MediaWest*Con/MediaWest 1999

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Convention
Name: MediaWest 1999
Dates: MAY 28-31, 1999
Frequency:
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Type:
Focus: multi-fandom
Organization:
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL: 1999 History page[1]
1999 Convention theme
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Contents

Some facts about the 1999 convention:

  • The theme that year celebrated the 30th anniversary of a man on the moon: "One small step for a fan, one giant leap for Fankind...We came in peace for all Fankind. 30 years after man first set foot on the moon, MediaWest*Con 19 salutes the lunacy of those who dared to imagine the possibilities of spaceflight in fiction and reality -- from the earth to the moon, and beyond."
  • The winner of the 1999 Fan Fund was Carolyn Golledge. She attended MW*C 19.
  • MediaWest showed both "Earshot" and "Graduation, pt. 2" (two Buffy episodes that the networks refused to air), as well as the banned Xena episode ("The Way"), the Doctor Who parody "Dr. Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death" and the Deep Space 9 finale. It made the con, according to one fan, "one of the most memorable MediaWests I've ever been to!"[2]
  • A Karen River drawing of Mulder (X-Files) sold for $200. A drawing of "Jim and Blair (from the Sentinel) doing the Naked Pretzel" sold for over $400.[3]
  • Another fan reports: "I don't know what regular SF conventions charge for tables, but for the half a table I get at media cons, I've paid $25 (MediaWest), $20 (Visions, in the fan dealer room), $17.50 (ZebraCon and Escapade). Regular SF cons don't normally sell half-tables, but it's double the cost for a full-size table... I will say that the horror that is the MediaWest art auction runs for 5-plus hours, and there aren't very many items under $20, nor many over $1000. But items in the $300 to $500 range are considerably more common than at SF cons. And people pay (IMO) crazy prices for limited prints (like 1 of 5) by certain artists."[4]
  • Additional information about the 1999 convention is archived here.
  • One attendee collected quotes overheard at the 1999 convention. They are archived here.[5]
  • Another fan created "party posters" with captions to advertise the Methos MediaWest Party. They are archived here. The captions end with Duncan MacLeod announcing, with a sword to his throat: "All right, ye daft old bugger! I'll go to yer damned party!"[6]
  • Approximately 35 dealers were listed in the post-con report.

FanQ Awards

See FanQ Awards.

Masquerade Winners

A complete list of winners, with photos, can be seen here.

  • Best Of Show: The Queen's Wardrobe -- Bernadette M. Crumb, Christine Krebs-Bonder
  • Way Cute Award: A Boy and His Dog -- T.M.Cason, Kwlly Jeanette Aurora Lowrey Kelly
  • Best Standup: Sorceror A. Prentiss -- Peter Cooper
  • Best Purrr On Stage: Curiousity The Traveller -- Curiousity
  • Hat From Hell Award: Elizabeth's Alpha-World Persona, A.K.A. Psychowoman -- Elizabeth Wickes
  • Best Sibling Rivalry: Mary Suethor, the Pesky Younger Sister of Hathor -- Erika Frensley
  • Best Imitation of a Tequila Sunrise: Padme, Handmaiden to Queen Amidala -- Christine Getrost

Art Show Winners

Winners are selected by popular vote.

Source: 1999 Art Show Winners[7]

Door Decoration Awards

A complete list of winners, with photos can be seen 1999 here.[8]A few sample doors are included below.

Overall

  • Best In Show: Jedi Legacy by June M. Edwards
  • Funniest Door: Zine Wars by Christina Getrost

Science Fiction

  • First Prize: Five Star Theatre Presents Star Wars Episode I The Fandom Menace by Janet Schmidt
  • Second Prize: Jedi Legacy by June M. Edwards
  • Third Prize: Quickenings R Us by Sophia Mulvey, Karen Travers, Sue Glasgow

Non-Science Fiction

  • First Prize: Baker Street Bottlecap Wordsearch by B. Bills, J. DeBeneditto
  • Second Prize: In Case of Emergency by Linda Jeffrey
  • Third Prize: Caed Mile Failte (A Thousand Welcomes) by Becky Mock, Kathy Condon

Media Personality/Other

  • First Prize: Cyphre Voudou Bayou of New Orleans by La Krewe de la Cinema
  • Second Prize: The W-Files: Where Are They Now? by Kris Manning, Sue Vandalen
  • Third Prize: The Slash Game by Gena Fisher

Gallery

Vid Show

1999 Winners - Missing

1999 Vids Submitted - Partial

A partial playlist of the gen vid show was compiled by cannellfan. Slash vids were not recorded and MediaWest failed to announce the winning vidders in either category.

