Friday, March 21, 2014

Fans, and how they honor that which they are fans of



Hello. This is my first blog post, but I want part of it, to a certain degree, to be about YOU. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is still my blog, and I don’t want you to get too comfortable. I just want to get to know you a bit more. Well, not really. I want you to get to know you a bit better.
We all know ourselves to some degree. But much of the time, we don’t really know very many facts—just nebulous feelings of taken-for-granted truths. Unless we question ourselves and our attributes, we tend to just go along in auto-pilot through much of our lives. So to start out this post, I’m throwing myself in the middle of the road so that you’ll be forced to slam the brakes, cease the cruise control, shout unrepeatable cuss words at me, and take a look under your hood at that scarp heap engine of yours that you call a brain.
This is a blog about stories. Every post will be in some way related to a movie, book, TV show, videogame, comic, or some other sub-creation that I think is worth writing about. This blog will be one of the many ways I honor the stories I like.

About now, you’re probably thinking, “when will it get to the part about ME?!” Well, I’m about to start the transition into the part that will introduce that part.
I once met a young man with unforgivable parents. He wasn’t doing well in school, due to an inability to focus on homework. He mentioned to me that he did not like reading.
“I can understand finding history books and things like that a bit boring sometimes,” I said, “but are there any books you like? How about fiction—anything?”
But he just said, “Here’s the thing. When I was little and misbehaved, my parents made me read as punishment. I hate it that much. Now, getting through five pages of anything without falling asleep is like a miracle.”
Unforgivable. The point of this story is not so that you can harshly judge this boy or his parents, but it’s to get a sense of different outlooks on experiencing stories. Hopefully you do not share this particular view, because 1) all my blog posts will be about stories and the experience thereof, and 2) I tend to ramble sometimes, and there will be plenty of reading to do here. Don’t fall asleep.

See? Now we can get to the part about YOU! Do you like stories? What is your favorite? That might not matter though, because this blog will mostly be covering MY favorites! But it’s just good to know your own favorite going in.
But the most important question is this: what do you do to honor the stories that you like? Say you call yourself a fan of Sailor Moon. Is it enough for you to just watch the show? Or do you feel the need for more? Has it become a permanent part of your life? Has it become something that you identify yourself with? That’s taking your fandom to the next level. Perhaps you are so filled with love for Sailor Moon that you want to act like her. Or dress like her (I.E. cosplay, for those of you who haven’t figured that out yet). Perhaps that isn’t enough; perhaps you want to display this strong feeling in public. In your Sailor Moon outfit. And even if you are a fat, hairy, 40-year old man beneath that skimpy schoolgirl outfit, your feelings of fandom can spurn you to overcome any feelings of hesitation or reserve you’d have about donning that garb in public.
The driving force behind being a fan is a powerful thing, and with the invention of this new-fangled so-called “inter-net”, fan can unite extremely easily, and become all the more powerful. I spoke of cosplaying (to a small extent) before, and the internet acts as much larger “public” with which to share your fan-driven actions, be it cosplay or something else.
It is my aim to not so much prove but state that there are good ways to honor that which you are a fan of, and bad ways to honor it. Certain fanatic actions are completely acceptable—while some are disgusting and terrible, and the fan in question is being counterproductive: working to dishonor the source material instead of honoring it.
I am, of course, referring to slash-fic.
Now, I do NOT want to get into a huge debate about the morality or lack of morality of homosexuality or homosexual-driven actions (although that would probably make the hits on this here newly-formed blog skyrocket…). I just would like to state my opinion on how I find slash-fics to be dishonorable to their source-material. Homosexuality aside, these are representations of already established and knowable characters that are FALSE.

