lirazel: ([tv] confession)
Charlie Brooker explained the series' title to The Guardian, noting: "If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone."


It's going to sound like typical Lauren hyperbole when I say that Black Mirror is the most important television show I've ever watched. But it isn't exaggeration. I mean that.

Are y'all familiar with Charlie Brooker? I'm sure my British friends are. He's a comedian--sort of--he's extremely funny, but that isn't his endgame. He's a writer and a social commentator. He's cynical and smart and more than one TV show where he talks about TV and how it's messed up society (is there a better name for a television show than How TV Ruined Your Life?) but he also loves TV. And in Black Mirror, he uses a TV show to ask huge, important questions and do it with really, really great style.

The show is...like The Twilight Zone for the 21st Century. It's speculative fiction in its purest form--by which I mean built around speculation, asking "What if?" I actually can't say much about it, because the best way to watch it is knowing next to nothing about it. But I can say that each episode is a stand-alone story, a mini-movie, and that the through-line of the show is the 'black mirror'--the screens in our lives: TVs, computer screens, phone screens, whatever.

It's a show about our relationship with technology, actually. A show about how we use technology and what our using it does to us and reveals about us. And it's far and away the most disturbing show I've ever seen.

I am not usually a fan of disturbing. Too many creators use it as an end unto itself; they think 'edgy' means 'important' and so they make things as edgy as possible for its own sake. I hate that. But there is a way to craft stories that are disturbing because they have to be. Because they want us to think. Because there's no other way to ask the questions we really need to ask, no other way to create the urgency that needs to be present in these conversations. And Black Mirror is so adept at doing that that I can't think of another piece of art that even comes close.

And this is art: from a technical perspective, the show is flawless. Perfect casting, perfect acting, perfect production, perfect music use, perfect direction. It uses the potentialities of the television medium to the utmost degree. But what really makes the show so important (I keep using that word; if you watch it you'll see why) is the content. It's the ideas. Each episode takes one central idea (sometimes a very simple one) and fully explores one potential manifestation of it. That's about all I can say without getting into spoiler territory.

I don't recommend this show to everyone. If you're the kind of person who prefers your media intake to be escapist or even just thought-provoking but not to this extent--and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; we all use media for different reasons--then you will not want to watch this. You need to know going in that it's going to upset you, and that every episode (except perhaps the last, which is definitely messed-up, but not as much so as the others) is...horrific.

But if you're willing to go there, you should watch this. It's available on DirecTV now, as well as findable on the internet, and I really invite those of you who are intrigued to check it out. I'm going to talk some more under a cut, but if you're thinking of watching it DO NOT READ WHAT'S UNDER THE CUT. It will spoil you, and I have never, ever seen anything that would lose so much power by viewing it spoiled as this show. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT WATCH IT.

I think the thing that impresses me most about this show is that it is so completely about how we choose to use technology. Brooker (who wrote or co-wrote 5 of the 6 episodes) is no Luddite. He likes technology. He thinks it's great for a lot of things. He's just super super super aware of the potential it has for evil.

But that potential is always the result of human choice. This isn't "we created robots and the robots adapted and now they're killing us all!" (not that that can't be good). Every episode--even the ones that don't seem like it for most of their running time--explores the horrors that can result because of human choices of how to use technology. Sometimes those choices are on a very individual level, one single person making decisions that (supposedly) impact only themselves. Sometimes these choices are on a macro level, a result of society making choices collectively. Always they're not the result of one single decision by anyone. Both the ones that are based around individual choices and the ones that are based around societal choices are always really about a series of choices, usually small ones, that pile up, leading in one direction. Several of the trajectories feel almost inexorable, inevitable, like there was no way any other series of choices could possibly be made. Others feel like tiny, conscious concessions that someone makes thinking things won't be so bad.

Technology (in this show and, I would argue, in the real world) is not an outside force, the man-made equivalent of 'acts of God' like a volcano or an earthquake or something we can't control. It is a tool, always a tool, neutral in its morality, only possible as a source of evil when human beings choose to make it so. Brooker seems to think that some of these nightmares are inevitable, and I agree with him the sense that I think that when it comes to technology, humans will always choose to use it for terrible things. Always. And yet that's still a choice. I'm not quiet about my belief in free will. I find the idea of destiny or even providence morally insulting. But what's so scary for me, and what this show underlined for me, is that even though human choice is the most important force in life, individual human choices doesn't always matter, not in the face of collective human choice. This is why we have systemic injustice. And sometimes it would be so much easier to throw our hands up and say "That's just the way things are; this is destiny" because the force of inertia in culture is so unfathomably heavy. But we can't do that. Because it's always human choices. Change for the better is always possible. It is. But sometimes it is so, so, so unlikely, and that's one of the most tragic things of all.

Some of these things could happen tomorrow--"The National Anthem," "The Waldo Moment," heck, even "White Bear' could happen now if there was enough money put into it (and laws were changed). Others, like "The Entire History of You" and "Be Right Back" aren't possible just yet, but are clearly coming down the pike; I think it's very possible we'll live to see a world like "The Entire History of You" and the first part of "Be Right Back" (even if the second section--the body grown in the bathtub--is probably quite a distance in the future). "Fifteen Million Merits" is the most obviously sci-fi episode, the only one where the bulk of the world the characters are living in doesn't really look like our world, but the thing is that all the elements of it are already in place. They haven't been assembled all together in this way, and it's entirely possible they never will. But they could, and I think this vision of a possible future for us is a realistic, if improbable, one.

I really admire the way that each episode commits to one central premise and pursues it completely--unrelentingly--to its inevitable end. And that end is inevitable. By which I mean: we can't have a world in which people will contribute money to Stephen Colbert's SUPERPAC and that world not also be a world in which people (if provided the option) will not vote for a cartoon character for MP. We can't have a world in which we have the potential to record each and every moment of our lives and not have people do just that. We can't have a world in which people have the possibility of creating a synthetic version of a dead loved one and not have people take advantage of that possibility. This isn't because, again, technology is a force of its own. It's because of human nature. And human nature is such that, when a possibility exists, at least some people will choose to embrace it. Not everyone would vote for that cartoon MP. Not everyone would grow a synthetic version of their dead boyfriend in a bathtub. But some people would. And that's horrifying enough all on its own.

One of the things that scares me most about human nature is how we're always, always pushing forward when it comes to innovating. This is also one of the things that most delights me about human nature. We don't need to go to the moon. We can get along perfectly well without it. But like George Mallory said of Everest: it's there. And because it's there, we'll pursue it. When people figure out that they can invent something, can achieve something, we always then do so. There may be individuals who look to the future possibilities of this invention and say, "The risks are too great. I'm passing on this one." But someone else is always going to choose to do it anyway.

This is why we need bioethicists and scientists who try to think of all the ways in which new innovations can be used for evil. Sure, those who originally worked to split the atom may have just wanted to do it to see if they could--or they may have wanted to use it for good, for nuclear energy that will help people. But as soon as it became a possibility, anyone with a brain should have known that it would eventually be used to kill people. If something can be used for evil, it will end up being used for evil. By someone who makes a choice. This is what people do.

I'm not sure what to do with that. I'm not sure of what the answer is. When I watch something like "The Entire History of You," my reaction is to tell myself, "If you ever have that option, the option to record every single moment of your life, don't do it." And I think that I could hold to that. But other people will choose it. They will. And so does that mean that the people who are working to make that technology possible are not supposed to make it? Should they just stop working on it because they know how it will be used to twist people? I wish they would, honestly. I think there are areas in which the risks outweigh the benefits. And yet people don't stop. They still do it.

What Black Mirror brings into clear relief is that human nature doesn't change because of technology. The ways in which we can exercise human nature do, but people have always been and always will be people. There is nothing new that a technology creates inside humans. It only creates new ways for people to flex their will. The desperate ugliness of humans using other people's suffering for entertainment in "White Bear"--and exonerating ourselves of anything like blame because, hey! the person was a bad person! this is just justice, you know!--is just exactly like people throughout the millenia throughout the world gathering and watching public executions like they're entertainment. The human desire to cling to what we've lost instead of learning to live without it, like in "Be Right Back," is equally present in parents turning their dead children's rooms into shrines or ancestor worship. All of these things are in us already, and we display them generation after generation. All that really changes is how we do that. And Black Mirror knows that more than any other show I've ever seen.

Sidebar: At first glance "Fifteen Million Merits" appears to be the odd man out. It's the most "futuristic" looking, the most sci-fi-y. But I really think that "White Bear" is the anomaly. All the others were horrifying because you knew exactly what was coming (if not in the particulars, certainly in the generalities). You had a clear view down the road of the episode, and you knew the darkness you were headed for, and that is its own kind of horror. But "White Bear" pulled the rug out from under me. I don't think it's my favorite episode or even the most important one, but it is the one that shocked me the most. I was deeply confused during the first 2/3 of the episode; up until now, the show had been all about, as I said, individual choices, not technology as an out-there force, but technology as a tool used by human souls. "White Bear" seemed not to be. It was terrifying, sure, but it didn't have that overwhelming sense of Free Will hovering over everything that the others did, and that created a sense of distance between me and the episode: I could not figure out how this fit in with the others.

As it turns out, it fits in with the others perfectly, but you don't know that till the big twist 2/3 through the episode. It was a positively shocking plottwist. I did not see it coming. And yet it was not a plot twist for its own sake. There's nothing wrong with those, but the majority of huge plot twists in our media are there for drama's sake. This one served a completely different purpose, and that was purpose was to get past our prejudices.

