epershand: Abed saying "movie reference." (Abed movie reference)
discussion includes, shockingly, spoilers )

TL;DR Jason Siegel I adored your self-insert muppet fanfiction a lot but suspect you of being crafty.

Also: The last time I was in New York, [personal profile] brainwane and I saw the Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, and it was really amazing. It's open through January and I strongly recommend going to see it. (I inadvertently wound up wearing a Museum of the Moving Image t-shirt to the movie today and only realized when I took off my sweater after getting home.)
epershand: Quark, looking suspicious. (Quark is not impressed)
I have now completed my annual "snarking about yuletide fandoms" ritual. I enjoy that a lot, I think it might be one of my favorite parts of the challenge. It is just so cathartic.

Except normally I do it privately on chat with [personal profile] oliviacirce. And this year instead I spammed my twitter feed with it. Sorry guys! I... hit the hourly usage limit two hours consecutively. And learned that that doesn't actually keep me from tweeting. It just keeps me from viewing new updates on the page!

Anyway, the annual Hilariously Large Fandoms That Slipped Through The Cracks Due to Clever Tag Usage:


Presumably most of these will get cleaned up in the next couple of days, but I am just so fascinated by what the net result of moving from the old qualitative process to the new quantitative process has been. The old method didn't scale, obviously, but the new method has some fascinating loopholes.

Also: BEST FANDOM NEW I DISCOVERED WHILE TRAWLING THROUGH THE LIST? Michael Fassbender With Pugs (tumblr). That link is to the tumblr. Which is AMAZING.


(OMG I JUST ACCIDENTALLY DISCOVERED THE BROWSE TAGS BUTTON ON THE BETA DREAMWIDTH UPDATE PAGE. BEST.)
epershand: A tied-up duck with a sign that says "beware of duck" (Beware of Duck)
In the ongoing pursuit of ways that one should and should not spread fanfic that is no longer online: what are people's general feelings about sharing links to Internet Archive caches of fic? This is a bit of a debate I've been having with myself ever since March/April, when the Fic Lost And Found Archive discussion was going on. Prior to that, I'd never had any qualms about archive.org links, but since then I've been a lot less certain.

On the one hand:
- The material is definitely there and anyone can read it.
- If I'm the recipient of a rec of a fic that doesn't resolve, then my first step is usually just to jump directly to archive.org to look it up, so I'd might as well do it for others, right?
- When you're dealing with older fandoms (the two most recent cases where I've thought about this were with Smallville fic and 90s-era DS9 fic) the odds are a lot higher that it's the original archive that's gone down, rather than the author intentionally pulling it.

On the other hand:
- Point one above was really rules-lawyery. Capability doesn't necessarily equal right, especially on the internet, where it's *possible* to do a lot of things people would rather not.
- If it was the author intentionally pulling it, I should probably respect their wishes, right? (Just as with emailing PDFs, I'm totally willing to send friends links to archive.org caches of fic; it's posting a recs list that includes the fic in question where I run into a gray area.)
- What if the story has moved? Maybe there's a copy on LJ, or on the AO3. Maybe the archive itself has moved--I was thoroughly convinced for a while that the Smallville Slashdom was completely gone, but it later turned out it had just migrated domains. Shouldn't I exert a diligent effort to post a rec to a more current location where the author can actually get feedback?

The last time I posted a link to an Internet Archive cache publicly was in a batch of DS9 recs I did well over a year ago; based on Google Analytics data, that post still gets several hits a month from people looking for links to that story in particular.

In the current case, I was trying to find a specific Smallville story to add to [personal profile] melannen's Identity Porn collection. In this case, the fic was on a personal domain hosted by the author, which is now gone. The author IS on the AO3, but she hasn't added the series in question, and she has no accessible contact information or links to other accounts in her profile. Presumably the actual answer in this very narrow case is to leave a comment on one of her other fics asking for her to put the series on the AO3. But I'm still curious for the wider case.
epershand: A stick figure watching the gap. (Watch the Gap)
TFV's post on "no heterosexual explanation" moments, where it is hard to come up with an in-canon explanation for a certain character's behavior unless it's them being in love with another character, got me thinking about another kind of moment I experience periodically.

