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Tony Grist

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Fandom [Aug. 4th, 2007|12:12 pm]
Tony Grist
Fandom- I don't get it.

Why would you want to mess with someone else's characters when you can create your own?

Does J.K. Rowling take pleasure in badly written stories about her characters having sex?  I doubt it.  Why- If you admire and enjoy her work - would you want to disrespect her so? 

Isn't "fan" a bit of a misnomer?

But lets move from the general to the specific. An artist just got banned by LJ because of an image she posted of Harry and Snape.

Only the banning seems ineffective because she's bounced back and the image is viewable. (I'm not giving links. I don't want to give her any more publicity than she's getting already).

I clicked. I was expecting an image of them kissing. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

The characters were clearly modelled on Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Rickman. Isn't this defamation of character or libel of something?

Even more to the point:  British comedian Chris Langham is about to go to prison for downloading images which (I assume ) are comparable to this. 

So- forget morality- LJ needs to guard itself against prosecution.

But I don't want to forget morality. You take characters from a beloved children's book and you produce an image of them that any paedophile would be proud to own (you can quibble over whether Harry looks underage or not if you want to be legalistic and miss the point) and  I can't think of any grounds on which I'd be prepared  to defend you.

A lot of fans are up in arms and banging on about censorship.  I just watched a video of a girl give a little self-righteous speech then attempt to burn her LJ shirt with a blow torch .  Fine. Off you trot to some less scrupulous site and good luck to you!  As it happens, I'm perfectly happy to see you go.
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[User Picture]From: boltonia
2007-08-06 04:21 am (UTC)

Spoiler Warning

Why would you want to mess with someone else's characters when you can create your own?

Does J.K. Rowling take pleasure in badly written stories about her characters having sex? I doubt it. Why- If you admire and enjoy her work - would you want to disrespect her so?


Those of us in fandom don't disrespect a creator's work, we adore it. When the creator is finished creating, those of us who adore the work find ourselves left out in the cold and starved for more.

I'll add some spoiler space for those who haven't yet read the last Harry Potter book.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R


S

P

A

C

E

Hope that's enough!

In Deathly Hallows, Voldemort and the Death Eaters take over the government and Hogwarts school. In Chapter 12, September 1 rolls around and we find out that Professor Snape, my favorite character, is named Headmaster of Hogwarts.

Harry doesn't arrive at Hogwarts until Chapter 29 and doesn't encounter Snape until Chapter 30. Months have passed. What has Snape been up to all that time? I want to know, but JK Rowling is never going to tell us. However, some of my fellow fans eventually will, and very little of it will involve porn.

Hopefully this gives you a little idea of what a lot of serious fans look for in their fandom. Think about a book/movie/tv show you enjoy, but have at one time or another thought, "But what happened when ____ ?" Those are the places fandom lives.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-06 08:10 am (UTC)

Re: Spoiler Warning

Interesting....

I have never (at least not since childhood- and no, not even then) lost myself in a book to that extent. To me a book is an artefact not a world.
I have little curiosity about what happens in the gaps. If the writer chooses not to tell me certain things I respect his/her artistic decision. And when I've finished one book I move onto another.
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[User Picture]From: goddlefrood
2007-08-06 10:06 am (UTC)

Trying for objectivity

First let me thank you for this post. It's rare that I get involved at all in trifles regarding fiction, but in this instance your comments merit a response.

My antecedents:

(i) I am a qualified legal practitioner who practices as both a barrister and solicitor in Fiji. I'm English by preference and will return withing the year after over a decade.

(ii) I was a Harry Potter fan, if such is an apt description of someone who enjoyed the books up until the final installment. I participated to a fairly small degree in the fandom, mostly writing speculations on what could happen and analyses of what had happened.

(iii) In terms of fanfiction and fanart surrounding the Harry Potter series I am very much with you, it is not my thing at all and I have only ever read part of one fanfiction. This applies almost equally to any other form of fanfiction.

