I beg to disagree with you. It is not disrespectful to pursue that conversation because of the nature of tumblr––we don’t really reply to each other; we rather respond to the things that people have said and wait to see what happens. Now I have explicitly replied to you, robinade, but I have no way of knowing you’ll see this. I have no way of knowing anyone who will see this. That’s the nature of tumblr, and the problem, I think, is that we haven’t updated the way we think about fandom––we haven’t moved on from an LJ sensibility, from the sense of privacy that a seemingly enclosed community creates. Well, guess what––while I don’t think we were ever as private as we pretended we were (heyyyyy Henry Jenkins!), we’re no longer enclosed.
Seriously, most of the internet is a public space. Since we’re speaking so condescendingly about choice here, when you choose to post content in an unlocked space––whatever that content may be––on the interwebz, you don’t get to choose who sees it, reblogs it, responds to it, reads it aloud to their friends, quotes it in an article, etc., etc. It may be more comfortable to pretend that no one can see it but the anonymous faces of fandom, especially if you’re like me (not high-profile, not particularly desirous of becoming very high-profile if it leads to being embroiled in dramarama), but that doesn’t mean that that conceit is a true one.
I personally love the fourth wall in every way there is to love it, from its literary theoretical implications to its practical application in my life as a fandom-dweller. But it is imperative to understand that the fourth wall is an illusion we’ve built and maintain for the sake of propriety and discretion, not an actual protective agent. You cannot retroactively want information you have released publicly to disappear into the private sphere, and you cannot track or control everyone who has access to that public information. It’s just the nature of the game. While pretending that fandom and RL is mutually exclusive is pretty much par for the course––it’s what I do!––the only thing that will protect your anonymity is what you choose or choose not to put publicly online. Once it’s out there, it’s fair game. Thinking the fourth wall is real is not only a fallacy, it’s foolhardy––the fourth wall has never existed.
I’ve never written RPF so I guess the stakes are lower for me, but I hung out in bandom for three years and I know how it works.
For the record, I don’t know Aja except for the, like, three conversations we had while we were both hanging around Inceptionville, but she’s always struck me as a decent person. While I may not always agree with her (just like I may not always agree with ANYONE who posts their opinions for public perusal), she has never seemed to have it out for fandom or be deliberately malicious towards people, or anything like that. I don’t really know why so many people love to hate on her.DAMN THAT GOT LONG
Not really up for replying to all of that. I think the points I want to make are:
- it’s true that tumblr is a public forum and therefore you can’t expect privacy or anonymity, but every person deserves respect and consideration, whether online or in real life
- regardless of whether or not the fourth wall is real, most fandoms prefer a degree of separation between their fanworks and the inspiration for those fanworks. they’re entitled to try and preserve that separation and it’s rude (and in some cases genuinely traumatizing) to try and fuck with that
- i don’t think Aja is acting out of maliciousness. she has an honest belief that fandom shouldn’t or shouldn’t have to hide behind the fourth wall. i don’t actually disagree with her. it’s her actions that are pissing people off. forcing people out of the fandom closet before they’re ready to— it’s no wonder people are full of resentment. her being a fan and therefore ‘one of us’ doesn’t give her a pass on this.
- I also agree people should be treated with respect. I guess we have different definitions of what respectful behavior is. Personally attacking someone for doing something you disagree with professionally: not respectful.
- It’s fine to want to preserve the fourth wall. I actually depend on it––I am not someone who wants to tell everyone I know IRL that I’m in fandom. But I don’t think Aja saying “we shouldn’t have to hide!” and writing an opinion piece to that effect, or writing pieces about fandom for a quasi-mainstream online community, is doing anything to endanger the fourth wall––not any more than people who aren’t involved in fandom being aware of fandom in the first place.
- I guess I don’t understand how people are being outed. For example, if someone quoted something I said on my tumblr, and if you then clicked on that tumblr, you would know that the girl whose pseudonym is tomato_greens is interested in [x] fandoms. You would know that no matter how you found my online presence-–and I’ve googled myself, okay, you can find me if you look up recipes with green tomatoes. We are all vulnerable to being “found out” by random mainstream people.
- That said, when you look at my tumblr, you don’t get my personal information because I haven’t chosen to make that stuff public. From what Aja says and from what I’ve seen, she genuinely avoids connecting people’s RL with their online lives without explicit permission. Are people getting more traffic from non-fandom visitors due to her articles? Maybe, but the only people who will click on the links in the article are people who interested in fan culture anyway––people who might have Googled “[x] fandom” and found the same links. So I don’t understand who’s being outed, or how.
I would appreciate hearing anything else you have to say, but only if you want to participate. I’m not trying to force anyone’s hand into having a discussion they don’t want to have or don’t feel up to having.
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