Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Ari

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Ari
Interviewer: Clare McBride
Interviewee: Ari
Date(s): June 3, 2012
External Links: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Ari (interview and transcript links)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

In 2012, Ari was interviewed via Skype by Clare McBride as part of the Media Fandom Oral History Project.

For more information about the origins of this interview, where it is housed, contact information, suggestions regarding future interviewee candidates, and how to become volunteer interviewer, see the Media Fandom Oral History Project page.

Topics Discussed


[her fannish beginnings]:
I think I technically got into fandom in the year 2003. I was in eighth grade at the time, and that was kind of my manga/anime phase. I shudder to think about it now, but it was the beginning and I was huge into Inuyasha, it was kind of my gateway, you can say, into the fandom world. And so I was really into Miroku/Sango, I shipped the hell out of it, and so I was going on all these different fansites and, then I discovered this marvelous thing called fanfiction. I was like, “What is this? I’ve never heard…” Yeah, it was beautiful. And so… and so I kind of—I read a lot of fanfiction of that, and I even made my own fan website to basically aggregate all of my favorite authors in one place, that was the sole purpose, I think, looking back on it. And then… yeah, it just kind of… then I got into Harry Potter, which is really when I think I got really into real fandom, because I rather like to distance myself from my weird anime/manga phase now, but… yeah!
[introduction to slash]:
I’m pretty sure I found out about slash fandom when I was… I’d just discovered LiveJournal, not sure why, but then I, of course, discovered the wonderful world of LiveJournal icons. And so I was trying to find good quote icons for Terry Pratchett? Harry Potter? I’m not sure, but somehow I ended up finding all these icons with these hilarious quotes on them, and I was like, “What are these? These are the best thing in the world,” and I, of course, searched and I found out about Shoebox Project. And so I started reading, it was, of course, the best thing ever, and then the world of Sirius/Remus just unfurled before me. And of course, I don’t think I’ve ever really read a Sirius/Remus fic that’s compared to Shoebox Project, uncomplete though it may be, but it really is unsurpassable and I feel like I’m kind of bad in that I haven’t read a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction, respectively, but it’s just like one of those things where it can never quite compare to the first, and… ‘cause that was my first Harry Potter fanfic and after that, it’s hard. So… yeah, so, started with Sirius/Remus and… um… yeah, oh, and then I think a friend got me into Harry/Draco. Um, a mutual friend of ours, in fact!
[her fanac]:
well, I mostly do reading… well, as far as consumption, I read a ton of fanfiction, I watch some fanvids, and look at some fanart, I mean, it’s something I enjoy, but I don’t actively seek it out as much as I do fanfiction. And then as far as stuff that I myself create, I do a lot of fanmixes, and also I do some fanfic writing which… oftentimes, the two go hand in hand for me because I write the fanfiction as an accompaniment for fanmix, and then I’ll also… I do academic fandom, I guess you could say, in that I… I recently wrote a paper about, well, BBC Sherlock and Sherlock fanfiction and kind of how the two are working together along with the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, and so that’s recently been published.
I am an English major, so thinking about lit is something I do constantly, but I do notice I have, well… I do Victorian lit, and then I also have a special interest in revision and adaptation, and, I mean, that’s definitely something that’s a result of my, kind of, growing up… well, ever since junior high/high school, with fandom and seeing this constant adaptation, revision of stories and their characters and storylines and how they can work. And so that’s something so fascinating for me, and I’ve always found it fascinating. Even when I was really little, I remember one of my favorite things to read was fairy tale retellings, I thought it was just the best thing in the world. And so, that’s something that I really am drawn to, and my academic work, as well, I recently wrote a paper for a class about… that was a film adaptation class, so it was about, you know, Dracula’s original text and how it was adapted to Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It, and I was not too happy with his adaptation, to say the least! But, you know, it’s… I took a class on Jane Eyre, and that was really fascinating how it had been reinterpreted through various novels–Rebecca, Turn of the Screw, Wide Sargasso Sea, and looking at that, that was one of my favorite classes of all time. So it’s definitely something I’m really interested in, is this revision/adaptation, so both in the fandom world and in more, you could say, academic circles, and how… how we read… how we read different texts and how we as readers impose our readings and our opinions on text and how we appropriate it for ourselves. I think that’s something really fascinating to me.
I discovered fanmixing when I was into Merlin, which was, I think, two years ago, two and a half years ago, was when I discovered Merlin. And I’d never heard of it before, and I was… but I found all these fanmixes, and I just thought it was the greatest thing. And I kind of thought that I could do it better, I guess! [laughs] Because I’d hear a lot of fanmixes where I’d like one track and I’d be like, “ugh, everything else sucks”, so… And so, I took that idea and I think the first one, well, one of the first ones I made was for the book Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, which… Jaida Jones is one of the authors of Shoebox Project, so kind of spiraling off of that, really. And so I made one for that, and I wrote fanfiction to accompany it, so that kind of worked together for me, and then I… now, I have three fanmixes I’m working on right now. I just finished and posted one for Sherlock, finally, after five months of working on it, so… I like fanmixes because I can work on them even when I’m busy with other stuff, because it’s kind of like a constant in the back of my mind thing, like if I hear a song on the radio, then I’ll be like, “Oh, I should write that down, maybe it works”, and then I can look it up later. But whereas, I… if I’m writing fanfiction, I have to sit down and really devote my… a considerable chunk of time all at once to it because I’m not very good at writing in small pieces, and so, usually I crack out a fic in the span of three days, of just sitting in my room, with a giant pot of tea, and just working, so… So fanmixes are good for that reason.
[Tumblr makes it easier to feedback]:
I always forget to comment [on people's fics], and it’s really terrible of me, and I feel so bad! But I continue to not change. [laughs] And I think I kind of… that’s one of the things I really like about tumblr, because if you “like” something or you reblog it, it’s a very easy indication that you’ve read this or seen it and you appreciated it, and I think it’s so second-nature that tumblr makes it really easy for us to show appreciation for each other without having to take the time to, you know… on LiveJournal or or anything, it’s kind of like you have to go a special extra step in a way in order to comment. And you can’t just like a post, at least you couldn’t last time I checked.
[on the importance of The Shoebox Project]:
I probably would say Shoebox Project, even though it’s unfinished and forever probably will be at this point. I mean, I feel like that fic had such a huge impact on fandom as a whole. I mean, it’s such a defining fanfic for the Harry Potter fandom, and I feel like Harry Potter fandom is the gateway fandom for a lot of people, not just me, and so it’s kind of a first big introduction into what fanfiction can be—well-written and transformative, also with this tortuous slash romance thrown in there, you know, it’s so many great things all in one place, and I think it really has affected a lot of people.
[on keeping one's "real life" and fan life separate]:
Yeah, I mean, it was something I kind of came to the realization about about… a year or two years ago. ‘Cause previously I did keep it very much compartmentalized. I remember I had a friend come visit me, and we were… my mom was driving us somewhere, and she started talking to me about Harry Potter fanfiction. Oh, I was just mortified, ‘cause my mom was sitting in the front of the car and she mentioned Harry/Draco and I was like, “No, stop, stop, stop, stop talking!” And so, you know, I was having a conversation with my mom just two days ago over Skype and I was talking about Sherlock fanfiction, actually, and I mean, we had like a twenty-minute conversation about it, and that’s something that’s really shifted for me in the past two years. And it was kind of this realization I had because of my roommate freshman year. She and I were total strangers and we’re just kind of thrown together, but she’s the nicest person on the entire planet, the nicest person I’ve ever met, and you know, we were getting along really well, and then about two weeks in, I kind of figured out that she didn’t know anything about fandom, like she’d never even heard of it before, and so of course that’s the great question: do I tell her about it or just pretend I spent all my time doing god-knows-what on the Internet? [laughs] Kind of be more awkward, probably… And so then I of course sat there and I was like, “well, why do I feel so guilty about something I enjoy so much and which makes me really happy and which is such a huge part of my life, especially if I’m thinking… you know, this girl, she’s so nice, she’s so non-judgmental, she’s the most wonderful person, why would I feel guilty about telling her this?”