When Ursula LeGuin was writing her Earthsea series, she purposefully didn't reveal till well into the first book that the main character was a man of color, not white. She wanted to give white readers a chance to live in this guy's head before she revealed that fact; she knew that if white readers had known Ged wasn't white right off the bat, they would have manufactured a distance between themselves and the character that didn't have to be there. By choosing to hold off on letting us know that conversation, she ensured that by the time we found out he was a man of color, we were already so close to him that we couldn't manufacture that distance.

That was a 'trick' created to sneak around prejudice. "White Bear" does the same, only it's much more vital here. If we knew from the beginning that Victoria had helped to murder a child and that this was all just a perverse 'justice' operation, we would have been grossed out at people turning it into entertainment--A THEME PARK. BROOKER IS A GENIUS--but many of us would have been thinking, "Well, the entertainment stuff is gross, but it's actually a kind of fitting punishment for this person since she's bad." It would have allowed us to label Victoria from the beginning as bad, creating a distance between us. By not telling us who she is, we don't have that 'bad' label creating distance between us: we identify with her immediately, plunging fully into her perspective in a way that we would never allow ourselves otherwise. If we'd known she was a criminal, we would have held back. We would have been observers. Since we don't know that, though, we could relate to her, latch onto her, and enter into the action and emotions completely via her perspective. That was vital not only to making the episode work emotionally, but it also ends up raising a question that would not be as pressing in other circumstances: are there punishments so terrible that not even people who have done horrific things deserve to go through them?

If we had been viewing Victoria at a distance for the whole episode, our focus would have been on the audience and how gross their actions are. Victoria would have become a cipher there instead of a person. But because we see her as a person before we see her as a murderer, the question then becomes: is it wrong to have this be her punishment? You can argue that it's far less than she deserves--she doesn't have to die like the girl she watched be killed. Often when I think of evil people, I wish the sort of things they'd done would happen to them, so they would have to suffer as their victims suffered. This seems like justice: the punishment fitting the crime on a very literal level. And yet because we see Victoria as a person, it seems wrong. Inhumane. It's a stunningly-crafted episode, and I'm going to be turning the questions it raises over and over in my mind for years.

Sidebar number two: I think the one misstep the show made was the little coda at the end of "The Waldo Moment." It became too futuristic and made Waldo's untouchableness too literal. That was the one part of the show that didn't work for me.


Frankly, I think Charlie Brooker is a genius. I think this show is genius. I think it should be required viewing for any and every media studies student. While my reaction to the stories it contains is usually revulsion or horror, my reaction to the show itself is sort of giddy, because it uses media so brilliantly to critique media. That's hard to do. But that's the essence of this show. And it's amazing.
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
Does anybody have any thoughts on why certain fandoms seem to inspire more longfics and others don't? Moving from Buffy fandom, which had tons of multi-chapter fics, into kpop fandom, which has VERY VERY FEW, has been quite an experience for me. Infinite fandom is blessed with a multitude of really excellent short fics, but I really miss the feeling you get when you read a longfic, where you are totally immersed in that world, where you really go on a journey with the characters. And I can't help but wonder why there aren't many longfics (the ones that exist are usually not very good at all). What is it about a fandom that makes it more likely to produce longer works than other fandoms?

I for the life of me can't figure out what would make fandom culture be so different.

What are the fandoms you've been in that have many longfics? What are the ones you've been in that seem limited to short fics? And do you have any ideas on why they were that way?
lirazel: ([kpop] fierce)

Note: there is a real chance that in the course of this meta that I will betray my lack of gender/queer studies education (I’m so new to this world) and phrase something in a way that’s offensive and/or hurtful.  If that’s the case, I go ahead and completely apologize.  Please feel free to tell me what I’m doing wrong and to correct me in how to be more sensitive with my language.  I’m eager to learn.  (I also don't own any of the images, so I am not claiming credit for them.)


One of the things that’s fascinated me since I first got into kpop is the ubiquity of drag (or at least of males-in-female-costume drag).  It seems like every single male kpop idol has ended up in a dress at some point, dancing (or attempting to dance) to some girl group dance while the audience laughs.  And yet, for all that we see it so often, I rarely get the feeling that there’s anything transgressive about it.  The purpose of it always seems to be humor—and of the broadest, most obvious sort: the idea that there’s something inherently funny about a guy wearing clothes usually designated as female.  There’s rarely anything else going on, so when something else does peep through, it’s all the more amazing for that.


ya lee sungjong! )
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
So I'm the facebook generation. My freshman year of college, I distinctly remember a few days into the semester the announcement being made that our college was now going to have facebook access, and everybody freaked out, and I was sitting there going, "What even is that?" (This was fall of 2005.) This was back in the day when your college had to like register or something and you had to have a student email account to sign up. (TROLOLOLOL) Everyone immediately signed up and started using it way, way too much. Being me (natural contrarian you think I'm kidding but I'm not), I held out for several weeks, maybe even a couple of months until one of my friends sat down at my computer and signed me up for one. I played around with it some--I really, really loved when we got those buttons and you could send them to each other, do you remember those? Mine were all super geeky, and that was fun.

But I never cared that much about the site other than using it to look up names of people my friends were talking about who I couldn't put a face with. It was useful in that way, especially because at that time you had a network and so everyone at my college was on this network so I could find whoever I wanted to at any time. In a college atmosphere, it actually made a lot of sense if you wanted to figure out who that guy was that was always hanging around with that girl--if you knew someone's friends' names, you could find them pretty quickly. And then there were all those times where I heard a name over and over and finally looked that name up and realized it went with that face and had a big DUH moment. I viewed it mostly as a tool in figuring out who people were--which was, I believe, the point of a facebook.

Fast-forward seven years later (SEVEN YEARS? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LIFE?) and I've still got an account, but I almost never use it. In fact, the only reason I keep it is so that I will be able to get in touch with people should I need to do that at some point in the future. I really only get on to check in on Big! Life! Events! with people--I like to look at wedding pictures now and then, and now my friends are all having kids, too, so there's baby pictures, though I only care to see them that first time (after that initial "Aww, look ___'s baby is real and has toes and stuff! Cute!" I don't particularly care about seeing more baby pictures). So all in all, I only log in about once a month at most. And I'm totally cool with that.

Because, y'all, my grandmother is on facebook. MY GRANDMOTHER. And various aunts and uncles and friends of my parents' and I just do not want to be involved in all that. That's not what I get on the internet to do. If I want to be with my family, I hang out with my family. If I'm on the internet, I want nothing to do with them.

But so many people do not feel this way, and I think it's because they're internet 2.0 users and I'm an internet 1.0 user, despite my age.

A couple of months ago, I read a truly wonderful book called You Are Not a Gadget: a Manifesto by Jaron Lanier. This guy is seriously a badass and I would vote for him for president.

Here's the blurb:

A programmer, musician, and father of virtual reality technology, Jaron Lanier was a pioneer in digital media, and among the first to predict the revolutionary changes it would bring to our commerce and culture. Now, with the Web influencing virtually every aspect of our lives, he offers this provocative critique of how digital design is shaping society, for better and for worse.

Informed by Lanier’s experience and expertise as a computer scientist, You Are Not a Gadget discusses the technical and cultural problems that have unwittingly risen from programming choices—such as the nature of user identity—that were “locked-in” at the birth of digital media and considers what a future based on current design philosophies will bring. With the proliferation of social networks, cloud-based data storage systems, and Web 2.0 designs that elevate the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and wisdom of individuals, his message has never been more urgent.


Anyway, the book is great and I highly recommend it if you have even the most basic understanding of the way the internet works. His first concern is totally humanity and wanting technology to serve us, not for it to dominate us, and that comes through the book in beautiful ways.

He talks a lot about web 1.0 and web 2.0 and while he focuses more on things like wikipedia, I honestly think the easiest way of differentiating between the two is pre-facebook internet and post-facebook internet. And facebook is so ubiquitous that I really don't think I need to get into it any deeper, which is, frankly, just scary.

So back to me (heh). The thing that, I believe, totally defines my relationship to the internet is that internet 1.0 was my home. I discovered fandom at about 13, and that's what got me into the internet. Before that, it was a tool: I used it to look things up, and we only had very slow dial-up at home (AOL!), so mostly I did that at school.

But fandom changed all that for me. I found people who wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about and who were just as interested in stupid little details about canon as I was, and I fell in love. These were the days of message boards and yahoo mailing lists and those tackytackytacky geocities/angelfire/whatever personal websites with horrifying yellow font on black backgrounds that played songs you hated whenever you clicked on them. It stopped being a tool and became, like, a clubhouse. Or I guess more a network of clubhouses, where you found people who had similar interests to yours and you hung out and talked about those things (or ficced about them or made art or had shipping wars).

When I think about the internet and what it's given me, those are still the terms I use. It's the friendships I've made with people I've never "met" in "real life" (whatever that means). It's using the wayback machine to find that fic that I read five years ago and has since been erased from the internet. It's my usernames--Lirazel, especially--and the fact that I have an online reputation, even if it's limited in its reach.

And I think that really is the major difference between me (and probably a lot of you) and the majority of my generation. They also started out viewing the internet as a tool, but what pulled them in wasn't something interests- and community-driven like fandom (obviously it was bigger than fandom: there were lovely little communities dedicated to, like, reading northern European epics and stuff. But they somehow had a fandom-type feeling, if that makes any sense). Instead, the first time they started using the internet as more than just a place to look up information or check email or (possibly) play games was when myspace and facebook hit the scene. Since those were the first websites they knew, they kind of set the tone for how they would approach the internet from there on out.

I think they're the people who are still perpetuating this idea of the internet being something totally different from "real life" and the two being in conflict. I mean, the rest of us have moved beyond that, right? When I talk about y'all, I don't say, "My internet friend so-and-so," I just call you my friend. The way we interact is different in some ways than with people I met through other means, but not in any of the ways that really matter. Honestly, I share a lot more with y'all than I do with anybody in my "real life" who isn't related to me. At this point my own experience has completely demolished any boundaries I once perceived between "real life" and the internet (I'm very glad, too).

