erinptah: (Default)
There was a ton of buzz going around about this book not long ago, and understandably, given the amazing premise. A boarding school to accommodate all those kids who have wandered off into magical fairylands for a while, and help re-acclimatize them to reality? So much possibility.

Guys, it...it really squandered the premise.

After a promising setup, Every Heart A Doorway turns into "a fairly gruesome murder mystery at a school for kids with weird/magic abilities."

They don't actually have any scenes of the kids in classes, much less any "here's how to deal with reality" sequences. It's insular, almost claustrophobic -- the characters never leave the school. There's no mention of phones, Internet, pop culture, anything connected to the Real World they're supposed to be reintegrating with. Early on one of the characters mentions looking something up on Google Images before she arrived, but if it wasn't for that reference, this could've taken place any time in the past hundred years.

When the gruesome murders start, there's no police investigation, no real-world forensics, no "here's how crimes are solved in a world without magic." Even the adult authorities at the school, who are In On The Secret, don't manage the situation at all. It's just...left to the teenagers to solve on their own, with the residual supernatural talents they have from their fantasylands.

(How great would it have been to have the cops show up with all their mundane nonmagical expectations, and the teachers run interference, and it takes their combined efforts to make progress? Better yet, what if the investigative team included a former student, who could handle both aspects of the case at once?)

Without spoiling any specifics, by the end of the book, it doesn't support the idea that "learning to be part of the world you're in" is a worthwhile goal in the first place.

This in spite of the fact that some of the kids' fairyland-developed coping mechanisms...do not seem healthy. I don't mean "sensible by fairyland rules but maladapted to our-world rules," I mean generally unhealthy.

You know what series handles this really well? Star Versus The Forces Of Evil. The heroine in this case is native to magicland, studying abroad on Earth, and the show does a lovely job of exploring the nuances from "Star learns that this behavior isn't culturally appropriate for Earth" to "Star learns that this behavior is uncool anywhere."

And I've loved fanfic that explores post-magic-journey culture shock. The Pevensies struggling to balance "solving problems by breaking out our mad skills as former-adult Kings and Queens of Narnia" with "not freaking out everyone around us." Lyra and Pan having to remember to stay close together. Dorothy getting so much cross-cultural experience so young that, after a certain point, she can drop into pretty much any world and have no trouble going with the flow.

The students in Every Heart A Doorway don't get any "here's how to codeswitch to Earth-appropriate behaviors" or "wow, you're interacting with regular Earth culture really well already" or "this isn't good at all, let's learn and grow and develop as characters." They stay in their insulated setting with all the patterns they learned in other worlds going pretty much unexamined.

So much potential material here! So painfully unexplored!


~*~


People were also talking a lot, when the initial buzz was going around, about book's the asexual protagonist.

Again: cool in theory! In practice, all it seems to mean is that her narration keeps doing unnecessary and shoehorned-in detours about how totally uninterested in sex she is.

The first time it came up was fine. Awkward, but forgivable. The rest, not so much. There's a scene where she's having a friendly conversation, and suddenly goes into an internal monologue about how she's flirting, and this is fun, but she's totally uninterested in having sex with the people she flirts with. It's like she's jumping in to correct an assumption that the reader isn't making -- I hadn't even realized she was supposed to be flirting in the first place.

The scene that struck me the most is: she's admiring the beauty of a male classmate, and thinks all the other girls around her must feel the same, "although she was sure she was the only one whose attraction was aesthetic, not romantic."

First point: the character is not aromantic. (She says so. In those words.) It's possible to feel romantic attraction in general, and not specifically feel it toward this guy. For her. But...not for literally anyone else?

Second point: why does she think there are no lesbians at this school? Why doesn't it occur to her that some people are aromantic? Why does she show zero awareness that even straight girls (and bi/pan girls, although I'm not sure she realizes those exist either) don't have to feel attracted to every boy in existence?

Is she just supposed to be really blinkered and self-centered, as a character flaw? Maybe, but I never felt like the narrative saw her that way.

Is it a "the lady doth protest too much" situation, where she is falling in love with the guy, and is aggressively denying/projecting to avoid facing the idea? Also possible, but has Unfortunate Implications for the way her asexuality is established by repeating "and she totally wasn't sexually attracted to people, nope, not at all."


~*~


The book is really weird about gender. Most of the students are girls (a couple hundred of them, to a grand total of 5 boys), and this is explained as a result of socialization and sexism and boys not wandering off as easily without getting noticed.

Which...doesn't track with the genre it's supposed to be commenting on. At all.

For every Lucy and Susan, there's a Peter and Edmund. For every Alice through the looking-glass, there's a Milo in a phantom tollbooth. Wendy Darling disappeared with both of her brothers in tow, and that's not even counting Peter and the Lost Boys. Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, and Trot are balanced out by Button-Bright and Zeb. Lyra had her Will. I could go on.

On top of that, this main group of characters ends up including 2 of the boys (along with maybe 4 girls).

Why establish a mostly-female setting if you're then going to overrepresent the male characters that dramatically? Why not just have a roughly-gender-balanced school in the first place?

And it manages to wring a heck of a lot of heterosexuality out of this casting. Every major female character mentions having a male love interest in whatever fantasy world she wandered into. One of the boys basically wandered into Halloweentown and had a romance with a skeleton...very specifically a girl skeleton. I already mentioned the ace girl's weird obliviousness to the possibility of gay people. And the only flirting we see between students is m/f.

The aforementioned super-beautiful boy is trans. Which is nice! And the subject is handled more naturally than the asexuality. Doubly nice.

But in some ways that only makes the broader context weirder. If there's a setting where nobody is explicitly LGBT, it's easy to read that as "underneath the veneer of everyone politely ignoring the topic, people are still LGBT at the average rate."

