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Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006, 10:02 am
furikku: The internet is for... ah, you know...

I started in internet fandom many, many years ago, back when dinosaurs were stomping around in chatrooms, and I seem to recall a lot less 'shipping. It may just be my choices of fandom or venue, but it seems to me that nowadays, fandom is more about 'shipping- specifically, the porn- than it used to be.

Does this match with other people's experiences? Is there a quantitative difference in the amount of 'shipfic versus genfic or even things like character shrines? If so, what do you think are the reasons behind this change?

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)

Back in the days before the dinosaurs (when 'zines ruled the Earth) there were certainly stories about relationships, but they didn't seem to be the focus of every fandom. Genfic, character studies, action/adventure, missing scenes, codas, AUs, parodies--that's what you were liable to find in most 'zines. There was a surge of purple-prose angsty fics in the late 80s/early 90s--lots and lots of hurt/comfort (not that h/c hadn't been around before that). From my view--and granted, I had stopped buying 'zines and wasn't yet online, nor was I up on all the latest trends in slash--shipping seemed to take off with Next Generation, X-Files, and whatever fandoms were coming to the fore on the net. Hmmm, and possibly spilling over from the heavily romantic Beauty and the Beast fandom.

Perhaps it was a new generation of writers, or the various canon opportunities presented in the shows that were popular 15-16 years ago, that triggered the change. By the time I was active online--around 1996--'shipping had already seemed to taken over most fandoms.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)

By the time I was active online--around 1996--'shipping had already seemed to taken over most fandoms.

Oddly, that's around the time that I was really getting into fandoms. I guess it probably does have more to do with the fandoms I was in. I can only think of one slashfic I encountered in one of the fandoms at the time, though I may just be remembering incorrectly.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)

No, actually, this does not match with my experience. I started in online fandom around 1997 and I haven't seen significant changes in that respect. It probably depends on the fandom.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)

I agree that there seems to be a lot more pron on the internet, in the fandoms, in the fic than there was thirteen years ago when I first started doing the fic thing.

I think there are two reasons for this:

1) People seem less skittish about posting it/ writing it. There has been a decade of relatively free acceptance of the erotica/shipping/pron with virtually no crackdowns or condemnation. So, people are less afraid or nervous about posting their own work, and less afraid to seek it out. Fannish romance/sexual fantasies are more accepted, and less marginalized, at least in the fan community.

2) I am no longer 11 years old and reading about squishy stuff no longer squicks me, so I don't press the back button any more.

I do agree, though, that I am startled by how much shipping has become part of the whole "important" side of things. I find it strange to go into an archive to search for fics and find that the archive is set to search or browse by 'pairing' or 'gen/het/slash' than genre. It really shocked me with Wraithbait.

Maybe I'm one of those dinosaurs, but I remember a long time ago when things were organized by crossover/AU/continuation/missing scene etc.

Has pairing really become more central than genre? Is the fic really all about the romance? Or is it that I'm in a stage of my life where I like to read the romance and the waffy stuff and I find myself more attracted to them than I used to be?

Hm. A little of both columns, I suppose...

And yes, where ARE the character shrines? I haven't found any for my new fandoms: Dr. Who, Torchwood, SGA... Very odd. Maybe the time of character shrines has passed. Like the Jurassic Age.

Okay, now I'm just depressing myself.

Of course, I also remember a time when ff.n wasn't annoying, anal, hypocritical, and filled with all those goddamned banner and forwarding ads.


Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)

Has pairing really become more central than genre? Is the fic really all about the romance? Or is it that I'm in a stage of my life where I like to read the romance and the waffy stuff and I find myself more attracted to them than I used to be?

Well, I notice it chiefly because I'm not interested in the 'shipping stuff at all, and would rather read the adventure/AU/crossover/missing scene/whatever stuff, so I don't think it's all because of an attraction thing- genfic just seems darn hard to find these days!

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)

I think that shipping will always be in a fandom in some form, but the amount of shipfic vs. genfic depends on (a) how "canon" the series is, and (b) how many characters can be shipped. (And probably [c] the target audience of the fandom, as well.)

