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So yesterday I posted a rant in my Last.fm journal about Today by The Smashing Pumpkins being used in a Visa commercial, and how I was disturbed by that.  I think my thoughts on that actually apply to fandom "coming out" to the public.

 

I finally truly understand the whole Fanlib.com fiasco and why that really bothered fans.  It wasn't just an intellectual response to the problems Fanlib posed, it was an emotional backlash to someone commercializing something that has deep meaning to you.  It's a betrayal of your feelings toward fanfiction and the movies and TV we love, and from that comes a deep mistrust that they will not handle your content responsibly.  How could they, when they misunderstand on such a fundamental level that our thoughts and feelings should not be for sale?  It's not just copyright issues; Fanlib wants to exploit the fact that the fans have strong emotional responses to fanfiction, like Visa wants to exploit my emotional response to Today.  They want to make money, with no care at all for the fact that I actually have an opinion on the matter.

(For those that don't know what the whole FanLib fiasco is, read here, here, and here.  I'm sure there's way more discussion out there, but I can't seem to find it right now.)

And now vidding is starting to be written up in the press; the signal is going out, as Laura Shapiro says.  Can we control the spin the media might put on fandom and vidding, and prevent vids from becoming commercial entities to be used by The Man?  Can we prevent them from being hijacked and used in a way that has no meaning for our fannish communities?  According to this article
at In Media Res it’s already being tried.  I’ve previously been very excited at the prospect of vids gaining widespread acclaim because I want everyone to love them like I love them.  But I’m starting to understand that even if we aren’t sued out of existence we could be manipulated and censored into something that doesn’t resemble us anymore.  If vidding is no longer a rebellious act of irreverence and love and thought and emotion is it still worth watching and doing?

 

So I’m starting to appreciate more the OTW’s mission to prevent the commercialism of fannish works.  If we the fans band together and actively create the kind of community we want and seek to protect it, there is a much higher chance that viding and other fan works will come through this series of changes with little to no destruction to our ideas and abilities.  There are those who think the OTW will damage fandom by dragging us out into the spotlight, or by seeking to “speak for” and thus control the fans.  (see Ethrosdemon’s post here)  But we are already in the spotlight, and I sincerely don’t think the OTW can or will try to control fandom.  To me they have demonstrated a willingness to work with everyone by accepting opinions and criticism and adjusting.  And it can’t hurt to have someone on our side.

 

But  vidding and commercialism already coexist to some degree.  Many of the movies and TV shows we vid are highly publicized and are created to be commercially viable.  The advertisers use any and all means to capture our interest and wallets, including using popular songs in their commercials and in their content, creating fan spaces on their websites, and going so far as to have “mash up” contests for the fans.  And yet we the fans continue to have deep emotional responses to these shows and movies.  The commercialism does not negate our feelings in these cases, so why shouldn’t the same be true for music?

 

Perhaps because we go into movies or TV shows with upfront knowledge of the commercial aspect and make the conscious choice to ignore it, but when I bought Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness it was new and raw and meaningful.  It’s only later that the meaning of the music changed with this commercial, a change that I had no choice in making.  And maybe that’s the difference: choice.  If I choose to take a movie that’s mainstream and commercial, like 300, and dig deeper meaning out of it by vidding, then I end up with something that I’m happy with.  If I show it to you but you don’t like it, well that’s fine.  That’s your choice, but it doesn’t negate my enjoyment of the vid.  In an environment of choice I don’t have to like everything, and that fact doesn’t bother me.

 

So maybe that’s the lesson to apply to music.  Billy Corgan can do whatever he wants to with his song.  It is his song, after all.  My feelings and thoughts on the song are not negated by his commercial choices.  Does that mean I’m selling out my personal meaning of the song by accepting his commercialism?  I don’t know, but I still love the song.

 

Date: 2009-03-16 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paperclipchains.livejournal.com
And now vidding is starting to be written up in the press; the signal is going out, as Laura Shapiro says. Can we control the spin the media might put on fandom and vidding, and prevent vids from becoming commercial entities to be used by The Man? Can we prevent them from being hijacked and used in a way that has no meaning for our fannish communities? According to this article at In Media Res it’s already being tried. I’ve previously been very excited at the prospect of vids gaining widespread acclaim because I want everyone to love them like I love them. But I’m starting to understand that even if we aren’t sued out of existence we could be manipulated and censored into something that doesn’t resemble us anymore. If viding is no longer a rebellious act of irreverence and love and thought and emotion is it still worth watching and doing?

It depends on why you vid, in my opinion. I don't think you've covered the breadth of reasoning with "a rebellious act of irreverence and love."

To be honest, if they want to commercialize vids, I think they have the right. Making fanvids is a very derivative art, if you can even call it that, and no matter how attached we are to the final product, I think it's important to keep some perspective and remember that our tools consist of somebody else's property. I don't personally want the stuff people make to be commercialized, but at the same time, I know where I sit on the totem pole. I'm not sure what the answer is just yet, but the possibility that I'm the one corrupting the source material through misinterpretation is never far from my mind when it comes to this discussion.

Date: 2009-03-18 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rdphantom.livejournal.com
I'm sure I didn't cover the breadth of reasoning for why someone would vid; there are probably as many reasons as vidders. But whatever reason someone has for vidding it's personal, and that's where the allure comes from, for that person. If you manipulate the outcome you risk dampening the allure inherent in choosing to respond to the source in whatever way feels most inspirational.

I'm not opposed to all commercialism. I do realize that we live in a capitalist society, at least in the US, and the source creators do deserve to be rewarded for coming up with something that captures my imagination so well. If you look at the situation as a totem pole then we the fans are at the bottom, lesser beings than the writers, directors, actors, distribution companies, ect.. But a show only exists if we the fans support it with our money. They need us to continue to exist. What if the relationship is symbiotic, where each party benefits from the existence of the other? In that situation it would be foolish to alienate those that support you by destroying something that motivates them to continue to consume your product.