Mediawest contest categories:

  • SI=Song Interpretation
  • H=Humor
  • CR=Constructed Reality
  • O=Original (using mostly home video)
  • Cred=Credits.

BARBARA'S LIVING ROOM PRODUCTIONS

  • Opening [Cred]
  • Badlands -- Buffy [SI]
  • You Take My Breath Away -- multi (period dramas) [SI]
  • End Credits [Cred]

BUNNIES FROM HELL

  • Lucky's Lament -- General Hospital [SI]
  • The Riddle -- Earth: Final Conflict [SI]
  • Comic Book Hero -- Star Trek Voyager [SI]
  • When I See Your Smile -- The X-Files Movie [SI]

CALIFORNIA CREW (Cal Crew didn't offer categories for their vids, so the vid coordinator assigned SI or H classifications after the first viewing)

  • Abdul's Cool Opening Credits [Cred]
  • I'll Make a Man Out of You -- Buffy [SI]
  • Suspension -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • From This Moment On -- Titanic (Cameron film) [SI]
  • Little Red Riding Hood -- Buffy [H]
  • Yesterday -- Silk Stalkings [SI]
  • The Bald Guy Song -- X-Files/JAG/ST:Voyager [H]
  • When Seconds Count -- ST: Voyager [SI]
  • I Can't Fight This Feeling -- Scarecrow & Mrs. King [SI]
  • I Think I Love You -- multi [H]
  • Come Spy With Me -- MUNCLE [SI]
  • Baby Mine -- multi [SI]
  • I'll Think of a Reason Later -- ST: Voyager [SI]
  • What is This Thing Called Love? -- multi [SI]
  • Come On Get Happy -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • Frozen -- multi [SI]
  • This Kiss -- multi [SI]
  • You Needed Me -- S&MK [SI]
  • Oh, Canada -- multi (set in or filmed in Canada) [SI]
  • Rebel Son -- ST:Voyager [SI]
  • God Bless The Child -- multi [SI]
  • What's New Pussycat? -- multi [H]
  • Go the Distance -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Ever Since the World Began -- Buffy [SI]
  • When I'm With You -- multi [SI]
  • It That's What it Takes -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This -- Buffy [SI]
  • Heroes -- multi [SI]
  • That Don't Impress Me Much -- multi [H]
  • Abdul's Cool Closing Credits [Cred]

CHEVRON & JON

  • My Heart Will Go On -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Missing -- Babylon 5 [SI]

CHICAGO LOOP

  • Don't Put It In Your Mouth -- Due South [H]
  • Fear -- La Femme Nikita [SI]
  • Close to You -- The X-Files [H]

CHRIS & CHRISTINA

  • intro/TV MA [H/Cred/O]
  • Nadine -- Remington Steele [SI]
  • Lean Bean Fighting Machine -- fight ad [H]
  • We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This -- The X-Files [SI]
  • One Thing Leads to Another -- Earth:Final Conflict [SI]
  • What's On Your Mind -- VR.5 [SI]
  • Space Hero -- Starship Troopers [SI]
  • Viva Las Vegas -- multi [H]
  • You Might Think -- multi [SI]
  • End Credits [Cred]

THE FEDERATION

  • The Six-Minute Doctor Files [original X-Files/DW crossover]

GAYLEN'S VIDEOS

  • Intro -- multi/KFLC [Cred]
  • Stone's Rag -- Kung Fu: The Legend Continues [CR]
  • Lift the Wings -- KFLC [SI]
  • Prospero's Speech -- KFLC [SI]
  • L.A. Theme Music -- KFLC [H]
  • I Got You, Babe -- KFLC [H]
  • Please Write -- KFLC [Cred]

