Event SEM1696316 "Where fanfiction goes to die". I mentioned this on the facebook, and was wondering if maybe this was a better forum for it.
Why did Gencon let an event meant specifically to bully and humiliate other people onto the list? I got a lot of 'well don't go then, problem solved', but that's not really the solution, is it?
What if it was a panel like, 'Why are these people allowed at cons?' where they put up slides of people's Cosplay and then laughed at it while they pointed out every mistake, or explained that someone was 'too fat for this costume!'
Or "Star Trek is for Geeks" where they make fun of Star Trek fans by name?
I'm sorry, just because someone isn't at the panel in which other people are making humiliating remarks, doesn't make it right. It brings down the whole tone of the convention, and is the kind of thing that scares people out of joining fandom.
What the heck?
Here are my thoughts so take them for what they are.
I think that GenCon is only in it for the money now and don't necessarily care about events like this that can be counter productive to the convention. They only look at events as a source of income and don't really do anything regarding the quality control aspect of the events at the convention.
Now I don't know if this event is designed to be negative or not. The title certainly implies that it could be. It certainly seems to be a questionable event for GenCon, but that is what happens when the owners of GenCon put profit ahead of quality.
The responses you are getting are not surprising. Most people take the attitude that if it's something they aren't interested in they don't care.
Here's the event- The internet is full of some truly awful interpretations of our favorite characters. Join us for readings from some of the worst of the worst as we scour websites and forums for the most ridiculous, absurd, and graphic fanfic out there. Harry Potter is only the beginning. Due to the content of the stories we will be reading this event is very definitely adults only!.
I don't see this being much different than the Hentai dubbing or the Smithee Awards at Origins. I really don't see this as bullying as long as the authors name aren't given out and it's done in fun. Heck some of my stuff could even show up there.... who knows.
What the hell?
So we have a guy running an event specifically designed to crap on a genre of fan engagement whose participants are overwhelmingly female? To publicly mock their writing?
Why on EARTH did this get approved?
Given geekdom's general hostility toward women, especially female creators, fanfiction is one of the areas where a lot of female geeks can engage passionately with the movies, books, games, and comics they love *without* being subject to the threats, harassment, and abuse that's the norm in most internet geek spaces.
Moreover, fanfic communities encourage women to create geek media when most of the rest of geekdom punishes them for attempting it.
A lot of the female writers we use started out writing fanfic (and some still do it).
I mean, this is basically like running an event showing pictures of cosplayers and mocking them (perhaps contemplate why fanfic and cosplay draw so much contempt from gamers--they're the two areas of fandom that are female-dominated).
Not okay. And really not in keeping with Gen Con's efforts to be a convention that's welcoming to everyone.
Wow. This is a really, really bad idea, GenCon. I'm disappointed.
From reading the event description, it seems more to ME like they are crapping down on Poorly wrote fanfic, that makes fun OF them.. Not done to bully people OUT of it. Much like we see comedians make fun of damn near EVERY political figure out there.
Learn the difference between punching down and punching up, garhkal.
Hi all, and thanks for your concerns. We looked at this event, and approved it, and it's not intended to be mean spirited; it's very similar to the traditional reading of Eye of Argon that happens often, at least on the East Coast, particularly at fan run literary conventions:
It's also a specific sub forum on FanFicton.net
As this sort of event runs at many other literary conventions in that manner, and with assurances it's not intended to be an attack on any specific person or group, or bullying, we approved it. That said, certainly if you feel if comes across that way at the convention, please feel free to let us know at [email protected], and we'll be happy to follow up with the presenter.
I'd also point out that, as it's a seminar, we don't make a dime off it. We do try and allow as diverse a group of seminars as possible, and we prefer to give presenters the benefit of the doubt when approving their events, but as I said, if you feel that the presentation onsite is somehow harassment or bullying to a specific group of people, definitely feel free to let us know and we can certainly discuss the seminar's participation at Gen Con in future years. Thanks for letting me address your concerns.
Gen Con LLC
So the criteria is: If it's tradition to be mean spirited, it's okay, unless it's against 'specific group of people'. What specific people? Amateur authors? People in Fandom? Is there a list of people it's okay to be mean to, and a list of people it's not okay to be mean to?
You may have decided to do nothing here, but it doesn't make it right.
I read this event as something a lot like Topless Robot's old Fan Fiction Friday. The fan fictions that were presented there were works that weren't someone's first drafts and needed an editor or more time to hone the writing craft - they were just bad. And not bad in the sense of poorly written, but the subject material was bad. I believe one was about the giant squid at Hogwarts and the Hogwarts castle. Half of them were probably trollfics to be honest (Shakespeare Hemminway's Garfield fics are actually a work of genius). Majority of the authors that wrote these sort of things weren't women trying to engage in their fandom.
I had to sort out my thoughts on this one, because like many people I enjoy the work of MST3K and Rifftrax, and they've built careers on making fun of bad movies. But there are IMO some big differences:
1. MST3K makes fun of professional films released by studios or independent filmmakers. They're not going after the work of first-year film students posting their material on YouTube.
2. MST3K acquires the rights to the movies. While I'm almost positive the people running this seminar have no legal obligation to compensate or get permission from the authors, I also doubt they even attempted to clear it with the authors as a courtesy.
3. MST3K creates lots of original material for jokes about the movies. It's possible this seminar will do that as well, but as written it sounds more like a "Hahaha! Wow, that sucked! Okay, here's another one..."
If done correctly, I think there could be some value in a seminar like this. If the person giving the seminar approached authors and said something like:
"Hi, I'm doing a seminar about bad fan fiction where I'll be reading some of my own worst writing and what I learned from the mistakes I made. Would you care to contribute any of your lesser material and any lessons learned?"
But with the event description as written I doubt that's going to be the format.
Final thought: I hope "Well it is a sub-forum on 4chan" is never used to justify a Gen Con event.
Couple of thoughts.
1) The term "bullying" gets used a lot these days. That's because we're finally waking up to the impact of it. But saying some bit of writing is hilariously bad is not the same thing as bullying the author. If we mock Synnibar, are we bullying McCracken? Or are we pointing out the absurdity of a game? To me, there's a big difference between making fun of a product (FATAL) and making fun of a creator (whoever designed it). The first is a matter of taste. The second is uncalled for.
2) That said, this seminar can very easily descend into bullying if they start bringing up the authors by name and mocking them. Worse, it can turn into homophobia, misogyny, and so on. Examples:
In the end, I won't be attending this seminar. I also have concerns about GenCon being the arbiter of taste in these matters. Of course, I'd want GenCon to reject panels supporting racism or sexism. But unless this panel has been run before and people know the panelists will start bullying people for writing bad fanfic, it might be worthwhile to let them prove themselves. I doubt it, but I'm not comfortable with rejecting based on no evidence.
Just a quick reminder to keep things nice, calm, and civil, folks. We can all disagree and think things are terrible or perfectly fine or whatever else and still be polite.
Gen Con LLC