One of my favorite things about panels at GeekGirlCon is the way that common threads can emerge from different conversations; it gives me something to think about for months after the convention. If that sounds like the kind of thing that interests you, don’t forget to grab your passes for GeekGirlCon ‘15.
Slash fans were in for a treat on Saturday afternoon, in what panelist Aja Romano jokingly referred to as the “mini slash track”–back-to-back panels on “21st Century Boys: Slash in the Mainstream” and “Queerbaiting in Genre Television: Representation or Exploitation?”
The panels touched on different aspects of the push-pull between fandom and creators over queer characters, relationships, and representation. What happens when fans, desperate to see queerness represented in their beloved films, shows, and comics, co-opt those media to tell their own stories in fanfic, fanart, fan vids, gifsets, and so on–and what happens when creators are aware of those trends?
Hi everyone! Meet Anna Zola Miller, who serves on the Open Doors Committee of the Organization for Transformative Works. For those of you not familiar with Open Doors, they are an organization dedicated to preserving fanworks, especially those that run the risk of being lost. Check out some of their collections, which range from website to posters and fanfiction preservation. Anna was kind enough to answer a few questions about Open Doors and share what she’s currently geeking out about.
What has been the most rewarding part of the Open Doors Project?
Open Doors has given me a much better sense of the history and continuity of fandom. The online archives we’re importing to AO3 tend to be about ten years old, and of course fanzines have been around since the 1960’s. Media fandom has been around for going on half a century, now–it’s a well-established, coherent subculture, and at this point we have enough history that we need to take better care of it. Being involved with Open Doors has been a way for me to learn about that history and take an active part in preserving it.
What are some challenges that you have faced?
One of the major challenges in Open Doors is the tension between the philosophy of preservation and the culture of fandom. When we did our first automated archive import, there was a lot of controversy over whether we were moving fans’ work without permission, and whether that violated fan culture’s etiquette. As I see it, the preference some people have expressed for letting old archives disappear and old fanworks with them, rather than moving to the AO3, is a product of the shame and silence that surrounds fandom. I think we should assert our rights as fan creators to do and preserve what we see as culturally interesting and valuable transformative work, even as we attempt to protect people’s identity in situations where fandom can be a sensitive subject. A major part of that is ensuring that current fans are aware that they are not alone; they are part of a legitimate culture that has been around for a long time. And as a history geek, the thought of old fanworks disappearing makes me really sad.
Tell us about your favorite archived piece.
There’s a Starsky and Hutch fanzine that was archived in the Fan Culture Preservation Project a while ago, called Scales of Justice. I’ve never even seen Starsky and Hutch, but the zine is full of art and it’s so ridiculously gorgeous that I love it anyway. You can see some of the art on its Fanlore page.
What are you geeky about right now?
I’ve just started watching Battlestar Galactica so basically everything is robots. It’s an amazing show, and I already want to cosplay Starbuck. I’ve also been geeking out about all the Shakespeare in the Park that’s going on this summer. I’ve seen five different productions of Twelfth Night but the one Wooden O is doing currently is pretty near my favorite.
What was your favorite part about GeekGirlCon ‘12?
The con was excellent; the Jane Espenson panel was probably my favorite, but I also got a lot out of the Fans, Creators, and Social Justice panel. And Nerdlesque. And everything else. 😀
Check out Anna’s blog to read more about her experience at GeekGirlCon 2012!
Now reader, let’s hear from you! What’s your favorite kind of fanwork?