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Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005, 10:57 am
sailormac: Wank Communities: Fandom Police, or Playground Bully?

We're all aware of Fandom Wank and its offshoots, like OTF Wank and I Wank. They've become so visible that they've given birth to Internet catchphrases (like "My hed iz paestede on, yay!") and people always expect to see their fandom end up there whenever any kind of disagreement breaks out.

My question: Is Fandom Wank a necessary evil, or a playground bully? Is it the sheriff in the Wild West of online fandom, using intimidation (the threat of "being wanked") to maintain order in the midst of chaos? Or is it an excuse for people to be mean and condescending to other fans under the guise of being the "fandom police"?

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC)

I'm probably a bit biased on this, because I'm a member of F_W myself. But whenever I go check in there, I'm not thinking about "yay, how can I be mean and condescending today?"

I like reading F_W for a couple reasons. First, it serves as a nice reminder for me not to take fandom too seriously. When I see a flame war erupt over the color of Roy Mustang's eyes, it's funny, and it makes me think "holy crap, have I ever done anything that stupid?"

And second, the off-topic banter in F_W is as much fun, if not more, than pointing and laughing at the wank itself. And F_W is a fabulous breeding ground for funny icons.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
kannaophelia: And when did you stop beating your wife, again?

Is Fandom Wank a necessary evil, or a playground bully?

Or are both options a case of taking it too damned seriously? It's mostly a place to have a laugh about the foibles of fandom, and most threads tail off into icon discussions within five minutes anyway. More than anything, f_w is just a place to hang out and giggle and boggle at this culture to which we all belong.

If there's ever been any pose of being "the fandom police", I haven't seen it coming from within the community. If someone really does pause a moment and think "Gee, I'm being a complete bitch/completely ridiculous, maybe I should take two minutes to think it through first or I'll risk being wanked" then that's probably not a tragedy, but hardly the *point*, and doesn't really justify some of the paranoia about the comm.

Funny stuff, unpleasant stuff, posing and posturing and flaming and being ridiculous, this has always been a part of fandom. Discussing it hardly makes a group of people the Gestapo.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:11 pm (UTC)

Agreement with catfight -- I am also a FW member and I think it is mostly an excuse to laugh about how silly poepel can be about fandom. I don't excuse myself from that. Yes, there are people who are bullies and think of themselves as the 'fandom police' (there are in every group), but I think the vast majority of members are just there to laugh at how ridiculous we can be about the things we love and how crazy some people can get.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC)

I'm also there for the icons. Hot damn, there are some funny ones.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)

What does "my hed iz paestede on, yay!" mean, anyway?

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)

It all goes back to Crystal wank. I don't know specifics, because I'm not into wank, but, there was a girl in the LotR fandom that would make manips of Dominic Monagan sitting on her bed in her bedroom and insist that they were real pictures. Someone jokingly said, 'Dominic's expression in the photo looked as if he were going, "My head is pasted on. Yay!"' or something to that effect, but in classic 14-year-old net-speak, this would be "My hed iz pastede on yay." Crystal fought tooth and nail to INSIST that her manips were original pictures, and with stupidity like that, fandom wank exploded into like 1400 some replies about, and that signature line went down in history.
If I've made any errors in reporting the facts, I hope someone on this list will set the record straight.
Love, Roo
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Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)

I don't guess it's any harder than (Snacky's Law) people standing around in high school gossiping about each other, 99% of which was criticism and "omg how dare s/he?" and "wow that's /stupid./" and making fun of anybody who wasn't them.
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Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC)

Full disclosure: used to frequent f_w back in the day, haven't done it in months, was at the center of at least one wank (the Lubic Wars).

I think f_w can be a lot of fun when people take a laid-back attitude -- "hey, isn't fandom hilarious and bizarre? Look! They're arguing about Remus Lupin's middle name!" It gets irritating, though, when people assume that just because they're f_w posters they have achieved some sort of privileged status from which they can freely be hypocritical. "Fandom Is Fucking Funny" only works as long as one admits that their beloved subcultures are also funny.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 06:10 pm (UTC)

From my experience, very few of the f_w regulars consider themselves not wanky - every time wank shows up on f_w itself, invariably some anonymouse posts a finger-pointing message of "Hypocrites!" and most of us go "Huh? Who said we weren't wanky? Was there a memo I missed?" I freely admit there's lots of subjects I wank on about at length; I haven't shown up on f_w solely because my wankiest posts are on a private mailing list for an SF club.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)

F_W is there to mock poor fannish behavior. There's no need to attach conspiracy theories to it. The fact that its format allows fans to mock each other outside the structure of fandom communities is probably a healthy thing, but that's entirely a side effect. It also allows for fans to comment on their own fandoms without suffering the reprecussions. That's also a side effect, though. If F_W was *meant* to perform either of those functions, it would fail immediately.

