No, seriously, y'all would tell me right?

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Title: No, seriously, y'all would tell me right?
Creator: thebratqueen
Date(s): November 3, 2002
Medium: online journal post
Fandom:
Topic: BNFs
External Links: No, seriously, y'all would tell me right?; archive link
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No, seriously, y'all would tell me right? is 2002 essay by thebratqueen.

"BNF. Who are they? Why are they? Should we just start handing out little pins to make this easier? And if I ever became a BNF y'all would tell me, right?"

The post has 121 comments in reply.

From the Essay

I have to admit the first thing that comes up for me with the BNF issue is - how do you know? Who tells you that you're a BNF? Who makes the decision? What makes the decision?

I guess by definition it's having a known name, but the irony is that the people who know your name don't necessarily tell you that. They just sort of assume that you already knew. (And suddenly this is like tenebraeli and the chicken on the head issue. You know that chicken is on your head, right?) I've had quite a few people that I would have considered BNFs react with "I'm a what now?" when they were listed as such. God knows if I'm a BNF to some people these days since I've got no idea. I suspect not, but then again wolfling thinks that she isn't and I would list her as such, depending on the fandom we were talking about.

I suppose I'm spoiled in some ways because I cut my teeth, no pun intended, in a comparatively small fandom where I did a Hell of a lot of work so, yeah, BNF. I knew it and wouldn't deny it. I daresay for the VC fandom I was as BN an F as one could get without actually being president of the fanclub, and hey - I felt no need to steal fifteen bucks from people to show my love for VC so really that just puts me ahead ;)

But seriously - it was easy to tell my BN status. The publisher contacted me and asked for my help with stuff. I was consulted for books and TV shows. I did the About.com sight. Plus I was all over the newsgroup and I was one of the first people who did fanfic in that fandom. I'd have to be stupid not to see the BNness of all that.

But then I moved on to other fandoms - and can I just say to some of the other BNFs out there? Stop assuming your rep comes with you. I swear it cracks me up how many BNFs leave one fandom for another then sit and pout when nobody in the new fandom recognizes them. Well of course they don't, dipshit. New fandom. Pay attention. [eyeroll]

Anyway, point being new fandoms are always a new slate. Whatever work I did for VC doesn't mean jack in HP, or Batman, or Angel, or what have you. And if you were to ask me to judge if the stuff I've done in my various other fandoms is worth BNF status - well, not really. I mean yeah I mod the batslash list but Christ are those people self-sufficient (and god love 'em for it). I've done I guess a total of almost fifty stories for Angel now but I lurk on rec lists and don't see my name come up and since that's the crucial N in BNF you can see why I assume no.

But then again fandom isn't just stories, though many BNF do make their BN with fic. The point is is your name known which, again, is a hard thing to judge because nobody tends to involve the F in this decision. Which is why there also tends to be the phenomenon where people assume the BNFs are huge bitches who clique together and ignore everyone else - a lot of people pre-assume that they're not allowed to approach BNFs, while the BNFs themselves are sitting there totally clueless and wondering why nobody is talking to them.

Bringing this to something that sounds like a point with a thesis statement, I guess part of what I wonder about is, barring very obvious signs like official recognition from whatever it is you're fanning, what bequeaths that BNF status? And do big fandoms like Buffy/Angel, with their any ship will do menagerie of bboards, blogs and lists which help scatter the fandom into happy and content little sub-groups (and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that) even really have BNF? I mean I see someone posting about how they or someone they know is a BNF in Smallville/Lord of the Rings/whatever and my immediate reaction is "There are millions of fans - what's the percentage that actually knows you?"

Some Fan Comments at the Post

[Magpie]:

Delurking to say: you are definitely a BNF, in fact a FBNF, if the fandom in question is BtVS/AtS slash. If that is the topic, your name will inevitably come up in conversation, and quickly.

Just so you know ;-)
[wesleysgirl]: The next time you feel the need for some fannish gushing about your writing or your BNF status, just let me know. Happy to oblige.
[minim calibre]:

At least in my section of it, kind of, but not in the way it's been tossed around elsewhere. There are people who write more, post more, put together random crap more, and as a result, are known by most of the people in the group. No one actually uses the term BNF, to the best of my knowledge, but the happy and content subgroups have some people who are more visible than other people, and the communities tend to be pretty insular-though-not-unwelcoming. And then you have subgroups in the subgroup, where someone who is active in the sub-sub may not even poke his or her head into the larger group.

(You come up in our rec discussions, FWIW, so if not a BNF, at least a Known and Respected Writer.)
[ethrosdemon]:

I don't think the BNF thing is an issue in Buffy. I know, for a fact, that one of the biggest names over there goes out of her way to meet new people and include them. Her name is Lar, and she runs EUB. And about thirty other sites. If you ask around, you'll know she is the FB goddess.

