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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.

[User Picture]From: elfwreck
2007-08-04 04:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

They would have known in advance that that image was sailing very close to the wind.

There's a *big* difference between "sailing close" and "crashing into." We've been asking--begging--for MONTHS, to know what the standards are. What's acceptable, what's borderline, and what's over the line. LJ's attitude has been "if you can't tell, then you must be over the line."

Not their statements. Their actual statements have been vague to the point of useless. When pressured, they talk about depictions of 7-year-olds being raped as unacceptable content. They refused to answer questions about late-teenage graphic content.

Stupid fandom, for believing they'd follow their own stated violation procedures and warn people that content was unacceptable before suspending accounts.

Know the picture is iffy? Yes, we could go there. It would offend many people, and it's got sex in it, and that's always iffy in any U.S. setting. However, we don't think it's illegal. (And I could rattle on for many paragraphs about why, but that's not exactly relevant.)

But the policies stated indicate that borderline TOS violations will be given a chance to remove the offending content. This wasn't.

...if I were hosting a site and found people were trading fantasies on it that were arguably illegal I'd have no problem telling them to go do it someplace else...

And we've told them that if that's what they want, all they have to do is SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

Which we're doing, because while some of us were either dense or hopeful enough to think that their past policies were still in place, we're now aware that they're actively judging things according to the Miller test, without regard to legal precedent and without being willing to explain their standards.

(I'm willing to rattle on about fandom indefinitely. More ramblings always available at metafandom, which currently is overwhelmed by this drama, but the archives touch on all sorts of subjects.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-04 04:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

The old-time British theatrical censor used to have a rule book which detailed the words you could say and those you couldn't, the things you could show and those you couldn't. In the end it got laughed out of court.

Rule books don't work.

There are so many imponderables- context, intention, artistic merit....

Great art will always cross borders and break taboos- but this ain't great art.

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[User Picture]From: serenanna
2007-08-04 07:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

You don't know, metafandom brought me over here out of curiosity, but I'd like to argue one point in what you've said, and that is the concept of great art.

Who says though what is worthy of great art and what isn't? Critics alone, artists alone, the history makers, or the non-artists that view it?

In it's time, the Venus of Urbino by Titian (I know I spelled that name wrong) for the Duke of Urbino was considered art solely made for the purpose of the Duke's pleasure. Is it art because it's painted, or is it porn because it's purpose is to eroticize the female form?

Throwing the fact that this was a work of fanart aside, would the same picture of two men, one appearing younger than the other, with that amount of nudity and sensuality, still be seen as obscene? Would it mean more being drawn in charcoal or painted in oils? Taking the context of the image portraying Harry Potter out of the picture, what makes this any different than any other homoerotic image?

Admittedly, I'm not even a fan of slash, but because of LJ's actions, it seems to put my writing at risk since I have written stories of a particular pair of 15 year olds in love, and yet my writing style is no different than any romance novel in any national book chain. Last I checked, they didn't card anyone for buying books, but on the internet it seems as if written word is suddenly given a lot more weight.

Also, just because it is fan-made does not mean the quality of writing in most fanfiction automatically on an amateur level. According to the reviews I've received, my stories are just as worthy of being published as any romance book . . . the only problem is that the worlds and characters aren't mine. Myself aside, professional authors have written fanfiction through know pseudonyms. In one quick Google search I found an article on professional, published authors and fanfiction in which Mercedes Lackey, a best-selling author, admits to writing fanfiction for City of Heroes, an MMORPG.

So really, I have to ask, what is the difference between art and obscene? Is it the medium, the context, or the opinion of one person? How about the difference between professional or not professional? Is it a degree in creative writing, being published by the mass market, or the opinion of who reads the author works?

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-05 09:49 am (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

That's a very big question. It's one we've been struggling with ever since Marcel Duchamp exhibited a ready-made urinal.

I was foolish to raise it.

It's probably unanswerable.

What annoyed me about this particular painting was the fact that it portrayed two characters from a children's book. I find this yucky. If it had been an image of two anonymous males it would have been fine.

I've been asking myself how far my tolerance runs. If I had come across the image by chance- in a book or a web site or on a gallery wall- I certainly wouldn't have run to call the cops. I'm a libertarian and against censorship. However by the time I found it, it was already controversial. There's been a lot of debate over whether the image is legal or not. My opinion is that LJ was wise to take it down before the issue could be tested in a court and that the artist was naive to think she could get away with it.
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[User Picture]From: serenanna
2007-08-05 04:21 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

Funny you should bring up the Fountainhead by Duchamp. It was one of the first subjects my art history professor in college covered, and spend much of our time going over that topic again in learning about modern art. She even marched the class down to the Philadelphia Museum of Art just to see it and debate over that and other pieces.

