Word count: 200
Yesterday I was chatting with some fellow BOFQ’s about the general public’s perception of fandom. They think we’re a bunch of obsessed plagiarizing pornographers giving fic away for free. And they’re more or less right about that.
So the question I asked myself was, would I have gotten involved in fandom if I’d realized at the time (in 2000) what it would be like today (in 2003)? Would I want to be associated, in even the slightest way, with a genre that is mostly smut, mostly badfic, mostly mary-sues, mostly slash - pick your poison - and where there is an ever-present, if , danger of plagiarism of my own fic by other fans? Would I want to be involved in a community that supports your right to write RPS and twincest?
I’m not necessarily talking about moral qualms here. Consider slash, for example - even for people who like it, it’s not usually something they got into fanfic for. It’s more of an acquired taste. Even smut is something most fans work their way up to writing rather than the thing they came to fandom looking for. People come for the show.
So the inside of fandom is not at all like the outside. Back in 2000, there was no easy way for a new fan to see the seamy underside of fandom, but now there’s LJ, where anyone who does a little research can find out that fandom is really distasteful or contentious or meta or low-quality - pick your poison again. Now instead of a seamy underside, we have a underside of good, clean, gen, deep, literary (pick your preference) fic almost completely obscured by the notorious public face of fandom.
I think this change in the face of fandom is having an increasing effect on what kind of people get involved - more young rowdy people, fewer adults stumbling into fandom by accident - but it could just be that I’m a BOFQ and I’m not meeting the promising newbies.
I’m certainly not trying, either - my answer to whether I’d get involved in fandom today is a definite “no.” Though I write Stargate fic, I don’t go out of my way to post it or meet other Stargate fans. I don’t have time for LJ or fic taxes - the sheer size of fandom today drives people away as well. Anyone who doesn’t have lots of time to dedicate to fandom is marginalized.
I’ll see you in the margins.