Tolkien is my first fandom, and the majority of the major relationships have been defined, leaving no room various canon possibilities. And by the time it became very popular in the '60s, the canon was already defined and there were no possibilities of future alternative versions.

Harry Potter is my second fandom (as a lurker in the lurkiest sense!), and it differs from LOTR fandom in many respects: current, younger audience, and an undefined canon, though both have a large amount of characters that could be paired in different ways. With a younger audience (especially the teenage crowd), you get more interest in who-is-with-who: shared experiences and whatnot.

I have a fairly limited viewpoint, but I'd be willing to bet a few dollars on the Harry Potter fandom alone increasing the visibility of shipping, and making other fans more aware of it in their own fandoms.

My $0.02. YMMV.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)

current, younger audience, and an undefined canon, though both have a large amount of characters that could be paired in different ways.

Oddly, that defines the fandoms I initially got into online (Sonic the Hedgehog and Sailor Moon), but I don't think there was as much of a preponderance of shipping. (Though it may be that my gen-lovin' self was just in the wrong places.)

I definitely agree that the HP fandom has been a big source of shipping promotion.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)

It's probably closely linked with the spread of the personal computer.

Before that, you had to be dedicated to even know how to get involved in a fandom. I think the internet being wide-spread has caused a lot of people to stumble on fandom who never would have without it.

Maybe the porn is prevalent for the same reason mass-market romances are. The masses review and consume more romance and porn than they do thoughful character pieces and genfic :D

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC)

Huh. You know, that's probably about right, really- I think the harder it is to get into fandom, the more likely it is that only people who REALLY HARDKOR WANNA TALK ABOUT THIS WORK! are gonna try to get into it.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)

I'm sure it depends on the fandom, my experience matches yours, actually. Back in the day of, oh, 1995? the dominant theme of Final Fantasy fanfic was reunite-for-a-new-adventure, or character backstory, and while there was some romance, it was usually incidental rather than all-consuming. Maybe I'm stodgy and cynical and not giving people enough credit, but I do attribute the changes I've seen to my fandoms going more mainstream. Even now, in my experience, the fandoms for those older games are much less based on 'shipping than fandoms for newer games are.

(I suppose, though, that I started on AOL message boards, and I have a feeling they would have policed the pr0n had anyone tried to post it...)

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)

I started at around the same time in the same fandom, and all I saw was romance: some het, some slash. Occasionally, oneshots featuring character introspection, but those were relatively rare. I think that then, like now, it's a matter of knowing what you want and knowing where to look for it.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)

When I became active in fandom in 1996, it was definitely all about the shipping and slashing. My main fandom at the time was BtVS and that was from my experience relationship/porn rather than gen etc. but there was a place for au, gen, and so on and it was easily found.

What I have noticed since then is that the range of ships is decreasing as I move through fandoms, BtVS had loads of 'ships (canon or uc) and people seem to move around between them happily. Which was fairly similar to my next major fandoms (Lotrips & Popslash) but now I'm in SGA and although there's a good few possible pairings, there's definitely a heavy OTP vibe in the fandom and a lot of clustering. Apparently, one can't ship more than one pairing, which I find somewhat odd.

One thing I really noticed was a massive backlash against AUs. Mostly in Lotrips, which was very odd for me, coming from a fannish background when 'shipping wasn't the be all and end all.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)

My experience of online fandom started in late 1994. I started out in X-Files, and found vast amounts of Mulder/Scully, relatively tame, fairly domestic and kind of boring. I think that somewhere around January 95 I found Karen McNicholls website which listed the adult sites, and I discovered that there was an entire parallel world filled with smut of all sorts. I discovered slash there, was horrfied, intrigued, and then hooked by Voyager & I dived into P/K. My experience of Trek was it was *all* smut *g*. This could be because my intro there was asce and BLTS *g*. Highlander, on the other hand, was remarkably tame until late 96 when HL-X started.

As time has passed it has become more and more usual for slash lists and sites to spring up at the same time as the gen and het.

What I've noticed is not that the proportion has increased, but that it has become easier and easier to locate. Google; cheap web hosting -- personal web sites and archives; blogs, all contributed to people's willingness to put it out there.

And I would say the absolute amount has increased wildly, and it's going to carry on doing so.

