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Title: Cheerio
Creator: Miriam Heddy (metamiri)
Date(s): May 17, 2007
Medium: online
Fandom: all
Topic: fanworks
External Links: here; Archive
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Cheerio is a post on LiveJournal by metamiri on September 30, 2007. The post received 81 comments.

Some of the Topics Discussed

From the Original Post Introduction

"If makesmewannadie is right and questioning (even criticizing) OTW is "Cheerio-pissing," then that points to an inherent problem with OTW--perhaps the very problem with which those accused of pissing are concerned. If those people outside the existing board and volunteer group ask questions or offer critiques, are they pissing in someone else's bowl of cereal? Who owns that particular bowl, and isn't it a problem if people like partly_bouncy and hector_rashbaum are considered "outsiders" to an enterprise that describes itself as serving fandom at large (including them)? Should they be considered, a priori, outsiders because they have not yet officially volunteered? Is the unspoken assumption here that one has to be on the list of volunteers in order to own the bowl and thus own the right to take a piss? Would anyone ever describe someone as pissing in their own bowl of Cheerios? Do we mind pissing only if we don't feel a sense of camraderie with the pisser? (Because, in my experience, the "squee only" rule tends to be mediated by the sense in which negative comments are acceptable not simply only in certain contexts but also only when said by certain people, with friends having more rights than strangers to define the boundaries of a given discussion)."

Excerpts from Comments

  • comment by copracat ("The one thing that these inevitable* arguments highlight is that we are so very far from one fandom, and that many parts of fandom have simply not and may not ever hear of each other, simply because fandom keeps springing whole from fannishly inclined minds. The gen and slash parts of a fandom may not even interact. The emo and rock parts of bandom seem to be divergent, are they even one thing? We don't tie TV fandoms together simply because they are all broadcast on TV.")
  • comment by millefiori ("FWIW, I think that thread of comments did contain some cheerio-pissing, althoug labeling the whole thing that way is inaccurate. There were some questions and reservations about the archive that seemed like legitimate things to think about and discuss, but there were also some snide, derogatory comments that didn't seem to serve any purpose other than indicating the commenter wasn't in favor of the archive/the owners/the idea. As for the Godwin's Law thing -- I've been thinking about that since you mentioned it in the recent Judaism discussion. I can see it (and all the other 'laws' like it) as a convenient shorthand for a ridiculous debate tactic, but there have to be exceptions. And I think that people who casually toss out something like 'Godwin's law; you lose' as a response to a considered comment aren't really the sort you could have an intelligent discussion with in the first place. The trick is how to get the other people who want to discuss to ignore the discussion police and carry on despite the attempted smack-down.")
  • comment by metamiri ("I think that even "snide, derogatory comments" shouldn't be considered Cheerio pissing in this case simply because the boundaries of CP depend, so much, on the notion of "Don't piss on my Cheerios." If we consider OTW owned by the board, then yes, these comments might be CP. But if OTW is, as it's claiming, in existence for and about and by fans (rather than just the group on the board), then even the snidest comment is necessary for the process of discussion rather than disruptive of squee or happiness.")
  • comment by cathexys ("Fandom (as in large scale fandom) is way too diverse and broad to ever be represented by one organization: celebrity fans, football fans, cult film fans,...we encounter definitional issues all the time when we try to define our object of study in fan studies! So we've coined the term media fandom to talk about what "we" do, but even that term gets more complicated--what about anime? what about Nifty celebrity fic? what about rockfic? what about the person who really wants to write queer original fiction but thinks that actor x and y are cute and why not give them those names and physique? ... At some point, I think lines may have to be drawn, and while I'm not the one to draw them, I think the questions and references in respect to RPF made in the conversation were interesting: (1) hector_rashbaum emphasized that to her RPF is not transformative (and rejected the definition of RPF as fiction that transforms a source text that happens to be a celebrity's life, which to me had always been the central reason as to why RPF [or parts thereof] had a place at the media fandom table); (2) in recommending sources, screwthedasies gets mentioned because her [?] experience in setting up a *press* to publish and sell rockfic I assume made her look into the legalities (source). Now, my response to this is fairly kneejerk, because while we've always had zines, I'm not sure this is still following the central rule of non profit that I learned and that it looks OTW is following. So here's the question: at what point does a fan community *not* fall under the auspices of OTW and how can we/they define boundaries to acknowledge that while there are various ways to fannishly engage and be creatively fannish, maybe not every one of them is actually in the purview of OTW. And *should* OTW describe itself as serving hector_rashbaum???")
