So I’m doing the introduction to participatory culture and transformative art tomorrow, and wanted to refine it a bit. Question: what one thing would you want non-fans to hear in an introduction to fandom, and why? (Okay, two things. Maybe three, if you’re really invested.)

Reblogs of this would be very helpful to me. Thanks!

1: First I would want to undo the idea that fanworks are some kind of new, weird subculture thing.  It’s nothing but a new word for the phenomenon of iterative storytelling that has been driving human culture for as long as it has existed.  It’s the idea that somebody could put out a story as some kind of commodified lump that is meant to be consumed and not interacted with or passed on to the next person that’s the bizarre newfangled idea.

2: I would want to address the conception that transformative fanworks are ‘ripoffs’ or ‘theft.’ Copyright was originally conceived as nothing more than the literal right to be the only person selling copies of the thing you created—until your copyright ran out.  What it is now is as far from the original notion of copyright as the current notion of copyright is from the notion of fanworks as rightfully belonging to their creators rather than the creator of the foundation work. (On this subject: I’ve gotcher copyright manifesto right here—you’re free to use it, Prof, if it would come in handy).

3: I would want them to consider the notion that fandom is a space where a lot of people who are under-represented in mainstream media get to share and discuss their readings of the texts and re-imagine stories to make room for themselves.  A looooot of women, POC, queer people, neuro-atypical people are to be found in fandom.  In fact, if you filtered for people who DON’T fall into at least one of those four categories, I daresay you would find the number of people left to be extremely small.  (And if someone attempted to argue that the percentage of straight white men in the total world population isn’t really that high either, then to them I would say, “Yes.  That is my point.”)

So maybe it’s not the people in fandom who are somehow dysfunctional or antisocial so much as the culture that has pushed them out—doesn’t publish their words to give them a voice, doesn’t listen to their opinions or feedback, doesn’t even value their purchasing power enough to bother marketing to them respectfully.  Maybe ‘fandom’ isn’t about being an over-invested dork so much as it is about forging your own community of celebration and critique when popular culture and academia have shut the door to the party in your face.  (And forgive me, Prof, but there is a certain amount of classism and academic elitism inherent here, too.  If you don’t have the degree, if you are not ‘respectable’ enough, then as far as many scholars are concerned, you just don’t have the chops for your argument to matter.)

And at the very least, fandom is no weirder, and not notably different, than being a member of a club or forum where people spend all their time talking about/participating in sports, video games, knitting, or the latest literary fiction novel on the shelf at the bookstore.

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