I did find my way in here through fandom wank, but they had me there, too, so don't get mad.
[wesleysgirl]:

1. I definitely think that big fandoms like Buffy/Angel end up splitting into cliques, with each subcategory (Slash, B/A the OTP, Spuffy) eventually becoming its own mini-fandom with its own BNFs. So because I've ended up falling into a slash clique (and I think that there are multiple cliques within each subcategory, based around pairings etc) I could easily name some of the BNFs in the Slash subcategory.

2. There are BNFs for every pairing, and therefore the more popular pairings have more obvious, easily-recognizable BNFs. Wes/Angel is not a popular pairing. (I know, I know... and so do you.) Therefore, even though I consider you to be a BNF because W/A is my personal fave, chances are good that in the Jossverse fandom as a whole and in the Slash subcategory in particular, you aren't a BNF. Wolfling, James, and MP are probably closer to Slash BNFs, because they all write S/X and that's a much more popular slash pairing than W/A.

I've done I guess a total of almost fifty stories for Angel now but I lurk on rec lists and don't see my name come up and since that's the crucial N in BNF you can see why I assume no.

Again, I'm pretty sure this is pairing related. If you were writing Angel/Cordelia or Buffy/Spike your name would probably be all over the lists.

3. I hope most of us recognize that just because someone is a BNF doesn't mean that their writing is necessarily of the highest quality. In some cases it seems like it's more about the sheer quantity of stories they produce.
[thebratqueen]:

On a barely related tangent - you used to read alt.tv.highlander? I hung out there for about four years myself. Different name, though. Talk about a place where slash isn't welcome.

Yeah, I hung out a bit there back in the old days of actually using my real name when I was on the net (whoo boy am I over that phase). Mostly lurked with rare posts if memory serves me right. But I've got some fond memories of the place.
[embitca]:

3. I hope most of us recognize that just because someone is a BNF doesn't mean that their writing is necessarily of the highest quality. In some cases it seems like it's more about the sheer quantity of stories they produce. Can I just say Hallelujah to this remark? Because honestly, I think that's what it comes down to, quantity over quality.

As for the whole BNF issue and the difference between Buffy/Angel fandom and Smallville fandom, it's always struck me that these folks who are proclaimed BNFs in Smallville were oh, let's say mid-sized fish in the very large pond of Buffy/Angel fandom. But then they migrated to the much smaller pond of Smallville where, for awhile anyway, there was only ONE ship to get behind because it was just so obvious and now they're the big fish in the small pond, but there are some fishes maturing around them who are thinking "hey, we never invited you here! there's nothing so great about you" and "who the hell said you were a BNF anyway?" "Oh, that's right, your friends said that." Uh huh. Seriously, Smallville fandom is just weird. LJ has made it weirder.
[loreleif]:

I can't define BNF, but I know it when I see it? Suzie Lovett is a BNF, I'd say -- very well-known in several fandoms, prominent at cons, in zines, what-have-you. Maybe not so much with just-Net folks, though she does have a Web page. Hm... who else? [ April Valentine ] is probably a BNF -- someone once said that when you run a con, you become a BNF by definition. -g- Marion McChesney was. But these are all folks who've been fans for years and years, in a bunch of fandoms, doing major amounts of stuff (zines, cons, art, etc.). It's BNF-dom in retrospect. James is probably a BNF, but that's mostly because she's in every fandom on the face of this earth (except B7; it's been tried), and she's prolific and has a memorable name. No matter what fandom I'm in, people have generally heard of "him".

(And can I just say I really don't get the vast amount of negativity I've seen recently attached to the BNF label? Suzan is one of the absolutely sweetest beings on the face of this earth, even if I do want to murder her for her talent. [April Valentine] can be a bit high-strung, but she's extremely helpful and giving, as was Marion. And James... um, never mind. Everything is James' fault, but that's another issue, the damn fanpusher. But being widely known doesn't necessarily mean you're a nasty bitch!)

BNFdom in one fandom tends to be a bit more fleeting, because as you pointed out, change fandoms and it goes away. Also, fandoms go through so many stages. Someone who was a BNF in, say, Trek fandom 20 years ago may not even be remembered by new fans. On the Net, it can be even faster. (Anybody remember Cousin John, I think it was, the "Vampire of Harpsichords"?)