  • comment by kaiz ("when really they mean it is an archive for their small LJ-based segment of media fandom I'm not involved with OTW in any way (other than to have the news comm friended) and I'll admit that I never got the sense from what I've read about the org. that fandoms without significant/any LJ presences, such as Xfiles and ST:TOS, wouldn't be welcome in any associated OTW archives. Is there documentation some place that suggests that OTW archives would only host LJ fandoms?")
  • comment by kaiz ("I definitely agree that a lot of folks have been enthusiastic about the project because of recent LJ woes. But amongst many of my friends, there has been similar excitement because over the years, we've survived the disappearance of archives as well as mailing lists. LJ was just the latest installment in a loooong list of places we've been TOSsed from. Re. the insularity of the group, I think maybe it's partly a fannish history issue. Looking at the names on the committee lists, I have encountered many of the people involved in the project from mailing lists, various fora, and even USENET. So I figured that they would be interested in the concerns of fannish folk who are still predominantly hanging out in non-LJ spaces--after all, many of them are still active in fandoms that mainly use those spaces, too.")
  • comment by carmarthen ("My impression, though, is that the motivation behind OTW isn't just "we need an archive because we can't archive on LJ anymore" but also "fandom is being mentioned more and more often in the media, and often unpositively and inaccurately. LJ isn't the only service provider who might get worried and drop us. We need to offer a safe archive for fans and a clear and articulate public face and context for the press because we believe fanfiction is a legitimate, legal form of creative work." Which is, I think, a more complicated and more important goal than just providing an LJ alternative (which it won't be any time soon). And personally, I'm not anti-RPF, but it does have such a different collection of legal issues that I'm not sure the same groups could advocate effectively for both media fandom and RPF, although it sounds like OTW is going to try.")
  • comment by kyuuketsukirui ("But even setting aside places like MySpace, etc. that are very far removed, there is still a huge amount of fannish actitivy outside of LJ. All those other hundreds of archives. Even in SGA, there is a lot of stuff that gets posted to Wraithbait, but not LJ. There are a lot of people who read primarily at Wraithbait. It just seems like they're going "fandom this and fandom that" when they really just mean this bit here on LJ. (In other worse, it doesn't seem any different to how you always get annoyed at HP fen who say fandom to mean HP fandom. :p)")
  • comment by carmarthen ("I asked people on my flist whether they knew about Fan History (an unloaded question: I was curious because someone suggested that anyone who doesn't know about it obviously isn't very involved in fandom--my flist was about evenly split, by the way, and almost everyone's been in fandom 5+ years), and a whole bunch of bad impressions came out. Upon looking at it myself, I kept being reminded for the Fandom Wank Wiki, which kind of puts me off the whole thing--that's not the kind of fannish history I'm interested in, much les what I'd want to direct a reporter to.")
