(she links to both Unfunny Business post and Fail Fandonanon for more info, and you can follow the trail back to the original FA post if you want.)
Here's my response....
I had a tough time with this one last night when I started to see posts talking bout how shameful FA was, and while I completely disagree with the language FA is using to legitimize their request, it seems to me that there is a fundamental and institutionalized (if we can call fandom an institution, which ok, i know i'm reaching, still) feeling that what we as members of fandom are doing is somehow not at all a life enriching activity. It's just porn.
Again, however, I'm not trying to say that it's on the same level as building ramps for physically disabled kids to get into their school, BUT,
Part of the cultural discourse around fandom and fandom projects is that we often get labeled as 'frivilous', 'meaninless', 'time wasting', or even 'addictive'. And we've been trying for years to change those views and to legitimize fandom activities to the outside world as sources of community, support, healthy exploration of sexuality, creative expression. I firmly believe that fandom can be both positive and negative - a kind of community that has educational components but also a community that is problematic. But it's not ALL problematic.
While one strain of fandom studies initially attempted to legitimize fan activity as great because it promoted literacy, lead to professionalization in writing, and even new language acquisition -- yet in the last couple of years has pushed back against itself by noting that these kinds of affordances are not uniformly developed if one is in fandom -- (I think the real answer is somewhere in the middle - yes, participation in fandom does promote some very specific types of literacy and critical thinking, but not necessarily the ones that are seen by state-sanctioned education as being important), what we have now is a kind of catch 22. No one wants to over-claim the benefits of fandom, and because of this people are very careful to under-claim its benefits. And this leads to this conversation of shame.
Additionally, I think much of the rejection plays right into the dominant capitalist discourse that does not recognize fandom labor as 'real work'. Because the bar to participation is so low, and most of the discussion around fandom labor is a discussion about 'free labor' (and again comes up against the patriarchical tendency to not recognize female labor as labor because it is not seen as generating capital). And, from the comments and conversation around this FA moment (and taking a glance at secrets on any day at fandom secrets), there is a great deal of internalized shame about fandom activities that reinforces the idea that, while we may spend a couple of hours a day being creatively inspired to write, to create art, to participate in conversations, to support each other, it's all a waste of time and not worth anything.
Now, again, you can point to any post on unfunny business and note there's a great deal of negative that happens in the fandom community on any given day.
But why is it more legitimate to participate in a local community band than it is to participate in an online community creating writing? Both have traditionally been seen as 'frivolous' activities that don't create anything worth selling, right? And the key here for me is, even if I change that sentence to read "community creating porn" I still think porn is legitimate creative expression. It may provide different kinds of satisfactions than playing music does, but to me, there are still satisfactions.
Is what FA is doing legitimate? I'm not sure. But I don't think it's as *SHAMEFUL* as everyone is claiming.
also posted to dreamwidth | you can reply here or there | um, but don't worry, i'm still an lj girl