Covid-19 and Fandom
|Event:||Covid-19 and Fandom|
|Date(s):||March 2020 -|
|Type:||The impact of Covid-19 on fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the daily lives of much of the world's population. In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus many people are self-isolating in line with their country or state's guidelines. These self-isolation measures are also having an impact on fandom and fan activities.
Many large gatherings of fans at conventions have been cancelled or are considering ways in which they can go online. While many professional medias have suspended production, there has been a noticeable increase in fans accessing fan created content. Fan creators have also responded to the crisis with works dealing explicitly with Covid-19, social distancing and related topics.
Disruption in Canon Creation
One of the first forms of social distancing implemented in many places was limiting the number of people who could gather together in one place. Since many forms of professional entertainment (and things that inspire fandoms) require large numbers of people, it resulted in cancelled events and production hiatuses.
In terms of American network television, most shows were unable to finish filming the last few episodes of the season before the production hiatus was implemented. For shows in their final season, such as Supernatural's season 15, it leaves the question of whether there will ever be a proper ending. For shows in their first season, it severely complicates the idea of renewal.
It's not just existing shows being affected. Just as current shows are unable to film for the foreseeable future, so too are new shows unable to film a pilot, essentially stalling the creation of new fandoms. The entire idea of the 2020-21 tv season is in question.
Music RPF fandoms are also affected, as popular bands and solo acts cancelled or postponed their tours. For example, at least some of the tourdates for My Chemical Romance's long-awaited reunion tour, scheduled to begin in March, were postponed. BTS's 2020 tour was also postponed.
Sports RPF fans are similarly affected, as various team sports cancelled their seasons.
Trends in Fan Created Works
By mid March 2020, quarantine fics were appearing on Ao3. Some of these works were Canon AUs where the reason for the quarantine was not related to the current Covid-19 virus. Still other works were canon-divergent works or Modern AUs set during the virus outbreak, and featured characters self-isolating in line with Covid-19 measures.
In some of these works, Character X gets corona virus can lead to sickfic scenarios.
Fandom specific tropes & storylines
- In Good Omens fandom, Covid-19 is sometimes the work of Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence may also have a hand in spreading misinformation about the virus and downplaying its seriousness. In some works Pestilence comes out of retirement for Covid-19, while in other works they have been spreading misinformation about vaccines for decades.
Fanvids made in response to the virus outbreak, sometimes drew parallels between post-apocalyptic source materials and current events. Some of these vids use actual news footage and reporting on the virus outbreak, inter-cut with scenes and audio from fictional source materials.
- 12 Monkeys | Plague by MargaritaLife, Mar 13, 2020. A 12 Monkeys vid created to highlight the parallels between that story and current events.
- The Last Of Us - the ultimate corona weapon by T7pro, Mar 24, 2020. A The Last of Us vid that parodies the importance of toilet paper.
Fests and Community
Lock Down Fest ran from March 20-30, 2020 and was a "non-anon, self-posting, multi-ship and multi-fandom mini fest that is designed to bring comfort to everyone staying indoors under quarantine restrictions at the moment and to all of us experiencing fear because of the pandemic" that was hosted on AO3. All works posted as part of the fest had to follow one of two themes, either "Getting Stuck In/Isolated Together (which doesn’t need to involve the virus in any way whatsoever)" or "Quarantine-inspired, if it occurs during the current pandemic". 179 works in 110 fandoms were posted to the collection.
Fic Journal of the Plague Year is an ongoing fic collection on AO3. The profile states: "All fics in this open collection should be: (1) written during the period of the coronavirus situation and (2) include commentary in the end note explaining how the fic and/or writing process were affected by the global crisis. The fics don't necessarily have to be about illness, isolation, or the effects of the pandemic; instead, the feelings, thoughts, and experiences the writer is going through during this situation should have influenced the fics in some way."
Starting with issue #221, released on March 27, 2020, the weekly newsletter The Rec Center began including a new section titled "lockdown stuff", described as "any fandom-oriented online community events, fests, virtual cons, etc".
People have responded to Covid-19 with a wave of related memes in and out of fannish circles. One popular trend is photoshop manipulated images of fictional characters wearing masks or edits of fictional characters with captions related to Covid-19 safety. Some fans have found screencaps of characters standing far apart and added jokes about social distancing.
Another trend includes creating a list of fictional characters (or outside of fandom, celebrities or politicians) divided into houses and having commentators choose a house to lockdown in.
Increased demand for Fanfiction
March 2020 saw a surge in people reading fanfiction, as schools and colleges closed and many people were self-isolating at home. The fanfiction archive Ao3 put emergency measures in place to help the site cope with its increased traffic.
Emergency measures affecting worksThe Archive has seen a marked uptick in traffic during March, with weekly page views increasing from 262 million to 298 million in just two weeks. We expect this trend to continue, and in order to keep the site running, we need to take emergency measures. The quickest, most helpful change we can make is caching the works we serve to logged out users. Unfortunately, this means that starting immediately, logged out users may experience a delay in work updates, and hits from logged out users will no longer be included in works' hit counts.
