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Oh, dear. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Oh, dear.
I seem – in moments of seeking a counter-irritant to my edits of MSP’s forthcoming work (publication on 4 July or so) on George Washington’s correspondence with Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (a task that has alas deprived me of much good company) – to have committed fic, and that in another fandom. It results, on the surface, from research I did for Da Slockit Light. In fact, The minstrel boy to the war is gone and I’m in with the IT crowd (Mind the Gap) have, in another sense, rather deeper roots: which I shall now discuss, drawing upon a colloquy with our beloved and ever-supportive absinthe-drinking Bubba.

[A propos Appropriation.]When – nine years ago, I realise with sudden horror – I adopted the name and persona by which I am known in fandom, and under which I have published my more recent works in what is jocularly called ‘real life’, I regarded (as I yet regard, if with affection) fandom and fannish activities as a form of five-finger exercises for the writer. History is a literary art, to be sure; and the foolery of fiction has freed me rather from my earlier and more arid habits as a writer in published work. Yet the fact remains: I began writing in fandom – HP fandom, naturally – as, to be frank, one long Britpick. (It is claimed that Dame Agatha, not dissimilarly, was moved to write detective stories after reading one and declaring that she could do much better than that.) And now, it seems, a like impulse has tempted me over the fence into another pasture as well.

Bubba, with his unvaryingly too-great kindness, commented to the effect that it was nice to see our latest export contextualised. Well, naturally, I rather preferred it when we were known for exporting parliamentary democracy, the Industrial Revolution, Shakespeare, the BCP, cricket, the common law, and herbaceous borders, rather than singing, um, twinks.

The fact remains: having commenced poking about in This Other and Unidirectional Fandom to get background for the fictional boyband in Da Slockit Light, I found myself (typically) at once unable not to use fiction as a medium to raise my usual complaints, and as a vehicle to make points that wanted making. The minstrel boy to the war is gone allowed me, precisely because it is in an RPS fandom, to make certain points upon the nature of privacy in the age of paps, redtops, and social media that are simply not as pointed when I write Rita Skeeter into an HP fic. I’m in with the IT crowd, in the same fashion, allowed me to make my usual plea that writers, and particularly overseas writers, Do the Blinking Research. In one way, that point – which has always been my point, throughout my time in fandom – has been sharpened of late by my collaboration in an HP project, one to which Our Brammers has alluded in a post of her own, and I’m in with the IT crowd no doubt is partly reaction to that experience.

What it comes to is this. Fandom generally – all fandoms – is full of fen who are most of ’em broadly leftish, indeed Grauniad-ista, in their views: they go to cons and attend panels and bleat together in perfect unison against sexism, othering, cultural imperialism, and cultural appropriation. After congratulating themselves on their moral sensibility, far too many of them then go forth and ... not a few insist that Actual Gayers don’t truly write slash (quâ slash) because Slash Is Women’s Space and It’s Not Actually About Gay Men Even as Characters; rather more of them go off and ‘other’, fetishise, sexualise, and otherwise monster a British Asian as a sexily-threatening Bad Boy in a fashion that ought to have died when Valentino did; almost all of them engage in the appropriation of gay male culture, which they do not share and are not a part of; and all save a few plunge into Coca-Cola-Colonialism by imposing Yank cultural norms on any British-canon fandom they happen upon. (Thank God for many honourable exceptions, such as Femme and Noe and Tiger and all.) And you can’t lecture ’em, this lot: they’re not merely impervious to argument, they resent it. So one ends by trying to slip it past them as fiction (well, there’s that cat out of the bag now. Sorry).

I don’t call this hypocrisy. I really don’t. One cannot be a hypocrite unknowingly, and most of fandom simply have not twigged to the fact that one cannot bang on disapprovingly about appropriation and cultural imperialism and then whinge whenever a Real Life Gayer criticises slash-fandom’s cultural appropriation of gayness and gay culture, or bridle when the Chairman of the Keep Potter British Campaign (hullo) objects to Americanisation. It remains the case that resenting and resisting calls to Do The Sodding Research in a fandom set in a country and society that is not one’s own, even if one’s position is Look, It’s Only a Hobby and We’re Just Having Fun and Why Must You Harsh Our Squee and Fuck Off, We Didn’t Sign Up to This to Do an FE Course in British Sociology, remains, quite simply, cultural imperialism: and most fen think that a bad thing.

I am not, I repeat, levelling charges of hypocrisy: only of literal thoughtlessness. And I am imploring fandom to think – for a change.

I don’t at all think most fen are swine. I don’t pretend anything I write is pearls, either. But – whomever I cast my tales before – they’ve at least this in common with pearls: they are formed and provoked by irritating grit, quite half the time.