It's about teh funneh.

And the icons.

And the constant search for porn.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC)

Uh, fandom wank is not meant to be the police. They don't even claim to be the cops. In fact, it's in fandom_wank's interest for as much quality wank as possible to be produced.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)

I'm not a member of any wank community - although I will read them sometimes if a friend points one out that I think looks amusing.

however, I was in a fandom of mostly 14yr old l33t3rs or whatever the hell they call themselves and I was deemed a "ficbitch" for having the audacity to refuse to read any fic that did not have proper punctuation or spelling. I refused to beta read a fic until the author a). put it in the same tense or b). denoted somehow that flashbacks were occuring (they weren't).

*shrugs* I'm not sure wank is fandom police so much as a good laugh at how crazy fandom can be. Fandom police is much closer to what I did in setting down fanfic standards for the fandom and offering to *help* anyone with their writing, but refusing to praise it simply for being written. And there were some wonderful authors who wrote amazing stories to, of a variety of ages.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)

Another f_w member checking in. I've mostly lurked since shortly after its inception on LJ.

I've really never understood either the fandom police or bully concepts attached to f_w. I am sure most of us have laughed behind our hands or rolled our eyes at various kerfuffles that have blown in our own fandoms; f_w merely mainlines them for us, much like a very specific Portal of Evil or Something Awful. The urge to point and snicker may be unkind, but it's a pretty universal one, and is generally harmless.

If anything, f_w may have caused fandom to become more self-policing; people are still going to behave badly, but they will probably be much more circumspect about it when faced with the prospect of public mockery. And if that encourages someone to rant about a fandom enemy in a locked Livejournal post rather than on a public forum they both frequent, what's the problem?

There have been a few instances of f_w mockery getting out of hand, but those are quashed ruthlessly; the f_wers are pretty viciously self-policing, themselves. The only one whose details I'm acquainted with was actually a personal grudge in which f_w was used as a vehicle; unfortunate that it became so widely exposed because of that, but not much different from a normal fandom battle.

But, honestly, a really big draw for me is the same thing that brings me here: I get exposed to a lot of practices and folkways amongst fandoms that I don't frequent via f_w, and it's interesting to learn about why people do what they do. The extremely invested, emotional conflicts usually featured on f_w provide a good microcosm of that. Even when that's not the case, it's still usually a good glimpse into different fandoms' practices; I certainly would never have known what chan, RPS, or Puppy-shipping were without f_w. And while I may well have been better off continuing on in ignorance... hey, it's entertainment. :)

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)

I'm a relatively new member of f_w and I let's just say half my friends have showed up there since I discovered it. (Yes, it's the wanky Fullmetal Alchemist community!) I can't argue with the fact my friends get iffy over too little sometimes. I do it too afterall, I'm just better at hidding it(friends locks exist XD). I don't feel me or my friends have been attacked, I was hoping around on f_w giggling too. The snark is often pure gold, it makes me laugh so hard. Also, I find f_w to be a great way to follow fandom news and broaden my knowledge of how fandom work. Highly interesting.

There's an i_wank community for a reason. Everybody is wanky sometimes. Get angry, talk too fast, say dumb stuff. Admit you were silly, laugh and get over it, everybody will be happier. Of course sometimes wank is less 'hahaha funny' than 'head meet desk' but that's good to remind me there are people crazier than me.

Fri, Feb. 11th, 2005 09:17 pm (UTC)

How 'bout all of the above?

Actually, I think they were really far more nasty two years ago when they were on LJ. I started rubbernecking at them then, and I remember being quite disturbed at the degree of spitefulness from some people.

These days I see a lot more sense of community as opposed to mob mentality, and they're pretty quick to call "grudge wank" when someone posts with intent to be hateful, rather than just mock.

There's still a tendency to wank anything that's a) meta and b) long and involved, which is annoying, as there's a difference between taking fandom seriously and taking it WAY TOO seriously. And of course there are still members who are just plain assholes. But on the whole I think it's not as bad as it's painted, nowadays.

And yes, I've been up there. It was annoying and embarrassing but not wholly undeserved, and I'm not scarred for life, God knows.
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Sat, Feb. 12th, 2005 01:40 am (UTC)

Well, I guess FW matters to fans who communicate exclusively by LJ. If you aren't a big user of LJ you don't know FW exists until someone specifically tells you about it via an email. When I am involved in a debate/discussion on a mailing list, I don't think to run over to FW to see if they picked it up.

Sat, Feb. 12th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC)

I've only been at the center of a wank once, when I was semi-deliberately playing matador with a lunatic troll to see how far he'd extend himself when the other party was being polite but unrelenting. Being fandom_wanked in that situation was a compliment.