And so I told her about it, and she was great, of course, and I was kind of telling her about Shoebox Project, is my kind of intro, ‘cause I feel like that’s easier than a lot of other fanfics… it’s easier to imagine, I feel like, because people love the Marauders so much that they’re really game to imagine this alternate story. And sure enough, I think about two weeks later, she started reading Shoebox Project herself, and she thought it was the greatest thing. And it remains the only thing she’s ever read from fandom, aside from my own stories, she’s very nice about always reading those! But still, she’s listened to me talk about fandom for three years now, three years of living with me, that’s gotta be a nightmare, but she apparently enjoys it, so… it’s been this great part that we’ve shared in our relationship, and it’s been so wonderful to be able to talk to her about something that’s so important to me.

And so, after that, I kind of started opening up with my friends, you know, even the ones that aren’t involved in fandom, and being more willing to tell them, because I’ve really yet to have the negative reaction to me telling someone, you know? I feel like we’re all really afraid that we’ll tell someone and they’ll just head for the hills as fast as possible, but so far they’ve just kind of been like, “Oh, oh really?” and they’ll usually ask me some more questions like, “So why do this, exactly?” and then I’ll kind of tell them and try to explain it, and then they’ll ask a lot of questions, and it becomes something we can talk about, and I’ll get a lot of jokes from people, not mean ones, but just kind of like, “Oh, yes, I saw this hilarious thing about fanfiction the other day, I thought of you, it was great”. So that’s really fun, and it’s… I’m slowly trying to talk to my parents about it, considering my mom is about to read my Sherlock paper where I talk at length about Sherlock and John making out and its literary significance.
[fandom becoming more visible]:
... nerd culture as a whole is becoming so much more mainstream. And something that people aren’t afraid to identify with anymore, which I think is great, of course. I think that we have a lot more of openness about communities now, like nerd communities, you know, and instead of it being some kind of guilty pleasure, we’re more willing to see it as like, this is something that you really enjoy and these are people you really enjoy it with and you have a right to that. And I think that’s really great. I feel like people shouldn’t be forced to decompartmentalize their fandom and “real life”, quote unquote, but I think that it can be very freeing, if you feel ready to take that step.
[what I wish fans would keep in mind/what new fans should know]:
‘Cause it’s basically like how I envision the community should be, and it largely already is. But still, kind of my rules would be: always think of yourselves as a big community, remember that just because your kink is not my kink doesn’t mean your kink is not okay, I think that’s very important to establish, remember that multiple ships for one work is possible, so don’t justify your ship by putting down someone else’s, and, of course, don’t treat your involvement in fandom like something you should feel guilty about because you shouldn’t, and you are involved in an incredible community based on passionate interests, deep emotions, and transformative art.