But if you primarily use the internet in a facebook sort of way, where you know people in real life first and then use the internet to "connect" to people you already know--if that's your mindset--then I guess you might still think internet-first/only friendships are weird?

Of course, added to all of this is also the reason I refuse to use twitter: while I can see how it could be a useful thing (for instance, it seemed to be really powerful during the Arab Spring, and that's awesome, and I can see how organizations getting info out there could use it in interesting ways, too), for the most part I just find it annoying for individuals to use (unless they are pithy and hilarious, which, let's face it, most of us aren't). It pretty much promotes soundbyte types of conversations, it doesn't let you address things with nuance because of the word limit,

AND YET people love it, which baffles me. My generation seems to think that if it isn't being broadcast--if it isn't OUT THERE IN PUBLIC IN DETAIL that whatever they're experiencing isn't real. Like reality is determined by how willing you are to let everyone see what's going on. Like something is only real and legitimate and genuine if you're 100% open to sharing it with anyone and everyone. Like if something happens to you in private, it isn't real until it's validated by other people, a sort of audience of people who will give your experience meaning by acknowledging. And this has to do with reality tv, too, and the idea of fame as an end to itself (which isn't new, obviously, but I do think it's blown up in ways it never had before), and lots and lots of other things that have created this zeitgeist. I'm not blaming it just on facebook.

But I just cringe from that kind of approach to the internet, that kind of approach to life. And so I am endlessly annoyed by oversharing (which I may do with certain people in the confines of my flocked journal, but that is different than oversharing with EVERYONE) and life as a performance for other people and taking pictures at an event so you can put them on facebook being more important than being in the moment at that event because that event didn’t really happen unless we can document it and present it for other people’s consumption. It's like we value transparency as an end to itself, which I don't approve of--transparency in a lot of things is a very good things, especially when it comes to organizations. But when it comes to individuals? Not so much. Friendships are only possible because of privacy, because of secrets--because we get to decide how much about ourselves we reveal at what times and to whom. If everyone knows everything about everyone else, then you can't be closer to some people than to others. But I reveal certain parts of myself to my sister and certain parts to y'all and certain parts to my boss, and I keep things to myself, too, and that dance of revelation and concealment is what defines relationships. If we get rid of that, what do we have to offer each other? Nothing.

Which connects back to another thing I hate about web 2.0: this endless desire to CONNECT EVERYTHING UP. OH GROSS GO AWAY. I feel like web 1.0 really valued the idea of compartmentalizing your life through things like pseudonyms (one of my biggest pet peeves in life is people who mistake pseudonyms and anonymity THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING OMG) and even using more than one username at various places--if you were, say, a part of multiple online communities (fandoms, whatever) you totally had the freedom to decide if you wanted to use one username on all of those sites (thereby creating a sort of meta online identity) or to use different ones for each place or any degree in between. You had control over the level of interaction between sites you visited, you had control over who you were depending on what site you were on (and again: this all goes back to the idea that we are different people when we're in different company, that we change our behaviors and speech and degree of honesty to suit whatever community we are in AND THIS IS NOT A BAD THING, it is, in fact, really beautiful if used with integrity). And you could escape from the people in the real world who bugged you so much or who just didn't happen to want to share certain things with (facebook connect on every website ever just infuriates me. DON'T CROSS THE LINES).

Now the web is trying to turn into this big amorphous thing where you're just ACTUAL FIRST NAME ACTUAL LAST NAME no matter where you go, where people can "find" you no matter where you are (how terrifying is that? It's a small world after all INDEED and I can't imagine many things scarier than that). And the websites wrap it up in this rhetoric about "connection" and "finding your friends" but most of them do it either A) because they don't really think about it and don't realize they have other options or B) because this is what the advertisers looooove. All this fancy technology that can follow you around and gather all your data and see patterns and tailor their advertising to you directly and so make more money! Yay rah!

IT'S SCARY, OKAY?

Or at least it is to me, because I remember when this wasn't the default way of thinking, when this wasn't the way the internet world operated. So while I get really annoyed when a website demands that I have a facebook or twitter account to log in to their site (and I refuse to do it--that's the quickest way to lose my traffic!), my friends seem totally unfazed by it. I literally didn't know that you had to have a facebook or twitter account to sign up for pinterest until today, despite all my real life friends having one, because apparently that isn't important enough to be mentioned. I found out because one of my livejournal friends just discovered it and was annoyed, too! I just look at the world differently than people who didn't grow up on the internet in the world that I did.

I think all this is why I still feel most at home on livejournal, internet-wise, because to me it's so totally rooted in what internet 1.0 was. Many of the things that bug me most about tumblr (the site I use the most) are the very things that are most 2.0 about it (shitty, shitty decisions by the people who run it aside).

And right now I feel like a cranky old lady talking about the good old days, and I don't mean to imply that the internet was perfect back then, because there were terrible, terrible things then, too. People have always been people, and people have always been asses. It's just that I liked the default assumptions about what the internet was for and whole it should work a lot more back then than I like the ones now.

And I am 25! I am not an old woman! But when I venture outside of livejournal (especially onto tumblr), I so often feel like one. So I'm really interested in the thoughts of those of you who are younger than me--do you remember the internet before facebook? Do you feel like you belong in one world more than the other? Do you even know what I'm talking about? Do the old days sound good to you? What are the benefits of the new way of approaching the web? What am I missing that's awesome about it? [I'm not talking about capabilities here--streaming and downloading and things like that are AWESOME--I'm talking about the worldview with which you approach internet usage.]

And please, those of you who are the same age/older than I am, tell me you know what I'm talking about and that I didn't just word-vomit all this about nothing.
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
So I'm the facebook generation. My freshman year of college, I distinctly remember a few days into the semester the announcement being made that our college was now going to have facebook access, and everybody freaked out, and I was sitting there going, "What even is that?" (This was fall of 2005.) This was back in the day when your college had to like register or something and you had to have a student email account to sign up. (TROLOLOLOL) Everyone immediately signed up and started using it way, way too much. Being me (natural contrarian you think I'm kidding but I'm not), I held out for several weeks, maybe even a couple of months until one of my friends sat down at my computer and signed me up for one. I played around with it some--I really, really loved when we got those buttons and you could send them to each other, do you remember those? Mine were all super geeky, and that was fun.

But I never cared that much about the site other than using it to look up names of people my friends were talking about who I couldn't put a face with. It was useful in that way, especially because at that time you had a network and so everyone at my college was on this network so I could find whoever I wanted to at any time. In a college atmosphere, it actually made a lot of sense if you wanted to figure out who that guy was that was always hanging around with that girl--if you knew someone's friends' names, you could find them pretty quickly. And then there were all those times where I heard a name over and over and finally looked that name up and realized it went with that face and had a big DUH moment. I viewed it mostly as a tool in figuring out who people were--which was, I believe, the point of a facebook.

Fast-forward seven years later (SEVEN YEARS? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LIFE?) and I've still got an account, but I almost never use it. In fact, the only reason I keep it is so that I will be able to get in touch with people should I need to do that at some point in the future. I really only get on to check in on Big! Life! Events! with people--I like to look at wedding pictures now and then, and now my friends are all having kids, too, so there's baby pictures, though I only care to see them that first time (after that initial "Aww, look ___'s baby is real and has toes and stuff! Cute!" I don't particularly care about seeing more baby pictures). So all in all, I only log in about once a month at most. And I'm totally cool with that.

Because, y'all, my grandmother is on facebook. MY GRANDMOTHER. And various aunts and uncles and friends of my parents' and I just do not want to be involved in all that. That's not what I get on the internet to do. If I want to be with my family, I hang out with my family. If I'm on the internet, I want nothing to do with them.

But so many people do not feel this way, and I think it's because they're internet 2.0 users and I'm an internet 1.0 user, despite my age.

A couple of months ago, I read a truly wonderful book called You Are Not a Gadget: a Manifesto by Jaron Lanier. This guy is seriously a badass and I would vote for him for president.

Here's the blurb:

A programmer, musician, and father of virtual reality technology, Jaron Lanier was a pioneer in digital media, and among the first to predict the revolutionary changes it would bring to our commerce and culture. Now, with the Web influencing virtually every aspect of our lives, he offers this provocative critique of how digital design is shaping society, for better and for worse.

Informed by Lanier’s experience and expertise as a computer scientist, You Are Not a Gadget discusses the technical and cultural problems that have unwittingly risen from programming choices—such as the nature of user identity—that were “locked-in” at the birth of digital media and considers what a future based on current design philosophies will bring. With the proliferation of social networks, cloud-based data storage systems, and Web 2.0 designs that elevate the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and wisdom of individuals, his message has never been more urgent.


Anyway, the book is great and I highly recommend it if you have even the most basic understanding of the way the internet works. His first concern is totally humanity and wanting technology to serve us, not for it to dominate us, and that comes through the book in beautiful ways.

He talks a lot about web 1.0 and web 2.0 and while he focuses more on things like wikipedia, I honestly think the easiest way of differentiating between the two is pre-facebook internet and post-facebook internet. And facebook is so ubiquitous that I really don't think I need to get into it any deeper, which is, frankly, just scary.

So back to me (heh). The thing that, I believe, totally defines my relationship to the internet is that internet 1.0 was my home. I discovered fandom at about 13, and that's what got me into the internet. Before that, it was a tool: I used it to look things up, and we only had very slow dial-up at home (AOL!), so mostly I did that at school.