I don't think fan works hurt the shows we watch or the music we listen to. In fact I think they encourage us to keep watching and to explore other shows. But I see the move to commercialize fan works not as an inherent right so much as a way to make more money for themselves by controlling what we do to make it predictable and acceptable. They may actually pass laws that make fanworks illegal, but that would probably be more detrimental than helpful.

"I think it's important to keep some perspective and remember that our tools consist of somebody else's property... the possibility that I'm the one corrupting the source material through misinterpretation is never far from my mind when it comes to this discussion." I've never been on the other end of this equation so I can't say for sure how I'd feel or react, and I am sensitive to the fact that the creators probably have feelings about what we do. But I think it's a richer world because of the variety of ideas and interpretations the fans provide, and I'd really hate to see that diminished.

Thanks so much for reading and writing back!
RD

Date: 2009-03-16 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] topaz-eyes.livejournal.com
Here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom...

Can we control the spin the media might put on fandom and vidding, and prevent vids from becoming commercial entities to be used by The Man? Can we prevent them from being hijacked and used in a way that has no meaning for our fannish communities?

Seeing how the BSG video mash-up promotion was set up in that article, The Man is already trying to hijack the process--not just for vidding but for fandom creativity as a whole. Using only Man-approved scenes and music, for example, is just not in the spirit of fannish vidding as I see it.

I think the one commenter in that BSG vid article is right in that we're seeing the rise of "brandom" as a quasi-hybrid entity of fandom and corporate participation. Beneath the surface it's still about profiting off the work--profiting from the very people who provide the free content. This is how I see the corporate-run fan sites now after reading your post. I don't think we should consider the corporate-run sites as part of "fandom" in the traditional sense now. The idea of "brandom" worries me too, because it could actually end up dividing fans further. Sort of like domestic and wild fen species.

And thank you for linking to that article! Fascinating stuff.

Date: 2009-03-18 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rdphantom.livejournal.com
I got linked in Metafandom - Cool! I'll have to check out all the cool links.

"Using only Man-approved scenes and music, for example, is just not in the spirit of fannish vidding as I see it." I agree. Although I thought it was really cool at first that they were reaching out to us fans, it lacked the control I want to say what I want to say. Whether I'm making sweeping political or social statements or a commentary on a character or relationship, the power in fanworks comes from my ability to choose any clip I see fit and any song I want and pair them any way I see fit. Now, did they limit the number of clips simply to save on webspace and make the process easier for someone who has never vidded before, or were they actively trying to manipulate the outcome? Probably more the first reason than the second. But if that were all we had to work with it wouldn't matter; creativity would be stifled.

The corporate run sites aren't "fandom" at all, even though they will be viewed by fans, because they aren't spontaneous or free. They are advertisement aimed at encouraging us to watch and buy their stuff. Not that they aren't fun or worth reading into for character background and behind-the-scenes show stuff. I love stuff like that (especially DVD features) and am not saying we should boycott it, but they are still an incentive to the viewer to watch and buy. I think there is a line there, and we should just be aware of it. Don't let "Brandom" domesticate you!

Via metafandom

Date: 2009-03-17 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badficwriter.livejournal.com
Since that den of comic book pirates [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily got nuked, I've been musing about this very thing. People keep suggesting "perhaps if you only did what you were allowed/used content that was permitted".

It feels like being tamed.

I remember looking into corporate fansite acknowledgement back in the day. It was stingy. Didn't offer the stuff I was interested in covering. Banned obscenity--a ban I felt extended to slash. If I couldn't write the Professor X/Cyclops adult male/underage boy fic I felt needed to be out there to confront the shadow I saw in the official text...

Times change, the corporate material is reflecting our own tastes in places. But I feel there will always be a place for creating what the author doesn't agree with. And that place will probably never be under control because the control doesn't agree with it's existence.

Re: Via metafandom

Date: 2009-03-20 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rdphantom.livejournal.com
LOL, yeah, your fic probably would be banned! What sites were you looking into "back in the day"? Was it FanLib, or something else?

It does feel like being tamed. Like being controlled. Like they are saying "You can exist if I approve of how you do it." Maybe it wouldn't feel like that if they weren't out there trying to take down the stuff we create from YouTube, or deleting our journals and communities from LiveJournal, or censoring what gets put into FanLib and Fanfiction.net, or suing people for using their music, but they are. And it's not everyone, some artists and directors and producers are fine with what the fans do, or even support it. But the ones that don't make it difficult to trust that the others won’t eventually do the same things. Or at least that their lawyers won’t do the same things.

As for creating what the author doesn't agree with, that's free speech isn't it? Isn't this whole debate about free speech? I guess it comes down to whether you believe fanworks are legitimate creations that stand independently of the sources they come from, or not. I do. Obviously we are starting with someone else’s work, but the work I put into editing a vid and my thoughts and ideas about the movie are my own. I believe that the right to profit from my fanworks is not guaranteed and copyright does come into play there, but their right to exist is guaranteed by my right to free speech. Cesperanza talks about that here: http://cesperanza.livejournal.com/161806.html.

Why should the corporations expect us to read their books, watch their shows, go to the movies, visit their websites and spend hours there so they can make money off the ads they put up, buy those shows and movies on DVD and then Blu-Ray and then iTunes and then whatever new format comes out in five years, buy the books in paperback and then hardcover, buy the merchandise they put out and go to the conventions, but at the end of all that say we can’t respond in kind with our thoughts and feelings? That sends the message that they expect us to be invested enough to keep watching and buying, but to repress any impulses to talk about their content. And fanfic and vids are our way of talking about those shows with each other.

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