Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Adventures in Fandom: Yahoo buys Tumblr and what’s the deal with anti-fandom?

Hey guys, how’s fandom treating you? It’s been a fairly big week… but I missed most of it because I was too busy playing the Eurovision drinking game. I spent the last couple of days catching up just for you lonely reader so here’s what I have to say. Mostly it’s just Yahoo/Tumblr (it’s canon now bitch) and the rise of anti fandom blogs.

Okay so the big fandom news for the week is without a doubt Yahoo!’s acquisition of Tumblr. In recent years Tumblr has become synonymous with fandom (barely anyone uses livejounral anymore – and definitely not as their primary fandom social networking site). The problem is, much of Tumblr’s popularity is built on the fact that it’s supposedly an underground community that only those in the know are aware of (totally not true btw).

As I told the person that asked me about this on Tumblr, I’m not an expert on acquisitions. Chances are it will have an effect on Tumblr – and because Yahoo! is a big ass company adhering to share-holders – those effects will probably be negative. Here’s the thing though: it happens. There was fandom before Tumblr and there will be fandom after Tumblr (something new and brilliant will no doubt come along to blow Tumblr out of the water – that’s how the Internet works).

The other thing is – this is going to take a while. When I say there will probably be negative changes, I mean there will be… eventually. Yahoo! bought Tumblr for what it was (basically because it wants some residual cool) so it’s not going to jump in and make changes right away – especially considering the reaction to the acquisition. Yahoo! has to prove it’s not going to make any changes before it can start making any changes… irony.

If you want to know more about this from people much smarter than me check out these links:

In other news:
  • Joss Whedon confirms Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch for The Avengers 2!
  • You can get Katniss’s look and completely miss the point of story with the new Hunger Games inspired make up line.  
  • The Teen Wolf Season 3 Trailer was released (read my review here).
  • JJ Abrams showed an exclusive Star Trek Into Darkness deleted scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch showering.
  • Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor…. Do I need to say anything more?

The always-lovely Aja Romano wrote an article about the rise of anti-fandom fandom and it got me thinking (her article is definitely worth a look if this topic interests you). Here at Pop Culture is Not Art I tend to focus on fandoms more positive traits (primarily because I am writing in part for a non-fandom audience) but that doesn’t mean I am oblivious to its negative attributes. In fact one of the things I desperately want more of in fandom is open discussion without unflattering arguments being accused of hate or wank.

The rise of so-called anti-fandom (although I have issues with that term in this instance because it means a slightly differently thing in academia) is largely because of fandoms inability to accept negative opinions. I get it, it’s hard to listen to people say bad stuff about things you love but you can just dismiss the bad because you love the good.

A large part of Aja’s article focused on anti-fandom Tumblrs – although these Tumblrs aren’t so much anti-fandom as different fandom. They are called anit-fandom because it is somehow assumed to be un-fan-like behavior to call something or someone out on problematic aspects. Fandom should be a safe space for people to express their opinions… but it’s not. Anyone that deigns to question anything is accused of starting hate or being a troll and that’s not a good thing.

It’s okay to be a fan of problematic things. EVERYTHING has problems. But you can’t get pissed as people for talking about the problematic aspects, and you definitely can’t be angry with people that are offended by them. Acknowledge the issues and say: “okay I can see that and I understand why you don’t like it but I choose to enjoy it because…” Don’t force a person to like something that offends them – but on the other side don’t vilify people for enjoying problematic things. Like I said everything has problems but ignoring the problem is not helping.

Do scrutinize the anti-fandom Tumblrs because while some of them are fantastic recourses – like Your Fav is Problematic – a number of them are just used to sprout the author’s own prejudices. There is nothing wrong with that (like I said people should not be afraid of expressing their opinion), but taking them as gospel truth is just as problematic as ignoring the negative aspects of your favourite text.

So go forth and express your negative opinions – but remember when you post an opinion in an open forum it is subject to scrutiny. People can and will disagree with you. When someone disagrees with you it doesn’t automatically mean they are trolling you – sometimes they are – but a lot of the time they are just engaging in healthy discussion. Somewhere along the line fandom forgot how discussion worked and that needs to be rectified.

And I’m done. Don’t forget you can follow me on Tumblr to keep up to date on pretty people and such.