Enough with the preliminaries. There is something that perhaps you might appreciate, having already been given the example of The Wide Sargasso Sea as an instance of fanfiction. Although I disagree with that assessment of that book I would also state that Jean Rhys wrote many other stories that were not fanfiction in any way shape or form. Another example of a good writer penning fanficition is Michael Dibdin with The Last Sherlock Holmes Story. There are, as you are no doubt aware, many post Doyle Holmes' books, some of which are of merit. The one I mention is excellent, but then, as with Jean Rhys, Mr. Dibdin wrote many other books and was justly well known for them.

The thing about the Harry Potter fandom is that there are many writers who write fanfiction who do not have any other material and a lot of what they write is tripe, naming no names. There are, so I'm reliably informed, many good and worthy fanfiction writers around too. There is a level of addiction, for want of a better word, that comes close to Trekkies, LotR devotees and other equally vehemement fandoms.

On then to the pictures. I haven't actually seen them, however I have seen descriptions of them. They sound quite unlike what I would normally seek out in the way of art. Whether they are illegal in any jurisdiction, and age of consent and majority varies greatly from as low as 7 to 21, is beside the real point. I would suspect that Livejournal has a legal team or at least a legal adviser. As its Terms of Services quite clearly preclude the publication of art such as that under discussion then I have little doubt that the owners acted on legal advice interpreting those terms.

Furthermore I severely doubt that anyone out there would want to argue that a picture of two people engaged in other than heterosexual activity, where one of such people depicted could be arguably under 18, as seems to be the required age for legality of nude publication of any kind per US statute, is acceptable for publication at Livejournal or any other such site. Let's just say it's a strict liability thing and leave it there on that point.

The rather longer way of saying, I agree, good riddance.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-06 12:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Trying for objectivity

I've never really had anything to do with Fandom before. It's been an interesting experience....
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2007-08-06 12:23 pm (UTC)
Myself I have a somewhat punk sensibilty. I don't really believe in copyright. Is there an ur-cinderella? If there were would it mean that all those over the centuries who had borrowed, chopped and changed Cinderella would have to pay copyright? many great works of art are anonymous, art is more than the person.
I find the idea of the 'artist' an interesting one. I know there are many copies of the mona Lisa because in leonardo's time the artifact itself was the important thing. Now of course they are worthles because they are not by Leonardo's hand. the cult of the artist is surely fetishistic, in the same way fanfic is.
Similarly there is not 'one' way of reading a book. Reading is a dialogue between reader and author. There are as many ways of reading a book as there are readers, so there are probably as many books as there are readers!

Like you I don't really 'get' fandom. A lot of it seems a little grotesque to my innocent eyes. But as Uncle Tobey said to the fly 'the world is big enough for thee and me'.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-06 01:12 pm (UTC)
I believe in copyright up to a point. I think a living author has the right to control what happens to his/her work. I suppose I'm a bit of a sucker for the cult of the artist. Human beings aren't particularly godlike- but people like Leonardo- and Shakespeare and Mozart- are as good as it gets.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-06 07:23 pm (UTC)

Re: here via <lj comm="metafandom">

I'm not looking to be converted if that's what you mean but I'm happy to talk.

I've been engaged by certain fannish TV programmes down the years- most recently by Buffy- but I've never wanted to play in those worlds and when I'd seen the shows I moved on. There are always other fictional worlds to explore. I've enjoyed the Potter books but I don't think they're breathtakingly wonderful and now I'm back reading Dickens who is absolutely my favourite novelist.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2007-08-07 10:12 am (UTC)
I completely agree with you. Also, I would here like to restate a point made by my wise girlfriend biascut: LiveJournal is not the public sphere. It's a private enterprise which provides a service that we purchase. We're at liberty to use the service or not. Equally (and oppositely) it has the right to change the terms of service. There is an enormous and profoundly important difference between state censorship - the fact that I have never seen Reservoir Dogs because it was banned in Ireland, or that I cannot legally access the number of an abortion clinic in an Irish publication - and a private company taking conservative decisions about its legal responsibility, because it wants to maximise profits. And it's dangerous that fans don't seem to know the difference.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2007-08-07 10:14 am (UTC)
(p.s. - actually, both the Irish censorship rules I allude to above were relaxed in the late 1990s, but they still very much applied during my formative years. My point still stands, doesn't it?)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-07 11:05 am (UTC)
Reservoir Dogs is banned in Ireland? How very, very extraordinary!

