Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Anonymous
|Interviews by Fans|
|Title:||Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Anonymous|
|Interviewer:||Abigail De Kosnik|
|Date(s):||August 16, 2012|
|Medium:||audio, print transcript|
|External Links:||Fiction Oral History Project with Anonymous|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Anonymous was conducted in 2012 by Abigail De Kosnik and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.
This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:31:01), and it has a written 50-page transcript.
It was part of the series: Fan Fiction Oral History Project also referred to as "a Fiction and Internet Memory Research Project," "the Fiction and Internet Memory Program," and "Fan Fiction and Internet Memory."
The interviews conducted for this project were used for the book by Abigail De Kosnik called Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom.
Some Topics Discussed
- The Hounds of Love, a Kate Bush Usenet discussion group, 1997
- creating Kate Bush vids using "my parents' wedding film, and home movies from, like, Eastern Europe in the 1940s from my family."
- Mystery Science Theater, Roswell, Buffy, Supernatural
- Wednesday 100, a drabble community
- the terrorist bombings in New York City on September 11, 2001 and connecting with fans
- Roswell, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, and other shows that have a symbiotic relationship with fashion trends, the power that fans have, TPTB using this in some ways
- the transitions from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, from Dreamwidth to AO3
- the lack of socializing on AO3, the need for platforms to socialize around your own fiction
- the frustrating lack of ability to consistently and safely archive vids
- Tumblr and vidding
- "part of what the wonder of fan culture and fan creativity and productivity is that it is ephemeral"
So when I was twelve, at ... my best friend at the time and I started watching VHS tapes in the basement of her house in the summer, and we watched Stand By Me and Dirty Dancing together over and over and over again. And, you know, at the time I would not have connected this to fandom, although it certainly was an early history for me as a fan, but we also had—. We made audio tapes of it, and would listen to those over and over again, and it became a sort of collective site of friendship and bonding in the sense of community as well as a connection to those texts, and a way of integrating them into our daily lives. So I think that that was probably my earliest instance of, like, where there was a sort of material production. And, you know, although I wasn't thinking of it that way. It wasn't, that obviously wasn't my first encounter with ... fandom proper. And that happened inadvertently in college. I was a big fan of Kate Bush, and my friend connected me—an older male friend, incidentally—connected me to a news group, and I saw, that was sort of my first encounter with the conversations happening on a news group where people were sort of coming together. Or a listserv. The Hounds of Love. Yes. And ... So I mean there are these sort of different gradations in history but at that point that was just sort of my first, very first introduction to it. And then later on I encountered Sabrina fandom and Buffy fandom and ...
I was fascinated with the Roswell Beauty Divas site because it took the sort of fashion, the work—. I mean at this point it's very—it's much—it's very common to see this stuff, for Gossip Girl, for Pretty Little Liars, for whatever, but Roswell was the first place where I really saw that. It happened a little bit with Dawson's Creek as well. But where the costuming and styling and make-up on the show was made legible by the fans, and they shared what—they chased down what clothes were actually featured on the show, they chased down what make-up products were, they shared like how to make-up tips that it's now like the province of the beauty gurus on YouTube, but like that was, this was the infancy of that. I'm not—. I don't—. I wouldn't say necessarily that it was just Roswell lists, I ... you know, maybe Sex and the City, I don't know, I wasn't part of those communities. But there was a lot of, sort of—how do you channel—so if you love a character that has particular qualities and these qualities are expressed through their styling, how do you channel that styling. And it's a sort of personalization, but not through fan fiction, not through discussion, through performing it in your everyday life. And then there was a sort of, an awareness that not everyone could afford the brands that were being featured, and so there was a lot of this, how do you create it cheaply— this one's how you create it here, how you create it there -- Walmart, how you ... make it yourself, you know. And so there was a sort of awareness of like, how kind of diversity of people engage with these aesthetics that help us relate to these characters that we love. And then there was a real sort of joy and celebration in that, and in the characters through their aesthetics.
[snipped]So well Roswell, I stand by that, Roswell, they were quite aware of those conversations and building it in, and in Veronica Mars they tried to foster it somewhat. And with Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars ... are both fan instances of those communities and, you know, a whole lot of stuff that's being designed by the network, you know being offered as trans media text to sort of mimic or work with, you know, creating Pinterest accounts, or now those whole new hosts of tools that do that stuff. But yeah, but that stuff really originated kind of against the grain within the fan communities.
Well it's partially timing. I mean with Buffy, I just hadn't crossed over yet, I didn't fully understand that that was a possibility. Like, crossed over into fandom. And I was I guess a little young and going through a lot of—you know, just getting used to graduate school—and then I just sort of wasn't in a place to be discovering all of that. So by the time I—. I mean, and I ... definitely consider myself a Buffy fan, but I just sort of missed the boat on engaging with the community until it was already sort of "Been there, done that" for everybody else, you know. And then I had already been invested in it for many years without being part of the community. So— And so there certainly has been, you know, matters of timing, where I just start watching a show at a moment that everyone else is watching it, and I feel passionate about it and connect with them, and now I have more of that expectation if I go into something where it does seem like there's a critical mass of other people who are also really engaged with it. And when people are really engaged with something I often try it out, to see whether I too will be engaged with it.
