Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Olivia Breckinridge

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Olivia Breckinridge
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Olivia Breckinridge
Date(s): August 6, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Olivia Breckinridge
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Olivia Breckinridge was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 01:12:22), and it has a 31-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

Excerpts

So my Internet fandom. Well, let's see, college — Um, I stayed caring about those things. Smallville fandom opened up into sort of DC superhero comics fandom. I wouldn't say I was ever like, deeply in comics fandom, but I definitely started to care. And I had read comics as a kid but I had mostly read X-Men, and so I was, like, discovering the magical horrible world of superhero comics that weren't X-Men , and like Superman and Batman, and suddenly cared. Because I had always actually kind of cared about Batman , but not in a, like, actually reading DC Comics [way], because why would you do that? [Laughter] And so, yeah, there was that, and there was Harry Potter, and Harry Potter continued to, like, be a thing. And Harry Potter was such a long-lasting fandom, that like, I slowly slipped further and further into the fandom, so I like started being only Marauders. And then I was like Marauders and other Older Generation. And then I was like, Ooh, stories about the younger generation! And then I was like, Do I really care about cross-generation? I guess I kind of do! Okay! And I just, like—. Suddenly the walls came down, as I got to the root of that fandom.

Oh, in the summer of 2007, there was this big bandom blow out thing where, and this was like—summer 2007 was like, the Supernatural/Bandom Wars of which fandom is more terrible. So, bandom was like—so the two big fandoms