Here, the author wants to have explicit representation! But it's like...she made one of her boys trans, and one of her girls ace, and then just...stopped. Without considering the idea of LGBT people existing generally. In background characters. In sidelong references. In the concept of female characters other than the heroine who aren't into a hot guy.


~*~


At least it was short? I blew through the whole audiobook in a single work day, so the disappointing aspects weren't dragged out for long.

But seriously, there were a lot of disappointments. And now I'm worried there are people writing better versions of the premise but getting shot down as ripoffs, or getting publishing deals but no hype because all the "what a cool, unusual premise!" posts have been done.

...Does anyone have recs? I'll also take recs for your favorite culture-shock fics of existing portal-fantasy series. Anything that takes this book's premise and actually, wholeheartedly, runs with it.
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)
Madoka Magica features a ton of references and/or obvious influences from other magical-girl series. This bit, I would lay good odds, is a Doctor Who reference.

Here's some production art of the Seal of Rassilon:

Seal of Rassilon

Here's Homura with her shield:

Homura and shield

And here they are side-by-side. Either someone on the Madoka design team was a Who fan, or that's a heck of a coincidence. (The Coincidence of Rassilon, perhaps.)

Seal and shield
erinptah: (daily show)

I got asked a thing about Daily Show/Colbert Report fandom history, and ended up typing a couple hundred words. Figured I'd repost it here, for anyone else who came in late and wants backstory.

---

In the beginning, before the Daily Show had any spinoffs, there was just tds_rps. Then the Colbert Report came along in 2005, and people started using "fake news" to refer to both shows together, in contrast to "real news" for the fans who wrote RPF about news anchors.

At that time Livejournal didn't let you have tags on posts at all. When the option was introduced, that was one of the motivations for creating the fakenews_fanfic community -- to create a place that had comprehensive tags from the beginning.

Anyone can start a new LJ comm, so they weren't centralized or organized in any logical way. If someone felt like there was a need that wasn't being filled by the existing comms, they would make one. Like, for a while tds_rps was joined by tcr_fps, which was open to Report-specific fics. It had such a narrow focus, there was argument about whether Jon/"Stephen" fics should be allowed -- because even though "Stephen" the character was in them, Jon wasn't a fictional character, he was just himself.

You can see why a community like that would get a limited amount of traffic. People who liked writing "Stephen" fic usually also liked writing about Jon. And a lot of them liked writing about Stephen-the-actor too, and there was heavy crossover with fans of news RPF, and fans of Strangers With Candy (the comedy Stephen co-created, where he played a character who was a lot like "Stephen," and the sense of humor was very similar), and so on and so forth....

So one of the reasons fakenews_fanfic rose to be the main fandom community was that it had a broad focus. People could post all their fake-news-related fic in the same place. Not every reader had exactly the same interests, but there was enough overlap that everyone would be interested in most of the fic posted. And the tags meant it was easy to go through and find exactly the things you liked.

For a long time there wasn't a single kink meme, just people making "put your kink prompts here" posts in their personal journals. Eventually someone decided to be more organized, and created a dedicated community for it. I don't actually know who! It was a personal project, not the official creation of any other community.

Fills from all the separate kink posts are bookmarked and tagged in one place. (I do know who handled that, because it was me.)

erinptah: (sailor moon)
All caught up with the Sailor Business podcast. They get better about doing research as it goes on! Plus, by now they have a large-enough listener base that a lot of solid, deep information is being called/sent in. Good stuff. Very listenable.

Followed a rec from one of their episodes to the Love and Justice podcast, where the shtick is that they compare plots across all the different versions. Starting with the Crystal episodes.

I did wince when they got to Ami's introduction, and were confused that the manga was "more modern" than the '92 anime, because she uses a CD instead of a floppy. Guys, your whole thing is comparing different versions, and you don't realize the manga had two different releases? (Well, three at this point, but the uber-high-quality edition hasn't been released stateside.) The version used for the Kodansha translations has a whole lot of updated art, most of which involves fixing wonky figures and adding more details, some of which involves the Dark Kingdom tech getting an upgrade.

Again, it's still early episodes, and fun enough that I'm sticking with it. Hopefully someone eventually clues them in.

***

I ended up writing a long thing to Sailor Business, because they've been really doing a disservice to Michiru's character. And apparently I have a lot more Feelings about her than I realized.

Context: They just passed the two-parter where Usagi is a daimon target. Before Uranus and Neptune arrive on-scene, Michiru asks Haruka if she's really okay with the possibility of that cute girl being sacrificed. Haruka, stoically, insists that she's fine. They gotta do what they gotta do.

...So our hosts keep saying Michiru is "passive" or "go along to get along." Because Haruka is the more overtly loud and confrontational one...and that means Michiru is just following her lead, taking cues from her.

But now they've seen Michiru's episode with Ami -- she didn't waver or wait for direction, she went straight for the jugular. And that's a microcosm of how she's approaching the whole quest: do something ruthless and cruel in the short term (pulling no punches with Ami/killing the Talisman holders) for the sake of a greater good in the long term (making Ami stronger/saving the world).

There's an old butch-femme trope/cliche, that femmes are "steel wrapped in velvet," and that's Michiru. On the surface she's all soft graceful feminine hobbies, but underneath she's perfectly capable of knifing you in your sleep. 

The flip side of the trope is that butches are "velvet wrapped in steel," i.e. Haruka has a tough exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Which lines right up with the podcast's favorite relationship trope -- "which of these people is the dog, and which is the cat?" Haruka is the dog! She barks really loud, but she's a sucker for belly rubs. She yells a lot about how they have to kill the Talisman holders, to cover the fact that she's the one who wrestles with it most in private.

Michiru handles the idea much better. Michiru is the cat who will knock all your stuff onto the floor, and look you in the eye while she's doing it, with zero remorse. Michiru is the senshi who would win Most Likely To Become A Supervillain -- not from brainwashing/hypnosis, we already know who's most likely to go through that, but based on her own personality and for her own reasons.

