merricatk: (weirdos)
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. (Oscar Wilde)

(I started this back in February but didn't finish it because for some reason it descended into gibberish. I'm hoping I've excised the gibberish and tacked on a decent ending in its place.)


I've been reading about misaimed fandom--which I never heard of before. I'm going to summarize it, but I'm sure I'll be inaccurate and snarky, so for someone who takes this seriously, you might want to go here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MisaimedFandom.

Misaimed fandom is when fans in a significant number decide we like the badguy as much as--or more than--the good guy. We are Doing It Wrong. There are no examples given in the essay itself, but if you go to the bottom of the page, there's a list of media you can click on that gives examples. The only ones I'm truly intimate with are The Shield, Sopranos, and Gilmore Girls. And I don't think Gilmore Girls really fits. Fans who sided with Vick Macky or Tony Soprano weren't getting how violent and corrupt they were. [Disclaimer: I haven't watched The Shield since Pat died, and I didn't watch the last season of Sopranos.]

Where I read about this was metafandom, in a post where the characters' sins were neither illegal nor violent. They were politically incorrect. The author was concerned about how to write such a character in a way that readers would understand that they weren't supposed to like him.

I think you now have the context I'm writing this in.

The first badguy I remember writing is Ben Horne from Twin Peaks. There was a guy writing a zine that was a continuation of the series, and in his interpretation of the finale, Ben was killed when Doc Hayward punched him and he hit his head on the mantlepiece.

For reasons I no longer recall, I objected to this, and I ended up writing Ben back to life. The zine fizzled out shortly after that--not because of Ben, I don't think.

Now, Ben started off as a bad guy, had a breakdown of sorts, and became a good guy. I wrote him as reverting due to the hit on the head. And you know what? It was a blast writing him. There's something liberating about writing an unapologetic bad guy. I later wrote him again in my Twin Peaks novel. Still a bad guy, still fun.

The next bad guy I wrote was Sonny Steelgrave, and I'm not over him yet. Sonny is a criminal. He kills people, he has people killed, beaten up. He corrupts the the justice system. And he's homophobic, a firm believer in the Madonna/whore binary, and an unrepentant racist.

You wouldn't think it would be hard to write him unsympathetically, but the writers of the show couldn't do it because the actor who played him was both charming and skillful enough to make an audience love Sonny in spite of his moral lapses, let them see his heart and his loneliness. (I could analyze how he did it, and how the writers failed to villain him up sufficiently, but that is for another day.)

The art of writing fan fiction, as I've said before, is getting the characters right. If I wrote Sonny as nothing more than a cold, calculating criminal, I'd be doing a terrible job as a fan writer. Trying to keep other fans from coming over to the dark side of liking people who do things society disapproves of--that's not my job. It's not anybody's job.

Somewhere today I read about skinheads taking some evil characters Pink Floyd's The Wall (the movie) as the heroes. This is an example of misaimed fandom. (And I'd guess that the Manson family's use of the Beatles' White Album would be, too, though [tellingly] it's not mentioned.)

So are we talking about a some kind of sliding scale of misaim? My screen name comes from a Shirley Jackson character who poisoned most of her family when she was twelve years old; I adored her then (when I was twelve) and adore her now, at fifty-one. And she was neither the first nor the last. Badguys have a lot of freedom other characters don't. They don't have to follow society's rules, and by extension, neither do we. We share their freedom, so of course we find them attractive. What could be more attractive than that kind of freedom?

It's not that we long to be sociopaths. It's that we have so little control over so much of what goes on in our lives, that living vicariously through people who take control--even if that means breaking laws or social conventions--is something we need. The very fact that it's somehow considered dangerous of us to like the "wrong" characters proves that. Hell, we live in a society where people think they have the right to tell other people how they're allowed to feel about fictional characters! If we didn't expend real frustration through vicarious rule-breaking, we really would become weaponized.



(Melody, I pulled this quote for you from here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Applicability. "Contrast with The Walrus Was Paul, where the audience tries to find meaning in a work when in fact the work isn't supposed to have a hidden meaning — the author's just fucking with them.")
merricatk: (on the stoop)
Which has lit a fire under my ass to get my stories properly locked up. I'm moving everything that's on a community and leaving links to where I'm posting those stories here.

There are 80-something of you who have friended me, though there are more people I've friended, because I check out sportshoes every so often and add new members, to give them a chance to actually click those links and get some story. Right now there are there are about 150 or so people I have friended.

Why am I telling you this?

I can't tell you how much better it makes me feel to have a number of people who might have read a story I posted when comments are few-to-none. I can't really explain why, but I want to try.

I don't feel as though I know everyone on my flist, but you all have names, and lives, and for the most part I'm welcome in the parts of those lives that you share here. It changed what felt like being consumed by invisible masses and sharing with my peers. I'm more relaxed, more comfortable. I like all of you.
merricatk: (FERAL FAN)
So, I heard it through the grapevine that all of the yuletide stories are being moved to A3O. I don't move in that circle, so everything I know comes secondhand. I've only ever written one story that's on the yuletide website, a NYR story. It was a whim, and I was still thinking that fandom might work for me.

This was several years ago. There was nothing bad about the experience.

Since then I've come to a few realizations about myself. One of them is, I was born, and will probably die, an outsider. I don't fit. Sometimes, for short periods, with certain groups, I can be part of the in-crowd. But I always ask the wrong questions, the ones nobody else thinks of. I always cause trouble, and I need way too much down time from people, and I'm way, way too needy.

The movers and shakers of fandom don't want to answer my questions, they don't want to be bothered with my moodiness, and they certainly don't want to cater to my needs, which are emotional in nature.

They do want my stories. I've had more than one offer to archive my stories, and I've said yes more than once because of my neediness. I thought the offer to "work with me" on putting my stories online meant they wanted to spend some time with me. What I found out was that except of approving a layout and emailing the stories, I was now extraneous to the whole process. So I've put my stories back in my pocket and am (slowly) posting them on my LJ.

Now the yuletide stories are being moved to what I, in my infinite ignorance, consider to be a potentially more public venue, which I'm not comfortable with. (Why do I see it as being more public? Because it's supposed to be easier to find things there, because it has been so publicized and so has yuletide. Am I wrong about this? Everyone says so.)

It's also being run by movers and shakers--things always are; they're the ones who run things, they have the temperament for it, it's nothing against them. But I'm not comfortable with them. And I'm in a position of either letting them take my story and be quiet while put it wherever they want it--without, so far, them saying a word to me about it; or taking my story back and have people call me names.

Or I can orphan my story by taking my name off of it.

I wish they weren't using the word orphan. It's too poetic, it puts to sharp a point on the abandonment, it makes me feel terrible. I have abandonment issues. Call me a thief for taking my story back and I can deal with it. Say I'm making my story an orphan, I'll cry.

And I wish they weren't telling me again that I can go--just leave the story. Because I already know I'm extraneous, except for the stories.

I'm perfectly aware that I'm completely wrong about all of this, but being told how wrong I am is only going to push me harder into putting this story in my pocket, too. I'm perfectly aware that my feelings--and all this is nothing but my feelings--are indefensible. But I don't like it when the powerful people come and tell me how unreasonable I am not to want to do things their way. Not ask, just tell.

I can live with being disliked, considered a screwball, or an angry, shitty, classless, selfish jerkass, and I can live with people believing the lie that I'm doing this because I hate OTW and/or A3O. I can live with the whole rest of the world considering me irrational.

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merricatk

November 2013

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