LA CONDOG

  • I Hate Soup -- multi [H]
  • Pistol Packing Mama -- ST:Voyager [H]
  • Streets of Laredo -- multi/westerns [H]

LESLIE REMENCUS

  • This Kiss -- multi [SI]
  • What Makes You Stay -- The X-Files [SI]
  • Once in a Blue Moon -- Buffy [SI]
  • Little King -- Cupid [SI]

PONY GIRLS PRODUCTIONS

  • Intro -- multi [Cred]
  • Where the Truth Lies -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • Jailhouse Rock -- multi [H]
  • I Will Be There -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • I'm the One -- Hercules/Xena (Ares) [SI]
  • I Volunteer -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • Locomotion -- Stargate SG-1 [SI] w/Space Monekey Junkie

RED POOCH

  • Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall -- X-Files Movie [SI]
  • She's Always a Woman to Me -- Xena [SI]
  • Call Me Al (If You'll Be My Bodyguard) -- Xena [SI]

SHAZ

  • I Wanna Run to You -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Uninvited Guest -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Goodnight, My Angel -- Babylon 5 [SI]

SiDiC MUSIC VIDEOS

  • Intro -- Original [Cred]
  • One Sweet Day -- multi [Annual Memorial Vid] [SI]
  • The Man I Love -- Heat of the Sun/PBS Mystery [SI]
  • Slime Creatures From Outer Space -- multi [H]

SPACE MONKEY JUNKIE

  • Intro -- multi [Cred]
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight -- Stargate SG-1 [SI]
  • Why Me? -- multi [SI]
  • I Think I'm a Clone Now -- Stargate SG-1 [CR/H]
  • The Riddle -- Highlander (Methos) [SI]

STEELE, INC.

  • No Place That Far -- Remington Steele [SI]
  • What If I Said? -- Remington Steele [SI]
  • Anyone Else -- Remington Steele [SI]
  • WALDO & KATE
  • I'll Be There For You/Theme From Friends -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Forgiven -- Forever Knight [SI]
  • Land of Confusion -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Who Wants to Live Forever -- multi (Characters who died) [SI]
  • Dark Time -- Babylon 5 [SI]
  • Posession -- Forever Knight [SI]
  • Fire Escape -- multi [H]

WINGED CAT PRODUCTIONS

  • This producer had three Sentinel vids

Convention Reports

Stargate SG-1: This year the show finally caught fire (now that it’s showing on Fox). Plenty of panels, the first few fanzines, and I understand that there’s a growing fanfic archive at Heliopolis-something. I’m glad—it’s a great SF premise, well executed, and has an all-round swell ensemble. (I did overhear one femmefan at MW putting down the main female character, Capt. Samantha Carter, which I still just don’t understand. Are some femmefans so darn jealous that they can’t stand to see a woman sharing the same screen with ‘their boys’???)

Sentinel: a lot of zines and panels, but I think the fandom is in shock over the Gauda Prime series ender. It really makes it hard to write fanfic when the final episode creates such a major change in the series premise. Who wants to bet whether the fandom will still be around in ten years?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Due to the kindness of Canadians and media privateers, the MW attendees got to see Earshot and the season ender (which WB pulled from the air). Although all the fans are screaming ‘censorship’ I think I agree with the network. Those two episodes just pushed too many hot buttons to be aired at this particular time. And I think it’s better for the show—once a series draws people’s attention and anger, it’s almost impossible to calm them down. As a friend put it, "No, 60 foot snakes aren’t real—but making explosives out of fertilizer is." I do hope the episodes get shown later, though—maybe in the dog days of summer.

Met up with some of my old Ghostbuster and Blake’s 7 acquaintances—funnily enough, the most obvious group of Blakies at MediaWest this year were the Tarrant fans. (He won in the end.) Ann Wortham had a few new Blake zines but otherwise the zine scene is still pretty dead.

But, between the Sentinel and multimedia zines I bought for myself and Jamie, I still managed to fill up two suitcases, a tote, and still have zines to mail. (And mailing those suckers is expensive!) So there is plenty for me to read now that I’m home.