The creators of Star Trek did not intend to write something about the sexual tension between two (or more) space-exploring men, but some fans would have you believe that they did.
The writing of slash-fic is going against the will of the author. It is stealing, corrupting their artwork—their creation—and turning it into something it is not. Some people would contest my claim, saying that slash-fic doesn’t do any harm; it’s just a bit of fun. But I would contest THAT claim, in the next paragraph!
Around the time I was getting used to meeting more people on the internet (via deviantArt), I was looking for more animes to get into. I love anime. My favorite movie is Princess Mononoke, which I saw at a young age, and which opened my eyes to the possibility of cartoons, as well as live-action, having the potential to be serious and strikingly moving (but all this is getting off topic, and would be better suited to a different blog post). Simultaneously, Fullmetal Alchemist (the original animated series) was just becoming extremely popular. Everywhere I’d look I’d see people talking, writing, and drawing about it.
When this happens to such an extent to someone who is not in on the fandom, it repels them. They feel alienated, and completely sick and tired of anything to do with it (people who are not Homestuck fans but have friends who are should know what I’m talking about). I couldn’t stand Fullmetal Alchemist anymore, even though I had not seen a second of it! But then I went on vacation to a place with very limited internet access, and was able to get a breath of fresh, fullmetalic-free air. Upon regaining internet access, instead of throwing myself back to the fandom wolves, I said, “Forget what they say, I’m just going to watch the show myself.” (which might have been what they wanted me to do anyway? I. D.on’t K.now).
I thoroughly enjoyed the Fullmetal Alchemist anime. I recommend it to anyone, though maybe not small kids who would be freaked out by it. I know it would have freaked me out if I’d seen it when I was a kid. But my point is this: my encounter with the fandom of FMA turned me off of it for so long, I might have missed out on the good that watching that series brought into my life entirely. An example of THAT happening is… Naruto! So disgusted and annoyed with the works of the fanbase of Naruto was I, that I wanted to have nothing to do with the show or manga for years! And now that those feelings have cooled off, I find myself trying to make a living in the real world, and having very little time to get myself started on a series that has 600+ episodes.

On the other flip side of this yin-yang emblazoned medallion, I have much more recently discovered a very encaptivating and well-crafted anime series called Attack on Titan. I heard a few good things about it from a few people I trust, and leapt right into watching it without doing any research of looking up reviews, summaries, or fan-works (this also made me avoid any and all spoilers. If you stick with this blog, you will learn just how much I hate spoilers). It was a blind leap of faith, for sure, but I was consciously thinking of what happened with me and Fullmetal Alchemist; I did not want a repeat of that. Luckily, I enjoyed AoT immensely, and recommend it to anyone! …Well, anyone over even a higher age than my FMA recommendation. It is a very serious story line, extremely profound, well-developed characters and themes, very dark and heavy setting and atmosphere… and as such, I am petrified of any and all fan-works of AoT (even though I myself have drawn some fan-art). I would take any misrepresentation or disrespect of the characters or situation in AoT EXTREMELY badly, and I would probably be inspired to write an entire blog post about how bad of a person whoever made the improper AoT fan-work is. I am basically avoiding all AoT fan-work, even the good ones, until this blows over (I also avoid spoilers this way, as I think the manga is slightly ahead of the show. Spoilers = the devil’s work).
Basically, fan’s slash-fics and jokes-in-poor-taste work to paint an inaccurate picture of the story and characters involved, which results in the messing up of what audience said story attracts or repels. Although I am for people expressing themselves through the act of creative writing, I stand against slash-fics in general.

Oh, but I would have next to nothing against a Broke Back Mountain slash-fic, because that wouldn’t cause a break in character (unless you’re writing about two characters in that who AREN’T gay). And the movie itself is basically just a slash-fic as it is anyway.

To conclude, you, realize what a powerful thing the creation of stories is. I am a creative writer, and I know the work that goes into making a story. Much of this work never shows up on the printed page, and people who have never tried writing often miss understanding the whole process. Never take on the process of representing a character in your story that you do not know well enough to portray accurate to what that character truly is at their core. Usually, that means you have to create, nurture, and care for the character yourself, and hand-raise them all through their story-arc, allowing them to go through their natural character-development process with you guiding the way. To grasp at that deep knowledge of a character without it being your own is extremely difficult, and it takes a well-trained mind. Sometimes, just because you want a certain character that you admire to act a certain way doesn't mean that the character ever will act that way, where you say they do or not. That is called slander. So taking this into consideration the next time you are faced with a blank word document, and an internet to unleash your creation upon.

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