  • comment by screwthedaisies ("Now, my response to [Rockfic Press] is fairly kneejerk, because while we've always had zines, I'm not sure this is still following the central rule of non profit The authors do get paid royalties for their work, which usually means, "Oh hi, I have $1.40 for you this year, how would you like that paid?", but a couple three authors have made enough to take themselves out to dinner. Rockfic Press itself, on the other hand, cost me (meaning money in minus money out, not money out disregarding money in) $5453.00 in tax year [2006]. That said, however, the "central rule of non profit" definitely does not apply to either the company or its contributors. * I believe that contributors deserve to be compensated for their work. * If Rockfic Press ever turns a profit, it would put me in a position to do more to promote rock band fiction and some of my favorite authors--no bad thing in my mind. * Finally, the legal issues surrounding RPF are different than those surrounding FPF: different playgrounds, different rules. The no profit standard, as far as I know, comes out of media fandom and copyright/fair use issues. (If I'm wrong on this, let me know. It wouldn't change how I run Rockfic Press, but it'll be nice to not put my foot in it in future discussions. :))")
  • comment by cathexys ("I think the confusion on whether media fandom does or does not encompass RPF comes from the smallish areas where media fandom has strongly intersected with music fiction fandom, namely in pop and bandslash. As you point out, the issues (esp legal issues) are very different, and as you probably know, RPF is actually on legally firmer grounds from all that I've read, so there's less need for OTW it might seem. If I'd consider certain types of writing transformative and place those side by side with media fanfic it'd be not only because the writers do both but also because they approach their RPF in a very similar way. There's a canon that is followed in ways quite similar to media source texts, and the writers do transform "reality" (or the press release/tabloid version thereof), just like they would a fictional text. So, I think there *are* RPFers who very clearly think of themselves as media fans, and I'm not sure how the rest will ultimately stand in relation to OTW. Otoh, as melennen points out, if OTW succeeds in presenting a better image to the public, if they end up arguing for the legality of transformative works, then I don't think that'll only affect those who ascribe to their version of fannishness. Just like I'd argue Textual Poachers may have helped anime fans and LARPers look a little less out there even if it only talked about ST fans...")
  • comment by melannen ("OTW (assuming *my* understanding of their aims is correct, and they haven't shifted in the interim...) is working from the assumption that an increased public profile of fandom is inevitable, and having an organization like OTW around as a visible, fan-run entity is preferable to letting non-fans take control of the changes in fandom. That's an assumption that is ... not uncontroversial, and large segments of fandom don't agree, and are never going to agree. So inevitably, OTW is going to be led by, and focussed on, the segment of fandom that is interested in working on greater visibility and interactions with non-fans, and it's going to seem less relevant the rest of fandom. On the other hand... if their assumption is right (and I, of course, happen to believe that it is) then *all* of fandom is going to need them, and they are going to have to be ready, and willing, to understand, support, and defend all segments of fandom, regardless of whether those parts of fandom happen to like or agree with them or not. And, if part of their function is creating a visible target for non-fans to aim at while protecting the rest of fandom, they need to describe themselves as being present for all fans, even those fans whose experience is peripheral (or even antithetical) to the part of fandom that OTW grew out of. ...I think I'm on the verge of comparing them to Batman. Maybe I should stop. (Maybe I'm alone in thinking that OTW is an activist group first, and a website second (and primarily to support their activism.) But the original brainstorming posts really seemed to be aiming in that direction, and recent reminders that OTW is the *organization*, not the *archive*, seem to back me up.")
  • comment by slashpine ("I think you put this very clearly: any new and collaborative mission needs to start with an org who can work together. Orgs must go through stages. One framework is: forming, norming, storming, and reforming/ moving into memory. These take time. A group that is just "forming" is putting its energy into finding out who each other is and just working at being a group, with not much left for working at doing their mission. Online fandom's pseudonymity, hot-button issues (porn, etc.), multiple ages, linguistic and cultural - even legal (the chan thing, etc.) differences, multiply the likelihood that a group starting as strangers could need just the first year alone to get past "forming". Lacking any previously shared activity to build cohesion by doing, they may fall apart before forming is complete because they can't build a mutual shared-activity base fast enough. Most of us have been in a club or class or committee or even a job where we saw this situation of "the momentum just being wrong"; that is, by the time we finally got acquainted enough to really start accomplishing something, people were already done or drifting away.")