So when Michiru asks Haruka if she's okay with killing that cute innocent Usagi to save the world, there are two things going on here.

First is basically a supervillainy spot-check. Michiru knows it makes sense to her to kill a few people for the Greater Good, but is that really the moral strategy, or just the most coldly efficient one? Well, Haruka wouldn't be capable of doing this for the sake of cold efficiency alone. So Michiru can reliably calibrate her moral compass by Haruka.

The second angle is Michiru being a concerned girlfriend. What if they get the Talismans and save the world, but afterward Haruka can't handle the guilt? What if she has lifelong nightmares about Usagi's death?

We don't see what would have happened if Haruka had broken down and said "no, I'm sorry, this is too much, I can't go through with it." So different viewers can have different interpretations. My guess is that Michiru would say "it's okay, sweetie, you don't have to, we'll find another way"...and then send Haruka home and go to Tokyo Tower on her own, making herself solely responsible for whatever happens to any Talisman-holders who show up.

Because sacrificing three lives for the sake of the world is one thing, but making Haruka feel bad about herself? That's a bridge too far.

So, yeah, ruthless...but also, to be fair, a teenage girl in a traumatic situation. Part of the way she's handling it is by telling herself, "look, I know I'm not a Good Person. A good person wouldn't be this resigned to murdering three innocent people. But at least I can protect Haruka's soul from being crushed along the way. I still get to draw the line somewhere, and I choose here."

It takes another level in heart-rending when (and wow, I am looking forward to these episodes) you find out that Haruka got into the senshi game for Michiru. She told Haruka not to do it -- trying to protect her, although at that point it was in an impersonal, "nobody should have to deal with this stress" way -- and maybe Haruka would've listened, except then Sailor Neptune got in a monster fight she was going to lose without Sailor Uranus as backup.

So on some level Michiru is trying to atone for not being strong enough to keep this cute girl out of the fight.

...and you know, this makes it all the more satisfying when we get to that one SuperS special. A minor antagonist claims he has world-destroying powers, but Uranus and Neptune aren't intimidated by that threat anymore. And Neptune cheerfully leans into her ruthlessness -- she's 100% bluffing, but she's very good. Terrifies the pants off the guy. She has the power to simultaneously be a Big Damn Hero and out-villain the villains.

(Would you believe it, when I was a teenager, Michiru was the senshi I was least interested in? No, really. Even accounting for the context of her relationship with Haruka, who is probably my team-wide fave, I was not expecting to have this many Michiru feelings. But someone was Wrong On The Internet, and bam, here we are.)

erinptah: (Default)
An excellent essay about darkfic and sexuality (cw: author discusses her own trauma/abuse history). Centered on Sherlock fandom, though the general ideas apply no matter what characters you're writing about.

I wanted to highlight this part:

If, instead of normalizing the existence of fics that portray noncon and underage, we make these themes taboo, if we pathologize them, if we require noncon works to be kept in a separate archive, if we insist that it be labeled with derogatory terms like “rapefic,” then what will happen is that writers who think that their work has “a bit of dubcon” in it will not tag it as such, in the hopes that it will fly under the radar and they won’t be banished to the leper colony with the filthy rapefic fans. This will have results that neither the responsible creators and consumers of noncon, nor the people who dislike it and categorically oppose it, want: that someone who doesn't want to see noncon will see it.

I wrote the above paragraph close to a year ago, and my predictions are already coming true. I have seen noncon and underage fanworks being posted without appropriate tags and warnings. Some of these inadequately tagged fics are being posted by the same people who accused me and my fellow gender politics panelists of being rape apologists and pedophiles. The creators of these works defend them as being somehow different than the works the so-called rape apologists create, because they themselves were underage when they drew the fanart or wrote the fic, or because the work features the right” pairing, or the “right” kind of non-consensual situation, or because they don’t “eroticize” the noncon aspect, or because there’s a sufficient amount of comfort to offset the hurt, or for any number of other reasons.


It's framed as a prediction, and maybe with respect to Sherlock fandom it is, but for fandom in general it's nothing new. I remember wrestling with the same kind of cognitive dissonance more than a decade ago:

"Okay, I like stories where characters get hurt, but that's a Bad Thing to enjoy. But I also like the emotional payoff when characters are rescued at the end! So when describing this, I should emphasize the rescue part. Imply that any scenes with pain and suffering are just a necessary evil on the way to the morally-acceptable payoff. Or, hey, maybe don't mention the suffering at all."

That mindset not only discourages people from warning for dark story elements, it stifles the general discussion about them, so that even if you want to warn, you can't pick up the vocabulary to do it well.

I remember one fic of mine -- it had a brief sex scene, and it was consensual, just incredibly unhealthy. Potentially very upsetting! And the only warning I put on it was a general sexual-content label. Partly because I was erring on the side of what looked more Morally Pure, but also because it was neither "non-con" nor "sex that is positive and affirming and healthy in every way" -- and I didn't have a handle on how to articulate the situations in between.

Fandom in general should be a place that helps people figure this stuff out, not a place where people get shamed and shouted down for trying.
erinptah: Madoka and Homura (madoka)

I would not have guessed there had been 147 lesbian/bi female characters on TV total, let alone 147 lesbian/bi female characters who got killed.

And that's just TV! First thing I thought of was Cloudburst (2011), a film I was loving right up until ten minutes from the end, when one of the sweet old lesbians randomly drops dead. Why, movie? Why did you have to do that?

Couldn't remember the title off the top of my head...so I found it by googling "old lesbian couple movie." Not "old lesbian couple movie where one of them dies," wasn't necessary to get that specific, it was the top result anyway.