Once again, the pre-Media trip to Ontario was just as good as the con. It seems to me that any southern-U.S. fan who scrapes up the money and time for MediaWest should at least consider a few extra days in Canada. It’s just over the river from Detroit—and the exchange rate is great right now. The city of Stratford (home of the Shakespeare Festival) is only a few hours away and in late May it’s easy to get play tickets. (This year we saw Dracula: the Musical.) It has plenty of bookstores too. Toronto is not too terrible a drive from Detroit either; it’s got bookstores, shopping, museums, Chinatown, Forever Knight landmarks, theatre, comedy clubs…. Just ask Erika or me for details, we’ll be glad to bend your ear about it. [9]
It is early June. The humidity is rising, prime-time TV is a sand dune of reruns, the rugrats are out of school and I am salivating over a cardboard box of zines.

It’s post Media West Con.

For the past four or five years, Dee, Erika and I have shared the delights of zine farr at Media West. (Dee in zine farr is a truly scary phenomenon.)

I always have a great time. It’s MediaWest! The best fanzine convention in the world. It is also a very well run con (this was year 19).

Maybe it was because of the absence of Bill Hupe. Or maybe because I don't get Sentinel, or because I don't have as much time to read zines as I would like, but I could not escape the impression that there were fewer zines out this year. I didn't see any surprise zines -- the small fandom She-Wolf/Zorro or the Batman, Forever Knight/Highlander novella by the author I just love. I always enjoy stumbling across the zine I wasn't looking for and didn't expect to find. I didn't have any 'surprises' this year. I did buy a Lines in the Sand for $3.00 and issue five of Crazy Quilt from a used zine box. Still, there were plenty of zines to buy.

If you are a Buffy fan, this was a good MediaWest. There were zines, panels, music videos, and the two nontelevised episodes (are you jealous yet?) There were aired in Canada and our friends from the frosty north came to MediaWest with the tapes. Good thing too or we would have had to kill them. I think those shows were aired five times. Each time the room was packed. Some of the fans watching the show were a little rude to whoever was manning the remote control. It wasn't really necessary to screech out, "BACK UP" every time they missed the commercial/episode break.

By the way, the shows were way too cool.

Sentinel beat out Buffy on the zine per ton and per naked skin category. Stargate seemed to be truly establishing itself as a popular fandom. I didn't see much Hercules/Xena, but to hear people talk, the shows are popular.

Another highlight of the con (at least for me)- were the California Crew videos. I'm a big music video fan and I always enjoy the Crew's work. I think my favorite was the MasterCard Commercial - wooden stake, $5.00. Bottles of holy water $65.00, silver crucifix, $$$, a watcher you can trust, priceless. You know the rest. Then there was the Dolly Parton I Really Hate Her video featuring Janeway, Torris and 7 of 9. You don't have to be a Voyager fan to enjoy the video. I spent some time Sunday night rewatching the Crew's classic tapes.

There didn't seem to be that many room parties this year. There were two Doctor Who parties, but for some reason I didn't get around to attending any of them. I also missed the BBC charity spoof Doctor Who. I wish I hadn't. The party suit was pretty well sold out with a Methos/Star Wars/Sentinel/Stargate party to just name a few.

There were lots of good panels. I attended a Buffy panel discussing just what the Watcher Council is up to (I don't trust them), a Rocky and Bullwinkle/Animaniacs panel and a Hercules panel which were all a lot of fun. MediaWest has panels running all day with a great variety of topics.

MediaWest has improved the art show by demanding a piece have three bids to go to auction, but the auction is still slower than molasses. One year there was a joke about not stepping over the corpses from last year's line. It is the main reason I don't attend the art auction. There was one piece I wish I had bid on -- Kenny in a little red hooded overcoat "Welcome to Starfleet Security Ensign Kenny."

I missed the play so I can't comment on it. The masquerade was good, but there were not a lot of contestants.

How can I forget hanging out with fannish friends. Never to be underestimated. I had a great time with Dee and Amy and Erika.