Wed, Nov. 15th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC)

I have nothing to add except that yes this fits my experience (especially the decrease of genfic and character shrines and any type of fansite other than fanlistings).

I started in online fandom around 1996 or so. My first fandom was Sailor Moon.

Thu, Nov. 16th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
dracschick: I started reading print zines in the 80s.......

The only difference I see is that the average age of the writers was older back then. Today, everything has increased in volume (more writers writing) but IMO, the percentages are still the same.

Thu, Nov. 16th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)

I started in fandom around the same time, 1996. And I was one of the dinosaurs too. (I think I was a brontasaurus.) I remember running RPG chatrooms. Those were the days. I was involved in X-Files, Forever Knight, and early Star Wars fandoms.

I really agree with you that there was less 'shipping in the earlier days or at least less porn. I don't think it had much to do with the age of the fans online then. I think it was more of a slow, cautious approach to fandom. Fandom online was new then. Most fans were very new at gathering together and meeting other fans. Universial fan acceptance wasn't quite what it is today. There were a lot more flame wars back then on the email lists. I think fans were afraid to offend other fans so they kept the porn to a small amount.

X-Files invented shipping. But I remember Forever Knight as being the pioneer in shipping every single plausible pairing long before Harry Potter did the same. There were twenty pairings actively shipped and almost none of them were canon. Buffy fandom really helped to bring shipping into what it is today though. It had more fans that stuck religiously to one ship or another than ever before.

There is definitely more porn in fandom now in my opinion. It's sort of an out crop of sex being more accepted on TV and other media. There was more genfic then I think because there was less fic overall. So audiences were smaller and it was easier to write to the entire audience of a fandom than to a small percentage of shippers. You were considered a little weird then if you were a zealous shipper whereas now I think you're the norm.

There's more shipfic and character shrines because there are more fans. Shipfic and shrines are specialization in fandom and with more fans naturally more specialization occurs.

Personally I am a big fan of shipfic and even the porn type if it's well written. I'll admit I like a good genfic better when it's a superb piece that raises more questions than it answers.

Thu, Nov. 16th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)

There's more shipfic and character shrines because there are more fans.

Perhaps it's simply the fandoms I'm involved in, but there seem to me to be fewer shrines and the like than there were before.

Fri, Nov. 17th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)

It's funny, I think shipping (in the sense of being sort of a fan/activist for a pairing) has become more common, yes, but I think the smutty stories are still roughly the same percentage of all fic that it's ever been. I think people are getting more "into" or even defensive of their pairing choices, but as a fan of both smutty smut smut and gentle gen, I still see a lot of the latter.

But again, maybe it's particular to various fandoms?

Fri, Nov. 17th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)

Well, being older than dirt... having started in off-line fandom back around 1975 and reading 'Zines shortly thereafter, I have a whole other theory.

It's money and age. *L*

The online population tends to be the younger facets of fandom. They tend to, in general write more about the things that are important in their real lives... like romance, sex and relationships. The internet allows this with very little expense.

Previously, off-line fan-fic was done on hard paper 'Zines... and yeah, you'd best believe that can get expensive... So the writers were usually older with more expendable income. Older writers, again, in general, are already settled into their relationships and therefore don't write as much about them.

So, Age and Money... and internet vs hard copy... I think that may be what it all boils down to.

(Deleted comment)

Fri, Nov. 17th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)

Yeah, that was kind of what I was trying to say. Though I think you say it a lot better.

Fri, Nov. 17th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)

The only fandom I've ever been a part of is Harry Potter and I've been in a pretty short time (I read the books only after seeing GOF). So I obviously can't answer your question on whether or not shipping and porn have become more prevalent. But I do think that in HP fanfic the focus is far too often on pairing, with plot and characterization on the back burner. Some stories seem to have little to do with HP aside from character names and some of the ships are...unlikely, to put it mildly.

I'm not saying I don't like PWP but my favorite stories are ones in which canon relationships are still important, even if the romantic relationships aren't canon, stories that do pay attention to plot and where the characters are recognizable. PWP of course doesn't focus on much aside from the sex, the worst examples of which are those stories where the author notes "they're whoever you want them to be."