But fandom changed all that for me. I found people who wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about and who were just as interested in stupid little details about canon as I was, and I fell in love. These were the days of message boards and yahoo mailing lists and those tackytackytacky geocities/angelfire/whatever personal websites with horrifying yellow font on black backgrounds that played songs you hated whenever you clicked on them. It stopped being a tool and became, like, a clubhouse. Or I guess more a network of clubhouses, where you found people who had similar interests to yours and you hung out and talked about those things (or ficced about them or made art or had shipping wars).

When I think about the internet and what it's given me, those are still the terms I use. It's the friendships I've made with people I've never "met" in "real life" (whatever that means). It's using the wayback machine to find that fic that I read five years ago and has since been erased from the internet. It's my usernames--Lirazel, especially--and the fact that I have an online reputation, even if it's limited in its reach.

And I think that really is the major difference between me (and probably a lot of you) and the majority of my generation. They also started out viewing the internet as a tool, but what pulled them in wasn't something interests- and community-driven like fandom (obviously it was bigger than fandom: there were lovely little communities dedicated to, like, reading northern European epics and stuff. But they somehow had a fandom-type feeling, if that makes any sense). Instead, the first time they started using the internet as more than just a place to look up information or check email or (possibly) play games was when myspace and facebook hit the scene. Since those were the first websites they knew, they kind of set the tone for how they would approach the internet from there on out.

I think they're the people who are still perpetuating this idea of the internet being something totally different from "real life" and the two being in conflict. I mean, the rest of us have moved beyond that, right? When I talk about y'all, I don't say, "My internet friend so-and-so," I just call you my friend. The way we interact is different in some ways than with people I met through other means, but not in any of the ways that really matter. Honestly, I share a lot more with y'all than I do with anybody in my "real life" who isn't related to me. At this point my own experience has completely demolished any boundaries I once perceived between "real life" and the internet (I'm very glad, too).

But if you primarily use the internet in a facebook sort of way, where you know people in real life first and then use the internet to "connect" to people you already know--if that's your mindset--then I guess you might still think internet-first/only friendships are weird?

Of course, added to all of this is also the reason I refuse to use twitter: while I can see how it could be a useful thing (for instance, it seemed to be really powerful during the Arab Spring, and that's awesome, and I can see how organizations getting info out there could use it in interesting ways, too), for the most part I just find it annoying for individuals to use (unless they are pithy and hilarious, which, let's face it, most of us aren't). It pretty much promotes soundbyte types of conversations, it doesn't let you address things with nuance because of the word limit,

AND YET people love it, which baffles me. My generation seems to think that if it isn't being broadcast--if it isn't OUT THERE IN PUBLIC IN DETAIL that whatever they're experiencing isn't real. Like reality is determined by how willing you are to let everyone see what's going on. Like something is only real and legitimate and genuine if you're 100% open to sharing it with anyone and everyone. Like if something happens to you in private, it isn't real until it's validated by other people, a sort of audience of people who will give your experience meaning by acknowledging. And this has to do with reality tv, too, and the idea of fame as an end to itself (which isn't new, obviously, but I do think it's blown up in ways it never had before), and lots and lots of other things that have created this zeitgeist. I'm not blaming it just on facebook.

But I just cringe from that kind of approach to the internet, that kind of approach to life. And so I am endlessly annoyed by oversharing (which I may do with certain people in the confines of my flocked journal, but that is different than oversharing with EVERYONE) and life as a performance for other people and taking pictures at an event so you can put them on facebook being more important than being in the moment at that event because that event didn’t really happen unless we can document it and present it for other people’s consumption. It's like we value transparency as an end to itself, which I don't approve of--transparency in a lot of things is a very good things, especially when it comes to organizations. But when it comes to individuals? Not so much. Friendships are only possible because of privacy, because of secrets--because we get to decide how much about ourselves we reveal at what times and to whom. If everyone knows everything about everyone else, then you can't be closer to some people than to others. But I reveal certain parts of myself to my sister and certain parts to y'all and certain parts to my boss, and I keep things to myself, too, and that dance of revelation and concealment is what defines relationships. If we get rid of that, what do we have to offer each other? Nothing.

Which connects back to another thing I hate about web 2.0: this endless desire to CONNECT EVERYTHING UP. OH GROSS GO AWAY. I feel like web 1.0 really valued the idea of compartmentalizing your life through things like pseudonyms (one of my biggest pet peeves in life is people who mistake pseudonyms and anonymity THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING OMG) and even using more than one username at various places--if you were, say, a part of multiple online communities (fandoms, whatever) you totally had the freedom to decide if you wanted to use one username on all of those sites (thereby creating a sort of meta online identity) or to use different ones for each place or any degree in between. You had control over the level of interaction between sites you visited, you had control over who you were depending on what site you were on (and again: this all goes back to the idea that we are different people when we're in different company, that we change our behaviors and speech and degree of honesty to suit whatever community we are in AND THIS IS NOT A BAD THING, it is, in fact, really beautiful if used with integrity). And you could escape from the people in the real world who bugged you so much or who just didn't happen to want to share certain things with (facebook connect on every website ever just infuriates me. DON'T CROSS THE LINES).

Now the web is trying to turn into this big amorphous thing where you're just ACTUAL FIRST NAME ACTUAL LAST NAME no matter where you go, where people can "find" you no matter where you are (how terrifying is that? It's a small world after all INDEED and I can't imagine many things scarier than that). And the websites wrap it up in this rhetoric about "connection" and "finding your friends" but most of them do it either A) because they don't really think about it and don't realize they have other options or B) because this is what the advertisers looooove. All this fancy technology that can follow you around and gather all your data and see patterns and tailor their advertising to you directly and so make more money! Yay rah!

IT'S SCARY, OKAY?

Or at least it is to me, because I remember when this wasn't the default way of thinking, when this wasn't the way the internet world operated. So while I get really annoyed when a website demands that I have a facebook or twitter account to log in to their site (and I refuse to do it--that's the quickest way to lose my traffic!), my friends seem totally unfazed by it. I literally didn't know that you had to have a facebook or twitter account to sign up for pinterest until today, despite all my real life friends having one, because apparently that isn't important enough to be mentioned. I found out because one of my livejournal friends just discovered it and was annoyed, too! I just look at the world differently than people who didn't grow up on the internet in the world that I did.

I think all this is why I still feel most at home on livejournal, internet-wise, because to me it's so totally rooted in what internet 1.0 was. Many of the things that bug me most about tumblr (the site I use the most) are the very things that are most 2.0 about it (shitty, shitty decisions by the people who run it aside).

And right now I feel like a cranky old lady talking about the good old days, and I don't mean to imply that the internet was perfect back then, because there were terrible, terrible things then, too. People have always been people, and people have always been asses. It's just that I liked the default assumptions about what the internet was for and whole it should work a lot more back then than I like the ones now.

And I am 25! I am not an old woman! But when I venture outside of livejournal (especially onto tumblr), I so often feel like one. So I'm really interested in the thoughts of those of you who are younger than me--do you remember the internet before facebook? Do you feel like you belong in one world more than the other? Do you even know what I'm talking about? Do the old days sound good to you? What are the benefits of the new way of approaching the web? What am I missing that's awesome about it? [I'm not talking about capabilities here--streaming and downloading and things like that are AWESOME--I'm talking about the worldview with which you approach internet usage.]

And please, those of you who are the same age/older than I am, tell me you know what I'm talking about and that I didn't just word-vomit all this about nothing.
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
So I'm the facebook generation. My freshman year of college, I distinctly remember a few days into the semester the announcement being made that our college was now going to have facebook access, and everybody freaked out, and I was sitting there going, "What even is that?" (This was fall of 2005.) This was back in the day when your college had to like register or something and you had to have a student email account to sign up. (TROLOLOLOL) Everyone immediately signed up and started using it way, way too much. Being me (natural contrarian you think I'm kidding but I'm not), I held out for several weeks, maybe even a couple of months until one of my friends sat down at my computer and signed me up for one. I played around with it some--I really, really loved when we got those buttons and you could send them to each other, do you remember those? Mine were all super geeky, and that was fun.

But I never cared that much about the site other than using it to look up names of people my friends were talking about who I couldn't put a face with. It was useful in that way, especially because at that time you had a network and so everyone at my college was on this network so I could find whoever I wanted to at any time. In a college atmosphere, it actually made a lot of sense if you wanted to figure out who that guy was that was always hanging around with that girl--if you knew someone's friends' names, you could find them pretty quickly. And then there were all those times where I heard a name over and over and finally looked that name up and realized it went with that face and had a big DUH moment. I viewed it mostly as a tool in figuring out who people were--which was, I believe, the point of a facebook.

Fast-forward seven years later (SEVEN YEARS? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LIFE?) and I've still got an account, but I almost never use it. In fact, the only reason I keep it is so that I will be able to get in touch with people should I need to do that at some point in the future. I really only get on to check in on Big! Life! Events! with people--I like to look at wedding pictures now and then, and now my friends are all having kids, too, so there's baby pictures, though I only care to see them that first time (after that initial "Aww, look ___'s baby is real and has toes and stuff! Cute!" I don't particularly care about seeing more baby pictures). So all in all, I only log in about once a month at most. And I'm totally cool with that.

Because, y'all, my grandmother is on facebook. MY GRANDMOTHER. And various aunts and uncles and friends of my parents' and I just do not want to be involved in all that. That's not what I get on the internet to do. If I want to be with my family, I hang out with my family. If I'm on the internet, I want nothing to do with them.

But so many people do not feel this way, and I think it's because they're internet 2.0 users and I'm an internet 1.0 user, despite my age.

A couple of months ago, I read a truly wonderful book called You Are Not a Gadget: a Manifesto by Jaron Lanier. This guy is seriously a badass and I would vote for him for president.