One negative comment is that the hotels air conditioning seemed to have a mind of its own. The hotel looked a little…downtrodden. I think it is time for it to be refurbished. [10]
Television News: Hercules: Iolaus, the one and only vest-wearing Iolaus, is definitely back. There will be 8 more episodes next season. Iolaus should appear in at least 3-4 episodes. No news about Xena yet, since Lucy Lawless is now pregnant.

Sentinel: It’s dead, Jim.

Stargate:SG-1: Third season starts on June 25. The show has a definite commitment of 4 years, with maybe an extra two years.

Highlander, the Raven: is dead. However, Nick is really an immortal (overheard at a party).

The Crow: renewed for a second season.

Early Edition: renewed.

Panels:

Lots of good panels. I was on 3 Stargate panels, 1 cartoon panel, and 1 historical accuracy panel. Amy Denton was on a writing for newbies and strong women panel.

The strong women panel had some surprises for strong female characters: Edith Bunker (putting up with Archie), Jill Taylor (Home Improvement), Hawkgirl (comics), Murphy Brown, Dr. Quinn. Interestingly enough, not all characters named were in positions of authority.

Costume Contest: A small number of contestants, but a good show. Highlights included a Queen Amidala and Padme duet, the Sorceror Prentiss (brother to Paula Prentiss), Curiosity (a winged cat), and MarySueThor (the pesky younger sister of Hathor (Stargate)).

Other Stuff:

The blaster battle was interrupted by the diversion of Jar Jar’s Pleasure Palace. Some folks had decided to push the non-participant status in the blaster battle, and before I knew it, I had helped set up Jar Jar’s Pleasure Palace, complete with Leia in slave outfit, and Han Solo, complete with (in)appropriate signs. Leia: "10 credits a dance, Lap dances by appointment", and Han: "Fly the Falcon, Lap Dances Free". We then lured both the Rebels, Imperials, and Mercs into the Pleasure Palace, where we proceeded to take pictures. We got a good picture of the Emperor groping Princess Leia… Will the Dark side of the Force stop at nothing?[11]
MediaWest*Con 19 was more low-key for me than last year, when the Ratty activities were fewer and more crowded and somewhat frenetic. This time we set up a kind of "Rat Patrol suite" in two connecting rooms and had more different things to do, thereby spreading out the attendance and the energy level. We called one of the rooms "The Casbah" and the other "L'Oasis Vert."

We had four in-room panels, for which Carol Burrell designed an extremely spiffy flyer right there on her laptop and which she was able to print thanks to a local friend named Amy who had everything--and brought it (more on that in a minute!). These were very informal; we spent an hour talking about fanfic crossover stories, an hour talking about how much German you need to know to enjoy/understand the series (the consensus was, actually, none, but the more you know, the more fun it is), an hour *not* talking about humor in the series (I kept trying to drag us back on topic, but eventually gave up), and we batted around the question, "what would be the first episode you'd show someone who'd never seen Rat Patrol before?" We didn't arrive at a consensus, but we had fun talking about different possibilities.

There were also two official MW*C panels related to our furry friends--a fanfic panel Friday afternoon and Bobbie's "60's Goes to War" panel Sunday morning. Both were well attended and fun.

There were also a number of times when one or two of us were in "the Casbah" and we'd turn on the TV and watch a Rat Patrol episode or two, and the next thing you knew there would be five more people watching with us, attracted from hallcrawling by the sound of the theme song! Yay!

I got my old VCR fixed so that we'd have a VCR in the room to watch episodes and whatnot (the whatnot included part of Carol's collection of the RP stars in other shows, Dorothy Hartel's fabulous Eric Braeden music video, and RK MacBride's tape of an episode of Connections that briefly featured a very Ratty-looking jeep). My VCR worked for about two hours and then went back to its old tricks, breaking one of my favorite tapes and trying to chew up Carol's. (We rescued Carol's just in time.) Fortunately, Amy (I told you we'd mention her again!) had brought not only a printer but a VCR, which she allowed us to use for the entire rest of the weekend. Thank You Amy!!!!