It's the moment where my own tendency to read queer subtext in everything blinds me to the fact that there is really obvious textual queerness going on. I am so used to thinking of the way I read queerness into everything that sometimes I just don't realize that it's not just me.

Case in point: the blowjob scene in Nico and Dani. I thought it was just an awkward film about two teenage boys who were maybe getting each other off a little bit, no homo here unless you're a slasher! And then... blowjobs! (Honestly, I still sort of think that my university's Spanish department selected its films with an intent to troll the firsties. Poor little bb!epershand was like "Did you just fade to black and keep the screen black for like a minute while keeping the blowjob noises on? European film, you... you confuse me.")

Dumbledore's "outing" was another one of those moments for me. Because... of course I'd been slashing Dumbledore/Grindlewald, GAY OLDER MENTORS is my favorite trope. But finding out that JKR also slashed them came at me out of nowhere.

Editing this to add one more example: in Farthing it took me way too long to figure out that all those intense conversations about what kind of tea people drank that sounded like obscure euphemisms for homosexuality? Were obscure euphemisms for homosexuality. ("Do you like INDIA tea or CHINA tea? Personally, I like China tea... with lemon. You look like a man who... also likes lemon in his tea.")

So, what are your "being a slasher made me not notice obvious canon queer characters" moments? What are the texts that you only belatedly realized didn't need queering?
epershand: A stick figure watching the gap. (Watch the Gap)
So, I was just reading Karen Healey's post and Saundra Mitchell's post about the Sarah Reese Brennan fan twitter assholery.

Some jerk downloaded Brennan's book illegally and then had the gall TO TWEET TO HER telling her she'd done so. Man, what a jerk.

Good thing I've never done something like that. #OhWait #DoesItHelpIfIUsedTheHashtag #reluctantPirate

-------

I've never illegally downloaded a book that was still in print, although I do wish there was a way for me to buy digital copies of all the books I lurk after in used bookstores. I do, however, illegally download music and TV, and I tend to (a) be pretty upfront about it and (b) refer to it jocularly as "illegally downloading."

I am well aware that I am not every pirate, and that my story is neither unique or universal, but here are a few stories of mine.

----

I'll start this off my mentioning that I buy a large amount of TV and music. Wow do I. Wow is the iTunes Music Store bad for my wallet (fortunately I budget for it, because I know how much music I like to buy). Seriously, if I hear a random song that I like somewhere, I will go to the iTMS and buy the entire album. And then maybe another album by that artist.

But I don't always know what I want to buy, and that's a challenge. So also I download music. For the most part, this is on a pretty small scale--fanmixes are the major way I hear about new, completely random music these days.

Worse than downloading, I also UPLOAD fanmixes. I am a DISTRIBUTOR of music that is not mine to distribute.

----

A few years ago I used to be a part of this music site. There was this teenage girl who would just post multiple albums a week, and pretty much whatever she posted, I'd download from her. In return for all the free music, people like me would send her cartons of cigarettes, which she couldn't buy legally because she was underage. How skeezy does that sound? Skeezy, right?

The vast majority of the bands whose music I got from there didn't make one red cent off of the fact that I downloaded their albums. The ones I found there and liked, though?

I buy their albums. I go see them in concert. I promote them to my friends and talk them into buying their albums. I put a song of theirs on a fanmix, letting at least a few hundred people at a time know how awesome they are (while simultaneously perpetuating the cycle of extra-legal music distribution).

To be fair, I am one out of thousands of people who used to follow this girl before she got shut down. I have no idea how many of her other regular followers wound up purchasing music as a result. I have no idea how many people who download my fanmixes purchase music by any of the artists as a result.

But of all the albums I downloaded for free from that site, how many would I have purchased without it? Exactly zero. I wouldn't even have known who the artists were.

I was really sad when that site went down. It was a major blow to my ability to acquire new hipster cred, let me tell you.

----

Another thing. Broadway music. I like Broadway music a lot. I don't see a lot of stage productions, because I'm not in New York, but I do buy cast albums. Also, I'm a singer, so I buy sheet music.

So, Christmas of '09 my sister gave me a USB drive with The Last Five Years on it. She hadn't purchased it, she'd gotten a copy from a friend who had purchased it. At least I think he purchased it? And man, was that an incredible musical. It ripped open my chest and dragged my heart out kicking and screaming.