The other half originate from gratitude towards such very kind readers and dear friends as you lot.

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Comments
germankitty From: germankitty Date: June 17th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
We may diisagree on quite a number of things, but I'm with you all the way when it comes to keep fanfics appropriate to the culture of the fandoms' canon culture. "Do the bloody research" has always been my motto -- and never more so since I ventured into HP-land. While I have a reasonable grounding in British culture (as much as one can acquire such from countless hours spent listening to BFBS radio, watching British movies and TV series over the years and oft-repeated visits to the country since my mid-teens), I am by no means an expert, and I've always believed in "when in doubt, look it up".

Whether it's language, locations or late-night TV shows, I put in the work and effort ... and can appreciate a story where it's obvious (if sometimes only in very subtle ways) that the author has done the same. And discovered in the process that research is FUN!

So, to give you (ironically) an Americanism, all I can say is, "Preach it, brother!" ;-)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 17th, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

And THAT is why...

... you are very much amongst those who inspire, from my mere gratitude in having such friends, the brighter, cheerier half of my works.

Thank you. (And, yes: research IS fun. I cannot understand why, if someone is seized by such affection for a fandom that she writes in it, she's not naturally eager to immerse herself in the context that made it....)
germankitty From: germankitty Date: June 17th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: And THAT is why...

Awww. *smooches you*

I suspect it's laziness ... or a "don't care" attitude. Granted, I've seen a few fics over the years that were so well written w/r/t plot, characterization and overall style that I'm quite prepared to overlook, if not entirely forgive, the occasional lapse.

But in general, I am firmly of the opinion that "doing the research" (as well as assiduously observing rules of SPaG) can make a good fic great, and a great fic brilliant. Reversely, not putting in the effort can far too easily turn great into merely mediocre at best, and into "pity, wasn't worth the time spent reading" at worst.

Perfection may not always be attainable, but it's always a goal worth striving for.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 17th, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Absolutely.

I shan't ever approach it, but the exercise does me good. Insert quotation from Browning as appropriate.
matilda36 From: matilda36 Date: June 18th, 2013 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
There's nothing that I hate more that Not betaed didn't care or excuse the americanisms it's only fanfic. If you write fic, you have to write it well or at least make an effort. A real effort.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2013 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Certainly if one expects others to read it, yes.

If only as a matter of courtesy.

Quite so.
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: June 18th, 2013 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, naturally, I rather preferred it when we were known for exporting parliamentary democracy, the Industrial Revolution, Shakespeare, the BCP, cricket, the common law, and herbaceous borders, rather than singing, um, twinks.

I'm trying to think of a widely known "singing twink" Britain has exported lately. The only person matching that description who comes to mind is one Mr K. Hummel, who is an import from that prodigal colony across the water wherein so many of the appropriative fen seem to arise (or take their inspiration).

British Asian as a sexily-threatening Bad Boy

To quote Mr Spock, "Fascinating". Whom are they Valentino-ising?

one cannot bang on disapprovingly about appropriation and cultural imperialism and then whinge whenever a Real Life Gayer criticises slash-fandom’s cultural appropriation of gayness and gay culture

Unless you're a representative of the culture they most love to deride as imperialist; in which case you, sir, are (unfortunately and disturbingly) fair game. And even if you (the general 'you') have an affidavit from God that you are the gayest thing, object or entity in the entire rainbow-spangled universe, they will still accuse you of "internalised homophobia" or whatever other pseudo-postmodern label they can manufacture to keep their intellectual goalposts well out of your kicking distance. It's a form of delusion, I suspect; desperation born of a dying "pop" culture, full of sound and fury but signifying you-very-well-know-what. If there is anything they cannot stand and will not abide, it is a challenge to their world view. Fascist bullies, the lot of them.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I know. Quite tiresomely familiar, isn't it.

Illiberal lot, aren't they.

And can it be that you have managed thus far to go your way in blissful nescience of One Direction? Thank God your daughter's as young as she is, then....
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: June 18th, 2013 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh, I know. Quite tiresomely familiar, isn't it.

LOLOL. Oh, I see. I'm certainly not unknowing of them - there is a merchandising shrine to them in my home town, which I visited with my family solely to view the cultural trainwreck, and the daughter of close friends is a devotee - but I had always supposed the T word to refer to those Very Young and Handsome Chaps whose same-sex orientation was more or less a done deal.

I am unaware of any such rumours (confirmed or otherwise) surrounding this lot, but my ear isn't as close to the ground as it might perforce be if my lass were ten or twelve. No doubt she'll be just the right age when they get around to a reunion tour sometime down the track...
froganon From: froganon Date: June 23rd, 2013 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)

oh yeah


Excellent thoughts!

s
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 15th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Much obliged.

Thankee.
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