Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Kristina Busse

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Kristina Busse
Interviewer: Abigail De Kosnik
Interviewee: Kristina Busse
Date(s): July 30, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Kristina Busse
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Kristina Busse was conducted in 2012 by Abigail De Kosnik and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 2:00:25), and it has a written 60-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

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy/Angel, shipper wars
  • UCLUCSL (Unconventional Relationshippers Sunnydale, Unconventional Shipper List)
  • BDSM being more about parenting and family relationships than sex
  • much about idfic
  • her experiences with Metafandom
  • returning to self-lubricating assholes
  • RPF
  • cultural shift regarding Tumblr/Twitter fans and older fans, the visual and the speed
  • Pete Wentz, Mikey Way, Justin Timberlake
  • fans who appoint themselves defenders of the celebrity
  • being outed on Fan History Wiki, betrayal by Laura Hale
  • OTW's early-on hubris and some ham-handedness, bridges they've had to repair


I actually remember encountering ... Oh my God, what was the woman who her wrote her dissertation on Xena fic? Christina Boese, is that right? Do you remember her? ... But anyway, so I was all excited because here was this person who I'd written on fanfic and I encountered her at this conference where I was giving my little paper, and she basically, like, cut me off at the knees, like "Whoa, Buffy." You know. "What is Buffy? That's, like, you know, such a ridiculous fandom compared to real fandoms." (laughs; DE KOSNIK laughs) I got all defensive, and later I kind of realized that she might not have been all wrong. Even though it wasn't the nicest way to try to broaden my reach.
I mean, there's, there's a real danger I think—and I'm pretty much part of that—there's a real danger of what we call, you know, canonical media fandom or whatever, the little history that Francesca basically sells wherever she can, to look down on people who didn't. I mean there were humongous debates about that term "feral," "feral fandom," "feral fan." That sense that you weren't, on the one hand you weren't trained properly -- initiated properly, but at the same time, also anything that had kind of a different history. And so that was something I started encountering, so let me just quickly go through the next couple of steps on me.
[Harry Potter] had characterizations that I didn't realize until later. Remember reading along the rec lists that people were giving, and it's, like, I remember reading lists since Rhysenn's "Irresistible Poison" and thinking, What a piece of crack! (DE KOSNIK laughs) And it was just, like, so over-the-top, and so purple prose. And so like—I don't know. Stereotyping of the characters. And I didn't realize until much later—years later—a friend had been reading a book about the characterizations and tropes in yaoi and anime, and she was talking about this, and I was like, Oh my God, that's what happened in that story!

It was all former—I mean, there were very, very few people that came in through pop slash, mostly it was a secondary or tertiary fandom—it was people who had come in through X-Files, or Highlander, or, you know, Buffy, or whatever else. And so, they followed those same rules and adapted them to pop slash, and kind of saw, kind of saw all the media information we had as our canon. And it was this bizarre canon, because we kind of had to pull it, instead of it being pushed at us.

And it was a different canon because, you know, we—in very, very small ways—were part of that canon, you know? Like, especially after the hiatus when the bands stopped being ... You know, when they basically had broken up, you would see some of the guys tour. And so there were smaller venues, and you could get closer to them. And at that point, it was, you know, it was really fans describing their experiences at the concert that became part of the canon.

Which was nothing compared to what happened later in Bandom, which just still freaks me out and I want to write about because it's just so bizarre. But, you know, it's, it—Still, there was already a little bit of us in there.

And kind of a feedback loop. But the thing was still that this was the canon. And people were very aware of that bizarre—you know ... dichotomy—Where, at the one hand, they were really stalkers, but they were stalkers for facts, rather than stalkers for the people themselves.
Was more and more people actually starting to read fanfic, starting to read slash, because it was queer fiction. And those were the people who then would get very upset when there weren't proper queer representations. Or when, you know, there was all this idfic flying around. And then they would get really, really upset because, you know, "Ooh, you're writing crossdressing fic, but you're not actually taking into account the troubles of trans people." It was like, Yeah, not really what this fiction was about, you know? So you had weird juxtaposition of people who weren't necessarily that invested as fans in the canon, but they were really invested in kind of a political impact of slash writing.