Someone ran stats for this year, going off of GLAAD's stats for primetime broadcast programming. "In 2015 there were only 35 fictional wlw characters on television and 80 days into 2016 they’ve killed 8 of them. That is a fourth of them. In less than 3 full months of the year."

Why, industry? Why did you have to do that?

erinptah: (Default)

It's Week of Sardonyx here in the rewatching queue!

Spoilers may include everything, up to and including the latest Stevenbomb.

s02e11 Cry for Help

  • Pearl's big sparkly eyes when Garnet invites her to fuse, aww.
  • Steven in his "fusion fusion fusion!" excitement speaks for us all.
  • The fusion dances get more and more lesbiantastic. Three or four fusions from now, they're just going to be grinding and making out.
  • Controlled! Surgical! Graceful! And...powerful! Seriously, Sardonyx is great. Near the top of my personal scale of SU's Hottest Character Designs. (Yellow Pearl is also on there, and an honorable mention to Jasper.)
  • "She's evading my future vision! No matter how many times I try, I can't see us finding Peridot." Okay, so Garnet's vision is limited by what she's looking for...? (But she picks up on random dangers, like the lightning bolt that was going to hit Steven. Maybe she gets general stuff most of the time, but right now she was really intently focused, just on the wrong thing?)
  • The phrase "cry for help" is usually seen in the context of things like self-harm and suicide attempts. So. Possibly what Pearl is doing could be categorized as dangerous thrill-seeking without regard for the risks? (Risk of hurting Garnet, and of getting herself yelled at.) It's definitely a "trying to get support in a roundabout and unhealthy way" situation.
  • The way Amethyst defends Pearl here...look, we know she loves her friends, she's already proven herself ready to punch things in their defense if necessary. But I think this is the first time she's stood up for someone by admitting her own vulnerabilities. As recently as s02e05 Reformed, she was having a major crisis just from being pushed to think about herself and her issues -- and here she is, not only thinking about them, but being emotionally astute enough to figure out how they connect to Pearl's issues, and then strong enough to open up about it.
  • Point is, Garnet and Pearl are ostensibly at the forefront of this arc, but there's all this Amethyst character development going on alongside it, and I love it.

s02e12 Keystone Motel

  • Our-world Pennsylvania is nicknamed the Keystone State. Savvy viewers have pointed out that Beach City is probably somewhere on the our-world coast of Delaware...whose nicknames include the Diamond State. (In other jewel/rock-type nicknames: Idaho is the Gem State; Montana is the Treasure State; New Hampshire is the Granite State; and there are multiple claims to copper and silver.)
  • "I don't like those brushes. They feel weird on your fur." Awwwk, callback to that time Steven had out-of-control cat limbs.
  • Ruby being dense enough (physically speaking) to just stomp around on the bottom of the pool is a neat detail.
  • "Sapphire! The toilet's frozen." "Such is fate." Ahahaha.
  • Greg's nonchalant "Oh, boy. Where's the other one?" is great. It's such a nice change from the earliest episodes, where he would be all "wait, the lavender cat with a purple gem on its chest is Amethyst??" He's familiar with, and unfazed by, Gem stuff.
  • (I really hope we get a "first time Greg met Ruby and Sapphire" flashback.)
  • Stephen when he just can't even with them anymore is wonderful.
  • ...although I don't get Steven's "is it me?" tangent (and I don't think it was necessary; Ruby and Sapphire would have gotten the cluebat about how much their arguing was affecting him anyway, without that extra step). Normally you can see where his feelings are coming from -- like, when he feels conflicted about being "the reason Rose isn't here any more" -- that's not his fault either, but you can see the line of logic he's following. Here...there's no line of logic at all.

s02e13 Onion Friend

  • Dammit, Onion, stop stealing things.
  • "It's been years!"...wait, hasn't Vidalia been living in town this whole time?
  • This naming scheme, I swear. Vidalia, Yellowtail, Sour Cream, and Onion.
  • Dammit, Onion, in general. Look, the kid has a fair number of traits that are (a) not well-represented in media, and (b) harmless and fine -- the unusual way he communicates, for instance, and the way he seems to have trouble with food. Which leads some people in the fandom to go "awesome, he's Good Representation, everyone should learn a lesson about tolerating people like him!" Except...Onion also does things that reeeeeeeally need to be shut down. Starting fires on boardwalks is bad. Showing people videos with unwarned-for genitalia is not okay. And this episode shows Vidalia being tolerant and understanding with the okay things, but never setting any boundaries against the over-pushy or dangerous things. When in fact, good boundaries are also important and healthy.

s02e14 Historical Friction

  • If some plays have 1 actor, and yours has 2, then you have 100% more actors. Not 200% more.
  • Long still frames for the flashback narration. I wonder if this was another budget-saving episode.
  • I'm so intrigued that "he grew into a giant and saved the ship!" is something that people will sorta-buy, as historical human behavior. I mean, our world has folklore about giant people like Paul Bunyan, but we know it's a tall tale. This world has Gems, including giant fusion Gems...and I guess not every culture quite groks the idea that this is a separate species? So "sometimes humans get very big" works its way into our historical consciousness as a fact, rather than a legend.
  • Proud stage mom Pearl FTW.
  • Jamie's low-budget impressions of the various Gems are a thing of beauty.
  • North America is "no walk in the park for your species"?? What does this mean for AU Native Americans? I have so many questions. Is Especially since we know from the map that getting from Africa to the Americas involves a short hop between some islands, so you would think the continents would have been continuously aware of each other from much earlier on.

s02e15 Friend Ship

  • Steven, forgetting to be threatening, then belatedly making a stab at it: "Have a great weekend!...I mean...I hope your weekend is not so great?"
  • Pearl projects a globe in this episode, where you see a bit of the AU continents.
  • I'm so impressed that there are ancient spaceships just lying around, and humans haven't found and dissected them yet.
  • "I'm just a Pearl. I'm useless on my own. I need someone to tell me what to do." Kkkka;dkgfapefadkfhdzth.
  • "You really think this is the end? This...this is only the beginning!" Are we sure Peridot hasn't been watching Earth TV already?
erinptah: (Default)
"I'm a regular commenter on a long-running fic, but some of the author's recent choices had turned me off of the whole thing. [...] I have two choices open to me: (i) vanish from the comments box with zero explanation; or (ii) explain to the author why I'm no longer feeling a fic that I once loved. If you were the author of that fic, would you want to know?"

