I was cruising through the net, following the cold trail of one of the periodic “Is or is not Fanfic the Ultimate Literary Evil?” arguments that crop up regularly, and I’m now bursting to make a point that I never see made by fic defenders.
We’re all familiar with the normal defenses of fic: it’s done out of love, it’s training, it’s for fun. Those are all good and valid defenses!
But they miss something. They damn with faint praise. Because the thing is, when you commit this particular Ultimate Literary Evil you’ve now told a story. And stories are powerful. The fact that it wasn’t in an original world or with original characters doesn’t necessarily make it less powerful to any given reader.
I would never have made this argument a few years ago. A few years ago I hadn’t received messages from people who were deeply touched by something I wrote in fanfic. So what if it’s only two or three or four people, and I used someone else’s world and characters? For those two or three or four people, I wrote something fucking important. You cannot tell me that isn’t a valid use of my time and expect me to feel chastened. I don’t buy it. I won’t feel ashamed. I will laugh when you call something that touches other people ‘literary masturbation.’ Apparently you’re not too up on your sex terminology.
Someone could argue that if I’d managed the same thing with original characters in an original world, it could’ve touched more people. They might be right! On the other hand, it might never have been accepted for publication, or found a market if self published, and more importantly I would never have written it because I didn’t realize I could write. The story wouldn’t have happened. Instead, thanks to fanfic being a thing, it did. And for two or three or four people it mattered. When we talk about defending fanfic, can we occasionally talk about that?
I once had an active serviceman who told me that my FF7 and FF8 fic helped get him through the war. That’ll humble you. People have told me my fanfic helped get them through long nights, through grief, through hard times. It was a solace to people who needed solace. And because it was fanfic, it was easier to reach the people who needed it. They knew those people already. That world was dear to them already. They were being comforted by friends, not strangers.
Stories are like swords. Even if you’ve borrowed the sword, even if you didn’t forge it yourself from ore and fire, it’s still your body and your skill that makes use of it. It can still draw blood, it can strike down things that attack you, it can still defend something you hold dear. Don’t get me wrong, a sword you’ve made yourself is powerful. You know it down to its very molecules, are intimate with its heft and its reach. It is part of your own arm. But that can make you hesitate to use it sometimes, if you’re afraid that swinging it too recklessly will notch the blade. Is it strong enough, you think. Will it stand this? I worked so hard to make it. A blade you snatched up because you needed a weapon in your hand is not prey to such fears. You will use it to beat against your foes until it either saves you or it shatters.
But whether you made that sword yourself or picked it up from someone who fell on the field, the fight you fight with it is always yours.
Literary critics who sneer at fanfic are so infuriatingly shortsighted, because they all totally ignore how their precious literature, as in individual stories that are created, disseminated, and protected as commercial products, are a totally modern industrial capitalist thing and honestly not how humans have ever done it before like a couple centuries ago. Plus like, who benefits most from literature? Same dudes who benefit most from capitalism: the people in power, the people with privilege. There’s a reason literary canon is composed of fucking white straight dudes who write about white straight dudes fucking.
Fanfiction is a modern expression of the oral tradition—for the rest of us, by the rest of us, about the rest of us—and I think that’s fucking wonderful and speaks to a need that absolutely isn’t being met by the publishing industry. The need to come together as a close community, I think, and take the characters of our mythology and tell them getting drunk and married and tricked and left behind and sent to war and comforted and found again and learning the lessons that every generation learns over and over. It’s wonderful. I love it. I’m always going to love it.
screw you today
screw you tomorrow
screw you forever
“Don’t fool yourself. English isn’t inherently superior, or easier to learn, or more sonically pleasing. Its international usage comes from forceful assimilation and legacy of colonialistic injection. It isn’t a deed that one should take pride in.”
— my uncle left this comment on his friend’s Facebook status, a white British man who was bragging about how easy it is to be a native English speaker when trekking to different nations. (via maarnayeri)
I dunno, I feel like its status as a mongrel garbagebag language gives it some utility over *some* other potential lingua franca candidates.
There’s a versatility of vocabulary that makes me keen on writing in English, despite knowing other languages. And it’s because English is just a gorram mess of a language and so utterly broken.
