out and logging back in every time I wanted to reply to a comment.)

Until the summer of 2004, I didn't think I was a fan fiction writer. Sure, I'd written my share of humiliating-to-recall pre-fandom fan fiction; like, in second grade, when we were assigned to write a paragraph about a book we'd read, I wrote about 35 pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder's diary. And turned it in the next day. Let's just say I probably deserved the weird evaluations that that teacher gave me for the rest of the year. (All right. In all honesty, I got them before, too; I was the bad kind of special. But after I handed in that masterpiece, I have to assume she thought I was the really bad kind of special.)

But before Sports Night, I had no desire or ability to write fan fiction.

And then I actually watched some canon, and I realized I could hear the characters in my head. (Still can. Danny and Casey: always in my heart and always in my mind.) Yeah, yeah - bad kind of special, all right, I know. But I wrote it down and posted the sucker.

Here's the thing. This didn't just make me realize I could do something I was sure I couldn't. It also changed the way I interacted with fandom and canons. Writing fan fiction, taking an active, interactive approach to the canon, made me - well. I can't really quantify the change, except to say that I no longer saw canons as static, or unchangeable, or even privileged. (I've always seen books that way, sure, but TV - well, I'd just kind of figured it knew best.)

In other words, after I wrote this, I started interacting with canons the same way I always had with fan fiction: evaluating, analyzing, criticizing, changing. (I've written more fan fiction for fan fiction than for all my canons put together, and I started writing that long before I started this story. I've continued stories, I've remixed them, I've written sequels and missing scenes and fixes. I don't share this stuff, obviously - well, except for when I'm playing with [ profile] z_rayne's work, since she loves to see what other people do with her toys even when what they do is pretty dorky and eternally unfinished.)

And there endeth part one. In part two, assuming I survive the links, we'll see Godzilla on the rampage in downtown Tokyo. Well, no - what we'll see, mostly, is TFV dancing on the slippery, slippery slope. But I will try to throw in some roaring and stomping, because, as we all know, added giant mutant lizards = added giant mutant fun!


* Thanks, [ profile] sockkpuppett!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay. Here's the deal. Y'all had plenty of vids to rec to me when I asked in the poll, and I was impressed and joyful. And now I want you to rec that same vid (or, hey, an entirely different one) to your friends list, who will likely also be joyful. It's important to me, and I plan to be difficult and obstreperous about it, but I'm also providing this handy guide. So there's a carrot and a stick, here. (Carrot: the handy guide and my eternal love. Stick: pouting.)

This is a basic recommendation: "I liked this. [link to vid announcement]"

That's all you do. You post to your LJ or other fandom-associated location. You say: "Hey! This vid is good!" And you provide a link.

But, okay, I understand only too well how hard it is to say nothing but that when you rec; I've never managed it with anything ever.

You can also say lots of other stuff - what you liked specifically, who it might appeal to, why you think it appealed to you. You can say what fandom it's in, what the song is, who the characters are, what the point of it is. The world is your oyster. You can type four words ("Jack hot. Panties wet.") or you can type until the post limit runs out ("And I think the crucial symbolism here is found within the overall color scheme, or, more specifically, the color scheme's progression from red to green, thus revealing the manner in which the relationship..."). Your choice. Whatever comes naturally to you, really. (If the latter comes naturally to you, I am so nicknaming you the Professor. Or maybe Doc.)

So. Are you convinced? Are you ready to rec? Then you can skip all the rest of this, though you may wish to check out the list of vidders who basically volunteered to be meat for recommending purposes (provided said meat was treated with basic fannish good manners).

If you have objections, though - in short, if you are not going to go right out and rec like a good little carrot-fixated bunny, thus averting what will be, I promise you, a terrible case of pouting on my part - read on. (And if you don't find your objection covered here, let me know. I am happy to add to this list pretty much eternally. I want everyone to rec at least one vid, people. I am very very committed to this concept. Also, I am stubborn. Best just to state your objections clearly so we can get them out of the way.)

"I don't know what to say."