Here's the blurb:

A programmer, musician, and father of virtual reality technology, Jaron Lanier was a pioneer in digital media, and among the first to predict the revolutionary changes it would bring to our commerce and culture. Now, with the Web influencing virtually every aspect of our lives, he offers this provocative critique of how digital design is shaping society, for better and for worse.

Informed by Lanier’s experience and expertise as a computer scientist, You Are Not a Gadget discusses the technical and cultural problems that have unwittingly risen from programming choices—such as the nature of user identity—that were “locked-in” at the birth of digital media and considers what a future based on current design philosophies will bring. With the proliferation of social networks, cloud-based data storage systems, and Web 2.0 designs that elevate the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and wisdom of individuals, his message has never been more urgent.


Anyway, the book is great and I highly recommend it if you have even the most basic understanding of the way the internet works. His first concern is totally humanity and wanting technology to serve us, not for it to dominate us, and that comes through the book in beautiful ways.

He talks a lot about web 1.0 and web 2.0 and while he focuses more on things like wikipedia, I honestly think the easiest way of differentiating between the two is pre-facebook internet and post-facebook internet. And facebook is so ubiquitous that I really don't think I need to get into it any deeper, which is, frankly, just scary.

So back to me (heh). The thing that, I believe, totally defines my relationship to the internet is that internet 1.0 was my home. I discovered fandom at about 13, and that's what got me into the internet. Before that, it was a tool: I used it to look things up, and we only had very slow dial-up at home (AOL!), so mostly I did that at school.

But fandom changed all that for me. I found people who wanted to talk about the things I wanted to talk about and who were just as interested in stupid little details about canon as I was, and I fell in love. These were the days of message boards and yahoo mailing lists and those tackytackytacky geocities/angelfire/whatever personal websites with horrifying yellow font on black backgrounds that played songs you hated whenever you clicked on them. It stopped being a tool and became, like, a clubhouse. Or I guess more a network of clubhouses, where you found people who had similar interests to yours and you hung out and talked about those things (or ficced about them or made art or had shipping wars).

When I think about the internet and what it's given me, those are still the terms I use. It's the friendships I've made with people I've never "met" in "real life" (whatever that means). It's using the wayback machine to find that fic that I read five years ago and has since been erased from the internet. It's my usernames--Lirazel, especially--and the fact that I have an online reputation, even if it's limited in its reach.

And I think that really is the major difference between me (and probably a lot of you) and the majority of my generation. They also started out viewing the internet as a tool, but what pulled them in wasn't something interests- and community-driven like fandom (obviously it was bigger than fandom: there were lovely little communities dedicated to, like, reading northern European epics and stuff. But they somehow had a fandom-type feeling, if that makes any sense). Instead, the first time they started using the internet as more than just a place to look up information or check email or (possibly) play games was when myspace and facebook hit the scene. Since those were the first websites they knew, they kind of set the tone for how they would approach the internet from there on out.

I think they're the people who are still perpetuating this idea of the internet being something totally different from "real life" and the two being in conflict. I mean, the rest of us have moved beyond that, right? When I talk about y'all, I don't say, "My internet friend so-and-so," I just call you my friend. The way we interact is different in some ways than with people I met through other means, but not in any of the ways that really matter. Honestly, I share a lot more with y'all than I do with anybody in my "real life" who isn't related to me. At this point my own experience has completely demolished any boundaries I once perceived between "real life" and the internet (I'm very glad, too).

But if you primarily use the internet in a facebook sort of way, where you know people in real life first and then use the internet to "connect" to people you already know--if that's your mindset--then I guess you might still think internet-first/only friendships are weird?

Of course, added to all of this is also the reason I refuse to use twitter: while I can see how it could be a useful thing (for instance, it seemed to be really powerful during the Arab Spring, and that's awesome, and I can see how organizations getting info out there could use it in interesting ways, too), for the most part I just find it annoying for individuals to use (unless they are pithy and hilarious, which, let's face it, most of us aren't). It pretty much promotes soundbyte types of conversations, it doesn't let you address things with nuance because of the word limit,

AND YET people love it, which baffles me. My generation seems to think that if it isn't being broadcast--if it isn't OUT THERE IN PUBLIC IN DETAIL that whatever they're experiencing isn't real. Like reality is determined by how willing you are to let everyone see what's going on. Like something is only real and legitimate and genuine if you're 100% open to sharing it with anyone and everyone. Like if something happens to you in private, it isn't real until it's validated by other people, a sort of audience of people who will give your experience meaning by acknowledging. And this has to do with reality tv, too, and the idea of fame as an end to itself (which isn't new, obviously, but I do think it's blown up in ways it never had before), and lots and lots of other things that have created this zeitgeist. I'm not blaming it just on facebook.

But I just cringe from that kind of approach to the internet, that kind of approach to life. And so I am endlessly annoyed by oversharing (which I may do with certain people in the confines of my flocked journal, but that is different than oversharing with EVERYONE) and life as a performance for other people and taking pictures at an event so you can put them on facebook being more important than being in the moment at that event because that event didn’t really happen unless we can document it and present it for other people’s consumption. It's like we value transparency as an end to itself, which I don't approve of--transparency in a lot of things is a very good things, especially when it comes to organizations. But when it comes to individuals? Not so much. Friendships are only possible because of privacy, because of secrets--because we get to decide how much about ourselves we reveal at what times and to whom. If everyone knows everything about everyone else, then you can't be closer to some people than to others. But I reveal certain parts of myself to my sister and certain parts to y'all and certain parts to my boss, and I keep things to myself, too, and that dance of revelation and concealment is what defines relationships. If we get rid of that, what do we have to offer each other? Nothing.

Which connects back to another thing I hate about web 2.0: this endless desire to CONNECT EVERYTHING UP. OH GROSS GO AWAY. I feel like web 1.0 really valued the idea of compartmentalizing your life through things like pseudonyms (one of my biggest pet peeves in life is people who mistake pseudonyms and anonymity THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING OMG) and even using more than one username at various places--if you were, say, a part of multiple online communities (fandoms, whatever) you totally had the freedom to decide if you wanted to use one username on all of those sites (thereby creating a sort of meta online identity) or to use different ones for each place or any degree in between. You had control over the level of interaction between sites you visited, you had control over who you were depending on what site you were on (and again: this all goes back to the idea that we are different people when we're in different company, that we change our behaviors and speech and degree of honesty to suit whatever community we are in AND THIS IS NOT A BAD THING, it is, in fact, really beautiful if used with integrity). And you could escape from the people in the real world who bugged you so much or who just didn't happen to want to share certain things with (facebook connect on every website ever just infuriates me. DON'T CROSS THE LINES).

Now the web is trying to turn into this big amorphous thing where you're just ACTUAL FIRST NAME ACTUAL LAST NAME no matter where you go, where people can "find" you no matter where you are (how terrifying is that? It's a small world after all INDEED and I can't imagine many things scarier than that). And the websites wrap it up in this rhetoric about "connection" and "finding your friends" but most of them do it either A) because they don't really think about it and don't realize they have other options or B) because this is what the advertisers looooove. All this fancy technology that can follow you around and gather all your data and see patterns and tailor their advertising to you directly and so make more money! Yay rah!

IT'S SCARY, OKAY?

Or at least it is to me, because I remember when this wasn't the default way of thinking, when this wasn't the way the internet world operated. So while I get really annoyed when a website demands that I have a facebook or twitter account to log in to their site (and I refuse to do it--that's the quickest way to lose my traffic!), my friends seem totally unfazed by it. I literally didn't know that you had to have a facebook or twitter account to sign up for pinterest until today, despite all my real life friends having one, because apparently that isn't important enough to be mentioned. I found out because one of my livejournal friends just discovered it and was annoyed, too! I just look at the world differently than people who didn't grow up on the internet in the world that I did.

I think all this is why I still feel most at home on livejournal, internet-wise, because to me it's so totally rooted in what internet 1.0 was. Many of the things that bug me most about tumblr (the site I use the most) are the very things that are most 2.0 about it (shitty, shitty decisions by the people who run it aside).

And right now I feel like a cranky old lady talking about the good old days, and I don't mean to imply that the internet was perfect back then, because there were terrible, terrible things then, too. People have always been people, and people have always been asses. It's just that I liked the default assumptions about what the internet was for and whole it should work a lot more back then than I like the ones now.

And I am 25! I am not an old woman! But when I venture outside of livejournal (especially onto tumblr), I so often feel like one. So I'm really interested in the thoughts of those of you who are younger than me--do you remember the internet before facebook? Do you feel like you belong in one world more than the other? Do you even know what I'm talking about? Do the old days sound good to you? What are the benefits of the new way of approaching the web? What am I missing that's awesome about it? [I'm not talking about capabilities here--streaming and downloading and things like that are AWESOME--I'm talking about the worldview with which you approach internet usage.]

And please, those of you who are the same age/older than I am, tell me you know what I'm talking about and that I didn't just word-vomit all this about nothing.
lirazel: ([dw] blue box)
I am like 99% sure that I have actually made this post before. But I'm going to make it again because I KEEP SEEING IT OMG, and it keeps bothering me, and who am I if not a person who rambles on my blog for no reason. Welcome to my world of self-indulgance. You do not have to read this because, like I said, I've already said it all before.

Let's talk about Russell T. Davies and Steve Moffat! YAY! *gag*

For those of you who don't know (although if you don't, I don't think your fandom osmosis is working very well; you should probably look into that), they are the two guys who have been showrunners for the new version of Doctor Who.

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

1) Both of these guys are very talented writers.
2) Both of these guys have weaknesses as writers.
3) Both of them write some things that are horrifying, especially when viewed from a feminist perspective, and often the text doesn't acknowledge that these things are, indeed, horrifying.