Both my languages happen to be mongrel garbagebags with bizarre and inconsistent usage rules, and I think that’s why they have staying power. Urdu/Hindi is definitely getting its ass kicked by English these days, but it’s adapting rather than disappearing. I have heard entire conversations where the vocabulary is over 60% English but the speakers insist they’re speaking Urdu because they’re using an Urdu sentence structure. Purists balk at this hybridization, but it’s what living languages do.
this gets funnier every year
Yes. Yes it does.
Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Culture Appropriation
by Anjali Joshi
I’ve often wondered what, if any, aspects of my culture being appropriated would offend me, but I can’t think of any. It is pretty rare for people to adopt bits of Pakistan/Islamic culture because it “looks cool”.
I’m more likely to encounter people brainstorming cool new ways to poop on the Quran. Garden variety appropriation is adorably twee in comparison.
Wooo, I like this.
Perfect quote is perfect.
Gonna print this out and stick it on my mirror. Keep that shit in check.
Or that one is “GIVING” a voice to a marginalized person. Which is very problematic as well. Having a voice is different to not being heard.
And always remember that our ‘voices’ are not always spoken word, there are many ways to communicate and they should all be respected
Hello, anon, and thank you for the question.
This topic has been studied by researchers for years. There are three prevailing theories that I will relay to you now.
1. It keeps him on the ground.
You may notice in the gif above that Chris’ leg starts to rise as he laughs, possibly a precursor to his entire body undergoing a sort of lift off due to his joy. Chris then employs his upper body strength to force himself to obey the laws of gravity.
2. To check on his physique.
As you may be aware, anon, it takes a lot of hard work to maintain a superhero body. Chris is concerned that in the time he has spent sitting down, sans working out or eating, he has lost muscle mass. Understandably, he feels the need to make sure that he is still a specimen.
3. Object permanence.
Object permanence is a term applied to the understanding that an object still exists even when you cannot see it. Chris closes his eyes when he laughs, making him unable to see that he has not disappeared. By grabbing his left boob, Chris knows that he has not somehow ceased to exist.
I hope this helps.
Things I’ve discovered since I started seeking permission for every piece of fanart I post:
- You can’t just assume that you’re okay to reprint because there’s no “do not reprint” message in the profile. I’ve gotten lots of refusals from artists who don’t have messages in their profiles either way, and one enthusiastic yes from an artist who had a “no unauthorized permission” message. Not that I want to go around pestering artists who forbid reprints entirely or anything.
- I’m running about two yeses to one no, at this point, but about half my queries haven’t been answered at all.
- Silence is not a yes.
- Conditions artists have given on their “yes you can reprint” answers include “not the doujinshi samples,” “no R-18 art,” and “can I have a link to your blog?” I should probably put the link in my Pixiv profile.
- Reasons artists have given for refusals include “I don’t think my art is good enough to be all over the internet,” “I want to keep my art under my control,” and “I don’t want to draw too much attention to my copyright-infringing fanart.” All of which make sense, but the latter surprised me; I’d always been under the impression that Japanese copyright holders were a lot less uptight about fanworks than American companies were (what with the sheer size of Comiket and everything) but apparently some T&B fans are concerned that Sunrise is clamping down.
- An unexpected benefit: Many artists have helpfully romanized their names for me in their reply emails!
- I’ve been using a permission letter template that’s gone over well every time.
- I’ve also seen one DR artist on Pixiv who put a fairly exasperated-sounding message in her profile saying “no reprints, you can’t use it for icons or RP reaction images or blog headers!” which are all covered in a related template. I feel bad for her, but at least seeking permission is really catching on in DR fandom?
- ETA: The only downside to the template is that the promise not to edit probably extends to cutting up long images so they’ll display right on Tumblr, and my Japanese is WAY too weak to try to explain why I’d do that and ask if that’s okay.
I WOULD 125% WATCH THIS AMJAD MAKE IT A THING AND I WANT AHMED TO BE LIKE JIM FROM THE OFFICE IN MANNERISMS PLEASE DO THIS
You guys should watch Arab Labor. It’s about a Muslim family and a Jewish family living next to each other in Israel and it’s a sitcom and it’s very funny
Here you go