In addition to the room panels, official panels, and casual episode-watching, we also had a room party Saturday night. You could tell 1,000 media fans were in town--the local grocery store was completely out of M&M's! But we picked up some other yummy sweets. They were also out of hummus, so we got spinach dip from the deli, which turned out to be excellent, and pita bread to dip in it. It might not have been North African, but at least it was Mediterranean!

So we had munchies, and we watched episodes, and we chatted, and RK brought a bottle of wine and we toasted absent friends, and then we drank a toast to peace. Catriona MacKirnan brought a tape of "Lili Marleen"--the same recording played every night over the German radio in North Africa. You hear it in the pilot episode. Carol had the lyrics to the song on her laptop because RK had posted it once to the listserv, and with the help of Amy's printer she managed to print it out. It was truly a cooperative effort! We finally managed to get a bunch of Ratty fans, most of whom knew no German and few of whom could really *sing*, singing along lustily to "Lili Marleen"!

Because we had so many activities throughout the weekend, I didn't feel that I had to stay in the RP party every minute, and was able to wander about and drop in on other activities. Erika Frensley invited me down to see the latest "trap" set for the Forces of Empire folks (a group of Star Wars fans who hold a blaster battle in costume up and down the corridors of the hotel every year). They had stand-up lifesized cardboard figures of various Star Wars characters with different slogans on them--I liked the one that tried to tempt passersby to have their picture taken with Jar Jar! I also visited the Man from U.N.C.L.E. party and saw some old friends.

The Rat fans did various costumes throughout the weekend. Catriona was Dietrich, of course, and Gail Barton was Tully (you can see their pictures on last year's MW*C Ratty website). RK did both Troy and Fritz. I lent my Moffitt costume to Carol, and wore Elaine McKannan's "Arab Girlfriend" costume in her honor (Elaine was a dear friend of mine who passed away last year--her picture's on the aforementioned MW*C website). Our usual Hitch (Linda Sparr) was waylaid at the last minute by a migraine, but we put her hat on Bobbie Williams long enough to take a picture. I wasn't the one taking photos this year, so I have no idea who's got them. Hoping some turn up soon!

Some of our Ratty friends couldn't make it this year, but we did get to meet with many others, including some new folks and some of the "old guard," including Sharane McCurry, who co-edited one of the first RP fanzines, Leapin' Jeeps.

Speaking of fanzines -- there weren't nearly enough! I was surprised at how much the appetite for Ratty fanfic had grown. There were flyers out for three upcoming zines, which all got snapped up, as did Rats & Foxes (RK's reprint zine) and Promises Kept (Bobbie's new novel), both of which sold out completely. Word spread quickly about which room had the RP zines from Renegade Press, and the occupants were startled by the stampede of khaki-clad, money-waving, zine-scoring Ratty fans!

A few years ago, my husband got me a beautiful calendar of "Orientalist" paintings--19th-century romanticized paintings of Middle Eastern scenes. Harem girls, snake charmers, open air markets, etc. When the year was over I cut the pictures out, and I put them up all over the room with masking tape, with the title picture (with the words "Enter the Casbah") on the door. We continued our Middle Eastern theme with an attempted expedition to "Aladdin's Restaurant" on Sunday evening, but they were closed Sunday and Monday for Memorial Day Weekend. Next year we'll have to try to go Friday evening instead! On the way back, Leah McGrew remembered having seen a sign for an Italian restaurant called Emil's, so we stopped there. It was EXCELLENT! We later found out that it's considered the best Italian restaurant in town. So that was serendipitous.

Now, I did actually attend one panel that wasn't Rat Patrol-related, (gasp of horror!), namely the Emergency! panel. (Yes, I'm hooked on TV Land! What can I say?) It was a very entertaining panel, with a mix of fanfic writers, editors, readers--and real-life paramedics!

Another big topic of conversation was the new Star Wars movie. Everyone was in love with Qui-Gonn --everyone wanted to kill Jar Jar. Some people felt that the little Darth Vader wasn't a very good actor, and dubbed him "Mannequin Skywalker." Ouch! There was a marvelous cartoon in the art show depicting Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn looking dubiously at a little boy, and Qui-Gonn saying, "Are you sure he's the one?" And the little boy is Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes!

