Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Tari Gwaemir

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Tari Gwaemir (Troisroyaumes)
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Tari Gwaemir
Date(s): July 5, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Tari Gwaemir
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Tari Gwaemir was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:21:33), and it has a written 36-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


Okay, so that was actually around the same time I got into LiveJournal. It was in 2002 when I first learned about the series, and I had actually watched the anime adaptation of another Obata Takeshi series, which was Ayatsuji Sakon [Ed. note: The series is Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon ]. I didn't watch the full series, but I tried to get as many videotapes as I could for the fan subs of that, and I really like that. So my friend actually had—this was the same friend who got me into Gundam Wing and everything else—she's like my dealer or something. (laughs) Anyway, she had asked me to buy her Hikaru no Go for her birthday, and I looked at this and I was like, Whoa, this is by the same mangaka who did Ayatsuji Sakon. I need to know more about this. And she basically pointed me to the scans and I spent that latter half of 2002 mainlining all of the scans I could find and I think I wrote my first fic for the fandom in 2003. And I actually looked this up recently because I realized my tenth year in the fandom is coming up. So I'm just like, Oh, I need to mark this occasion. Anyways, so yeah—it's been a long time. It's kind of weird because I know a lot of anime fans hop around from fandom to fandom, but I've stayed really active in Hikago for a really long time, I feel like. And yeah, it's been years since the series ended, but I'm still in the fandom. I've written for other fandoms, but I've never really been active in them. Hikago is the fandom where I've really just made a lot of fandom friends, devoted a lot of energy towards planning challenges, participating in challenges, and things like that, so.
I have actually been trying to actively encourage people to upload their fic to AO3 in my particular fandom. This is partly out of selfish reasons, because I want those fics to be on AO3. A lot of the people I'm friends with in fandom are posting on, but not regularly, so there's a lot of fics that are LJ- archived only. So I think it's just more convenient to have them all in one location, like AO3, and I also got the inspiration for this idea because HikaGo is actually relatively big on AO3 compared to its size on other multifandom archives, so there's this—so we were really amused that it had basically become larger than Sailor Moon on AO3. Which was just like this ludicrous concept. It's just so funny. So we basically organized—are challenged around this rhetoric of “Look, we can make top ten fandoms on AO3 if we upload all of our fic.” So a bit of it is kind of joking about the fact that the size of fandoms on AO3 is wildly disproportionate to what it is in fandom at large. But I think it was actually pretty useful, because it got a lot of people interested in putting up their fic and it really motivated them to do it. Whereas before, if you were like, You need to archive your fic in another place, it was kind of hard to appeal. But when it was this community challenge thing, it definitely encouraged people. And I know also, one of my —a friend was like, Oh, but my fic isn't good enough for AO3. And I was just like, No, stop thinking about whether it's good enough or not. You should just upload anyway. So I think there was kind of that perception of AO3 as a place only for “quality fic,” and I think at least in my fannish circles—it's obviously still an issue at fandom at large—but at least in my fannish circles, I think we've managed to overcome that hurdle and we're just like, Upload all of your crack drabbles, even if they're totally nonsensical and people will think it's bad fic. But it's good “bad fic”, so you should upload it anyway.

[regarding Yuletide '10 when they tried to get Hetalia in]:

Oh, yes. I was really furious about that. Actually, I think— yeah, that was the year I refused to sign up. But I still did a pinch hit. And then the year after that, I stopped even doing pinch hits. But yeah, I was really—I was really upset by that. I don't know. I feel like that had been a perennial problem before, where there would be not that much acknowledgment from the mods of—you know, they just didn't seem to know which anime/manga fandoms were really small or not. But there would be this self-correcting process that happened in the comments before. What really annoyed me about the Hetalia thing was that someone went to and actually wrote out all of the fandoms that had more than 1000 works and were included on the—on their first initial list. And I get that, that was just an initial list and they were going to print it further, but you know, someone went to that effort to do that. And the mods just shut down that entire post and were like, We're not listening to this. And I was just like, Is that really the response you want to give? And I don't know, I have—so, I've been in sort of this position of—because Hikago fandom has a group of fans who came into it through anime/manga fandom. And it has a subset of fans who came into it through western media fandom. And this is partly because there are—were a couple of western media BNFs who wrote for it. Like Rageprufrock and Thehoyden and Aja, of course.
I think there is a culture clash, like a fandom culture clash, and also just—yeah, just a lot of negative stereotypes, I think, that are pervasive about anime/manga fandom. Some of them are just stereotypes that exist in society at large and then there's like this within-fandom stereotyping of anime/manga fandom being inferior fic quality and being younger—skewed younger. And you know, I have actually—you know, like on an episode of Slash Report, you hear Rageprufrock and Mklutz and I actually would have considered Mklutz to be an anime and manga person, up until I guess she got into western media fandom at some point. I don't know. I just know her from Gokusen but yeah, they actually say on the podcast, “Oh, but anime/manga fandom, the fic quality is poor there.”
I feel like there's this mentality on this specific LJ-based media, slash fandom specifically, culture that assumes itself to be the mainstream form of fandom expression, when actually it's like this tiny little minority in this wide vast world of all these ways that people are doing fandom. And not just fandom in passive consumption, but transformative fan work fandom. And so I find that attitude sort of ludicrous, but you see it popping up in meta all the time. Like if you go through a lot of old Metafandom posts, it's like, fandom!, and then you're just like, But you're talking about a very narrow, very small fannish tradition in the midst of thousands of other fannish traditions, and who are we to really say Homestuck is a feral fandom or whatever, when actually Homestuck fandom is huge! You know?
I was so shocked. It was frightening to read that [post by Teresa Nielsen Hayden regarding RaceFail], you know. You read that and suddenly, it's just like—I don't know, for me, I've always been aware that I'm not a white person. I mean, I've always been aware that I'm Asian and therefore model minority stereotype does kind of shield me from the more violent aspects of racism, but I'm always aware that I'm not a white person, and when that post went up, I felt like the lines were really drawn, you know? And I felt like I—I felt unsafe, just by reading that post and some of the comments to that post. So there was definitely this period in RaceFail where I was just like, I can't handle this. And this had a lot of personal fallout as well, because I had—I posted some feelings about reading this and how it connected to my feelings about racism in my offline life and I had a couple of offline friends who were following my journal, and one of them who was white reacted really badly to what I said. And we ended up actually having this total falling out over it. So it definitely had this—lots of effects on me outside of fandom as well. But I think there was this turning point in RaceFail where after the horrible things that were being said, after all that happened—there was this real mobilization of fans of color to support each other and be support networks for each other. And I found that really useful, and actually a lot of—I got involved in a lot of these on Dreamwidth, actually, and so that was another reason why my transition to Dreamwidth was really smooth, in that I found a new support network of fellow fans there. And I think with this mobilization, we—there was a lot of— probably not publicly aware, because all of these were locked communities, but a lot of discussions happening within these sort of safe spaces about things that we could do to support each other and to also—this is a word that is getting used often, but decolonize ourselves, you know. To sort of deal with our own internalized oppression and the effects of oppression. And I think that was what really got me interested in these fandom challenges that do have a social justice theme. Because for me, it's—that's what it's about—it's about that decolonization process.