Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Thingswithwings and Eruthros

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Thingswithwings and Eruthros
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Thingswithwings, and later Eruthros
Date(s): July 16, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Thingswithwings
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Thingswithwings and Eruthros was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:45:38), and it has a written 79-page transcript.

Another fan, Eruthros, joins this interview about half-way through. The excerpts below, however, are all Thingswithwings'.

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


Well, first going into fandom is always an interesting question because—what is fandom? Like at what point are you in a fandom? If I'm talking to my friends in junior high about X-Files, am I in a fandom at that point? But in terms of online or fandom that would think of itself as such, I was fourteen, which would have made it—oh my God, how old am I? I'm thirty, so—sixteen years ago. So I guess that's 1996 or so. And I started out as an X-Files fan. I had been fannish about TV shows and books my whole life in the sense of reading or watching them over and over, getting really into the details, but I remember there was an Entertainment Weekly magazine issue that came up that was a special issue about the X- Files. And I loved it so much, and I read it over, and over, and over again, and then I just—the dam broke and I had to go online and find out more, so I went to the actual X-Files official website and they had these fan forums there. Really horrible, black screen, green text, you know, horrible threading, worked terribly. And I made so many friends who just wanted to talk about Mulder and Scully and some stuff was fan fiction, but a lot of it was really just fanning the show really hard. And so that was my introduction, when I was a little fourteen-year-old T'wings.
Totally through the fan board [is where I met so many fans], yeah. Through the official site. And they were—you know, my first fandom experience was a really welcoming and loving one. Like I immediately developed these friends who I was really close to. When I was sixteen, I—they had this thing called Mulderstock, which was—with a t-o-k—t-o-c-k, not t-a-l-k. But it was held in LA at this one fan's house, and every year the people from the board would just get together and hang out and talk about X-Files. And I went, when I was sixteen. My parents let me fly over to LA by myself, from very far away, and I was the youngest one there and I got to meet all of these amazing ladies and hang out in LA, and you know. So then I had these really strong friendships that persisted for many years after that.
[Vidding] is the worst hobby. Like, it's honestly just the worst hobby. Vidding—I got into vids, I guess, when I was in Stargate Atlantis fandom. When I got into Stargate Atlantis, there were a lot of vids going around. I hadn't really paid much attention to vids before that. I'd seen some Buffy vids, but SGA really suckered me in. I think with vids, you need to have a critical—like a flash point, you know what I mean? A lot of people don't get vids, and if you show vids to people who aren't fannish, or even fannish people who don't watch vids, quite often, they don't get them. They don't understand what they're doing. It's like a genre—you know, it's like introducing someone to poetry who has only ever used language to write technical manuals or something. So I didn't hit my critical mass of having watched enough vids to get what vids were about until SGA. And then I just —I just decided to teach myself to vid. A lot of people who vid will have a story about who taught them. I don't—I taught me. (laughs) It was—it was awful. I used iMovie, which I had on my computer—you know, it obviously came along with my Mac—and episode rips that I got off of a website whose name shall never be named. And yeah, then I just played with it until I managed to make something happen. That's all I did, yeah.
It's kind of amazing, right? Can you imagine trying to do some of the fannish stuff we do now in the days of VHS? Like— Eruthros and I made that Yuletide vid that has whatever—160 fandoms in it. 190... and it's just impossible— like, it would not be at all feasible. Because the number of fandoms we looked at were, what was that, like twice as many, right? Not at all possible without downloading, without digital media, without the sort of speed and access that we have now.
I mean, we see the same change too, happen in popular media. I mean, if you watch an episode of Starsky and Hutch, it's really clear that they thought you needed at least twenty seconds of this establishing shot of a bank before you'd be able to understand you were in a bank in the next shot, right? So I think vidding has sort of kept pace in some ways with TV, where if I try to edit a fight scene from even the '90s, the fight scene will have clips that'll have two seconds in a shot. Try to edit a scene from a contemporary film, and you're lucky if you get ten frames in a row, you know? [snipped] Or you know, they'll have three different cameras on one punch, and so you get this mishmash of a bunch of different angles of the punch put together. So I think vidding is tapping into the popular consciousness, so we're now able to process images that way.
[regarding kink_bingo]: So yeah, we just—we just—we were just sort of spit-balling and brainstorming about stuff and I think there had been some really good kink fic coming out of SGA and we were both big SGA fans at the time and we wanted more, you know? We wanted sort of to structure—to make more. And we just said, Oh, we'll throw this together, and maybe a few of our friends will play. [snipped] If twenty people will play, we'll do it! Yeah. And we made the cards by hand for a few years, but the first year, we really made the cards by hand.
We didn't realize we were actually going to inspire 500 people to move to Dreamwidth, which is what ended up happening. Like Synecdochic, who runs Dreamwidth, was like, What do you guys need? (laughs) You can have whatever you need! (laughs) Because we were one of the first fairly popular fan challenges to move to Dreamwidth and we moved permanently and completely. We didn't maintain a presence on both sides.
[Kink Meme] includes everything, it includes all of the kinky fic—it's this really wonderful integration of everything that fandom could possibly want in one space. So—I think Kink_bingo is actually a part of that, and I—you know, I do flatter us that we were part of getting people to recognize the kinkiness of fannish tropes that they were already writing and that kind of thing. I think that—I think we've done some good work to help make kinky fic more acceptable and less shadowy and locked away. Because Eruthros, who's outside right now, will tell you the story—and I have these stories too, of authors in Due South fandom or X-Files fandom where you couldn't get to the kink fic. It wasn't posted publicly. It wasn't posted to the mailing list. Even the NC-17 mailing list was dubious about it. You had to e-mail someone and get a password and send them an age statement personally. In order to access this story in which we would now think of as maybe fairly bland D/S fic. So it's really come out of the shadows a little bit in fandom, I would say, over the last ten years.