I was going to say something about bitter old fic queens
, and how I do and don't agree with jennyo
, but I got sidetracked into "Am I old enough in fandom to be a bitter old anything?" Nah. Not really. I've been a consumer since about 1990, when I bought my first slash zine, but I didn't interact with other people until much later. Didn't discuss online, didn't critique, didn't write. James says I'm a bitter middle-aged fic queen. Except without the queen part, I say. I'm a bitter middle-aged (in fan-years) fic civil servant.
Yes, I get a little tired of being quietly and somewhat superciliously told that my intelligence or morality or womanhood or devotion to art depends on whether I see characters the same way as other people, dislike certain sorts of writing and episodes, like others, etc. And a thousand protests of "No, I don't mean you-- where did you see your name on the list of people whose names I didn't name but whose characteristics could conceivably fit the way you feel on some particular aspect of fandom?" will not stop me from feeling insulted. Being told that if I insist on being insulted by insults that were not specifically directed at me, but rather at everyone who fits into whatever mindset the alleged BOFQ has a problem with, it's not the alleged BOFQ's problem, will not stop me from feeling insulted.
But you know what? I don't have to read those people's blogs. If I do, and I get insulted, I can take up the issue with them, or I can write it off as not worth discussing, or I can bitch about it in my own journal. Whatever. Other fans, no matter how much they may annoy -- or delight -- me, do not ruin my viewing experience. Especially if I have to go out of my way to read the things that I know will offend me.
These people do not ruin my viewing experience, because I don't have to let them.
I can see that this might be different when you factor in mailing lists -- there, you're not talking about going to someone else's blog to find an opinion that pisses you off -- it's right there on your list. Public forum without the personal aspect that blogs, even with comment features -- have. Same for places like TWOP, and other community forums. But still, I say -- you know who pisses you off. You can disagree with them and discuss it, or you can ignore it. If you've had it up to here with discussing it, that's cool. You can even bitch that you've had it up to here with discussing it.
When you start yelling at them to shut the hell up and go sit in the corner until they can behave like they're older than 12? You're acting the same way.
When you tell them that they don't set community standards, then you inform them that no one's listening to them and they should fuck off to their own little isolated world? You're acting the same way.
And when you tell them -- and me -- that anybody who's ever written a rant on fandom, or writers, or the suckage of the original text at some point a la Angel S3, owes
the fannish community and you in particular good fiction in exchange for it?
Even if you're being over-the-top for humour's sake, still, um, no. Fic is not a debt or a requirement of being a part of fandom. It is never owed,
with the exception of things that have been specifically promised to people. I owe you nothing -- assuming you've ever heard of me or even care. The BOFQ's owe you nothing. The cool people owe you nothing, the uncool people owe you nothing, my cat owes you nothing. The idiot who did the most recent piece of lovey-dovey Angel/Cordy schmoop or abused-Xander/sugar-coated-Spike owes you nothing. Joss, in fact, owes you nothing, which you seem to recognise -- so why can't you see the fannish corollaries? Writing fic is, you're right, a hobby. It may be a vocation for some people, or an emotional security blanket, or any number of other, personal things. It's not, and never will be, a commodity.
It's also not the only valuable thing that people can contribute to fandom, just because it's the most valuable thing to *you*. You don't set community standards either. And writing/having written fanfiction is definitely not the only qualification for being able to open one's mouth and bitch about bad writing, bad shows, or bad behaviour. I do write, and I've written recently, and I've been told it was pretty fucking decent -- but don't tell me that if I have another long spell of not being able to write for whatever personal reason, that I'm suddenly less qualified than you to open my mouth about fannish issues. Don't tell me that the friends I have who don't write fiction at all, but come up with brilliant comments on other people's, are less qualified than you to make those comments.
Or rather, *do* tell me that. Say it as loud and as eloquently as you like -- you have the right. But don't expect me to believe it, and don't expect me to see you as behaving any better than the people you're bitching about.