I'm personally of the opinion that if anyone takes the time to make something of their own imagination with some degree of skill or intent, then to me it's art. But then again, my design background is talking probably since I do find art in something as simple as clothes.

But I'm digress, back to the subject of porn.

Oh boy, I feel like I'm about to rip the veil from your eyes for something along those lines . . .

Um, I hate to break it to you, but there's a joke passed along by a lot of funny geeks that was generated out of an anonymous BBS system called 4chan, (devoted to mostly anime, but really anything goes) of certain rules of 4chan and by extension, the rest of the internet. The most widely known rule is Rule 34, in which it's that, "There is porn of it. No exceptions."

After spending a little time on there and other sites, I have found this joke to be profoundly true! Does it disgust me sometimes? Yes, but level of tolerance runs very high. No subject is sacred, least of all things meant for children. Adults still play Pokemon after all and collect Barbie dolls. (Myself included)

Yet, no matter what I think of the more extreme examples, it's not gonna stop anyone from making them. I'll agree, your(figuratively) private journal is the wrong place to put anything you don't want connected to you in public. Yet, in most cases where I've those things, they are either f-locked anyway, linked to a site off of LJ's servers, or are in communities meant for that material . . .

The point though is all kind of moot now. Most of the anger have shifted from the pictures to LJ's handling of the matter by not being clear on their TOS changes when they had the chance, by not warning people first to remove content as promised, by outright lying to some users that they were heard and that their intended targets were the most extreme examples of pedophilia, and by taking so long to come up with an answer.

Really, that's my sticking point. Either they want to have users like us or they don't. I personally downgraded my account to basic, and if friends an fandom move somewhere else of our making or not, I'll go too. I explained this situation this morning to a friend who wasn't in fandom at all. Like you, she got weirded out about the Potter porn, yet when I told her about LJ's botched handling and false promises, she got just as angry as fans.

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read all this. For a non-fan, I must say you're taking this all really well and attempting to understand. It's been a pleasure.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-05 04:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

I've come to the conclusion that if an artist says it's art then we have to take his/her word for it.

But just because it's art doesn't mean it's any good.

Rule 34? No I'm not shocked or surprised. I've seen porn involving well-loved cartoon characters and found it funny. I forget who the characters were or what exactly was going on.

Water off a duck's back.

I don't have anything against porn. Porn is good.

But maybe not every kind of porn. Porn that revels in the abuse of power (I don't include consensual BDSM ) is ugly. Paedophile porn comes into this category- and there was a miasma of paedophilia about the image we're all getting tired of discussing.

I agree about the way the issue was handled. I hope LJ has learned from its mistakes and won't make them again.

Thank you for your courtesy. I expected to get flamed and have been pleasantly surprised at how polite and reasonable everyone has been.
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[User Picture]From: alex51324
2007-08-06 04:53 am (UTC)

Re: Part 2: Morality and Censorship

Psst--Duchamp's urinal was just called "Fountain." The Fountainhead was Ayn Rand. I doubt either would find the mistake flattering. :)
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2007-08-04 08:30 pm (UTC)

SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

It seems to me that's what they/we are doing. Whether or not Polifilio or I or... understand or like fanfic is not important. I doubt that J.K. Rowling has any great objection to most of the fanfic that is being written. BUT, Pedophilic pornographic images are ugly and they can be and are used to stimulate the sickness of pedophiles. We fought this same issue out a few weeks ago. IF YOU WANT TO WRITE AND POST CRAP - GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!!

'FANTASIES don't hurt anyone' this is another totally erroneous and stupid statement. The young jerks who buy guns and then go out and shoot up schools fuel their obscene behavior on their fantasies.
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From: bleachedrainbow
2007-08-04 09:54 pm (UTC)

Re: SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

The young jerks who buy guns and then go out and shoot up schools fuel their obscene behavior on their fantasies.

That's hardly a useful comparison unless we're suddenly talking about trade in real children/people. If we're still talking about fictional characters and fantasy then I think a more useful comparison would be water pistols, paint-balling and replica guns.

Of course, it's still not a very useful comparison, but it wouldn't be a "totally erroneous and stupid" one. Just as you can't have sex with a fictional character you can't 'shoot up' a school with a water pistol. We'll, not with lethal results.

'FANTASIES don't hurt anyone' this is another totally erroneous and stupid statement.

Please explain cause and effect. Preferably without making a random and totally unconnected statement about deadly weapons.

Even though I do sometimes share my fantasies as stories, my fantasies don't hurt anyone because I don't act them out. Those people who do act out their fantasies would act them out regardless of whether or not they new what mine were.

