crypto (cryptoxin) wrote,
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cryptoxin

Subcultural legitimation and its discontents; peer-to-peer storytelling

Jason Tocci at Geek Studies has a new post, "The Motivations and Problems Behind Geek-Media Activism," responding to this post by a blogger who's also written The Geek Culture Manifesto:

"...What we do is not a joke, except when it is. It is not parody, except when it is. It makes sense to us and that is all it needs to do. This is not something that we will translate for you. We will not explain it to you. Not out of spite, but because it is something that you can only understand if you are one of us.

"If you can not understand why we do what we do, then that is fine. This is not meant for you, it is meant for us. We do not ask you to understand. We do not ask you to come to terms with what we are doing. We simply ask that you leave alone those things that you do not understand. Pretend that we do not exist, that is fine with us. Do not try to explain us though. Do not try to understand where we come from or what motivates us. If you are not one of us, then you will never understand these things...."


The geek culture & media they're focusing on is comics and video games, generally coded as male. I'm interested in how some of their arguments recapitulate substantial parts of the discussions about female-inflected forms and genres, specifically fan fiction and fan vids. Though gender is not the sole axis of differentiation -- the comics and video games here are largely produced by corporations, while the fanworks come out of communities organized around peer-to-peer storytelling and artmaking networks.

Would cultural legitimacy for fanworks require asserting and importing the packaging of literature and art -- authors and canons and markers of "quality" (e.g. complexity, technical bravura, originality, moral depth, thematic seriousness)? Here are three posts that have discussed this in the context of vidding: 1) sockkpuppett talks about "drowning in the quicksand of outsider expectations" and "getting all of this wonderful recognition and was hopefully representing vidders well, but I was being recognized for something I seldom do." 2) theorynut asks "what are the stakes in allowing this or that vid to become representative?" 3) Louisa Stein explores "the prevalence of auteurist discourse in vidding specifically and fandom in general" and cautions "that we should be aware when we’re recreating auteurist discourse, and the ideological implications therein."

Authorship in fanworks feels fuzzier, even sometimes ambivalent -- at least, the degree to which a specific writer's attributed authorship shapes the reception of the story seems to vary in my own experience. I've read some stories which are strongly linked in my mind to the name and person(a) of the writer -- especially if they're on my friendslist, but also if I just want to check out more of that particular writer's work (vs. wanting to read more widely in that fandom/genre/pairing/etc.). I've also read stories where I don't remember the writer's name at all, even if I liked the fic; that's most often true with stories I find via comms (especially for challenges or exchanges), or via links and recs to someone who's further removed from my personal LJ social network. Authorship itself seems to fade in and out of relevance and significance according to context and location.

(Possibly related: fanfic as 'the id of writing' from if:book -- link via cathexys)
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