Okay? Okay.

cut for length )

I am the most long-winded person ever. I cannot write in linear ways. I am never even remotely coherent. And I say everything using the most words possible. Why do you people put up with me? I will never know.
lirazel: ([dw] blue box)
I am like 99% sure that I have actually made this post before. But I'm going to make it again because I KEEP SEEING IT OMG, and it keeps bothering me, and who am I if not a person who rambles on my blog for no reason. Welcome to my world of self-indulgance. You do not have to read this because, like I said, I've already said it all before.

Let's talk about Russell T. Davies and Steve Moffat! YAY! *gag*

For those of you who don't know (although if you don't, I don't think your fandom osmosis is working very well; you should probably look into that), they are the two guys who have been showrunners for the new version of Doctor Who.

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

1) Both of these guys are very talented writers.
2) Both of these guys have weaknesses as writers.
3) Both of them write some things that are horrifying, especially when viewed from a feminist perspective, and often the text doesn't acknowledge that these things are, indeed, horrifying.

Okay? Okay.

cut for length )

I am the most long-winded person ever. I cannot write in linear ways. I am never even remotely coherent. And I say everything using the most words possible. Why do you people put up with me? I will never know.
lirazel: ([dw] blue box)
I am like 99% sure that I have actually made this post before. But I'm going to make it again because I KEEP SEEING IT OMG, and it keeps bothering me, and who am I if not a person who rambles on my blog for no reason. Welcome to my world of self-indulgance. You do not have to read this because, like I said, I've already said it all before.

Let's talk about Russell T. Davies and Steve Moffat! YAY! *gag*

For those of you who don't know (although if you don't, I don't think your fandom osmosis is working very well; you should probably look into that), they are the two guys who have been showrunners for the new version of Doctor Who.

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

1) Both of these guys are very talented writers.
2) Both of these guys have weaknesses as writers.
3) Both of them write some things that are horrifying, especially when viewed from a feminist perspective, and often the text doesn't acknowledge that these things are, indeed, horrifying.

Okay? Okay.

cut for length )

I am the most long-winded person ever. I cannot write in linear ways. I am never even remotely coherent. And I say everything using the most words possible. Why do you people put up with me? I will never know.
lirazel: ([s] clever)
So Mark, he of the Mark Watches blog, is now watching Buffy straight through and posting his thoughts as he goes. This has stirred up a lot of feelings in the remnants of BtVS fandom, and we’ve already talked at length about the depth of his analysis (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) and whether or not we think it’s weird that he’s making money off of basically just posting his emotional responses to a show (for the record, my thoughts are: yes, it’s weird, but I’d probably do the same thing if I had the option, so I can’t really blame him). But I wanted to talk about something I’ve seen mentioned a couple of times in passing in discussions about other aspects of his analysis, because it’s been on my mind a lot.

I can’t remember which post it was (please feel free to link me to it if you remember what I’m talking about), but someone mentioned that you almost have to watch the show in its historical context the way you would read a book written three centuries ago or something like that. Because social justice-y ways of watching the shows were not at all prominent ways of approaching these texts back then (15 years ago, more or less, which: crazy).

For instance. Read more... )

And I am sure I’m leaving out something I meant to say, so don’t be surprised if this post is edited to add stuff in the future. My mind does not at all work in a linear fashion, so I usually end up leaving things out.
lirazel: ([s] clever)
So Mark, he of the Mark Watches blog, is now watching Buffy straight through and posting his thoughts as he goes. This has stirred up a lot of feelings in the remnants of BtVS fandom, and we’ve already talked at length about the depth of his analysis (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) and whether or not we think it’s weird that he’s making money off of basically just posting his emotional responses to a show (for the record, my thoughts are: yes, it’s weird, but I’d probably do the same thing if I had the option, so I can’t really blame him). But I wanted to talk about something I’ve seen mentioned a couple of times in passing in discussions about other aspects of his analysis, because it’s been on my mind a lot.

I can’t remember which post it was (please feel free to link me to it if you remember what I’m talking about), but someone mentioned that you almost have to watch the show in its historical context the way you would read a book written three centuries ago or something like that. Because social justice-y ways of watching the shows were not at all prominent ways of approaching these texts back then (15 years ago, more or less, which: crazy).

For instance. Read more... )

And I am sure I’m leaving out something I meant to say, so don’t be surprised if this post is edited to add stuff in the future. My mind does not at all work in a linear fashion, so I usually end up leaving things out.
lirazel: ([s] clever)
So Mark, he of the Mark Watches blog, is now watching Buffy straight through and posting his thoughts as he goes. This has stirred up a lot of feelings in the remnants of BtVS fandom, and we’ve already talked at length about the depth of his analysis (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) and whether or not we think it’s weird that he’s making money off of basically just posting his emotional responses to a show (for the record, my thoughts are: yes, it’s weird, but I’d probably do the same thing if I had the option, so I can’t really blame him). But I wanted to talk about something I’ve seen mentioned a couple of times in passing in discussions about other aspects of his analysis, because it’s been on my mind a lot.

I can’t remember which post it was (please feel free to link me to it if you remember what I’m talking about), but someone mentioned that you almost have to watch the show in its historical context the way you would read a book written three centuries ago or something like that. Because social justice-y ways of watching the shows were not at all prominent ways of approaching these texts back then (15 years ago, more or less, which: crazy).

For instance. Read more... )

And I am sure I’m leaving out something I meant to say, so don’t be surprised if this post is edited to add stuff in the future. My mind does not at all work in a linear fashion, so I usually end up leaving things out.

so

Dec. 28th, 2011 08:53 am
lirazel: ([btvs] smackdown)
Someone on tumblr asked this question:

Which arcs, episodes, moments, etc. do you think are misunderstood in the Buffyverse?


and while I have about forty-five answers to that, I didn't voice them because it really just inspired one rant:

People thinking Buffy needs to get over being the Slayer and just be fine with it and stop complaining, WOMAN! So what that you’re bearing this unbelievable burden of protecting the entire world while still trying to have some sort of life (and raising your teenage sister despite the fact that you’re barely in your twenties) and that when it comes down to it you’re always going to be alone, the only one standing there staring down evil, and SO WHAT that you DIED MULTIPLE TIMES—literally giving your life for the world—AND YOU DON’T EVEN GET PAID OR THANKED FOR IT you’re just expected to do it and to take care of everyone around you all of the time (women’sworkwomen’sworkwomen’swork)? And so what that this setup is obviously designed and maintained by The Patriarchy (in the heavy-handed metaphor form of the Shadow Men + the Watcher’s Council) and that your constant kicking back against that could more generously be read as heroic and feminist, especially in the context of your obvious PTSD/clinical depression? SO WHAT? You just really need to get over that, shut up and quit complaining, go back to the kitchengraveyard, and just be grateful for your lot in life. Other ladies do it, why can’t you?

And then when you ultimately decide to tear down the entire patriarchal structure by rejecting the kyriarchically-enforced (is that a word? whatever) rule of a single woman standing alone and instead embracing the idea of women sharing power and saving the whole damn world together, you’ll be attacked for that, too. Even though you saved the lives of all the girls you shared that power with. Because you’ll never be good enough. Not ever.


Apparently I had a lot of feelings about this.

But seriously, the more I think about the show, the more obvious the metaphor of Slaying = women's work appears to me. Unpaid, unasked for, unappreciated. Done only by women. The concept that Buffy just needs to make peace with being the Slayer in her pre-"Chosen" world just kills me, because if she did that, she'd be buckling under and agreeing to live the life that The Patriarchy has forced on her even though she doesn't want it. How can that choice possibly be construed as feminist? To be, the feminism of her actions comes in fighting back. If she had ever accepted it totally, I think that would have been a betrayal of who she is as a person and also of the show's attempts at feminism, clumsy though they may be at times.

There are lots of reasons why the solution she comes up with in "Chosen" works for me. Not only is she saving all of the rest of the potential Slayers in the world from being ruthlessly slaughtered by the Harbingers, but she's also making a statement and dealing a blow to The Patriarchy. She's saying, "This isn't right. This power should be shared with other women. We should stand together. We don't have to be alone anymore." Because I think that if you pay attention to the show and specifically to Buffy's complaints about the Slayer, it's clear that it isn't the physical power that she hates--she learns just how much she appreciates it in "Helpless," and we see her relish it often. What weighs her down is the burden of being The Only One, The One Girl, She Alone. Standing by herself and staring down evil and knowing that she'll sacrifice her life as often as she's brought back to save the world and that she won't be paid or thanked for it. That she just has to do it, by herself, on top of everything else she has to do in life. That's what's so awful about being the Slayer, and that is precisely what she defeats in "Chosen." That doesn't meant that it's a perfect solution--we see the fact that potential problems accompany the benefits of this solution in Dana in "Damages," and that's important to remember. But I think that overall it's a beautiful if clumsy metaphor, and it totally works for me. I can't bring myself to hate anything that tells us that it's a powerful and beautiful thing when women share their power with each other.

so

Dec. 28th, 2011 08:53 am
lirazel: ([btvs] smackdown)
Someone on tumblr asked this question:

Which arcs, episodes, moments, etc. do you think are misunderstood in the Buffyverse?


and while I have about forty-five answers to that, I didn't voice them because it really just inspired one rant:

People thinking Buffy needs to get over being the Slayer and just be fine with it and stop complaining, WOMAN! So what that you’re bearing this unbelievable burden of protecting the entire world while still trying to have some sort of life (and raising your teenage sister despite the fact that you’re barely in your twenties) and that when it comes down to it you’re always going to be alone, the only one standing there staring down evil, and SO WHAT that you DIED MULTIPLE TIMES—literally giving your life for the world—AND YOU DON’T EVEN GET PAID OR THANKED FOR IT you’re just expected to do it and to take care of everyone around you all of the time (women’sworkwomen’sworkwomen’swork)? And so what that this setup is obviously designed and maintained by The Patriarchy (in the heavy-handed metaphor form of the Shadow Men + the Watcher’s Council) and that your constant kicking back against that could more generously be read as heroic and feminist, especially in the context of your obvious PTSD/clinical depression? SO WHAT? You just really need to get over that, shut up and quit complaining, go back to the kitchengraveyard, and just be grateful for your lot in life. Other ladies do it, why can’t you?