I'm sure many kids talk about shooting up or bombing their schools, or doing other likewise horrible things ... in fact, I know they do because I was once a child in a school and how to get such-and-such a clique/teacher back was always a favourite fantasy game. But the only person who actually goes out and does it, does it in accordance with THEIR OWN fantasy because they are sick for some reason(s) not associated with the normal human activity of sharing violent stories/pictures.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2007-08-04 11:11 pm (UTC)

Re: SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

My confusion on this issue comes from people saying "fantasies don't hurt anyone" and the notion of intangibles like art, words, attitudes and pictures creating a hostile environment.

While I can accept that the fantasy you keep to yourself harms no one, I don't see how an entire community accepting something like drawings of children engaging in sexual activity does not create a hostile environment.

There is a double standard here I don't quite understand. Words and pictures are harmless expressions of creativity... until they're expressions of some form of harassment important to someone. I don't think we can have both, and I think the boundary gets crossed when it becomes a communal/socially-accepted thing.

That's the part I think I see missing. What is harmless in your head becomes something else again when an entire community springs up to support it.
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[User Picture]From: elfwreck
2007-08-04 11:15 pm (UTC)

Re: SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

Part of what fanfic and fanart do is to keep the fantasies in the realm of complete fiction... where a pedophile who reads "Fanny Hill" (public domain) could go out and molest a child, he certainly can't polyjuice-potion himself to earn the trust of of an underage wizard to seduce him. He can't cast a Confundus spell to confuse him. He can't beam himself onboard the Enterprise and arrange a transporter accident that de-ages Kirk to 8, and she can't use her Jedi Mind Powers to get a harem.

Pedophilic pornographic images are ugly...
1) Your judgment call.
2) The pics in question were not pedophilic, in that they had no connection to prepubescent ANYTHING. They were NOT inspirational to people who are attracted to prepubescents.

Attractive to people who like under-18s? Possibly. But that's not pedophilia... I was sexually active before I was 18, as were plenty of other people, and nobody accused me of pedophilia for it.


I wish someone would say this to the fanatic anti-gay communities. Or the ones who claim blacks aren't human. Or the pro-ana communties that tell teenage girls they can live on 400 calories a day.

However... we're going. It'll take us a while; we're looking for a place with both the website options we need, and a lack of people who think that their personal squicks are somehow moral law that everyone should follow. (And yes, we've considered that such a place might not exist, and we might have to build it.)
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From: manfalling
2007-08-05 03:24 pm (UTC)

Re: SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

I haven't seen the images- but all this talk of raping or torturing or whatever Harry Potter is making me sick.

Because he's not a real person it's ok? That's kind of stupid. That's totally stupid. It's an image of an obscene and deplorable act, it doesn't matter if it's real or not.

If you have fantasies like that, and encourage them within yourself, and want to share them with others, then I'd say you're pretty sick.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2007-08-05 06:07 pm (UTC)

Re: SAY SO. Tell us this is not a fandom-friendly site, and we'll migrate.

Pedophilic pornographic images are ugly and they can be and are used to stimulate the sickness of pedophiles.

Ugly? Sure. But there is no good evidence out there that seeing pictures of pedophilic acts causes people to go out and *commit* pedophilic acts that they wouldn't otherwise have committed. Pedophiles are mentally ill. Most of them were molested as children themselves. Their illness isn't caused by porn. In fact, it could just as easily be argued that getting off to fictional porn (or perhaps engaging in consensual ageplay with other adults) might prevent them from needing to act out their fantasies on real children.

Healthy people who are not attracted to children do not see child porn and then suddenly go out and commit pedophilic acts. Porn doesn't create pedophiles.

Likewise, mentally healthy people do not watch a violent movie and then go shoot up their schools. The kids who have done the school shootings have had other problems that weren't being addressed. Most of them were horribly bullied. In other words, they were primarily inspired by real-life cruelty and violence.

Blaming porn or video games or Marilyn Manson songs is a great way for a criminal to deny his own responsibility for crimes he has committed. But the fact is, the vast majority of people out there see porn and hear violent songs and *don't* commit crimes. The vast majority of people are capable of separating fantasy from reality (I've had fantasies about being raped...does that mean I'm compelled to go out and actually have it happen? No.) The people who can't make that disctinction that are mentally ill. Blame the illness, not the art.

You of course are entitled to your opinions about the worth of certain works of art. I personally think that images of child sex are disgusting, and I won't let my son watch violent movies/tv shows--even a lot of them that other kids his age regularly watch. However, I am an ardent supporter of free speech and I don't think that it's okay to claim that certain fictional works are *causing* crimes unless you have the empirical data to back it up.
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