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[personal profile] katekat
In a little more than a month I'll be turning 40. Most of my friends are in their late 20s, so it's a weird place to stand socially. I'm considering throwing myself a fantastic 40 party with a kind of boozy alice-in-wonderland type theme, but we'll see if I change my mind 50 times between now and then or not.

I've been seeing two fannish turnings that I'm fascinated by:

1) some interesting meta by someone in the Hockey RPF about one of the Hockey players who is probably a rapist and why she's going to continue writing it. eta: author has apparently removed post entirely, which is a bummer. It was her discussing how she got into reading and writing RPF through LOTR and Merlin, where the actors' characterizations in fic were largely constituted through the characters they played. She then argued that because of this, she was writing/reading a fictionalized character of a real hockey player, and didn't have to take into account in her writing the *real* person's current actions. He was being accused of raping a woman.

This was my response:
So I've come to this post without fandom knowledge because I'm not in Hockey RPF fandom (I'm subscribed to you in general because I like your Suits fic). I think a lot of what you argue about the notion that RPF is fictionalization is precisely what is going on in RPF, and from that logic, the canon of an RPF character can be intersected by a fanfic at any point, even a point before the character fundamentally changed. I head nodded and kudos-ed your post, because this is the very reason why I feel comfortable reading RPF in general, and am even more comfortable with RPF AU. These fanfictional characters take on their own weight and dimension and personalities through the intersection of their media (and mediated) presence and the fictional canon RPF writers and artists contribute.

And it was all well and good except...

RPF is not entirely fictional, and it has a relationship with the real that I think requires constant scrutiny. And your post didn't actually own up to the issue that occurred in reality that you said you were addressing. You didn't use the word rape (or anything that specifically referred to it, like allegation or accusation) until the third to last paragraph. It wasn't until I read the comments that I found out a hockey player had been accused of rape and so fandom is reacting. Yes, if I'd been in the fandom, I clearly would have known without you having to state it, but it's also indicative of a side-stepping in your own position that you only bring it up obliquely. I don't say this to condemn you, just to point out that in a meta post that is addressing why you continue to write fic about a real person who has probably done terrible things, you couldn't or didn't want to bring up the terrible thing explicitly. (and this may be where we're seeing your own gap between the real and the fictional - it's easy to write the explicitly fictional, like an a/b/o mpreg, but not easy to write a clear statement about real lived accusations and the woman's probable rape by this hockey player).

Also, just to stay on the meta-side, this is one of the two most dangerous places that RPF takes us. I'm not suggesting that we stop writing RPF because of it, just that it needs to be acknowledged by those of us who both write and read RPF - acknowledged and questioned and considered. This is one place - when the real person does something terrible, but the fictionalized version of them does not, and that the continual positive fictionalized character's existence can then do real world damage when readers conflate the two. It requires the ability to distinguish between fiction (fan fiction and media fiction) and lived experience to keep them separate. Some people are better at understanding that critical distance than others, and I do think you have to weigh your enjoyment against the harm. I understand your post is your way of acknowledging you have given this issue a great deal of thought, and have made an informed and critical choice in so doing. I do think that by not explicitly detailing why there was an issue in the first place is that you don't want to acknowledge the possibility of harm. Also from your comments up thread to others who have brought this up, you have noted you're not responsible for how someone reads your fic - and I absolutely respect your assertion there. And yet, not being responsible is not the same as not acknowledging the possibility for confusion, and for harm, is there. We have this idea that there is some perfect world where all these stories have absolutely no meaning and are just fun (thus having no effect), but in the same breath (or in your same post) we conceive of the fanfiction process as transformative and liberatory - it actually MUST have an effect in order to be transformative and liberatory.

Acknowledging that damage is possible is the only way to continue forward, I think.

Also, could you please add something about this being a discussion because of rape allegations in your tags (or notes)? It seems like a gaping absence.

2) fannish history is a continual act of forgetting, it seems, instead of a continual act of remembering. This post by [personal profile] bluemeridian is something that I've heard about multiple times over the years, and interestingly seems to happen with every generation. I was (am?) part of the LJ generation of fandom (I started on yahoo groups and sent out my first fic through them, but still did most of my fannish stuff on LJ as a platform). But I've become aware of a much larger fannish history the longer I've been in fandom and the longer I've read academic things by people who do fandom studies. Henry Jenkins writes about Beauty and the Beast fan practices Textual Poachers, and that there even *was* a fandom around this media property is largely forgotten in the oral history of fan culture I was introduced to in the early years.

I don't think it's indicative of a particular aspect of fan culture, though there is something to the way that new technologies and online platforms, because of increasing monetization of participation, would like us to forget what forms came before. Tumblr is invested in keeping people *only* on tumblr (only and *all the time*) because it lets them make claims about unique users and advertising, and the sense of newness and exclusivity creates a user over-identification that they really want. After all, yahoo groups users are unique, adventurous, young, and hip like no one else on the internet! NO, wait, I mean LJ users are unique, adventurous, young, and hip like no one else on the internet! NO, wait, I mean facebook and twitter users are unique, adventurous, young, and hip like no one else on the internet! No, wait, I mean tumblr users are unique, adventurous, young, and hip like no one else on the internet! /sarcasm

I think it's actually indicative of human culture. As much as we try to spend time reminding ourselves about history, collectively we spend just as much time rewriting or ignoring history.

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