And then when you ultimately decide to tear down the entire patriarchal structure by rejecting the kyriarchically-enforced (is that a word? whatever) rule of a single woman standing alone and instead embracing the idea of women sharing power and saving the whole damn world together, you’ll be attacked for that, too. Even though you saved the lives of all the girls you shared that power with. Because you’ll never be good enough. Not ever.


Apparently I had a lot of feelings about this.

But seriously, the more I think about the show, the more obvious the metaphor of Slaying = women's work appears to me. Unpaid, unasked for, unappreciated. Done only by women. The concept that Buffy just needs to make peace with being the Slayer in her pre-"Chosen" world just kills me, because if she did that, she'd be buckling under and agreeing to live the life that The Patriarchy has forced on her even though she doesn't want it. How can that choice possibly be construed as feminist? To be, the feminism of her actions comes in fighting back. If she had ever accepted it totally, I think that would have been a betrayal of who she is as a person and also of the show's attempts at feminism, clumsy though they may be at times.

There are lots of reasons why the solution she comes up with in "Chosen" works for me. Not only is she saving all of the rest of the potential Slayers in the world from being ruthlessly slaughtered by the Harbingers, but she's also making a statement and dealing a blow to The Patriarchy. She's saying, "This isn't right. This power should be shared with other women. We should stand together. We don't have to be alone anymore." Because I think that if you pay attention to the show and specifically to Buffy's complaints about the Slayer, it's clear that it isn't the physical power that she hates--she learns just how much she appreciates it in "Helpless," and we see her relish it often. What weighs her down is the burden of being The Only One, The One Girl, She Alone. Standing by herself and staring down evil and knowing that she'll sacrifice her life as often as she's brought back to save the world and that she won't be paid or thanked for it. That she just has to do it, by herself, on top of everything else she has to do in life. That's what's so awful about being the Slayer, and that is precisely what she defeats in "Chosen." That doesn't meant that it's a perfect solution--we see the fact that potential problems accompany the benefits of this solution in Dana in "Damages," and that's important to remember. But I think that overall it's a beautiful if clumsy metaphor, and it totally works for me. I can't bring myself to hate anything that tells us that it's a powerful and beautiful thing when women share their power with each other.

so

Dec. 28th, 2011 08:53 am
lirazel: ([btvs] smackdown)
Someone on tumblr asked this question:

Which arcs, episodes, moments, etc. do you think are misunderstood in the Buffyverse?


and while I have about forty-five answers to that, I didn't voice them because it really just inspired one rant:

People thinking Buffy needs to get over being the Slayer and just be fine with it and stop complaining, WOMAN! So what that you’re bearing this unbelievable burden of protecting the entire world while still trying to have some sort of life (and raising your teenage sister despite the fact that you’re barely in your twenties) and that when it comes down to it you’re always going to be alone, the only one standing there staring down evil, and SO WHAT that you DIED MULTIPLE TIMES—literally giving your life for the world—AND YOU DON’T EVEN GET PAID OR THANKED FOR IT you’re just expected to do it and to take care of everyone around you all of the time (women’sworkwomen’sworkwomen’swork)? And so what that this setup is obviously designed and maintained by The Patriarchy (in the heavy-handed metaphor form of the Shadow Men + the Watcher’s Council) and that your constant kicking back against that could more generously be read as heroic and feminist, especially in the context of your obvious PTSD/clinical depression? SO WHAT? You just really need to get over that, shut up and quit complaining, go back to the kitchengraveyard, and just be grateful for your lot in life. Other ladies do it, why can’t you?

And then when you ultimately decide to tear down the entire patriarchal structure by rejecting the kyriarchically-enforced (is that a word? whatever) rule of a single woman standing alone and instead embracing the idea of women sharing power and saving the whole damn world together, you’ll be attacked for that, too. Even though you saved the lives of all the girls you shared that power with. Because you’ll never be good enough. Not ever.


Apparently I had a lot of feelings about this.

But seriously, the more I think about the show, the more obvious the metaphor of Slaying = women's work appears to me. Unpaid, unasked for, unappreciated. Done only by women. The concept that Buffy just needs to make peace with being the Slayer in her pre-"Chosen" world just kills me, because if she did that, she'd be buckling under and agreeing to live the life that The Patriarchy has forced on her even though she doesn't want it. How can that choice possibly be construed as feminist? To be, the feminism of her actions comes in fighting back. If she had ever accepted it totally, I think that would have been a betrayal of who she is as a person and also of the show's attempts at feminism, clumsy though they may be at times.

There are lots of reasons why the solution she comes up with in "Chosen" works for me. Not only is she saving all of the rest of the potential Slayers in the world from being ruthlessly slaughtered by the Harbingers, but she's also making a statement and dealing a blow to The Patriarchy. She's saying, "This isn't right. This power should be shared with other women. We should stand together. We don't have to be alone anymore." Because I think that if you pay attention to the show and specifically to Buffy's complaints about the Slayer, it's clear that it isn't the physical power that she hates--she learns just how much she appreciates it in "Helpless," and we see her relish it often. What weighs her down is the burden of being The Only One, The One Girl, She Alone. Standing by herself and staring down evil and knowing that she'll sacrifice her life as often as she's brought back to save the world and that she won't be paid or thanked for it. That she just has to do it, by herself, on top of everything else she has to do in life. That's what's so awful about being the Slayer, and that is precisely what she defeats in "Chosen." That doesn't meant that it's a perfect solution--we see the fact that potential problems accompany the benefits of this solution in Dana in "Damages," and that's important to remember. But I think that overall it's a beautiful if clumsy metaphor, and it totally works for me. I can't bring myself to hate anything that tells us that it's a powerful and beautiful thing when women share their power with each other.
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
OMG Y’ALL YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ESSAY.

Okay, does anybody remember SurveyFail? Anybody? If you were following metafandom a couple of years ago, no doubt you do. Two researchers who had nothing to do with the fannish community decided to survey fandom about its kinks, pretty much. In doing so, they revealed ALL KINDS OF FAIL. Fandom went crazy—in the amazing, snarky, intelligent way that we tend to do when outsiders are trying to pain a particular picture of us that has nothing to do with reality. [eta: Here's the FanLore entry, in case you want to do some digging. ]

Anyway, we kind of kicked them out? Or so I thought. Apparently they JUST PUBLISHED A BOOK which is full of still more fail. And a brilliant [livejournal.com profile] anivad has written an excellent, excellent critique of their both their methods and the ways in which the kyriarchy silences those it sees as Other.

One of my favorite parts of the essay is where [livejournal.com profile] anivad talks about the way in which the internet can be used as an equalizer, as a way of the voiceless being able to speak. When the mainstream media, owned by huge conglomerates mostly headed by white guys, refuses to let the oppressed speak, the internet gives us a voice and at least the potential to be heard (admittedly, most of us aren’t heard beyond communities of like-minded people, but the potential is there. By the way, did I mention that you should all go read this essay about livejournal in Russia? Because it opened my eyes to so many things. GO READ NOW).

And all of this just reminds me—AGAIN—of how dismissing internet relationships is just another way to silence people. I was thinking specifically of those of us who have anxiety struggles or other mental health problems. One of the hardest parts of my depression/social anxiety disorder is that way it makes me feel alienated. I don’t want to go out and be around people—it’s too tiring, too awkward, too draining. But, like most people, I still want relationships. I still want to connect to people.

And the internet lets me do this. I connect with people like me, I have conversations with people who are passionate about the same things I am, I build relationships with people I would never had a chance to be with otherwise. My sister jokingly says that my family and the internet is my social life, and you know what? These last few years, while my emotional problems and life situation have made me spend so much time at home, it’s true. And it’s not a bad thing. I hatehatehatehatehate this cultural conception of people who have friends on the internet as stinky losers sitting in their mom’s basement, unable to make friends in real life. It’s so not true of most of us, and even if it is, so what? I know some people whose moms have quite comfortable basements.

The internet is amazing. It’s been a lifesaver for me, and for so many other people. Obviously, as a tool, it can be used for destructive purposes as well (from hate groups organizing to child predators to leaked sex tapes/naked photos). But it can be used for beautiful things. It can let my social anxiety-riddled self connect to other people. It can let people who feel very, very alone and alienated find people who are like them, who share interests or struggles or perspectives. Geography is no obstacle. The boundaries of distance are melting away before our eyes.

And when people dismiss internet-formed friendships or mock them or ignore them or stigmatize them, what they’re really doing is marginalizing us. The ones of us who aren’t neurotypical. The ones of us who are different or Othered. The ones of us who are voiceless.

And look—I’m a privileged person. I’m a white, straight, thin, Christian, middle class white girl from America. I have nearly every single kind of privilege imaginable. The only two areas in which I suffer oppression—my gender and my mental illness—do render me voiceless and marginalized in some areas, but there are far more areas in which I belong to the oppressing group. And if the internet and the communities we form are so important to me with all of my privilege and with my relatively easy life, I can’t imagine how life-saving, life-affirming, life-giving it might be to someone whose very identity comes under fire even more often and with even more violence than mine does.