  • comment by executrix ("This is a real, not a rhetorical question, because I don't know enough about either bandom OR popslash to answer it. These days, a lot of people are polyfannish, not just in multiple media fandoms, but in multiple kinds of fandom (e.g., Bella is a fan of Xena Warrior Princess, Supernatural, Bleach, and Fall Down Boy fics), but that doesn't mean that everybody is. Is it common for bandom fans also to be popslash and/or media fans? And do they read bandom fics but not other kinds of fanfiction? If Bella and Carlotta, who is only a bandom fan, were to be given five popslash fics and five bandom fics, with the authors' names removed, would they be able to sort them into the correct heaps? My impression is that anime fans and comics fans who write fanfic have a very similar process--and very similar results--to fans who write in TV show, movie, and book fandoms, but maybe that's just because I know a bunch of polyfans. But if I'm wrong, the question is whether a media-fic-based archive is attractive or helpful for anime and comics fans. So the question is, do fans of different kinds of texts have different archiving needs and preferences? Are they likely to find things they enjoy reading if they go to an archive that is dominated by media fics?")
  • comment by hector rashbaum ("So the question is, do fans of different kinds of texts have different archiving needs and preferences? Are they likely to find things they enjoy reading if they go to an archive that is dominated by media fics? My first instinct is to say this might have more to do with the archives people use for "home bases", more than their source texts. Which does have to do with their specific fandom, yes, because even most multi-fandom archives have one or two crowds they draw above others, but because of the wide variety of archives available, the preferences/needs are more fragmented. For example, RockFic is quality-controlled. Having spent most of my fannish existence exclusively at RockFic, I'm so used to that I don't have much interest in an archive with no quality gauge. This is a fairly common feeling among RockFiccers, but not throughout all of rock bandom. And with that in mind, then, the issue isn't non-"media fandom" in an "archive dominated by media fics" but the people who crave quality control in an archive that lets anyone post anything and there's a lot to slog through, the people who hate pairings in an archive full of het and slash, etc.")
  • comment by kyuuketsukirui ("The thing is, OTW keeps talking as if it's an archive for all of fandom, when really they mean it is an archive for their small LJ-based segment of media fandom. That's who's involved, that's whose ideas are being taken into consideration, that's who they mean by "us" and "we" and "our", and it really would make sense to drop the pretense that they mean something larger.")
  • comment by melannen ("that post had the sort of tone and content I'd expect to see in a nonprofit organization's newsletter to its members, aimed at people who are already committed to the organization, and supporting its approach to the issues, and familiar with its terminology and ideological background. And to that audience (as can be witnessed by all the squee comments on the post) it was a satisfactory and excellent update. Unfortunately, it wasn't a newsletter to committed members. It was a public lj post in a community that is their only public face and had a watcherslist much larger than the original supporters. A lot of the people who are objecting are reading it the way they'd read any other lj post. Most importantly, I think, they are looking at it as a *fannish* effort, and reading the post through the filters of established fan methods of organizing and communicating things. A legally untouchable, officially incorporated nonprofit that is intended to be a publicly irreproachable spokesgroup is not going to be able to operate in the same fannish modes that your usual internet archive or site admin uses, because the intent was to create an organization that can operate in mainstream modes as well as fannish ones. And the procedures of such an organization are going to be different - but that news post *wasn't* visibly different from any other ficathon or archive announcement or whatever, and so people are treating it that way, and finding it desperately inadequate. I think that's where pissing on Cheerios (and the issue of aim) comes in. It's another round of the endless question of public/private space that's always been an issue in LJ fandom. Those who feel that they are already members of OTW feel like the comments in the newsletter by people not supportive of the organization are the equivalent of somebody shoving their way into a small meeting in somebody's living room and yelling about how stupid and useless all our work is and that we should all go to their meeting instead. But the people who are speaking up in dissent are treating it like a public forum where everyone is invited to share their views and spread their ideas. It isn't helped by the fact that the people who wrote that post, and the people who were officially responding in the comments, don't seem to have thought about issues of audience ahead of time, and so it's not clear exactly who they were intending to speak to with that post. Whose Cheerios were they, anyway?")
