Talk:It's a Fanmade World: From One Direction to Soderbergh
Many fans criticized the list for being overwhelmingly white, male, and slash-focused. While it was acknowledged that Aja was not the author of the article and did not bear full responsibility for the lack of diversity, Romano's presence as a consultant on the article and as a prominent member of fandom (and reporter thereof) meant that she received a lot of attention following the publication of the article and was a focal point of the discussion that ensued. For example, Aja received the following ask on her Tumblr on 12 March 2015:
- Anonymous: Er, the syllabus/covers. The art's gorgeous, obviously, but since i'm not familiar with all of the fandoms, can you clarify how many of the stories center on characters who aren't white dudes? I'm a little put off by how the "classics that cover the history, breadth, and depth of the form" seem to, well, contradict what you say about how "if a canonical worldview is entirely straight-white-male, then fans will actively resist it." straight, maybe, but the other two...
Aja's response stated that she had protested the list being described as comprehensive and objected to the non-diverse nature of it before it was posted. She noted that she didn't have final say on the selections and acknowledged some of the shortcomings of the list, but also emphasized the subversive nature of the works in general. Her response generated further discussion around the Two White Guys fandom trope. However, aside from this general issue, Romano's specific comments drew criticism. Tumblr user allofthefeelings reblogged the above post and added:
- I have to say I’m pretty put off by this explanation.
- First of all, the whiteness of these choices is problematic for more reasons than just being all Western media sources, and it’s ridiculous to not acknowledge that. [...]
- Secondly, and more broadly, is a problem that isn’t exclusive to this particular list of best fanfic, but it’s something that’s been bothering me for a while. When people say they want to include the best stories with women, or the best stories featuring characters of color, what’s not explicitly stated but is certainly heavily implied is that the best stories, full stop, are the stories about white men, and particularly white men fucking each other. The stories about anyone else are good with an asterisk: they’re good for what they are, which is stories lacking the most important element. They’re the vegetables you have to eat and at least SAY you enjoy if you want to enjoy the delicious main course and dessert without feeling guilty. [...]
- When all the people choosing the ‘best’ stories for a list default to stories about white men, there’s either a problem with the selection of who gets to make Representative Fandom Decisions, or there’s a problem with fandom overall.
- The thing that gets me most about this post, though, is the implication that to have amazingly subversive texts your story still needs to feature white men.
Tumblr user sidewaystime added:
- Putting together this syllabus and calling them “classics that cover the history, breadth, and depth of the form” and excluding works about women and not featuring characters of color is a CHOICE that was made. To then justify those choices by calling these texts subversive when this whole thing just looks like yet another entry in the long history of giving fandom a pass when it comes to valorizing works featuring white men and ignoring works that do not is just adding insult to that injury.
- (Concatenated post of the above discussion here here).
On 14 March 2015, there was another ask on Aja's Tumblr which said in part, "If you're not an expert them [sic] why didn't you try to get the author of the article access to more diverse input?" Aja responded,
- There were a number of ways I personally tried to broach the subject of making the list more diverse, but I also self-censored because even though a number of the most seminal works of fanfiction for me personally are from femslash or anime fandoms, I thought to myself, ‘oh, but they won’t go for those because they’re not as old, or as popular, or as wide-reaching culturally as some of these other things.’
This was seen by commentators as her blaming other people's expectations. (for example). In another post later the same day, Aja wrote:
- To everyone reblogging my comment on the NY Mag list with comments like “fuck aja” as though a) I had personal responsibility for the makeup of the list and b) as though it was MY PERSONAL FAULT that the list turned out the way it did, I just want to reiterate that a) femslash was recced during the discussion and still didn’t make it into the final list, and b) I literally said during the discussion that I didn’t think the list was diverse enough.
- As i said in the last post on this subject, I could have recced more diverse works, and the main reason i didn’t was because the request was for “classic” fics and i was thinking in terms of fics with enormous hit counts from huge fandoms. I am really, really sorry that i didn’t and I take full responsibility for not just reccing more diverse works anyway despite my fear that they weren’t “big” enough.
While the syllabus highlighted a general issue/trend in fandom, many fans considered Aja's responses to be overly deflecting/disingenuous. Impertinence (stopthatimp on Tumblr) reblogged the last post and added:
- The meta I saw and reblogged/added commentary to pointed out that the criticism wasn’t only about you, but this one is. Because you, Aja, are the person who is even now implying there is no fic with large hit counts or that’s older that is femslash, about POC, or anything other than white dude fic. You. On this post. You may not be doing it on purpose, but that’s still what you’re doing. And that is what people, myself included, are reacting to. Your words. That you typed, and chose to post to the internet. Your opinions. Your actions. YOU.
Nonnies on F_FA rolled their eyes. A sample comment:
- And I love how her [Aja's] first move is to defect blame. "It wasn't my list! I wasn't the only one contributing!" She's so eager to put her name forward when there's good attention, good press, but the moment there's pushback she uses anyone in reach like a human shield.
- "I think all you have to do to understand that fandom is constantly actively resisting the homogenization of white patriarchal heteronormative culture is look on Tumblr where that resistance and subversion is an inherent and commonplace part of fandom discourse." - Aja Romano}}
There are so many great images in the article, like the covers designed for the Fanfiction Syllabus, that I think should be included on this page. Would it be better to have thumb images at different sections on this page or to make an image gallery section? – caes (talk) 07:04, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
- if the images are tied into a specific text section and are 1-2 per section, scattered is fine. But if there are too many per section, create a gallery per section. Also use full size images (if possible) under the thumbnail view as the article images contain graphs and other text which cannot be seen by the vision impaired. Since the images are no loner available on the original article, use the ones from the WBM. MeeDee (talk) 15:22, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
A Fanfiction Syllabus Page?
I'm considering making a new page just for the Fanfiction Syllabus portion of the article. Almost all the fan comments on this page are just about that section, and I want to expand the info about the other essays that didn't receive as a large a response. – caes (talk) 07:14, 19 May 2019 (UTC)