It's good to be home--and it's time to unpack! [12]
I wasn't going to sign up for any panels this year. But then I remembered that I'd promised a fellow Sayers fan that I'd be on the Lord Peter Wimsey panel; and then I was asked to be on the Academics and Fandom panel; and then a friend of mine said she'd do one of the Rat Patrol panels but only if I'd do it with her; then I was looking over the panel proposals and I couldn't resist picking just one more! So somehow I managed to go from zero to four in a very short space of time!

The first, which was on Friday afternoon from 3-5, was the panel on Academics and Fandom, which grew out of a discussion on the FANZINE listserv earlier this year. Recently Jackie Moleski, a member of the list, posted that she was an academic who was studying Internet communication for her master's thesis, and requested permission to use the listserv as part of her material. She posted a very specific permission form for people to fill out, and promised not to use anyone's posts who didn't give permission. She is not only an academic, but also a fan who has been active for about ten years.

Her post ignited a discussion about whether what she was doing was appropriate, from many different angles. Questions debated included: is it appropriate for academics to study fandom at all? Should current academics-studying-fandom, most of whom arose from within fandom, be encouraged, since it is likely that they will provide a more sympathetic reading than early academics who studied fandom? Why should our hobby provide grist for the academic dissertation-mill? Will knowing that this academic is listening affect people's willingness to post to the list? (this would have a two-fold effect: from the list's point-of-view, a chilling effect; from the academic's point-of-view, a contamination-by-observation effect) Eventually, one of the people most concerned about academics studying fandom, and two academics who study fandom, decided to get together and do a panel at MediaWestCon, and asked me to moderate, as a neutral party and as an academic who is a fan but does not study fandom.

So I moderated! I got up and introduced myself and the other panelists, called on people who raised their hands to ask questions, fielded a few questions myself, and mostly let the panelists have their say. We had a full gamut of academics on the panel: Sue Smith is an associate professor of nutritional science; I am an assistant professor of philosophy and classical studies; Cindy Walker is a doctoral candidate; and Jackie is a master's candidate.

One audience member challenged us with a great question. Why do fans care? she asked. What does it matter if academics want to study us? This opened up the discussion as panelists tried to explain why they might be reluctant to have their fannish participation divulged.

Sue explained that a colleague of hers had pointed out to her a review of NASA/Trek by Constance Penley in the science journal Nature. In this book, Penley explores Star Trek fandom and American cultural attitudes toward the space program. Her portrayal of fandom is skewed heavily toward slash, which she labels not as erotica but as pornography. Suppose one of your colleagues at work actually read this book, and it was your colleague's only information about fandom; it's easy to understand why a fan wouldn't want to be identified by her colleagues as a member of a seedy pornographic underworld.

I recounted a job interview I had at a small religious college, where the Dean of Arts and Sciences, on learning that I was a Star Trek fan, asked me if I knew anything about slash, which she had heard of through academic channels. Fortunately she was sympathetic to the concept of fandom and indeed I wound up getting the job, but it was a nervewracking moment!

Of course, both of our stories reflect the dangers of too little information. One of the goals of fan/academics like Cindy and Jackie is to correct the misperceptions of fandom that have been spread by scholars who came in from the outside.

Both Cindy and Jackie took some time to explain their projects to us. I also emailed them afterwards to make sure I had understood them correctly! Neither one is studying fans directly in the way that Constance Penley, Camille Bacon-Smith, or Henry Jenkins have done. Here is Jackie's project, as explained in her original request to the listserv:

My research is an ethnographic study of how language shapes culture and culture shapes language. The culture group I am studying is media fans, people whose hobby includes the discussion of, analysis of and writing of fiction about characters from various television programs.... Using sociolinguistics method of analysis I will study communicative behaviors in a speech community of on-line participants in the media-fan culture. This inquiry and study will focus on: How are fannish language terms used in on-line discourse? How often? What are discourse styles of fannish speech?