Not sure about you; I certainly know your name in Buffy fic, and you're large in my experience of the fandom, but I'm on only one list (LeatherLust), I don't hang out much with other fans, and I'm only very tangentially interested in the shows. So you're a BNF to me, I think, but considering that my entire list of "Buffy fans I know" consists of people to be found on my friends list, that may not be terribly indicative.
[taraljc]: I count Suzan as a BNF simple because as long as I've been in media fandom (approaching 14 years now), I've known her name and her work. Hell, before I first got online in 1992, I worshiped her, Marty S., Jean Kluge, and Ann Larimer's ability to draw nifty nifty stuff. If I had to name fanzine illustrators whom I considered BNFs, that's my list right there. My first BNF online experience (aside from recognising the BNF-ness of Sally the Lucky Bitch in QL fandom, becasue I think she revelled in it so much you couldn't really MISS it) was probably hanging out with a very tight knit group of posters (most of whom eventually became the Net. Trenchcoat. Brigade) on rec.arts.comics. The only fandoms where I think I ever really had any BNF-type street cred were Earth 2 and Gargoyles, and only then because I was wiritng fic way at the beginning, and when I started, was one of maybe only a handful of writers in each fandom. So that was solely a "big fish; small pond" deal. Since then, if anyone knows me, it's more for my websites and mailing lists (LOISCLA and DSOUTH-L, anwyay, back in the stone age before Onelist) than my writing.
[zyre]:

Well, I'd consider you a BNF for a couple reasons. First of all, when I was first getting into this fandom, your name was one I recognized, because "What Started That Summer" was one of my favorite hp stories ever written ever, which is probably not what you want to hear, but there it is. Plus, I read a lot of fic in August, and yours was some of the best out there. When I first added you to my friends list, here, I thought "omigod, I have a famous person on my list!" because you were one of those people who had like, some friends, and then lots of friends of. (You have no idea how cool I thought I was when I got to be added back. LOL)

Which is why there also tends to be the phenomenon where people assume the BNFs are huge bitches who clique together and ignore everyone else

I think part of this supposition is because in a lot of fandoms, it's very, very true. I came from the HP fandom, which is one of the most disgustingly cliquey and fucked up fandoms out there, so it's really easy for me to assume that, yeah, naturally all the cool people will hang together. And, I mean, I guess imo it's sort of true with you. You hang out with like Mer and Zortified and Wolfling and Kita and all of these really awesome, really big names out there. So, if you don't think that you're a BNF just because, you're certainly one by association. The difference here, is that most of the people in this fandom (as far as I can tell, anyway) don't act like being a BNF makes them a demi-god among plebes. You guys are cool.

[ZorroRojo]:

I've never heard of any of y'all.

Of course, I don't swim in the same oceans as any of you. Smallville? LOTR? Buffy? Angel? Nope, nope, nope, and nope. I watch all of them though.

I found this discussion through meta-blog. It blows my mind how many of the BNF's I've never even heard of. Then again, I only play in Highlander, Voyager, due South and Mag7 -- not any of the high profile fandoms.

So, whoever started the whole "depends on what ocean you're swimming in" thing is 100% right on.

I'm a blogger, not an LJ person, so I'm anonymous.

[snipped]

I am NOT saying I am a BNF in the small fandoms. I'm not a BNF. I really haven't written anything in years. What I was saying was that it's all relative and I agree with you in that people who ARE BNF's in their chosen fandom can't be expected to be known outside of their fandom. The only way anyone would know my name is that I am one of the two owners of SlashCity - and since I don't usually advertise that fact, my name probably isn't even known that way.

I hate using smileys and other emoticons, but I guess sometimes it's neccessary. ::Sigh:: One of the reson's I stay out of discussions is that they are too easily misunderstood. Another reason I'm not a BNF and don't want to be one. I prefer private e-mail and small lists. Though your reaction makes me a little suspicious. To respond with snark to a non-snarky comment tells me you're coming from a place of snark and you're looking for it from others. I'm not. Let me just clarify that point.

And to clarify -- I don't think BNF status means anything in any fandom - big or small. As I've said before in my own blog -- BNF is an artificial construct of social climbers who think there's something going on that they want to be part of -- and that thing may or may not really exist. Who knows, maybe someone just has a cool name and other people like to say it because it's a neato name. Maybe the barometric pressure was just right the day they posted their first story - beats me.

[silverthoughts]:

I don't know if that's considered BNF if you're on fandom wank or you just give a good rant (which you do).

But anyways...since I followed you since ye old abar days, I know you are considered BNF in that fandom basically because. I think before there was the word BNF, we just called you "legend" and "hardcore".

As for other fandoms you are in, I know you are BNF in the BTVS world. I lurk on some BTVS lists and I see your name mentioned. In fic recs and your "TBQ's How To Write" guide on BTVS Writer's Guild. But what surprised me and I knew you were BNF was you were mentioned in a thread in a slash list I'm in. Someone wanted tips in writing Angel and someone mentioned..."Go to this countrylimerick site. Dialogue tips." That was bizarre, let me tell you.

But you made a valid point about some BNF's expecting to bring their BNF status to other fandoms. I can mention a few and those people drag their groupies and celeb status everywhere and it's a bit annoying to the point where I don't bother to read their work for their snotty nature.

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