I said this myself for quite a long time. Because vidders have special terminology, right? They have, like, all special words and secret chants and mystic prunes1 and they will mock you ceaselessly and mercilessly if you use even one single intonation incorrectly, right?

Wrong, actually. There is indeed some technical jargon that vidders know. Much of it relates to specific programs. (Although, frankly, from what I've seen, that is often more obscene than mystical, all: "You evil fuckware, I do everything you want, everything, and now you won't fucking load? Give me vid or I kill with FIRE, you binary Satan that the damned call Premiere!") Some of it is from the film industry and can be learned from any film school. Or book. Or documentary.

But here's the thing: You don't need to know that stuff. (You'd better not need to, because I sure don’t.) Vidders will know what you're talking about no matter what term you use, and are actually more likely to get descriptive terms ("Camera goes swirly! Watcher goes YAY!") than technical ones, since mostly they didn't go film school, either.

More importantly, your readers, your actual recs users, will almost all be non-vidders. They don't need to know about the camera going swirly, no matter what you call it, and they probably don't know the right term for that anyway. For them, you focus on the watcher going YAY. That's what they need to know.

So don't bother with the detailed critique of vidding technique. (Unless you just want to, in which case it's a review, not a rec.) You wouldn't do it for fan fiction you recommended, either. Talk about how the vid made you feel or what it made you think. Mentioning the swirliness of the camera is totally optional.

"I don't watch a lot of vids."

Okay. But how about a vid? Have you seen a vid? Good. Did you like it? Excellent. (In all fairness, I have to warn you that the ratio of watched:liked will not continue at 1:1 forever. Appreciate it while you've got it.)

So where's the problem? You don't need to be an expert in all of vidding to rec vids; I am the living, breathing, recommending proof of that. I started recommending vids when I understood absolutely nothing about them, and I have progressed all the way to not knowing much, but knowing what I like. Do I let this stand in my way? I do not. Do I look like an idiot some of the time? Almost certainly. But you know what? I would anyway; it's my gift. And, you know, I've been called an idiot for recommending various stories, but no one has ever said anything nasty to me because I recommended a specific vid, or vids in general.

And, let me remind you - most of you had at least one vid to rec to me in the poll. (And may I just say, you people have excellent taste.) Why not rec it in your LJ, too?

"But if I haven't seen a lot of vids, how do I know I'll always like it?"

Maybe you won't always like the vid you like right now. So what? If you like it, odds are good that most of your friends list will, too - after all, they generally share some of your interests or tastes or they wouldn't be your friends list. So tell them about it. Later, if you decide it sucks, you can look back all ironically and marvel at your naiveté. You can even wear a beret. It'll be bags of fun.

"But why bother?"

Well, because it's a nice thing to do for your friends. It's hard to find recs of vids that match a specific interest; vid recommending is much more in its infancy than fan fiction recommending. So if you find a good vid, letting everyone else know it's good - that's nice.

And, hey, it's content. Are you telling me you don't occasionally veer into the toenails, GIPs, and pictures of cats type of LJing? Well, here's something to reward your readers for giving you advice about that toenail fungus. (Note: To the best of my knowledge, no one on my friends list actually has a toenail fungus. My friends list is 92% fungus-free. That's just a general remark, because even if someone did have a fungus, I would likely suppress that knowledge.)

And it's a nice thing to do for vidders, to let the world know they did something cool. (That goes double if you encourage your friends list to leave feedback for the vidder.)

And it's important. Because, okay, perhaps you have the fastest internet connection in the world and a million billion trillion gigabytes of hard drive space, but not everyone does; they can only download so many. How do people know which vids are worth downloading and which aren't? Recommendations. If you took the trouble to download it, you might as well let that effort pay off for your friends. And how do people who are new to watching vids know where to start? Yup, that's right: Recommendations.

"But I don't recommend stuff."

You don't have to be a formal recommender, with a recs journal and an obsessive organization scheme and a backlog of stuff to rec, in order to provide the occasional link to an excellent story or vid or piece of art. It's part of what we all do in fandom - we link our friends to stuff we liked.