  • comment by melannen ("As a strong supporter of OTW, I find a lot of what the opponents are saying to be unnecessarily strident - not helped by the fact that I remember some of the names from previous turf wars -, but at the same time I think most of the blame for this particular flare-up is probably the fault of the OTW people. Considering that the organization was originally brainstormed in response to shoddy corporate communication, and that they've supposedly spent the intervening months getting the corporate side of the organization set up, their initial public announcement probably should have been in the form of a press release, written in the style of corporate communication, precisely and clearly stating the updates. And they should have had people already scheduled (with official OTW identification, at the very least mod hat icons! -learn from LJ's mistakes) to respond to questions and objections using official, pre-prepared information, even if it was all corporate-speak. Instead we got something that read like the notes of a Scout meeting, and a community relations person who had to scramble for answers, which is not a great omen for an organization whose founding purpose is public communication. On the other hand, I get that they're trying to tread a fine line between following real-world rules, and seeming too far from fannish communities. And that they're trying to do an awful lot as fast as possible.)")
  • comment by slashpine ("That's what I see OTW trying to do in part (in response to FanLib): be able to convey a more accurate and broad picture of what fandom is to folks who don't know much; not "convey a total, accurate picture of fandom feelings" b/c that's impossible by definition. There is no "total" map of fandom and unless fandom and the world change, never will be. So those criticizing OTW as not being "representative" might need -- along with OTW -- to mutually clarify the meaning of that term being used, so as to eliminate ambiguity, and false expectations on the part of some fans. OTW is not gonna be organizing elections. A tiny sub-fandom (I'm in a few) that wants to be "represented" directly may need to help OTW do that; or may want to accept that representing fandom may not actually need a cat-macro from each of 5000 subfandoms to get the point across.")
  • comment by cryptoxin ("I like the notion of fandom as unrepresentable -- that could almost be something to aspire to!")
  • comment by slashpine ("But that's one way I think of fandom: a border or interface that is constituted by the things it borders, while itself being more a process (teeming with life, erupting in ideas) than a location, and moving constantly, quivering, shaking, and reshaping itself. How can that be represented? It exists only in the act of performing, and in performing, it constantly moves beyond where it was. If LJ had no fans on it anymore, it wouldn't have fandom; it would have relic traces of fandom, but fandom would be somewhere else, and by then be quite different, too - even if it was exactly the same people. Thus, you cannot represent the same fandom two days in a row. This plays hell with classic paradigms of social scientific description, which like to anatomize their subjects into fixed, unchanging parts that can be catalogued and controlled. Fandom is the protean process in society, that evolves and unravels ceaselessly, an energy more than an entity.")
  • comment by cryptoxin ("Do projects such as OTW and the cited fandom history wiki necessarily require some kind of initial move that treats fandom as if it were (at least provisionally) fixed and bounded, in order to represent fandom at all? If so, is this necessarily a conservative move -- however progressive the intentions? Is that conservatism (or, only slightly more neutrally, reductiveness) inherent in any kind of representational project? If not, how could such projects articulate and trace the kinds of visions of fandoms that you point towards?")
  • comment by cathexys ("I think at some point in order to get stuff done, you may just have to say "hey, let's pretend we have a stable community here that we can somehow delineate and try to get stuff done for them...and by extension maybe others down the line." What I'm worried about right now is that we may get so caught up in definitional and complexity issues that nothing legal gets accomplished.")
  • comment by slashpine ("Here's one of the ironies of OTW. To have the internal dialogue voice and the external voice not undercut each other, OTW must merge the "personal" (i.e., fandom internal) and "political" (external, i.e. media or 'general public') voices. Otherwise the public voice may lose standing inside, for being unrecognizable when read (as it will be) by fandom, or the public voice will be so different, fandom's flavor will be lost.")
  • comment by cryptoxin "(Fandom's gotten pretty far with a "silence, exile, cunning" approach, carving out alternative spaces in the gaps and margins, sometimes hiding in plain sight and sometimes going underground and sometimes playing nomad and sometimes organizing parades and picnics...And there's something to be said for the dispersed/networked, communal/anarchist body politic of fandom as a way of life worth preserving -- which may be fundamentally irreconcilable with the kinds of social and cultural formations required for the kinds of political agency and efficacy that I just fantasized about.")