So, let me look back on this now. I mean, we kind of have gone through all that. We have gone through racewank, we've gone through, you know, all of these things where, you know ... Three or four years into kink_bingo. I think the problem I'm having, mostly, is that there are only certain id fics permitted, and they're usually the ones that are very, very sexual.

What is not as much allowed is the id fic where the kink are story tropes. They're either ... They're either mocked as, you know, bad fic, or they are criticized, sometimes very aggressively, as non-appropriate representations, as offensive. And so it's okay to have this fic where they're double fisting someone, but it's not okay to have this fic where, you know, they have cripple fic, and just want to, you know, go shopping together, and live happily ever after. And that's kind of a really bizarre switch, where ... Yeah. I don't know.
I really loved LiveJournal. I liked the interface, I liked the way, you know, you would have conversations about various journals. And then when we started meta fandom it was really nice to have these, you know, kind of gathering places until it just, you know, kind of killed itself under its own weight. Because that's when we started to realize that there was actually a real power in gathering links, and, you know, sending suddenly 1500 people to someone's ill thought out post for their three friends. So there was a lot of stuff going on there that was, you know, really problematic. And then again with racewank, it all kind of just blew up and became a political rather than a, you know, fan base. They took the fandoms out completely about a year after I left and just kind of—you know. It became something other than what it was intended to be.
I have stopped talking about anything of any substance in my journal because I have too many people—even though I'm totally friends-locked—I have too many people that will take offense to one thing or another. And I just, I'm just really tired of watching my words that carefully. I feel like the atmosphere that I really loved when I came into fandom—you know, 2003, 2004, 2005, when we were doing tons of meta—I always felt, and I actually expressed that, I have a post on that, how there's always consensus thinking? Like, I would disagree with someone, and the first thing we would both do is we would try to find the point where we agree in order to then figure out where we disagreed. But you would always assume that the other person is in your corner and is actually kind of just, you know, one step over, that you have the same basic beliefs, that you have the same values, and you just were trying to figure out where you differed. I'm now feeling back, like in academia, where you say something, and everyone just tries to turn your words around in your mouth, and they never look at what you mean, they always look at what you say. And if they—you know, if you say one word wrong, that's the word they're going to hang you on, and I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of that aggressive, kind of negative reading, where everyone is just kind of looking for where they disagree, and where they can hurt you, rather than trying to, you know, figure out where you might ... You know? Where you might be wrong or where you might—and it's—and we're not even talking about needing, you know, 101 lectures, but just kind of saying, "Oh, that's what you meant," you know. Let's try to find out what you meant, what you were really trying to say. And that's not happening anymore. And I don't know why. I, I'm ... You know, it kind of coincided with the racewanks but I think it was there before. So there's that, and then most of my friends list has tumbled off to Tumblr and Twitter, and those are two interfaces I'm really not liking much. I'm not a very visual person, so I can't really ... I don't really get Tumblr, I think. Or I think I don't want to get it.

I think there's a cultural and age clash. And I think that's kind of what I'm experiencing more and more. The people that used to communicate with me, a lot of them have grown meta-tired, or they just, you know, just stuff has happened in their lives where they'd be more invested in their jobs, or kids, or things like that, so they're not spending as much time anymore. And I think the generation that has grown up is maybe still that aggressive, maybe in general more aggressive. Maybe I do need to be cut down in not using the proper terminology. I don't know. But it just feels very much ... There's very much a ... How shall I say this? I've compared it before ... I'm feeling like ... Fannish issues have started to be treated like social issues.

And that's really problematic, because there's a huge difference in ... I don't know. White-washing the Americas or in choosing to ship one pairing over another.