I think that's an excellent point- and one that hadn't occured to me. A private company is not the state.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2007-08-07 09:31 pm (UTC)
I think LiveJournal would be in a much better position in situations like these if they would simply refund the money of the accountholder instead of keeping it. LJ's terms of service are almost of necessity a bit vague on the question of what you can host on their servers, since the rules on what a web server can host and how attentive they have to be to removing disallowed things vary so much from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (and users tend to forget that, while their blog is theirs, they are asking LJ to host it for them - it's not so much "my LiveJournal" as it is "my blog, hosted by LiveJournal"). But LiveJournal put themselves in a weak position when they terminate user accounts on the basis of vague rules as long as the accountholders have paid for the service, and they put themselves in a weak position when they delete a user's blog without warning (the blog does belong to the user, and since it is created on the host there is no reasonable assumption that the user will have a local copy of his data). Offering suspended users a pro-rata refund of their fee and giving them their data back would answer a lot of objections.

Of course, if someone has a free account then they really have little complaint. I always chuckle when someone lambasts a free web hosting service for taking down some of their photographs or whatnot. What are you going to do, ask for your money back? :)

But if you object to LJ censorship, there's a simple solution: host your blog yourself. You'll probably not get a lot of traffic, but that is the advantage of having a commercial host. You have to decide which you want more.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-07 09:55 pm (UTC)
You're right. LJ should be magnanimous. "We can't go on hosting your blog but, here, have a refund".
At the moment they're not doing very much to win friends. I haven't checked for an hour or two, but last time I looked they still hadn't offered any explanation for their actions. I guess they've got their lawyers running around putting something together.

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[User Picture]From: karcy
2007-08-08 05:25 am (UTC)
Wow, this is an active thread.

I'm not that active in fandom anymore, but I can understand why fans are worried. It's the question of the slippery slope. The same grounds on Livejournal that was used against the porny Snape picture can be used against almost anything. Truthfully, the only thing that protects other users from ending up in the same fate is a question of taste.

When it's being calm, fandom is primarily a creative subculture, and that's why I (as a writer) am drawn to it. Fandom isn't a unified movement or just a random group of people with interests, but a creative subculture formed on the Internet. People involved in fandom write stories, draw art, create icons, and participate in role-playing games (among others). Most are bad, some are pretty good.

The question isn't really about how good or how bad the works involved are, but rather whether this creative subculture is allowed to exist as it is. As with any creative community, rules pertaining to restrictions on freedom of speech and obscenity guidelines are abhorred because they function on very arbitrary values, in this case, on 'good taste' and 'common sense'. Who determines good taste and common sense?

I think that underlying this paranoia is not just fear of censorship, but also the feeling of being screwed over as customers. People have been using livejournal for fan-related activities for ages. Most of the people I know who buy paid accounts, permanent accounts and extra userpics are involved in fandom (though sometimes indirectly). Livejournal may not like fandom's sexual side, but fandom has been supportive of Livejournal for a long time. They were loyal customers -- and now that LJ is suddenly big business, LJ seems kind of embarassed to have them around.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-08 10:01 am (UTC)
Yes, a very active thread. I've never posted anything that's drawn such a huge response.

And its changed my view of things. I used to be hostile to Fandom and now I'm not. I think I've aquired some insight into how it works and what it's all about.

And that's got to be good.

My feeling now is chiefly one of sadness. There was a real issue here but it should been negotiated to some sort of a conclusion. LJ didn't have to alienate thousands of its customers by acting so high-handedly.
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