OTW Guest Post: Fresca

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Interviews by Fans
Title: OTW Guest Post: Fresca
Interviewer:
Interviewee: Fresca
Date(s): April 15, 2016
Medium: online
Fandom(s):
External Links: OTW Guest Post: Fresca, Archived version
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OTW Guest Post: Fresca is a 2016 interview with Fresca.

It was done as part of a series. See OTW Guest Post.

Introduction

Fresca is a longtime fan of Star Trek (The Original Series) and a new fan of Inspector Lewis (with other stops along the fandom way). She lives in hope of a TV show with a compelling female pair of cops or colleagues, like the first six episodes of Cagney & Lacey. She is learning how to edit Wikipedia and has just started to write fanfic (specifically Lewis/Hathaway fic). She still primarily blogs on blogspot (yes, it’s kind of lonely). Her rather antique fanvids, those the copyright vampires didn’t get, are available on YouTube. The following has been edited for length. [1]

Excerpts

How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?

Mr. Spock saved my life when I was a teenager. Me and just a few others, right? I turned thirteen in 1974, USA. Dark days…I turned on the TV one day after school and caught the end of a Star Trek episode. It was playing in syndication on a local station, Mondays through Thursdays at 3:30. I’d never seen the show, but I knew who Mr. Spock was. (The only American I’ve ever met who had didn’t know him was a woman who’d lived as an enclosed nun during this era.)

It wasn’t the show’s so-called optimism that helped, it was its strain of personal struggle. Even just seeing Spock on TV ads, you could tell he was having a hard time among the humans too. He became my model. I tried to hold myself at an emotional reserve like him, and while I didn’t succeed [just as well], it did help me survive the worst period in my life, if only because he brought dignity to what felt like a pathetic plight.

Something else was going on with him that energized me too. I clearly remember the zing I felt when it dawned on me that something was flickering between Spock and Captain Kirk. Something mostly smothered but…definitely sexual. That was a good side of pre-Internet culture: you discovered hidden aspects of stories like that on your own. The lack of spoilers was nice too–everything came as a surprise.

I had no idea, for instance, what was coming when I watched the slashy (no such word in 1974) “Amok Time.” When Spock breaks out in joy, seeing Kirk alive, it was a total thrilling jolt. And then you had to wait –in agonizing anticipation– until the episode re-aired to see it again. You just carried that secret thrill around in your heart, another little reason to live.

How did you start making fan videos?

Imagine my surprise when I idly googled “Star Trek”: everyone was talking about Kirk and Spock’s little secret! I quickly came across the “most famous fanvid ever,” the slash vid “Closer” by killa and T. Jonesy …It took me back to the shock and awe (in the good sense) of first watching “Amok Time,” which the vid is based on.

I assumed the vidders who made “Closer” must be media professionals-––but I had to try making a vid myself. So––this was in 2008––I stayed up all one night on iMovie and made a 1-minute captioned slideshow, “Don’t Touch Jim’s Flower.” I’d lucked into a sort of golden age of vidding. It was flourishing on youTube, and every vid I uploaded that first year would get a few hundred views and a dozen comments within days. All of my vids were in that slideshow style, but they were a blast to make and led to important friendships I still have.

And then came the big wipe-out: WMG and other copyright-holders started to take down vids making fair-use (I contend) of songs. It was just a slaughter of all this creative work, done for love, and it kicked the heart out of a bunch of vidders. I haven’t really vidded since.

My most-viewed vid was the autobiographical “Star Trek, My Love”, with 16,149 views before it was taken down (oddly, only recently). That’s a relatively small number for the Internet, but to someone who grew up with no one to show her artwork to, it’s huge…A Russian fan contacted me to ask if I’d subtitle it in Russian so she could show it at the annual RusCON, in 2009.

It still chokes me up—it was like we’d brought about, for a moment, a tiny piece of the promise of Star Trek. Spock and Kirk had truly helped me figure out how to be a human among humans. I’m as proud of this as anything I’ve ever done. I’ve thought about remaking that vid, and maybe I will one day. What I can’t re-create, though, is the dozens of incredible, heartfelt comments from people who’d also been touched by Star Trek. Some of them in Russian! I wish I’d had the foresight to screencap and save them.

You’ve been working on editing fandom topics on Wikipedia, including information about the OTW. What led you to start?

The first thing led me to start editing fandom topics on Wikipedia was that a couple months ago, for the zillionth time, I noticed something missing from a Wikipedia entry. It just so happened, or so I thought, to be about a woman. I use Wikipedia all the time, and because I was in-between work projects (I do freelance publishing work), I decided I’d finally learn how to contribute to it.

I might have left it at that, but then I read that women make up only about 10% of the encyclopedia’s editors. Which explains why the Starsky and Hutch entry has 2,461 words on the show’s cars, and 5 words on the boys’ relationship: a quote from the ’70s calling them “French-kissing prime-time homos”. So they got those 5 right, anyway.

Wikipedia’s invitation to editors is to “Be bold.” That appealed to me, not least because it has a Star Trek ring to it. Wikipedia has a reputation of being hostile to female newcomers, but a couple of sweet and helpful Wikipedians contacted me almost immediately to offer help. (Maybe not altogether coincidentally, one is a Star Trek fan.) I decided to work specifically on underrepresented topics that were important to me.

The kind of fandom that’s important to me has always been, as OTW says, a gift economy “rooted in a primarily female culture.” It’s represented spottily on Wikipedia. OTW’s page is pretty skimpy, for instance, so I started to add to and clean up there (one negatively slanted and uncited paragraph in particular)…Recently I went to the third annual Art+Feminisim Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the library in town, and having f2f editors show me some tricks was super helpful.

I want fandom to be findable for anyone who wants it. An open and obvious door is the best way to include everyone, even though that means sometimes bad stuff comes through too. (But as the poet Audre Lord wrote, “your silence will not protect you” anyway.) Someone might find a door to fandom on Wikipedia that they wouldn’t otherwise find. That’s important to me.

What sorts of fandom things have inspired you?

There are so many things, but I’ll say that fandom itself inspires me! I have a file in my head titled “Humanity Is Not All Bad” and within that imaginary file, a lot of the entries relate to fandom. Fandom works like the folktale Stone Soup: everyone contributes whatever they have to the pot, whether that’s an old onion or a dab of butter, or whatever, and you end up with an amazing stew. Sometimes weird, but amazing.

The very creation of Archive of Our Own is like that: fans who often didn’t even know how to code got together to make a non-commercial space to ensure kind of sharing. Wikipedia is another example. It’s a different kind of fandom–sort of a cousin to the self-expressive fanwork we have on AO3 or DeviantArt, etc. Its fans love to collect, collate, and disseminate information. It’s got its issues, sure, but the cool thing is, it seems like it shouldn’t even work, and it does.

There’s a political lesson there too—well-designed crowd-sourced democracy can work, with checks and balances in place. (Never forget those checks and balances!) Seeing fandom at work gives me hope for the world. Its downside is the same stuff we’ve always had–human nature–but its upside is something we’ve never had before–the ability to connect with strangers around the world who share our hopes and loves and interests.

References

  1. OTW Guest Post: Fresca, Archived version