(Yes, some of us do it more than others. We have a disease. It's very tragic and sad. But I don't think you can catch our Recommending Obsessively Disorder through casual recommending. You can't even catch it by being around those who have it, for which thank god, or we'd be forced to ring bells to warn people we were coming. It's just, you know, something that some of us were born with. We try not to let it get us down.)

"But vidders are scary."

I totally acknowledge this. It's the mystic prunes, I think. It makes them special and different and weird and smelly.

Also, I hear they sacrifice kittens.

No. Look. They are fans, just like everyone else in these parts. Some of them are probably jerks, although not any of the ones I've talked to. Many of them are very nice. Most of them are forgetful and overcommitted and totally convinced that certain people are So Doing It. They squee and flail and headdesk regularly. See? Just like the rest of us.

Some of them will even share their mystic prunes if you ask nicely.

"I don't know who did the vid I love, so I can't figure out where the vid announcement is."

Allow me to direct you to the brand-spanking-new community [ profile] vidfinders, which is for "Have you seen this vid?" type posts. [ profile] makesmewannadie recently asked for vid recs, and loads of people rec'd vids without credits, so they knew only the source and the song. Every one of those was rapidly identified by someone else reading the comments. Lost and unattributed vids can be found.

"But my friends list is very small and they've already seen everything I have. I mean, I've only seen the really well-known stuff, anyway."

They have not. Truly. I know it seems that way, but, honestly. There is a fangirl somewhere out there who has not seen Boom Boom Ba (by [ profile] charmax) or Failed Experiments in Video Editing (by E.K.) or Heart of Funkness (by [ profile] absolut3destiny) or Hello (by [ profile] merryish) or Holding out for a Hero (by [ profile] marycrawford) or Jolene (by [ profile] z_rayne) or Loaded Gun (by [ profile] gwyn_r) or Moving Right Along (by [ profile] sdwolfpup) or Pretty When You Cry (by [ profile] lierdumoa) or Take Me Out (by [ profile] barkley and [ profile] destina) or Whatever (by the extremely holy duo of [ profile] sockkpuppett and [ profile] sisabet). Odds are good that you can reach that poor fangirl simply by posting a link. Won't you help her out? (Picture a waif, here. With big ol' sad eyes. Staring pathetically at an empty computer screen. Or maybe a puppy staring pathetically at an empty food dish. Whatever gets the guilt flowing.)

Also, recs have a cumulative effect. Somebody might say, upon first seeing a rec, "Oh god no I am not watching an Apocalypse Now vid set to disco. I still have some sanity left to me, and by god, I treasure it." After two or three recs, that person might very well break down and see the Apocalypse Now vid set to disco (Heart of Funkness, linked above, and "Apocalypse Now set to disco" works as both warning and summary for it), and fandom will have brought the crazy (the good crazy) to one more soul.

It makes you feel all warm and happy inside, doesn't it? And you can be part of this glorious fannish cycle.

"But it's work!"

This was my objection until very recently. But now that we know we have Freedom to Rec, vid recommending is as simple as making a link and typing some words. Are you seriously telling me you weren't going to do that anyway at some point this month? Or this year, even? So make one of them a rec. One. Pretty please?

Otherwise, there could well be whining. Or pining, even. From me.

You won't like me when I'm pining, people.

The List )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Long ago, when the world was young (okay, about two years ago, but in fandom time that's like 37 generations), I developed the Urge to Rec Vids. (This was associated with, but not a direct result of, my attempts to learn how to watch vids. But that, my friends, is a meta of a different color, and that color would likely be beige enough to cause ennui-related brain damage.) But I was aware, from my hesitant proddings at the fringes of the vid world, that linking to or recommending vids was a different deal than recommending fan fiction.

(Note: This might have been true then. It's definitely not true now. Sorry; I just had to throw that in there. It's very hard to stay in a chronological first-person narrative without a lot of lapsing into "Ah, but had I known!" and "This is where I made my first mistake" and "In retrospect, that's when I should've started taking the malaria pills." God only knows how fictional narrators manage.)