(iii) Leave comments that bring up the issues, but gently. Err on the side of positive reinforcement of the parts you liked. Keep the criticisms in-universe when you can. "Tony, no, don't do it!" is more palatable than "Tonyfan89, no, don't write it!"

Especially if the author turns out to be more self-aware than you think. I remember reading a fic where a main character was getting hostile and angry to OOC levels, and it was really uncomfortable to read...five or six chapters of this, and it turned out she'd been possessed. She was going grimdark that whole time - in a believable, canon-compliant way, even.

(iv) Vanish from the comments box for now. When the final chapter is posted, leave a general comment recalling the things you liked. That'll give the author (and you) closure. Don't spell out that it stopped working for you. They can probably figure that out for themselves. (Does not apply if the fic got irretrievably offensive at some point.)

"How do you define canon? Is canon just the source text itself? Or does it include fictional characters' social media accounts and other things outside the text (interviews with the author, etc)?"

"What indicates the "worse" head writer/producer/creator? One who made you suddenly rage quit cold turkey because of a simple storyline? Or one where gradually over time things got less interesting until they got to the point where you just stopped caring and couldn't bring yourself to watch or read your canon?"

Fannish terms in non-English-speaking fandom spheres. Lots of Japanese, plus a few ways English terms get adapted into Anglo/Romance languages.

"
If you have consumed a canon in its original language and then picked it up in another, was there anything that stood out to you that the translator put in?"
erinptah: A map. (books)
  • Organization holds elections to fill 2 full-term Board seats
  • There are 6 candidates, which makes this [eta: almost] the first time they've had more candidates than free seats
  • (There were 8 candidates to start with, but the Board disqualified one of them via some hella shady maneuvering, and another dropped out in protest)
  • (There's also a whole thing with one of the Board members using a sockpuppet to ask questions in an open elections chat)
  • OTW voting membership (a privilege which costs $10, by the way) casts their votes
  • Top 2 candidates get the 2 seats
  • Board goes "oh btw, there's a partial-term Board seat that also needs to be filled, and instead of appointing the 3rd-place runner-up, we're going to vote one of the outgoing candidates -- who ran for re-election, and came in last -- into this spot."
  • Massive outcry from other people working in the OTW (including the AO3), and from all the people who paid actual money to vote in this thing.
  • Within a few hours (?!?), the entire current Board resigns.

Yowza.

I mean, the fallout from this is gonna be chaotic as all get out, but hoooooopefully to good results? The popular candidates were the ones with reformist agendas anyway, so when the existing Board burns itself to the ground, that leaves a whole lot of clear territory to build up fresh new everything. Even though that's a much bigger job than the 2 newly-elected candidates (plus whoever gets finagled into the 5 newly-freed seats...I assume the 3 electoral runners-up, and who else?) signed up for.

Fingers crossed that they can turn the OTW into an organization I'd be comfortable giving money to.
erinptah: A map. (books)

Title quoted from this Twitter conversation (Ian JQ co-develops Steven Universe, Alex Hirsch created Gravity Falls), which starts with a flat "let people draw whatever fanart they want."

Slacktivist has a ton of posts about this phenomenon as it affects the religious right in the US. Under the tag "satanic baby-killers", because that's the horrifying imaginary monster that's always getting invoked.

For the Wannabe-Progressive Kids On Tumblr version, the tag would be "problematic pedophiles."

This latest is inspired by a Tumblr dogpile of an SU fanartist that got so bad she's in the hospital. FFA has details. Accusations range from "she drew teenage characters in bikinis, WHAT A MONSTER" to "she didn't draw this Jewish guy stereotypically enough, which makes it erasure" to "in the scenery of this picture, there's an object that was copied and pasted!! Think of the artistic integrity!"

There may be one actual child predator involved in this -- a guy the artist met when she was 13, who got friendly enough with her that she did at least one art request for him. I have no idea if this is legit or just another case of frothing-accusations-out-of-thin-air, but the Tumblr mob believes it...

...and they're using it as more ammunition to harass the artist.

Because when adult male pedophiles cultivate the friendship and emotional attachment of 13-year-old girls, that's somehow the fault of the 13-year-old girls.

Everyone involved in this needs to go sit in a quiet room and reread their own words until the reasons why this is wrong soak in. And they can't go back on the Internet until they're done.
erinptah: (sailor moon)
If you or someone you love ever comes into psychic powers, and you end up with a vision of a friend having a critical health failure...if this is a friend who doesn't already know about the psychic powers, and who has no existing reason to believe in them...

...why would you put your warning in the form of "hey, jsyk, I can see the future, and I had a vision of your death"?

Make something up! Tell the friend they've been looking pale recently, and you're worried. Tell them you just read an article about how many people in their age/gender/racial bracket have undiagnosed heart disease. Tell them someone in your family got really sick after eating whatever they had for lunch yesterday.

Just come up with a reason for them to see a doctor that will not get laughed off as delusional until it's Too Late. This is really not hard!

Very sincerely,
Me
erinptah: (Default)
This blog post makes the claim that "hate-watching" is not a real thing, just a term people use because they're embarrassed about watching and enjoying something that isn't considered Good.