Anyway, all this to say: the internet is a beautiful tool. My mama often compares my “friends in the computer” to relationships that a lot of literary figures used to maintain via mail and written letters. It really is similar…except that it’s even more convenient, because it can be instantaneous if you want it to (or not, if you don’t want it to—one of the things I love about the internet is that I can literally turn off the conversation and walk away if I need to!) and the conversation can involve as many or as few people as you want it to. That is truly amazing.

--

And as a little aside, I went back on whedonesque yesterday. *sigh* Yes, I did. I just wanted to see what people were saying about that super weird interview with Jane Espenson and Georges Jeanty (um, Jane, I love you. Madly. Passionately. BUT PEOPLE QUESTION BUFFY'S AUTHORITY ALL THE TIIIME). Instead I ended up reading a bunch of people poo-pooing the idea of trigger warnings with the argument of “Well, if someone gets assaulted in a Laundromat, then seeing a washing machine might trigger them, and I can’t know that, so obviously I can’t warn for everything, so I shouldn’t have to warn for ANYTHING!” Which is the biggest bunch of hogwash I’ve heard in a while and made me roll my eyes majorly. I wrote up a big long reply and felt much better. I didn’t post it because I didn’t want to get sucked back into that vortex, but it made me feel better to type it. And the whole thing reminded me of why I stay in the spaces I do on the internet. Oh, beautiful flist, I love you.
lirazel: ([misc] story of my life)
OMG Y’ALL YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ESSAY.

Okay, does anybody remember SurveyFail? Anybody? If you were following metafandom a couple of years ago, no doubt you do. Two researchers who had nothing to do with the fannish community decided to survey fandom about its kinks, pretty much. In doing so, they revealed ALL KINDS OF FAIL. Fandom went crazy—in the amazing, snarky, intelligent way that we tend to do when outsiders are trying to pain a particular picture of us that has nothing to do with reality. [eta: Here's the FanLore entry, in case you want to do some digging. ]

Anyway, we kind of kicked them out? Or so I thought. Apparently they JUST PUBLISHED A BOOK which is full of still more fail. And a brilliant [livejournal.com profile] anivad has written an excellent, excellent critique of their both their methods and the ways in which the kyriarchy silences those it sees as Other.

One of my favorite parts of the essay is where [livejournal.com profile] anivad talks about the way in which the internet can be used as an equalizer, as a way of the voiceless being able to speak. When the mainstream media, owned by huge conglomerates mostly headed by white guys, refuses to let the oppressed speak, the internet gives us a voice and at least the potential to be heard (admittedly, most of us aren’t heard beyond communities of like-minded people, but the potential is there. By the way, did I mention that you should all go read this essay about livejournal in Russia? Because it opened my eyes to so many things. GO READ NOW).

And all of this just reminds me—AGAIN—of how dismissing internet relationships is just another way to silence people. I was thinking specifically of those of us who have anxiety struggles or other mental health problems. One of the hardest parts of my depression/social anxiety disorder is that way it makes me feel alienated. I don’t want to go out and be around people—it’s too tiring, too awkward, too draining. But, like most people, I still want relationships. I still want to connect to people.

And the internet lets me do this. I connect with people like me, I have conversations with people who are passionate about the same things I am, I build relationships with people I would never had a chance to be with otherwise. My sister jokingly says that my family and the internet is my social life, and you know what? These last few years, while my emotional problems and life situation have made me spend so much time at home, it’s true. And it’s not a bad thing. I hatehatehatehatehate this cultural conception of people who have friends on the internet as stinky losers sitting in their mom’s basement, unable to make friends in real life. It’s so not true of most of us, and even if it is, so what? I know some people whose moms have quite comfortable basements.

The internet is amazing. It’s been a lifesaver for me, and for so many other people. Obviously, as a tool, it can be used for destructive purposes as well (from hate groups organizing to child predators to leaked sex tapes/naked photos). But it can be used for beautiful things. It can let my social anxiety-riddled self connect to other people. It can let people who feel very, very alone and alienated find people who are like them, who share interests or struggles or perspectives. Geography is no obstacle. The boundaries of distance are melting away before our eyes.

And when people dismiss internet-formed friendships or mock them or ignore them or stigmatize them, what they’re really doing is marginalizing us. The ones of us who aren’t neurotypical. The ones of us who are different or Othered. The ones of us who are voiceless.

And look—I’m a privileged person. I’m a white, straight, thin, Christian, middle class white girl from America. I have nearly every single kind of privilege imaginable. The only two areas in which I suffer oppression—my gender and my mental illness—do render me voiceless and marginalized in some areas, but there are far more areas in which I belong to the oppressing group. And if the internet and the communities we form are so important to me with all of my privilege and with my relatively easy life, I can’t imagine how life-saving, life-affirming, life-giving it might be to someone whose very identity comes under fire even more often and with even more violence than mine does.

Anyway, all this to say: the internet is a beautiful tool. My mama often compares my “friends in the computer” to relationships that a lot of literary figures used to maintain via mail and written letters. It really is similar…except that it’s even more convenient, because it can be instantaneous if you want it to (or not, if you don’t want it to—one of the things I love about the internet is that I can literally turn off the conversation and walk away if I need to!) and the conversation can involve as many or as few people as you want it to. That is truly amazing.

--

And as a little aside, I went back on whedonesque yesterday. *sigh* Yes, I did. I just wanted to see what people were saying about that super weird interview with Jane Espenson and Georges Jeanty (um, Jane, I love you. Madly. Passionately. BUT PEOPLE QUESTION BUFFY'S AUTHORITY ALL THE TIIIME). Instead I ended up reading a bunch of people poo-pooing the idea of trigger warnings with the argument of “Well, if someone gets assaulted in a Laundromat, then seeing a washing machine might trigger them, and I can’t know that, so obviously I can’t warn for everything, so I shouldn’t have to warn for ANYTHING!” Which is the biggest bunch of hogwash I’ve heard in a while and made me roll my eyes majorly. I wrote up a big long reply and felt much better. I didn’t post it because I didn’t want to get sucked back into that vortex, but it made me feel better to type it. And the whole thing reminded me of why I stay in the spaces I do on the internet. Oh, beautiful flist, I love you.
lirazel: ([sk] up against the wall)
Basically I have rediscovered my love of this show. And my kiiiiiids! MY KIIIIIDS! SO MUCH LOVE. And I have many, many thinky thoughts, though how original they are, I could not tell you. Probably I won’t say anything you didn’t already know or think or whatever, but I know that I, for one, really enjoy reading other people agreeing with me, so I’m posting. BEWARE HUGES BLOCKS OF TEXT.

cut for ridiculous length )
lirazel: ([sk] up against the wall)
Basically I have rediscovered my love of this show. And my kiiiiiids! MY KIIIIIDS! SO MUCH LOVE. And I have many, many thinky thoughts, though how original they are, I could not tell you. Probably I won’t say anything you didn’t already know or think or whatever, but I know that I, for one, really enjoy reading other people agreeing with me, so I’m posting. BEWARE HUGES BLOCKS OF TEXT.

cut for ridiculous length )
lirazel: ([ats] shanshu)
[livejournal.com profile] snickfic made an offhanded comment once upon a time that has been popping up again in my head lately because I seem to be getting sucked into Harry Potter fandom yet again (at least on tumblr) and questions have started to ~stew~. So I thought I’d get some insight from y’all.

Slash fandom baffles me. I mean, sometimes it makes sense. Spike/Angel, sure. I get where you’re coming from. Merlin fandom, from what I know of it, seems to get a whole lot of canon winks/support. Even Kirk/Spock makes sense to me. And Torchwood had slash for your big canon ship.

But there seems to be very little pattern to what makes a big slash ship and what doesn’t.

For instance. Harry Potter. Why is there not a huge Harry/Ron fandom? Heterosexual life partners, here. At least as much textual evidence to support them as to support Harry/Hermione. They even have their moments of hating each others’ guts (GoF, anyone?). And yet nothing, as far as I know (well, sometimes there’s OT3 action, which again, makes loads of sense. But not a lot). And there’s Harry/Draco and Harry/Snape out the whazoo (no wisecracks, please). And okay. People love enmity turning into sex. Got it. But still. Why one and not the other? Can someone please explain this to me?

Is Jeremy/Tyler big in TVD fandom? I am not deeply involved in that fandom, so I don’t know. And then there’s Spike/Xander which makes less than zero sense to me (well, Xander finding Spike attractive seems to be canon. But I can’t see it ever, ever going the other way), because there’s not a lot of outright hatred there, just weird contempt. Is Troy/Abed big and I just don’t know about it? If fandom always ships people who hate each other, where’s the Logan/Weevil? What about Wes/Gunn or Tim Riggins/Jason Street or Chuck/Nate or Tony/Sid? Some of those BFF pairings have really fantastic (platonic, in my eyes, but I could easily see it being otherwise for people) chemistry along the lines of Kirk/Spock or something. So what determines what’s going to take off as a pairing? How does fandom determine that in one fandom they’re going to turn the enemies into lovers and in another they won’t? Or that in this fandom they BFFs are TOTALLY DOING IT while in another they’re just friends?

Of course, one could ask the same thing about het pairings—why some are huge and others are not, but I tend to have much more of an instinct about which one’s going to be the big one (Jeff/Annie having a more active fandom than Jeff/Britta surprises me not at all, and I could have told you that people were going to ship Damon/Elena from literally their first meeting, for example, and the lack of Buffy/Riley—yes, I know there are a few of you out there, but I mean as an active fandom—is the least shocking thing ever). This instinct seems to be non-existent for me when it comes to slash, though (what’s the opposite of slash goggles? Whatever it is, I’ve got that).

This doesn’t really affect me in any way because slash = not my thing. I am just trying to find some sort of discernible pattern here, because I seem to be epically bad at predicting what will and will not be big. Thoughts?

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