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Everyone's a little bit special

If there's one thing that the internet has done it's brought all sorts of people with small hobbies and obsessions together. In the days before such easy gathering and communication, these people would have slaved away on their obsessions in obscurity and isolation. Now, with the interwebs, they can gather in groups and synergistically share their fandom (fandumb?) with the world. I'm not all that certain it's a good thing.

My pasttime of wikiwalking on TV Tropes is constantly exposing me to interesting fandom quirks I normally would be unaware of or maybe under-aware of, though that sounds like a loaded term given some of what I've run into lately. Take for instance shippers. I've known that there are people out there who have opinions about who should end up with who in shows with some level of romantic tension. I also know that there are people out there more than happy to write slash or fanfiction pairing up characters like some sort of porno roulette. What amazes me is how invested some people are in certain couples to the extent that it's like watching an internet slapfest with salvos launched in the form of fanfics and photoshopped pictures. It's almost like watching a demented political campaign.

One example I've read about recently involving the Naruto universe is the gargantuan 'ship-war of Naruto-Sakura vs Naruto-Hinata vs (it wouldn't be the same without this one) Naruto-Sasuke. Each faction is absolutely devoted to the idea that Naruto ends up with whoever they're advocating or at least argues that no matter what does happen in cannon, their choice would have been the better fit 'in reality'. If you're for Sakura, Hinata is a weak-willed, pansy, wallflower without a spine and if you're for Hinata, Sakura is a violent jerkass who may in fact have a penis. I have no clue what the Naruto-Sasuke shippers are up to other than something amounting to girls are icky.

It's just amazing to read summaries of this and realize that people are spending so much time duking it out over which fictional character ends up with who. It's only human to read/watch these stories and develop a preference, but it just seems funny to become so involved it's like you're running a campaign to get your candidate elected. All of this made me think that maybe part of this is just fueled by the fact that all of us view anime, novels, tv shows, movies, etc through a slightly different lens and focus. Take me for example, when I like a story what moves me is the plot, the story itself. I like thinking about the strategy or machinations of the characters and the twists and turns of what happens. Other people are more interested in the characters themselves and their interpersonal relationships and yet others fixate on the quality of the art or the wordsmithing.

As an example of the latter, I found a page mocking Quality animation with large sarcasm tags around 'quality'. I was looking at the pictures and I found most of them amusing but despite having watched some of those episodes the stills came from, I never noticed any of them. I just don't pay all that much attention to the animation. It's not like I wouldn't notice if something truly screwy happened, but I just don't notice the small errors that other people pick up immediately. Maybe I just don't have the right appreciation for it. There's a reason I don't read much manga and when I do I tend to breeze through it, more concerned with the text and story than the pictures. A lot of it's just lost on me.

I guess in the end, it's pretty remarkable that people can get so many things out of one piece of work be it manga or anime or tv or whatever. Everyone tends to focus on that which they care about most and then it's off to the races thanks to the internet. Amazing.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kahvi
Dec. 3rd, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
Ship wars are certainly something. I started out writing in Star Trek fandom, which is the granddaddy of them all; it's where the term "slash" originated back in the 60's. Concequently, they've seen it all, and are rather organized and laid back. They (or more speficically, the group I got involved with) have been around for a long time, and, perhaps importantly, the average age is thirty-something rather than the teen-infested waters of for example anime-fandoms.

Apart from Trek (and with the new movie, that's slowly changing), fandoms seem to be saner and have higher quality fan fiction in inverse proportion to their size, which I think is interesting with regard to what you're saying here. In smaller fandoms, the good writers seem to huddle togheter for warmth and comfort.

Case in point, Harry Potter fandom has the most batshit insane community I know of, and they're huge.
henwy
Dec. 3rd, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
Someone commented on FB that one reason for ship wars is that it's become a marketing ploy of sorts, most notable in the recent twilight saga. That makes a lot of sense since you have to be pretty diehard to get into ship wars and it's probably a good idea to feed both sides to keep interest high. That said, I don't see how star trek could have ship wars. I mean, since none of those characters really were ostensibly gay, doesn't that make every ship pretty much as valid as any other?

All in all, I find I just can't tolerate fan fiction very well. Quality seems to be hit or miss and the few times I've dabbled the story quality just hasn't been worth the digging. It probably doesn't help that my interest in everything tends to wax and wane rather than being constant. I do admire the tenacityof people who are still out there writing star trek fic after all this time though.
kahvi
Dec. 3rd, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
I think the marketing ploy is an effect rather than a cause, though I suppose it's a bit of a chicken/egg thing. I've seen a lot of mainstream shows do this. Sometimes, it's even amusingly obvious.

There's SO much shitty fanfic out there. One of the problems with the internet is that pretty much everyone has access to it, and can upload whatever they want. My writing was terrible when I was 14, but I was thankfully never given the opportunity to share it with millions of readers online. Sadly, that's not the case for crappy 14 year old writers today. And there are a lot more of them than there are genuinely good writers. And also, sadly, the abundance of bad fic often discourages good writers from participating.

Ship wars really have nothing to do with logic. Ship war people will go so far as to argue that *canon* is wrong when it contradicts their ship.

Outside of specific fandoms that I know wouldn't interest you, the one place I can recommend where the ratio is 95% good writing to 5% bad rather than the other way around, is Yuletide: http://yuletidetreasure.org/

Their archives are closed for the holidays though, while this year's exchange is ongoing. But check it out after Christmas if you like; it's got pretty much everything.
henwy
Dec. 6th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
So here's a question...what made you even want to read fanfic in the first place much less write it with the initial quality problems? Was it just show obsession? You were willing to go with any content as long as it continued providing you with your star trek fix? Or was it just the fact that reading amateur fiction was appealing in and of itself?

It just seems there's so much content out there now that it sometimes seems strange that people get fixated on one thing for very long. I mean, the Harry Potter thing was huge but now we've got Twilight spazzing around and in another year or two it'll be something else entirely.

I'l try to remember to look at the site at some point and let you know how it goes.
(Deleted comment)
henwy
Dec. 6th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
Eh. I wonder if that sort of aggregation is a good or bad thing. At least when they gather you can see them coming sort of. At least you have a better chance of it. IT's much more unnerving when they're alone and off the radar. Then we're talking lone gunman territory.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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