The comment policy on that same blog notes that one ban-worthy offense is "hate-reading", defined as "you only visit the site to start fights or specifically to disagree with us whenever we publish a post involving our core themes and for no other reason" or "you feel the site has changed in a drastic way and no longer appreciate or respect our content but stick around to tell us that every day."

Are we supposed to believe this happens on the website you write for, but does not ever happen with television and movies?

Has the OP really never encountered the joy of snarky recaps? Do they think every writer and reader is just putting on a too-cool-to-like-this front, that nobody is getting genuine cathartic relief out of them?

IME, here's how you get to the point of hatewatching a series: The show opens by offering wonderful things. Maybe it has a lot of promise; maybe it actually delivers. Then it starts getting bad. Not mediocre, not like you lose interest or zone out while watching, bad in ways that make you genuinely angry or upset. However! It's not quite bad enough to boot you away altogether -- or the badness is interwoven with appealing parts, even if it's only in flickers, that make you cling to the hope it'll get better -- so you stick around, you're just mad about it.

This was me with Glee for a while. In a way it's a blessing that Shooting Star happened, because it was awful in such a dramatic way that I found the strength to kick the habit and never look back.

It was also me with The Newsroom. Couldn't kick that one because it never stopped having Olivia Munn on it...although it helped that it only lasted two-and-a-half seasons. Aside from Olivia, the most appealing thing about the experience was getting to read the Television Without Pity recaps afterward. (For that matter, the Autostraddle recaps of Glee were a balm to the soul.)

Honestly, I'm kinda offended by the idea that I can say "I'm hatewatching this show" and be told "no, you cannot be trusted to describe your own feelings, you actually secretly enjoy it."
erinptah: (sailor moon)

I've been scouring the Internet for a nice margay plushie, and have come up empty. (Even something like an ocelot that looked close enough would work, but no.) How is it that, for a cat with an adorable elegant face like this, the only stuffed version on the market is this little terror?

---

Rubella is gone from the Americas! Go vaccines!

---

Jon Stewart is literally buying a farm to be a shelter for rescue animals. The man is a Disney prince, I swear.

---

"$5 million in property damages. 140 injuries. Nine police officers injured. 17 police cars set on fire. Countless local businesses looted and vandalized. Over 1200 criminal charges."

---

Wisconsin wants to micromanage the kinds of cheese poor people can buy. Allowed: un-fresh mozzarella. Not allowed: fresh mozzarella! Muenster and provolone are in. Swiss is out! Cheddar is okay if you like it mild or medium. Sharp or extra-sharp, though? How dare you waste your benefits on exactly the same product with a slightly different flavor for exactly the same price!

(We all remember that food assistance benefits the economy, right? The USDA found that $1 in food assistance translates to $1.84 in GDP, and an independent study from Moody's calculated the number as $1.73. Help out businesses by helping their customers, and you can watch the wealth grow upward and outward.)

---

Has the Sherlock fandom implosion stopped yet? I don't even want to look.

A fan in their late 50s points out that it hasn't been that long since the mildest and most G-rated of m/m was a shunning offense. Another fan compiles a whole bunch of research on how sexual fantasies do not translate into IRL behavior, and, specifically, sexual fantasies about dangerous things do not inherently make a person dangerous.

And, look, it's true that (unlike general gay stuff) there are a lot of kinks you need to handle carefully. Especially when it's something as radioactive as shotacon and lolicon -- it's not about being ashamed, it's about having a certain amount of emotional intelligence. Be conscious of where and how you're posting. Tags and warnings are good. The locked-post function on Dreamwidth, the content warnings and age limits available on Deviantart, and the warnings and viewer-limiting options on the AO3 are all great tools to limit your audience. Not perfect, but great.

So it's notable that this wank literally started with a in-person conversation on an 18+ panel at a convention. That's probably the highest level of "minors not enabled to view this content" that fandom offers. Surreptitiously filming one of these panels, posting select parts of the video online, and spreading them around the Internet is a great way to demonstrate how little you truly respect and support people's efforts to keep certain things away from uninterested and/or underage eyes.
erinptah: There is only one ship on Doctor Who. (doctor who)
My stuff got taken down from ebooks-tree, huzzah. (Sounds like lots of people's AO3 works are no longer showing up there -- good.)

---

Mash up two canons based only on their names. Pigs...in...Office Space!

Feudal Lord/Handmaiden f/f AU worldbuilding. And the winner is: all of us.

Which fandom characters are worthy to lift Thor's hammer? Including Sayaka, Makoto (unless Jupiter and Thor are territorial enemies rather than buddies), Pinky (narf!), Garnet, John Egbert (although he's already set)...and all the Tolkien dwarves, because "you don't think they'd sell something like that without a backdoor hack?"

The establishment of common fanfic plots. How it becomes common/easy to start with a premise like "this canonically-dead character didn't die" or "this non-canon ship is together" and expect your readers to just roll with it.

---

More from that Sherlock con: The adult survivor who was filmed being harassed to tears at a panel speaks out, and is thoughtful and reasonable and deserves so much better than fandom is giving her.

Explaining, in small words, why "do not write about this topic ever" is bad, and why not all fiction needs to be safe for children.
erinptah: (Default)

whose own fanbase is trying to drum her off the Internet for drawing pictures of a fictional sexy 19-year-old eating fruit.

Seriously, fandom, what is going on with you these days? We keep getting these “any dealings with sexuality beyond what I am personally comfortable with are gross and disgusting and should be shunned” outbursts, not from conservative Family Values(TM) adults, but from social-justice-savvy teenagers.

Look, eight years ago, Livejournal tried to go after the accounts of people in Harry Potter fandom who drew sexy teenagers. The pan-fandom backlash was immense. Dreamwidth and the AO3 were both kickstarted by the widespread desire for fandom-friendly websites that would not freeze anyone’s accounts based on their treatment of fictional teenagers.