So I looked around and found some discussion of this - as I recall, one post, with comments, about somebody linking to the poster's vid without permission, one essay, and one "Where Did My Vids Go and Why Aren't They Coming Back?" type statement on a website. The conclusions I drew from these sources:
  1. Vidders did not necessarily relish having their vids linked to or recommended, and really did not relish this happening outside the vidding community. (Actually, I kind of concluded that vidders did not much like non-vidders, period. But I'm now very aware that this was wrong, and also it was kind of stupid of me to believe it in the first place, so we will pretend that I never did, okay?)

  2. If anyone, but especially a non-vidder, wanted to link to a vid, it was absolutely mandatory to obtain permission first.
This was a problem for me. See, for me, there's fannish interaction - leaving comments, sending feedback, writing email, asking permission - and then there's fannish activity - writing, recommending, etc. I am fully functional when it comes to fannish activity. Interaction, though, not so much.

(Side note: You might think recommending would count as fannish interaction. But you would be wrong. As I've said to several people already, sending feedback is striking up a conversation with the smartest, wittiest, most attractive stranger in the room. Recommending is standing on the street corner shouting to myself about weasels. And I, as it happens, am much more comfortable in crazy-bag-lady mode. I mean, you all are invited, even encouraged, to stop, listen, and comment ("No, no. Everyone knows that ferrets are superior to weasels! And also, they are far sleeker!" Or, as it is known to those who, in a freaky timeline inversion thing, even now carry the scars: WeaselWank 2011.), and I'm delighted when you do (although I understand that 2011's going to be a tough year for comments), but I'm not expecting you to and I don't feel bad if you don't. Also, when I'm recommending, I don't feel like I have to be smart or impress anyone - random weasel-related blithering is perfectly fine. Whereas with feedback, I feel this horrible weight, this need to be as articulate and clever and all-around nifty as the person I am sending feedback to, which is obviously never going to happen. It makes me tense.)

So. Time progressed. I conquered a number of vid-related fears (accessophobia - fear of asking for vid site passwords, clickophobia - fear of sending feedback, oculomoronophobia - fear of looking like an idiot, divxphobia - fear of new codecs, etc.). I recommended some vids every now and again. And all was well.

Then, somewhere along the line, I discovered anime music videos, and oh my god the joy. Not only were they pretty and shiny and wondrous to behold, because live-action vids are that, too, but they were pretty much designed for people who didn't want to talk to other people. I didn't need to ask permission to rec. (And I actually couldn't send feedback to the creators, what with my intelligence not being up to the task of giving AMV opinions, which are in themselves quite the fine and demanding art.)

It was heaven. I recommended many anime vids and the occasional live-action vid, and there was happiness in the house of TFV.

And then one day quite recently I was talking with [ profile] cupidsbow about the Issue of Recommending Vids. And she said (and I'm paraphrasing so severely that I might very well fuck up her point, so if you don't like it, that's probably my fault) that she'd never asked for permission when she recommended vids, and she didn't want to start, as she highly values the free flow of ideas and discussion and thinks permission requirements might inhibit that.

And I thought: Huh. (Yes, precisely like that. You see why I fear situations that require feats of linguistic virtuosity?) Because the thing is, I'd seen vidders link to other people's vids in a casual way. I'd seen recs swarm across my friends list even when I knew the vidder was unavailable to grant permission to rec. And I started wondering - is it different because I'm not a vidder? Is it different because I am a recommender? Or, hey, is it different? Do I actually need permission at all?

On LJ, my motto is: when in doubt, poll.

So I ran a poll asking vidders about vid permission and a poll asking vid watchers about vids in general. And what I learned was - well. Let's discuss.

First, as of this writing, 108 vidders have taken the vidder poll. Only 7% of them said it was necessary to ask permission before linking to a vid announcement. Even more significant, though, is that 51% of them - half! - had never even heard of this weird alien ritual of asking permission to link to a vid announcement. And 93 of the vidders - or just over 86% of them - gave blanket permission to rec or link to their vid announcements (provided people respected basic fannish manners - no hotlinking, no stealing, proper credit given, etc.).

