Posts Tagged ‘fandom’

Foundational Books: Harry Potter Series

Happy Friday, squiders! This week we’re going to talk about the Harry Potter series. Like LOTR, this is perhaps a bit obvious, but hey, it’s still true.

(We’ve discussed Harry Potter here before–I think the first readalong we ever did was HP. Waaaaaay back in 2011. First post for that is here. We had discussion questions back then.)

I am not one of those people who grew up with Harry. I came into the series a few months before Goblet of Fire came out (so 2000) when I was 17. My mom (an middle school English teacher) passed the first three books along and the rest, as they say, is history.

But HP is perhaps more foundational not because of the books themselves (though I am a great fan of the books) but because of the fandom that sprung up around them.

I was not new to fandom–I grew up a Trekkie, went to my first Star Trek convention at the age of 12 (where, in the middle of a panel on the Dominion War, the panel was invaded by a bunch of Klingons wielding a Cardassian skull) and had fully integrated my friend group into the madness by 16 (when my high school boyfriend and I were finalists in the dance contest at the Federation Ball while dressed like Vulcans), and did a ton of online roleplaying online between the ages of 14 and 19.

But the HP fandom was different and new. For once I was surrounded by people my own age (Trekkies skewed older at the time, though I think that is no longer true with the advent of the newer movies), and it was huge. It was the first fandom I ever read fanfiction for, looked at fanart for, joined fan communities for.

(I even made a Gryffindor uniform in…2003? I don’t remember which book release it went along with. I still have my tie just in case I ever need it again. And my Slytherin tie. Both of which are somewhat amusing, because if I am honest with myself, I am neither a Gryffindor or a Slytherin.)

(I am Ravenclaw.)

Between books six and seven I even ran a LiveJournal community dedicated to exploring a new theory every week until Book 7 came out. I couldn’t tell you what it was called anymore, but even though I was some random person on the fringe of the community, people were more than willing to engage with me.

But the weird thing about being so involved in the community and so involved in the fandom is that, when Deathly Hallows came out–it read like fanfiction.

There were theories that I had brought up in my community that turned out to be true, and I’d read fics that had correctly predicted portions of the book. It was surreal.

And after Deathly Hallows came out–the whole thing kind of died. Oh, not that there isn’t a Harry Potter fandom, or that there still isn’t great fanfiction or fanart being put out for it, but there was a fever pitch in there for a while that I’ve never seen matched since.

Fandom is a bit cyclical anyway–they rise and fall, based on if/when new material comes out, and while I still do occasionally read new HP fanfic or favorite a fanart piece on tumblr, I’ve never really gone back to it. But man, for those seven years (2000-2007, when Deathly Hallows came out), it was really something.

And to actually talk about the books, I do admire the pure amount of characters JK Rowling manages to juggle and make feel alive, and the way she introduces plot points books before they’re actually relevant. It’s pretty damn amazing, from a plotting and worldbuilding standpoint. And while we can argue all day about the weak and strong points of the series (and, believe me, I have), you can’t deny that they, perhaps more than any pop culture phenomenon since, made an impact.

Thoughts on Harry Potter, squiders? Favorite character? What’s your house?

Fandom Aspects: Cosplay

Cosplay is perhaps the most visible of the ways people show their love for something. And I don’t mean that in the way that means “the most people are aware of it,” but in the way where, while most fandom activities allow you to hide behind your anonymity on the Internet, you can’t really hide your cosplay. Oh, sure, you don’t have to tell your friends, family, or coworkers about it, and you can wear things that cover your face, but there is a whole other level of commitment that comes with creating a costume and then wearing it out in public where other people will see it.

Hirako Shinji from Bleach

Hirako Shinji from Bleach

Cosplay is short for costume play, and the term has been around since the 80s. Cosplay consists of selecting a character from a movie, TV show, comic, book, etc. and dressing up as them, usually for conventions or Halloween.

Cosplay also is interesting in that despite the time and money that goes into creating a character, the person making/wearing the costume may not be as interested in that character as, say, fanfiction writers would be. Some people cosplay because they like the costumes, or because they look like a character, whereas other people may go as a character they are less or not familiar with to match their friends.

A lot of cosplayers will belong to a cosplaying community, where they can find other people cosplaying from the same series, get advice on new techniques, and share their results. If you’re interested in looking at people’s costumes, several websites allow their users to upload in progress and finished photos of their costumes. Cosplay.com is probably the largest.

Cosplay can run the gambit from “found clothes” costumes, where people take clothes from their closet that best match their characters, to complex costumes made completely from scratch that may include wig styling, armor and weapon creation, embroidery, and even making shoes. Many conventions give people an opportunity to show off their handiwork at costume contests. Some contests may also allow skits, which allow cosplayers a chance to act out a scene as their character. (Or just be silly. This is one of my favorites. Also this one.)

Have any favorite cosplays, Squiders? Have you cosplayed yourself? Have anyone you’ve ever thought about dressing as?

Fandom Aspects: Memes and Gifs

psyduck

I feel like this has really only become a phenomenon in the last five years or so, probably because of the prevalence of digital images and video which make it easy to make a screen capture of something and stick some text on it. And then websites like Tumblr and Cheezburger make it easy to share them with the world.

I would say if this isn’t the fastest growing area of fandom, it certainly feels like it. Things pop up on Twitter and Facebook, on Pinterest. People send me links in chat or email.

Mal Dance

In some ways, I really enjoy the trend. It’s fun to see something witty or something that reminds me of my favorite part of something, and it doesn’t take much time for creator or recipient.