And it made me love the composer, and it made me hate the fucking composer, because how dare he write what he wrote in that fucking musical. Except I kinda sorta loved him. Resentfully. Fucker.

(My level of emotion about that fucking man and his fucking music is such that I cannot even have internal dialogs about him without them becoming profanity-laden. More profanity-laden than usual, I mean.)

So, I wanted to subsidize Brown in at least SOME way for all the torment and heartbreak and anger he'd given me. And I wanted to be able to sing some of his music. So I bought the sheet music for the musical.

A few months later Jason Fucking Robert Fucking Brown got into a well-publicized fight with a teenager over distributing digital copies of his sheet music.

In which he was very self-righteous about his rights to earn money every time someone sang one of his songs. In which he made similar arguments to the ones Healey and Mitchell and Brennan made last week. But mostly?

In which he looked like a gigantic fucking asshole.

(Pro-tip: if your goal is to make you, the famous rich middle-aged white guy, the hero and your interlocutor, the teenage starving artist, the villain, please make at least an attempt to get her name right. Or at least refrain from mocking her for correcting you.)

Last week, I was looking for pieces to audition for my chorus's upcoming anti-Valentines cabaret, and I went to the library and checked out Songs For a New World.

"Fuck you, Jason Robert Brown," I thought. "I'm not buying any more of your fucking sheet music. I'm getting it from the motherfucking library, so there."

But then I auditioned a piece from The Last Five Years anyway. Fucker.

----

Anyway, what all this is meant to say is, a sea change has happened in the way people are producing and consuming media, and with the way they're interacting with the traditional gatekeepers of the media world. I realize that the old way things worked afforded you a living and that the new way doesn't. But the new way is here, and it's here to stay, and I don't want to be an asshole, but every time I hear someone shouting about how we should just go back to the old way? My main emotion is pity, not sympathy.

Like it or not, the way that you, author, interact with your intellectual property and the people who are consuming it is going to have a very strong impact on my willingness to consume it.

Cory Doctorow's fiction bores me to tears, but I keep valiantly talking myself into reading his books because I like his politics. Despite the way I feel about his works, I'm going to try very hard never again to send a cent in the direction of Jason Robert Brown.

And, to be fair to those of us on the consumption side of the line, things are confusing out there. I've been at concerts given by artists who say "Please don't buy my CD. Please download it illegally, I am trying to get away from my recording company." (I think we all know who that was.) Cory Doctorow is telling us that he makes more money by virtue of giving his work away for free. We've read Courtney Love on recording contracts. We've read Wil Wheaton on self-publishing.

I don't know what the next world of publishing looks like, but I can tell you this. Yelling at people like lucyham isn't going to get you there, and it's not going to keep you where you are either.

And I can also tell you this: when you say that the figures of people who downloaded your book would have put you on the NY Times bestseller list if they'd been sales, I've got to call bullshit. First of all, the vast majority of the people who downloaded your book were not people who would have bought it if it hadn't been online. They are people who wouldn't have known that your book existed. Second, you should probably take a look at the illegal download figures for the books that ARE on the NY Times bestseller list before you start making that sort of claim.

Maybe I'm just another one of the self-justifying piracy advocates who just wants everything for free, but I don't THINK I am. Because I value you strongly, author. I value the work you do, I live and breath it. I also value musicians, and the work that they do. And I value publishing houses, and the way they guide me to find good books. (I particularly value publishing houses like Baen, whose policy of handing out large number of free e-books, and whose high quality writers, have pretty much ensured that I'm going to buy my third copy of Cryoburn when it comes out in paperback.)

When I say that the old business model has failed and you need to find a new one, it's not because I don't respect the living the old one gave you. I liked that business model too, in a lot of ways--it gave me a regular supply of books that have been professionally copyrighted and marketed, with rather nice cover art, and let me line the walls of my house with them.

But, and I am only telling you this because I love you and what you do, you need to find a new way to make an income on your writing. Because I love you, author of printed books. But I also love the authors of my favorite webcomics. They give me their work for free, and let me read it when I feel like it without going to a bookstore first. And I subsidize them by buying merch and the occasional printed edition. I love my favorite radio personalities, so I give money during every This American Life fundraising drive and buy all the audiobooks by them that I can.

