||[Aug. 4th, 2007|12:12 pm]
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.
Am I personally offended by that particular picture? Good question. I find it tacky and exploitative and insensitive and annoying- so, yes, I suppose I am.
I agree that LJ has handled this badly. Asking the artist to take the picture down would have been the right thing to do. Banning her was overkill.
I hope they are learning from these run-ins with their customers.
I'm worried about the slippery slope. I suppose we all have our sticking point. If they banned homosexual content (very unlikely) I'd be off like a shot.
If they banned homosexual content (very unlikely) I'd be off like a shot.
One concern of mine is that it seems to be slash in particular that's being targeted. Both the artists were slash artists. In the previous Strikethrough, the community devoted to slash erotica was suspended but the sister community devoted to heterosexual erotica was untouched. The slash comm was no more prone to explicit, under 18 fic than the heterosexual community.
So beyond my general gripe about the vagueness of their policies, I'm concerned about what appears to be a thread of homophobia running through their decisions. The choices they've made for journal deletions are implying (at least to me) that they find slash to be more immoral than het--simply because of the homosexual content.
I'm not in fandom for the porn, and never have been. But I am in fandom for the slash. I'm in fandom because mainsteam literature is seriously lacking when it comes to light, genre reading that happens to feature homosexual characters. (I wouldn't want to guess at the percentage of genre fiction that includes homosexual protagonists versus those with heterosexual protagonists, but observation suggests that the percentage would be ridiculously small.)
And that's a large part of what fandom is about. It's about doing what mainstream media won't or can't or just doesn't want to. Whether that's including more romance for those romantically inclined (witness the huge outpouring of Dr. Who romantic fic) or more queerness for those us who are, in one way or another, a bit queer (witness slash), or more sex for those who are frustrated by the "Oo, mustn't show them doing something *naughty*" mentality, or those who just love the world and the characters and want to stay and explore a bit more--it's all part of the same desire for more than mainstream will give. And since the mainstream won't give it, fans make it themselves. Fans are drawn to works that they like, but in which they feel that there's something lacking.
As for those who dabble in underage fanwork...maybe those people *want* to explore the implications of an uneven power dynamic. Maybe they want to make people uncomfortable. Maybe they're just tapping into a general (and mainstream) cultural view that does indeed sexualize adolescents and young adults (and where's the line between these two really? 16? 18? 20? I know the laws of a couple different counties, but I sure as hell don't know the moral truth of the matter. I *do* know that even mainstream American culture contains a lot of sexualized, under 18 pop stars, actors, etc.)
I don't know and I don't care what makes any given fan decide to create a piece of work that includes an underage character in a sexual position. I *do* know that these people are not paedophiles. As far as I'm concerned, they can creat fanworks if they like and they can share it with others if they like. And when they ask LJ if they are allowed to share it *here*, as paying customers, they deserve to get a real answer.
For the most part, these people aren't *trying* to flout the ToS, they're trying to figure out what the ToS *are* and getting pissy when LJ deletes journals without giving people an opportunity to take down work that crosses the line...especially when no one's quite sure where the line *is*.
I suspect LJ has been caught on the hop and is making up the rules as it goes along. But it's not my place to defend them.
I suspect the rules are proving hard to frame. As I said elsewhere in this thread, the British theatrical censor used to have a book listing all the words that couldn't be said on stage and all the actions that couldn't be shown. In the end he got laughed out of court.
So much depends in art on intangibles- artistic merit, context, intention etc. I happen to find this particular image sleazy and unpleasant, but that doesn't mean I'm going to have the same reaction to all similar images.