summer of 2007 for a lot of the Internet were Supernatural and bandom. And, the bandom people were like, We don't have incest. And the Supernatural people were like, We don't have real people. (laughs) And there was some fandom kerfuffle lore thing that I cannot now remember the details of, that I think I probably wrote a post about at one point, that I thought was hilarious, and bandom was hilarious. And I was like, Alright, I want to know more about this ridiculous, hilarious thing. So I e-mailed Catherine, and was like, All right, get me into your stupid fandom. She sent me a forty-page Word document! With photos and captions and character bios, and links to fic, and like, lots of—and then like a bunch of MP3 files, also, of like music and stuff, and she sent it to me at the beginning of November. And I stayed home sick, like, over Thanksgiving, I fell into bandom. And that was really the big turning point. Like, I had made friends on the Internet through fandom for sure before—I had accumulated LJ friends, and I had friended people because I liked their fic, and I had become friends with those people and whatever. But, bandom was the point at which my LiveJournal friends list crossed over from being half and half people I knew in real life to, like, much more people I knew on the Internet, and the crossed back, because I started meeting people at concerts into actually being people I knew in real life again, I had just met them all through the Internet. Yeah. So that was long lasting, actually. Bandom and I stuck it out for a while.
[Regarding official recognition of Internet fandom at WisCon]: Well there was a big huge fight about it the year Liz Henry was the—chaired the Tiptree jury. Which was, oh God ... [the year they nominated the Harry Potter fanfic] '06 maybe? Yeah. And there was a big huge multilayered fight about whether—like what even had happened. And I remember finding myself standing around in the hall at a lot of like, hall parties and stuff, being a voice for fandom, like, on the Internet, and kind of feeling awkward about it. Because, WisCon has always always always had an Internet fan presence, and for years before that, there were like "Fan Fic and Slash 101" and even "201" panels. Cabell was on some of them, there were a handful of people who were sort of old school Internet fandom, though that itself is kind of a fuzzy line. [snipped] But, there had always been like a token panel, or a couple of token panels, and I don't really remember when that started. I was certainly not aware of it, and I think that when I got into Internet fandom — Well, I remember when I first got into Internet fandom, I was really, really cagey about it, and I didn't want to tell anybody at WisCon. I didn't want to tell my parents that I was reading fan fiction on the Internet. And I particularly didn't want any of the pro authors who I had grown up knowing to, like, know that I was writing fan fiction on the Internet because, didn't everybody hate that? And wasn't that, like, not cool? And I remember that line of reasoning, and I don't really remember exactly when that line of reasoning changed for me. I think by the time I was done with college—so like within a couple of years—I was much more willing to be at least somewhat out about my Internet fannish activities, and I for sure told my parents I was writing fan fiction on the Internet or whatever. And then I was a little bit cagey about RPF when I first got into RPF. I was reading in LotRiPS, but I was never really in an RPF fandom until bandom. And then eventually I was like, Whatever, whatever, I don't care anymore! I just don't care. But I think that that year that Liz nominated the terrible Harry Potter mpreg, and the convention was like "What just happened!?" was the first time I was outing myself to people I had known since I was a kid as being in Internet fandom. And then from there on I would say it was like a slow upward climb, and the last four or five years have been a concerted push to like, make there be more of an equal presence at the convention for our people, who were always there, but we got pretty frustrated, collectively we, whoever that is, I'm not really sure—we got collectively frustrated with the fact that like, there were always "101" and "201 Fan Fiction and Slash" panels, and not actually any more interesting conversations. And that's really been like the last three years.
[Regarding RaceFail]: I think the conversation that we then had about opposing or not opposing or weirdly intersecting kinds of fandom, was a productive and useful one. I definitely think that the criticism at the time about it being derailing of a race conversation was accurate. But —yeah, RaceFail was weird, and I think that it changed the way people at WisCon talked about Internet fandom in ways that I still can't entirely articulate, and I'm still not entirely sure exactly what they are, but I feel like RaceFail in a weird way was the turning point for WisCon having a more active, vocal, programming-focused, Internet fandom presence. And I kind of don't know why that happened that way.
[RaceFail] was serious shit that in a lot of ways, happened along dividing lines of people who had most of their fannish experience on the Internet and spoke a certain kind of language, and people who had most of their fannish experience off the Internet, and didn't speak that language. And I think that that was the thing that I always found the most difficult and perplexing about it, that here were these two people speaking languages that actually weren't that different, but were at the same time, and you know, both sides maybe had things that were worth listening to, but maybe not. And that like, it became as much about the real serious issues as it—you know, that was important—but it became as much about, like, the way that people communicated in fandom. And that was the conversation that was specifically more interesting to me, because the actual RaceFail conversation was actually very cut and dry for me. It was, "You fucked up, you should apologize for fucking up, and you're not, so that's a problem." (laughs) So that actually, like, was not the conversation I was interested in having because shouldn't it be over already, and shouldn't people have admitted that they fucked up? The conversation that was actually more immediately relevant to me was about Internet behavior, about fannish behavior, about ways of fannish communication, and the points at which we were no longer meeting as communities. And I think that really impacted WisCon.
LotRiPS, well I was never really in Lord of the Rings RPS, but there are serious crazies in RPF in general, in RPF fandoms, who don't recognize that actually like, you need a different kind of dividing line than you need in fictional fandoms, because talking to somebody about whom you have written or read or whatever, pornographic fan fiction, is really very different than talking to someone about whose characters you have written pornographic fan fiction. And in both cases it is a bad idea. Don't do it. But some things are worse than other things. The thing that I find really really difficult, and I don't think if I would be thinking about this if One Direction hadn't turned out to drive people absolutely insane, is that the thing that is really dangerous in RPF fandoms is like, actual tin hats.
I think it's scary because ["serious" tinhatting] outs us as crazies in a way that I'm not really cool with. There not being a fourth wall in RPF fandoms, which sometimes there isn't—. I mean, sometimes like, you have dudes in bands in bandom who hang out with their fangirls or live next door to their fangirls or whatever. Like, aren't—those guys are not going to preserve the fourth wall for themselves. It's actually respectful on our part, to like—the fan fiction isn't for them. It's not for those people, it's for us. And don't show it to them, and don't talk to them about it, and like, protect the community. And also don't put these people about whom you are writing porn in an uncomfortable position. I would think it would be self-explanatory, but I do think that RPF runs into a lot of dangers. And I am mostly okay with it, at least I am a continual participant in it. But I think that I'm more protective of keeping my Internet identity and my real identity separate because of the 16,000—20,000 words of Adam Lambert porn than I would be if all I had ever written was fan fiction about fictional sources.

References