On the other hand, it’s really easy to get eaten by these things, and then, when you look back at the time, you find that you have accomplished nothing and feel unsatisfied. So.

(But I do love them in small doses.)

How about you, Squiders? Got any favorites you’d like to share?

Fandom Aspects: Fanart

Fanart is probably the second thing people think of when they think of fandom.

Star Trek - LOLNarwhal by YoukaiYume

Star Trek – LOLNarwhal by YoukaiYume

As is probably obvious, fanart is when people take (usually) characters from stories, games, movies, etc. and create art around them. Drawings are probably the most common, but there’s also jewelry, textile art like knitting or cross-stitching, stuffed toy versions, etc.

I personally rather like fanart. There’s a lot of really talented people out there and I like to see what they come up with.

If you’d like to peruse some fanart as well, I recommend DeviantArt. Their search function is excellent and there’s a lot of excellent artwork up on there.

In general, fanart is less controversial than fanfiction, probably because people feel like it messes less with the core of the characters, excepting NSFW fanart which you know exists because this is the Internet. And while I am not an artist, it seems to me like fanart creators are less looked down upon by “real” art creators than fanfiction writers tend to be by “real” writers. (I may be completely off-base there. Let me know if I am.)

Are you a fan of fanart? (Har har.) Have a favorite piece or artist you’d like to pimp? (Please make sure you credit the original artist if at all possible. Poor people have enough Internet piracy on their hands.)

Fandom Aspects: Fanfiction

Well, Squiders, we’ve talked about fandom a bit in the past, but I’ve had a rather worrying bout of it recently. (Not even about anything specific. Just…stuff.)

You see, I am going to a con in mid-June and not only do I not get to them nearly as often as used to, but this also the first one in a few years where I will not have to wrangle family as well, so I got a little overzealous about things, and have had to resort to bizarre measures to stop myself from putting together fifteen cosplays in the next few weeks.

So for this week and next, we’ll be looking at the creative aspects of fandom, and perhaps the one people think of first is fanfiction. Heck, Amazon is even publishing fanfiction now, so there you are.

Fanfiction, for those of you have been living under a rock, is where a writer takes a world and/or characters that are not theirs and writes a story in it. Wikipedia tells me that the first known work of fanfiction was written in the 1400s by Robert Henryson (based off of one of Chaucer’s works). And apparently the Bronte sisters wrote real person fanfiction back in the day.

The modern era of fanfiction was started by Star Trek fans (no one is surprised) back in the ‘60s.

The world of fanfic can be kind of a scary place. I think my first journey in was back in the ‘90s when I found Pokemon fanfiction. (Don’t judge me, Pokemon is awesome.) And without knowing what things like genfic or slash or AU mean, you can stumble onto some things you wish you hadn’t.

If you’re interested in reading some fanfiction, you can try a site like Fanfiction.net, which is a repository for several different fandoms. Many fandoms also have their own websites. Be aware, before diving in, that the quality of story can vary widely, from things that sound like a five-year-old dreamed it up to epic tales that may, in some ways, be better than the source material.

Fanfiction may also be the most controversial of ways people show their love of things. Some creators don’t like the idea of other people messing with their characters, especially in situations that may involve more sex or violence than the source material had. Even among writers, there’s arguments about whether or not writing fanfiction can help you hone your writing skills.

I know we’ve talked specifically about fanfiction here before, but feel free to let me know any thoughts you have on the matter, whether you like it or not, read or write it, and if you have any examples of truly awesome stories to share.

When Things You Love Betray You

Have you ever really loved something, only to have that thing/person/band/television show/etc. do something that so completely turns you off you have to just cut them out of your life?

And you feel silly about it, because it’s just a band/movie/fandom/etc. and in the great scheme of things it’s not really all that important, but at the same time you’re really upset, because you put a lot of time and effort into whatever, and even though you know it has absolutely nothing to do with you, you can’t help but feel a sense of betrayal.

I was ditzing around with my trilogy playlist again this morning, and I came across some Nightwish music. You guys have probably heard me talk about Nightwish before. They’re a symphonic metal band from Finland, and they were the first band I truly loved. I knew all the members’ names and stalked every new single and album. (Of which I own a lot.)

Nightwish has been since 1999 or something. I found them in 2006, while they were between singers. They’d apparently asked the first one to leave, had an open letter explaining why on their website, and they’d yet to announce a replacement. So I found them and fell in love with them in this lull, and then they hired a new singer and released a new single and I loved her and I loved the song and I loved everything.

I saw them in concert every time they swung through the States. The latest time was in October 2012. I’d talked some friends into going to the concert, but the whole thing turned out to be a whole mess. Apparently the singer had had to go to the hospital because she was so sick, so they decided to play the set without her, recruiting the back-up vocalists from the opening band to sing. Now, these girls are excellent singers in their own rights, but they didn’t know the music (and at one point weren’t even singing the right song). It was painful. And I was embarrassed, because it was honestly the worst concert I’d ever been to, and I’d dragged my friends along and they will probably never go to a concert with me again.

One bad night doesn’t equal betrayal. But the next day, after she recovered, the singer expressed some disappointment that they’d decided to go on without her or without even asking her, and the band fired her.

It’s entirely possible that they were already having issues, but that was what did it for me. Firing one singer might have been a fluke, but two seems like just part of a horrible trend. I was so appalled at their behavior that I haven’t been able to listen to them since without this horrible feeling sinking into my stomach.

(I did listen to a couple of songs this morning and damn if the music isn’t amazing. Still upset about it, though.)

Has anything/anyone who’ve really loved ever done something that’s turned you off?