Fans reacted positively to the measures. Many encouraged logged out users to sign up for accounts, with Ao3 users on Tumblr offering to send invite links to logged out users. Readers were also been encouraged to show their appreciation for creators through the use of comments and kudos, as hits might no longer be an accurate reflection of readership.
my recommendation is to get yourselves some AO3 accounts if you somehow don’t have one yet. and, as a creator, I would highly recommend leaving feedback on stuff you like. there is going to be an artificial decrease in hits for authors for a while, and this is a particularly lonely and stressful time. if someone’s work is helping you through this difficult time…. help them in return.
This was continuing a trend some were already noticing in fandom. Even before the Ao3 emergency measures were announced, some fans had been encouraging readers to leave comments as a show of gratitude to fanfic writers in this time of crisis. There definitely is evidence that fans were commenting more during the period. Comparing April 2020 to February 2020 numbers, traffic was up by 24% and kudos increased by 23%. At the same time, comments were up an impressive 42% on February's numbers.
Others encouraged fans to donate to the OTW, the volunteer organization behind the Ao3 that relied entirely on donations.
And if you can spare in in the meantime, consider donating to AO3. We’re home in isolation and they’re here for us, hosting the fanfiction we’re all keeping ourselves busy reading and writing to slow the effects of cabin fever. Sending a few bucks their way to help them keep doing that wouldn’t go awry.
Cancelled and Reorganized Events
- 221B Con cancelled their April 3-6 2020 con. The unofficial "221B-Consolation Fest" tumblr account ran a fest the same weekend.
- Bitchin Party aka Pacificon, originally scheduled for April 3-5, 2020, is postponed until November 13-15, 2020.
- Concentric Eastercon 2020, cancelled.
- CONfabulation rescheduled their 2020 convention for October 21-24, 2021.
- CON.TXT, scheduled for July 24-26, 2020, was postponed until July 9-11, 2021. They will be hosting a free, one-day virtual con on July 25, 2020.
- CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced plans to hold a virtual convention.
- Emerald City Comic Con was rescheduled from March to August.
- Europodfriends, scheduled for October 16-18, will be online-only.
- FanWorks Con rescheduled from August 8-9th, 2020 to March 19-21, 2021, with plans to hold a virtual con during the original con weekend in August 2020.
- Gamescom 2020, Europe's largest Video gaming convention, scheduled to run August 25-29, will be held as a digital event
- San Diego Comic Con 2020, slated for July 23-26, will return to the San Diego Convention Center July 22-25, 2021.
- VidUKon, scheduled for June 12-14, 2020, cancelled the physical con and will instead run as a virtual con during the same dates.
- Wiscon 44, scheduled for May 2020, was cancelled. An online convention is planned.
A "Con-Solation Vidshow" was organized by seekingferret for vidders to showcase premiering vids for cancelled cons.
- Wikipedia:My Chemical Romance Reunion Tour (accessed 3 May 2020)
- Wikipedia:Map_of_the_Soul_Tour (accessed 3 May 2020)
- Good Omens gets official quarantine fanfiction for the book’s 30th anniversary (Accessed May 22, 2020)
- Lock Down Fest, Accessed 9 April 2020.
- Fic Journal of the Plague Year, Accessed 9 April 2020.
- The Rec Center #221, posted 27 March 2020.
- Emergency measures affecting works, AO3 newspost. March 31, 2020.
- Emergency measures affecting works, tumblr post by callmearcturus, March 31 2020.
- AO3 Statistics 2020: A Look Behind the Scenes, published May 9 2020.
-  reblog by kedreeva, March 31 2020.
- 221B-Consolation Fest 2020 is OPEN!,
- BP2020 POSTPONED to November 13-15, Archived version, posted to dreamwidth, 10 March 2020.
- Important Announcement from the Chairs of Concentric Eastercon, March 22 2020.
- CONfabulation website, Archived version (Accessed 4 April 2020.)
- CON.TXT 2020 homepage, Archived version, updated 26 March 2020.
- Announcing dates for CON.TXT 2021!, posted 8 April 2020.
- CoNZealand is going virutal, blog post March 25 2020.
- CoNZealand: Special Announcement, March 25 2020
- A Statement From Reedpop – Organizers Of Emerald City Comic Con, Archived version, 6 March 2020.
- EPF 2020 - Virtual event only, Archived version posted by frecklebombfic in the dreamwidth community, 28 April 2020.
- FanWorks is officially moving to March 19 - 21st, 2021, Archived version, posted to dreamwidth, 16 March 2020.
- Gamescom is officially canceled, but a digital event is 'definitely' going ahead, Archived version
- Coronavirus pandemic cancels San Diego Comic-Con 2020, Archived version
- VidUKon 2020 - We're going online!, posted 30 March 2020.
- WisCon 44 is now canceled., Archived version, 24 March 2020.
- We’re Planning An Online WisCon!, Archived version, posted 31 March 2020.
- con_solation dreamwidth community, Archived version (Accessed 4 April 2020.)