Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Thoughts on Fandom.

I’ve been slacking off of late. Nothing new, right? Anyone who knows me knows that this is a regular occurrence. Well, it’s a bit more problematic when you have three tests this week. But, I’ve been slowly studying, so I’m not ready to just jump out my window and fall to my doom just yet. But I’ve been slacking off at this completely inane livejournal thing called “fandom secrets”. Now, I am never going to get a livejournal account. I think I remember that they were mainstream sometime around middle school, maybe my freshman year of high school. I honestly don’t give a shit. This site is where a bunch of people (and when I say people, I mean fangirls. Folks who talk about there being no girls on the internet have clearly only been to select parts of it.) post their innermost thoughts and concerns on various fandoms. Which mainly comes down to a picture of a guy saying “I’d hit that”, various complaints about how they find heterosexual shipping to be boring* , or various personal things that they relate to fandom and are too chickenshit to say in real life. It’s stupid, but I find it addictive. Maybe because it’s fun to come across material I know. But one thing that comes across is that there’s a really strong sense that there’s one fandom for a show/movie/whatever. It’s apparently centered around livejournal, heavily involves fanfiction of the short, quickwrite type, and there is a large number of “BNF”s, or Big Name Fans. It tends to be cliquey, self-insulated, and generally full of a ton of stupid discussions and pairing wars. Basically, there’s a huge number of people gathered around, who have one thing in common, and they really don’t have a lot to say on it. That’s true for everywhere, not just on Livejournal. I occasionally cruise the Onemanga forums when I’m really bored and it tends to be the same thing on boards dedicated to one particular manga. Hell, it’s pretty true on the Order Of The Stick boards at Giant In The Playground, though I have seen plenty of good debate there (man, there was that one long debate I got into with David Argall that one time…stupid, but fun. And I was still right, dammit!) But here’s Rogue 7’s law of good fandoms-
The Best Fandoms are found on boards that don’t deal with your fandom. I offer as evidence three cases- TV Tropes , the Giant In The Playground boards, and the RPG.net forums. I’ll start with Giant In The Playground. I’ve been a member of GiantITP roughly since I started college- I found the webcomic just before coming up to school and signed up for an account shortly thereafter. I drifted around a bit at first, but now there are two boards I regularly check- the Media Discussion and Other Gaming boards. More specifically, there’s the General Anime Discussion thread, which is what made me watch Full Metal Panic, Nanoha, and a whole mess of other stuff. I find that if I want an honest opinion on anime, I go there and ask and I’ll be given good advice. When the folks there get on a topic of discussion, it’s intelligent, well-written, and usually fairly quick. That holds true for other threads as well. It’s the polar opposite of a board dedicated to one subject. Instead of a huge number of people talking about a narrow topic, it’s a small group of people talking about a fairly broad topic, which makes for much better conversation. RPG.net, (I lurk) is much the same, only with the scale upped a bit as they’re a bigger board. I go there when I want to read analysis of this week’s Galactica episode as the Giant In the Playground thread on it isn’t what you’d call regularly posted on. They also just have generally good discussion and an awesome thing called “Where I watch” which is someone taking a show and making commentary on it when they haven’t seen it before, while fans get to enjoy their reactions. The guy doing the Naruto thread is awesome in his writeups. TV Tropes is probably the largest of the boards, and as it’s a wiki it involves the smallest amount of actual interaction, though the forums have been picking up as of late. But if you want good fan fiction? Go to TV Tropes, look up your series, and see if it has a page for Fan fiction recommendations. I guarantee it’ll be better. Particularly, look for stuff with multiple recommendations.
So, to review- boards that deal with one particular fandom? (or, gods forbid, one particular pairing?) Stupid, wanky and pointless. Boards with wide topics that have individual threads on one particular work? Awesome.
• As a relatively sane human being and a straight male, I must say I’m confused and irritated by the tendency of women in fandom to “slash” everything with a penis. Slashing, for those of you blessed not to know (hi, mom!), is the practice of writing, believing, or drawing two male characters in a romantic relationship. Also known as Yaoi. Which means that regardless who you are, you’re going to get slashed. Let’s take a gander at the Harry Potter fandom, shall we? Here are, from what I have heard (honestly, I was only involved in a Harry Potter forum for something like 4 months. Doesn’t stop me being a huge fan). Our hero, Harry James Potter, gets regularly paired up with Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy. Fangirls are adamant that Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were gay. Et cetra, to levels man was not meant to know. Anime fandom probably has it worse. Fullmetal Alchemist, for example, regularly has the lead Edward Elric paired up with Roy Mustang and quite possibly his metal suit of a brother as well. Et cetra. Naruto features every single male imaginable written in smutty, pointless relationships. Am I the only one who finds this creepy as hell? I’ll admit to a small bit of a double standard here: I have a number of lesbian couples I support, but that stems mostly from being a Nanoha fanboy (If you need to ask, clearly you know nothing about the show) and thinking that Setsuna Sakurazaki is really gay for Konoka, and therefore finding that coupling to be inordinately cute. But those at least have some basis in canon, which is why I can see where people think that Naruto and Sasuke are gay for each other. But this concept that “Everyone is gay”? I think it’s weird, creepy, and stupid. I’d excuse it if it only seemed like porn for girls- that is, that they write it to get off on (which in itself weirds me out as well but I’m willing to think that that one’s me- I think it’s creepy to enjoy that sort of thing about your favorite characters and still look at them in the same light afterwards. Which is why I prefer regular porn of girls I don’t know), but it seems like they do it because they honestly think that these two dudes belong together. Which is just…no. Guys don’t work like that, and thinking that we do is just…yeah.

Anyways, to sum up- Slash and/or Yaoi is creepy and weird, and I don’t understand why it’s so prevalent.
Let me end by stating that I have found a suitable punishment for Pain for what he did last chapter in Naruto. Completely ripped off from Dragonball Z Abdridged Episode 9:
Cue ass-kicking.

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