You know, right after September 11th, there was a lot of xenophobia in the air, and ... including right, like, in my neighborhood. And a lot of patriotism that was sort of infused with xenophobia, and sort of hard to find where one began and the other ended. It was such a charged time. And so ... people posted some of that, and people posted in response to some of that. I mean, this is all more in my piece more, like, directly recalled than in my memory. But ... Then you know then people found a way to argue for, like drew on Roswell as this show that was about alienation, and being, feeling like an alien. In, you know, in a place that's not your home, to argue for compassion. And, which was really moving. And that was sort of both the—but there was also a lot of argument whether or not ... a Roswell related newsgroup was an appropriate place for these conversations. And what the boundaries of the relationships born there were. Like, could you just talk about the show, or was this a place where it mattered to talk about what was really happening. At what point do things transcend the show, at what point was it, it's not about transcending, what about, you know, actually drawing on the show to understand how you felt about a given moment, where the things just came together.
I guess AO3 is duplicating that—AO3's also was filling a hole... where LiveJournal was responding, I mean DW was responding to a perceived need but not everyone perceived as problematically, not everyone responded to Strikethrough in the same way. Whereas ... and this is a little bit more jaded way to look at it, but AO3 is offering an archive for the Fanfiction.net-scared.
Oh ... I mean, the perception of Ffnet as being, like, twee, girly, Mary Sue ... You know, with these huge epic narratives that are not [unintelligible] and ... notes that are overly narcissistic, and, which I find, and I find that taboo really problematic because it's such a self-hating ... perception of, like, what, you know, a fangirl can and can't be like. And, and this is sort of what I mean by gendered, you know, that, that it's okay to be fannish as long as there's some intellectualness there, and this is so changing with Tumblr, and, it's changing a lot. But, but, you know, like the whole taboo against the Mary Sue, which is very much tied to the taboo against Fanfiction.net. That, you know these unknowing, I hope this stuff can't be taken out of context. (DE KOSNIK laughs) I don't mean this, I don't believe this. But the unknowing, like, teen fangirl will write herself into fan fiction, you know, in her fan fiction, in this completely naïve way. And write her id all over fan fiction, and that's somehow problematic, and therefore we must have our high literary fan fiction, like, and not have that. Mary Sue fan fiction. Like [unintelligible] assumption. And that Fanfiction.net wasn't a space where people did that without being aware of doing that, and LiveJournal was the place of, you know, that housed literary fiction, and then the move to DW got ... loaded on with some other sort of ... intellectual ... perspectives. Even for, you know, so there becomes like this spectrum: Ff.net, LiveJournal, DW.
I came to vidding ... despite ... you know, despite my own, sort of, concerns about having a divide between professional/personal and fannish. I still came to vidding at the moment past when everybody felt they needed to keep everything on lock-down for fear of, like, prosecution. So I was not quite of that generation where everything was behind lock. And I think that that has shaped me a lot. The moment that I entered vidding, which doesn't have so much to do with my age, or the age I entered fandom, but the age that I entered vidding. And so where a lot of it is still wall posts to YouTube, I have been posting to YouTube since the beginning. And also been posting to, I've been posting to multiple spaces from the beginning, to Blip, from the, to ... not to Vimeo, because I find it strangely professionalized and I'm kind of uncomfortable with that. But to, oh my god, what was the one that closed down, I'm just having a brain ... I can't think of it now, but the interface that everybody used for a little while, that we all migrated to even though they didn't necessarily want us and then it, it's not that it closed down but it ceased to be, to allow any kind of user uploading, and you could only re-post things from elsewhere. iMeme, iMeme. You know, so the fandom just decided to use iMeme and iMeme really didn't like that, and made it impossible. But you know, so I've sort of always been all for trying any interfaces and also trying interfaces that we share at, so, because there is a real instability of, like, not controlling our own files or how we share them. And, but I'm also really interest—like, really kind of fascinated with the intersections between vidding and remix culture more broadly. And I feel like YouTube is a space for that to happen. And for those conversations to happen aesthetically, and I feel like those conversations can be really fruitful, and can take vidding into new places. So, I sort of like to think, I like to see the vids that are, sort of, dispersed and in dialogue on YouTube. And Tumblr is, you know, right now, Tumblr is just starting to have that. Like in this week, I feel like after we had this conversation where, you know, a few people are already on Tumblr, and other people who would have been arguing against being on Tumblr are now all getting Tumblrs as a result of VividCon, and (DE KOSNIK laughs at the same time) they've, sort of, put their vids up there.
Let me just say something, I just want to counteract, this does not mean that I don't think that the archiving isn't really important, and that the stuff that we think of as ephemeral; it's deeply problematic in some cases that we think it's ephemeral, because it's like the gendered way that people look at fandom and fan production, and, I mean, and I just always felt this really strongly, you know the fact that I had to fight to be able to work on fandom, the fact that ... you still can't say it's worth looking at this TV show or this piece of fan fiction the way you could say it's worth studying this film, by some male director in the '60s. (DE KOSNIK laughs) Like, you know, I mean, I definitely feel, so that, for me personally, it's not about holding onto things, but for us, globally, it's—. You know, I don't want the histories of fandoms to be lost and continue to be degraded and not count.