So, no matter what was true two years ago (or what I thought was true two years ago, and such is the tragic nature of time and observers and all that physics whatnot that we will never know for sure which), what's true today is: a vid is a fanwork like any other fanwork, and you follow the same rules when recommending it as you would for recommending a story or a piece of art or whatever. With one major exception, that is: with stories, generally we link directly to the file. With vids, we link to the announcement page.

And that is really all there is to it. You, my friends, have the freedom to rec vids. In particular, you have the freedom to rec the vids of the 93 vidders who gave blanket permission. In general, you have the freedom to link any public vid announcement that doesn't say that you can't; in other words, permission to link is implied by the act of publicly announcing a vid, unless or until permission is specifically withdrawn, as long as you are linking within the general fannish community.

But some of you are probably wondering about the vidders who do think permission is necessary and didn't give blanket permission. You're in luck! I'm going to talk about them now. You folks who only wanted to know the general gist of the results should feel free to leave (and go rec something), but if you're curious about the Deeper Issues, stick around. There's poll analysis and thinkiness and potentially incorrect theories. Fun for the whole family except the sane members, is my point there.

Further vid meta that is so long and so boring that it is under a cut tag for your protection. Click only if you have permission from your doctor to read 20-year-old computer manuals and earnest screeds on economics from the 1920s. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(I actually wrote this about two months ago, apparently; I was searching through my flash drives for a file that just does not seem to be anywhere at all when I discovered this. I didn't even remember that I'd finished it. But I had, and it's here, and I'm posting it. Why the heck not?

And let this be a lesson to you all: index your damn drives.)

The Vid Feedback Project was triggered by a number of posts, but most directly [ profile] sdwolfpup's Vid Feedback 101. Read the essay - it's a good one - but the message I took away from it was:
  1. Vidders want feedback.

  2. They want this feedback even from non-vidding viewers.

  3. Any feedback that isn't overtly flame-filled or insane is welcome, including, "I liked this vid."

  4. Further comments, such as emotional reactions, are also welcome.
This was very interesting to me. I am a vid watcher - oh, am I ever a vid watcher - but the closest I'll ever come to vidding is coming up with a lot of terrible vid ideas. (Example: Tub-Thumping by Chumbawumba for Daniel Jackson of SG1. He gets knocked down! He gets up again! They're never gonna keep him down!) But the thing is - whether you're a FF writer or not, you probably have all the tools at hand to discuss someone else's story. Or, god, I hope you do. But we don't write visual media critiques in seventh grade, and we don't memorize the vocabulary, and we also don't have a lot of experience with group discussions about visual media, so we can't learn by seeing others do it. (Wait. Why am I speaking for everyone? That should be me and I. Sorry.)

But, you know, vidders give me a lot of pleasure. They've taught me about canons I could never imagine watching. They've hand-fed me fandoms in three-minutes pieces. They've made me laugh. They've made me get snuffly and blinky-eyed. (And, yes, they've also confused the shit out of me, on occasions too humiliatingly numerous to document here.) And I know vidding is a lot of work; all you have to do is read the LJ of someone who is currently Great with Vid, and you'll realize that. So, here are these people, doing this time-consuming, challenging, creative thing, and then sharing the results with me free of charge. Clearly, I owe something to vidders. But what? I can rec vids, and I have, but - I'm not terribly confident about my ability to judge vids objectively, so most of my recs sets are grouped around themes like "Approximately Three Thousand Vids Set to 'Holding out for a Hero'" and "Lots of Things Go Boom." And, anyway, vid recs are pretty much exclusively for the vid-watcher, as you'll know if you've ever tried to get someone's permission to rec her vid.

So, according to the posts I mentioned way, way up there, what vidders would like is feedback. My assumption prior to reading those posts was that vidders wanted intelligent feedback. (The first reaction I ever got to a vid comment contributed to that impression. The Guide to Giving Opinions at AMV, about which more later on, contributed much, much more.) But here were live action vidders claiming they'd be happy with even uninformed feedback.

The obvious question was: were they right? And I had it within my power to answer that question. I can write uninformed feedback. I so totally can. And if they truly don't care what kind of feedback they get, well, how hard is it to write "I liked it!" and click send? (As it turned out, pretty damn hard. But I anticipate.)

Excelsior! )


thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
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