The way I find new authors to read, and new artists to support? Is almost entirely through the internet, and the things I can get from it for free. From authors blogs, from authors twitters, from recommendations on my friends' blogs and twitters.

This is pretty good for me, but in a lot of ways it sucks, it sucks MASSIVELY. Because, author, I really want you to be able to devote yourselves full-time to writing, and not have to take on the subsidiary tasks of being your own editor, publisher, marketer, social media guru in order to get an online following high enough you have sufficient True Fans to support you. OK Go's model is succeeding brilliantly, but I don't want to require that you be OK Go in order to succeed.

But I can't fix that, and neither can you.

ETA: This post is beginning to get a fair amount of attention, and I am on my way to work right now. I intend to respond to comments, but it's going to have to wait until this evening at the earliest. Thanks for your understanding!
epershand: Ampersand holding a skull. (ampersand)
Wow, Ursula K. Le Guin, I disagree strongly with you.

I still haven't seen The Tempest (I... don't watch movies, mostly, unless I can do it somewhere where I can multitask.) But still. The best production I ever saw of Hamlet was at a women's college. Most of the parts were played by women in pants roles, but the role of Hamlet was envisioned as an equivalent of King Christina of Sweden (Wikipedia has her title wrong). In this production, Hamlet was a girl raised to be King of Denmark until her uncle swooped in to snatch the crown, "Her Highness, the Prince."

Claudius tells her to stop her "unmanly" grief. Laertes tells Ophelia that no matter how strong Hamlet's feelings for her may be, a marriage is impossible:
...Perhaps she loves you now,
And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of her will; but you must fear,
Her greatness weigh’d, her will is not her own,
For she herself is subject to her birth;
She may not, as unvalu’d persons do,
Carve for herself, for on her choice depends
The safety and the health of the whole state;
And therefore must her choice be circumscrib’d
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof she is the head.


Prince Hamlet waxes eloquently about her grief while everyone around her assumes she is mad because her emotions are inappropriate. She kisses the girl and throws herself into a grave and kills her girlfriend's father through an arras, and she dies from the thrust of a poison sword. Her male friends from school follow her around making cracks about women's genitalia, ostensibly trying to take care of her while spying on her for her uncle. Her mother smothers her and her father manipulates her to do his bidding and her uncle slinks onto her throne because he thinks she can't handle it.

Her emotions are inappropriate. To survive she needs to be more manly. More rational. Less talk, more action. Somehow I think I've heard that before.

Le Guin is right, gender matters in Shakespeare. Queen Lear raging on the heath about her children means something different to us than King Lear doing the same thing. Changing the gender changes the play radically. It (cough) transforms it into something new. But that new thing doesn't take away from the thing that was there. It rings what was already there like a bell, striking all the bits we took for granted before and making us see them afresh.

And that's always been what I've loved the most about theatre. The words on the page may be consistent, but every director, every cast, every production is an opportunity to create a completely new work from scratch and show us something we haven't seen before. And Shakespeare in particular is a canvas that is ripe and ready for fresh painting. That is why Forbidden Planet works. That is why Ten Things I Hate About You works. That is why the production of A Winter's Tale where the first act took place in the 50s and the second act took place in the 60s and the character of Time was Albert Einstein in an astronaut's helmet worked.

That is why I can read The Merchant of Venice and see Shylock as a gothic hero rather than an Elizabethan villain (I really want to direct that production some day).

Shakespeare intended none of these things. It doesn't mean they aren't there. And it doesn't mean that bringing any of them to light takes away from the things he did mean. There have been plenty of literal productions. There will continue to be plenty of literal productions. Give me this one too, please.

ETA: All that being said, we're talking about THE TEMPEST here. Has Le Guin not read "The Sea and the Mirror"? Or did it just not hit her the way it hit everyone else I know who read it?
epershand: "when we have found all the meanings and lost all the mysteries we will be alone on an empty shore" (Alone on an empty shore)
I've been mulling a lot recently about the way I read slash, and how different it is from the way I watch a lot of mainstream entertainment with gay characters in them. And then I wrote a long rambly post on the subject. Surprise fact: this is that post.

I have all these goggles, and I just keep toggling between them. )

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epershand: An ampersand (Default)
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