Here is Cindy's topic, as she explained in an email after the panel:

The title of my dissertation is "A Dialogic Approach to Creativity in Mass Communication." Basically, it tries to bring social construction theory to mass communications, which has pretty much been based on the linear sender-message-receiver- with- feedback model. My approach says the "meaning" of anything (like UNCLE) is a result of the collaborative relationships that occur between and among all the collective parties involved in the process. These parties include the various levels of creative producers and various levels of audience, all imbedded within the larger society.

The audience was very receptive and interested in both projects.

On the whole, I was very pleased with how this panel went. Both sides got to express their views, and while the audience challenged us, they were never rude or hostile. A lot of good ideas were aired, and everyone learned something new.

The second panel was the Lord Peter Wimsey panel, which was held Saturday at four p.m. and moderated by Sue Smith. Fortunately, Sue had reminded me of the panel a few weeks before the convention, because we were going to be discussing Thrones, Dominations and I hadn't read it yet! I called my mother in a panic; my mother, past president of the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, Fan Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic, all-around helpful person, was bound to have a copy.... Whew! She did, and popped it in the mail in plenty of time for me to read it before the convention. A complete transcript of the panel may be found here, though the reader is warned that the discussion does reveal some of the plot. The panel was lively and well-moderated, with plenty of audience participation and a firm hand on the reins keeping the group on-topic. We discussed the strengths and shortcomings of the novel; although on a whole we found it disappointing, it was good to have something new to discuss.

Sunday morning at eleven I was on a World War II fandom panel that focused on historical angles. One of my co-panelists, Karen Winter, is especially interested in the early Nazi movements of the 1930's; another, Kathy Agel, has been doing research into postwar Germany; Deb Hicks, Melissa Mastoris, and I, the other panelists, are centered in the war years. We had quite a range to talk about!

Finally, on Sunday at 2 p.m. I was on the Eureka! panel. This was about the experience of suddenly discovering an established fandom. I signed up for that one because it has so often been my experience, and found that I was in good company! We had a full five panelists: Terri Librande, Jean Lorrah, D. McLevy, D. Pleasants (ack! I forgot to write down their full names), and myself. Jean, a well-known Star Trek author, described her experience of being a long-time Star Trek fan and coming new into Led Zeppelin fandom. I shared my story of finding fellow Rat Patrol fans through the Generic Ad Zine, and how I used my passion for media zines to make myself useful, both in Wild Wild West and Rat Patrol fandom, by compiling lists of W-3 and RP stories to be found in multi-media zines.

The panelists and the audience alike agreed that most fandoms are very welcoming of new members, though occasionally it can be disastrous to join a fandom during a major split. One audience member had discovered Beauty and the Beast during its controversial third season; another had joined Blakes 7 fandom just after the schism. Most, however, had had positive experiences of being encouraged by the "old guard," invited into people's homes to watch video marathons and read fanzines, and generally made to feel welcome. Another point that was raised concerned the Internet: before it was widely available, fans found each other through newsletters or at conventions; while these channels are still available, many fans also make use of the Internet to find webpages, listservs, fiction, and fellow fans. [13]

References

  1. Archived link to the 1999 Convention Page; WebCite for 1999.
  2. JKFolkes post in the "MediaWest" thread on alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer dated June 4, 1999.
  3. You Might Be A David Duchovny Fan If... at alt.fan.david-duchovny dated July 10, 1999.
  4. Pushy Pros and Plush Ones posted in rec.arts.sf.fandom dated October 5, 1999.
  5. WebCite for the 1999 Quotes.
  6. WebCite for the 1999 Methos Party Posters.
  7. Archived link to the 1999 Convention Page; WebCite for 1999.
  8. Archived link to the 1999 Convention Page; WebCite for 1999.
  9. MediaWest*Con 1999 Reviews -- Random MediaWest Jottings By Dee, Archived version
  10. MediaWest*Con 1999 Reviews -- MediaWest*Con 1999 by Julie, Archived version
  11. MediaWest*Con 1999 Reviews -- News from MediaWest*Con by Erika, Archived version
  12. A brief report: From a Ratty Point of View by Anne Collins Smith, Archived version
  13. MediaWest*Con 18 -- Panel Report by Anne Collins Smith, Archived version
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