And teenage me, who had been drawing [atrocious attempts at] sexy pinups of Sailor Moon characters for several years by that point, felt empowered and supported by the idea that fandom-at-large didn’t think I was weird or sick.

Tween me, btw, did encounter things in fandom that I would shrug off (or enjoy!) now, but that were, at the time, shockingly sexual. So I used the back button! I closed the window! (This was before tabbed browsing was a thing. You know, the dark days.) Never would’ve considered approaching the creator and going “this is offensive, take it off the Internet.”

But for the past couple of years we’re getting that. From within fandom. Paired with this stony refusal to consider the fact that people age, people change, people grow. A character is 15 at the current point of the story in Ava’s Demon, therefore you can’t possibly think forward and draw her as a sexy 19-year-old. A character is 11 when she’s introduced in Madoka Magica, therefore you're disgusting if you ship her with any of the 15-year-olds -- what do you mean, you imagine them getting together when she’s older than 11? Don’t you understand that anyone who was 11 at any point in time must remain pure and nonsexual forever and ever?

To say nothing of the depiction-must-equal-endorsement crowd. If you write a story involving child abuse, whoo boy, that can’t be a serious treatment of a real-life issue that some survivors find therapeutic and validating to read -- it must mean you’re a Danger To Real Children, and if you get near Welcome to Night Vale fandom they will doxx you for great justice. (Welcome to Night Vale, like PMMM and Ava’s Demon, is of course a series in which only sweet and uplifting things happen to minors, and they certainly don’t die horribly on a regular basis.)

Look, if you’re uncomfortable with a sexual thing, that’s okay! You have a right to determine your own comfort level. You have a right to boundaries.

But consider that, perhaps, the thing is not Wrong or Bad or Disgusting. This is not an invalidation of your feelings or your boundaries. It could mean that maybe, just maybe, the thing is simply Not Your Thing.

Especially if other people with your issues are saying the thing was helpful. The person next to you in class may be using the same work that’s making you uncomfortable as a valid way of coming to terms with their queerness, and/or their past abuse, and/or their sexuality in general. This indicates that it’s a Thing For Them, and not a Thing For You, and that is okay.

(It doesn’t mean you’re obligated to be one of the people shouting on the battlements to defend it, either. Solidarity is great from those who are willing and able to provide, but if it isn’t Your Thing, it may not be Your Fight.)

Maybe, over the next ten years, it will become a Thing For You. This happens! Some of the adults who are telling teenagers to chill out over this issue are probably adults who have experienced it firsthand.

Or maybe it will never be a Thing For You. That’s okay too. Not everything has to be for everyone. Enforce your boundaries without judgment. Close the tab, delete the bookmark, unfollow the artists, set up your blacklist...without judgment. Step back, and recognize that humanity is a great big beautiful spectrum of contradictory feelings and reactions which do not invalidate each other by existing in different people, and go revel in the things that are within your own personal comfort zone for a while.

erinptah: (night vale)
There are all these things I want to say about the WtNV/HDM crossover, but I don't want to pile too much rambling in the author's notes. So here goes.

(Spoilers through Book 2, Chapter 22, in case you're coming to this later than it was posted.)


***


It was literally on this past Tuesday -- during all the traveling -- that I figured out the ending.

I mean, it wasn't completely up-in-the-air before, but as of Monday my plan for the big finale looked something like this:

1. [character arcs up to this point]
2. ????
3. some kind of epic battle idk
4. ????
5. good guys win! (somehow. costs+losses tbd)

And then by the bus ride home after TCR, I knew everything. Where the different parts of the battle are taking place, and what the goal is at each battleground. Where Cecil, Carlos, Tamika, and Dana are all positioned, what each of them is doing, and why it's important. The locations and roles of a bunch of secondary characters -- including the Man in the Tan Jacket, Fey, the Erikas, the rest of [whatever's left of] Carlos's team, and Janice. How to work in this one really cool Carlos moment that's been sitting in my notes file for months, waiting for context.

Plans are still subject to change -- there's always the possibility that one of these ideas will get discarded for a better one -- but a concrete, writable plan finally exists! Which is very exciting.


***


Also wondered the other day if I should actually consider breaking the story up into three books. Which is such cliché Trilogy Writing, having book 2 overrun its bounds like that. But there's just so much stuff that needs to happen. And that's just action-arcs that are planned out now, not stuff that will only become obvious during the actual writing.

I have zero good ideas for what to title a Book 3, though, so there's that.

Guess we'll have to wait and see how the pacing feels in another ten chapters or so. See if it still feels impossibly unwieldy; if there's a good, natural breaking point. (Really not interested in pulling the "hmm, just reached a major nailbiting cliffhanger, time to slap on a To Be Continued" cop-out.)


***


Sometimes, even when you're on a roll with the writing, it'll wheel off in a direction that isn't sustainable, and you have to yank it back on track.

That's been happening really often in the Christmas-with-Carlos's-family arc. When you leave Night Vale, all of a sudden there are serious limits on what you can write without incurring Extensive Real-World Consequences. Which would get in the way of Carlos getting back to Night Vale.

At worst, I got 3300 words into a sequence of scenes before realizing the whole thing had to be yanked out by the roots. (Basically, a more dramatic, action-packed "Magisterium agents are tailing Carlos" sequence. Trouble was, it had so much action that there was no plausible way to walk the characters out of it...without irrevocably getting the attention of the news, the police, and probably a whole bunch of lawyers. Carlos is on vacation here, and he's got to get back home and help save the multiverse soon; he doesn't have time to waste arguing with lawyers.)

And there have been little tangents and jokes getting axed right and left, because they were throwing off the pacing. At least a bunch of them can be saved to show up later.

Lots of potential family-related scenes just aren't going to happen. Lots and lots of them. Sequences that would be fun to write, so I keep having to step back and think, wait: the important thing about this pack of OCs is how each of them brings out new information about (a) Cecil's character, (b) Carlos's character, or (c) the worldbuilding. Does this scene do any of that? No? All right, take a deep breath and move that note to the scrap heap.

(I could probably write a whole chapter's worth of just Meta Commentary On Tumblr, In The Form Of Conversations Between Cecil and Carlos's Teenage Niece. Some people might even enjoy the read! But let's be real, it would mostly just get obnoxious fast.)

...maybe I'll repurpose some of these ideas for fluffy non-daemonverse family-vacation fic. Maybe I'll even write it when we're actually in the middle of the Christmas season, and not still gearing up for Halloween. Crazy idea, but it just might work.
erinptah: (daily show)
ESL writers talk about their experiences in English-language fandom.

Experiences of fandom in non-English languages, for the flip side of that.

"I could look up how, say, Balinese names are formed on Wikipedia and check baby name websites, but there's nothing there to prevent me naming a character the Balinese equivalent of Gertrude. So, how are names formed in your culture and how should people avoid creating weird names, nonnies?"

"...it struck me as funny the other day that apple and pineapple are linked in English, and apple and potato (pomme and pomme de terre) are linked in French. Any other examples of things that have related names in one language but utterly unrelated in another?"

Fannish terms translated into different languages! Admittedly, a lot of it ends up being about tongue-in-cheek terms for A/B/O, but still. (Je ne regrette chien~)

Translation of an adorable omegaverse-explaining comic from Pixiv (original in Japanese)!

Brainstorming for non-canid-based weird-biology AUs. Bizarre kinks abound.

Related: A/B/O worldbuilding discussion. If you ever wanted to know what kind of variations on the theme people are out to read.

And these ideas aren't new, if Aristasia is anything to go by. Iddy fannish shared universe with biologically-determined BDSM-esque roles...but instead of starting with mpreg knotting, it started with lesbian spanking.
erinptah: A map. (writing)
"What is your opinion about the use of italics for “foreign” words in fiction in general? How do you determine which words to italicize? To what degree it is a stylistic or political choice?"

The article there has a bunch of opinions from pro writers. Fic writers, what do you do?

Me, I'm thinking I'll keep using italics, and there's one reason carrying most of the weight: because on the Internet, not all your readers are going to have English as their first language, and ESL fluency levels will vary. If the second language coming up in the fic is one that they speak, great. But if it's not, they might just end up lost.

Anecdote 1: One time I had on Radio Junior, a kids' radio/streaming station that broadcasts primarily in French. My brother and I were both taking French in school at the time. The station changed songs, and he said, "You know, I was recognizing some of the words in that last song, but now I'm not getting anything at all." The new song...was in Italian.

Anecdote 2: Another time I went to the wordreference.com forums seeking help with a word I couldn't find in any dictionaries. Turned out it was a typo.

So it seems polite to signal "hey, don't stress about not recognizing this phrase, or not being able to find it on your translation website of choice -- it's a different language from the main text, and there may even be a translation at the end of the chapter."

Other fannish people, how do you handle this? Especially those of you who regularly read in a second language: what do you prefer?
erinptah: (night vale)
I keep drawing ahead of myself in the His Dark Materials AU. The WIP folder currently sports four finished illustrations that can't be posted for a while because of spoilers. (One with Cecil and his mom; one with Cecil and Kevin; one with Carlos; and one with a character whose very presence is miiiildly spoilery, although several people have seen it coming already.)

Writing a longfic with so many stable time paradoxes (future Dana tells past Carlos what future Carlos told past Dana to tell him, etc) is kind of exhilarating. And I've got a couple of lists to keep track of the order of everyone's relative timelines. But I do worry about writing the future!characters delivering lines that don't quite make sense by the time the narrative present catches up to them. We're just coming up on Dana's side of the visit to Cecil in the subway, and even though none of her established dialogue is outright wrong, some of it is...awkward.

And there's always the fear of "what if next month I come up with a plot twist that's really cool but totally undermines this one future!Carlos/Cecil/whoever scene already written?" So far, so good, but keep your fingers crossed.

Meanwhile: trying to write two very different AUs covering the same span of canon is mindbending sometimes. I keep having to stop and double-check which version of, say, Kevin's backstory applies to the scene I'm writing. Also, having to remember that the characters who regularly break into song can't have their daemons do the harmonies.

~~~

A couple of readers have asked general fic questions that ended up getting really long answers, so I'm gonna copy those out here. )

~~~

And on one final note: shipper anons of FFA, I salute you. (That would be the most awkward pairing ever, y/y. I'm imagining there's some particularly high-adrenaline Night Vale disaster, they both go for a kiss in the heat of the moment, and then they're both horrified and embarrassed and won't look each other in the eye for a month.)

(...while poor innocent Carlos is all "what's going on with you two? Did you have a fight? You remember that not fighting amongst ourselves is a very important part of our team-wide Keeping Fatalities Low strategy, right?")
erinptah: Vintage screensaver (computing)
Fictional stuff:

Drop a letter, get a new canon, the return. "His Ark Materials: God wants to kill everyone, but Noah has a plan..." And the variant thread: Change a letter, get a new canon.

How to tell if you're in a fanfic. ("Do you ever catch yourself thinking about people you've known for at least a decade as 'the taller blonde'?")

Your guide to fictional injuries! "Loss of eye - Classic indicator of badassery. Rarely causes any issues with depth perception."

Nonfictional stuff:

Weirdest job experiences. The funny, the creepy, the bizarre.

Kinks you wouldn't admit to unanon. ...Also the funny, the creepy, and the bizarre, come to think of it.

"Hilariously wrong things you believed as a child."

"How are you a special snowflake?" I just really like the collection of mundane, everyday weirdnesses.

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