pointed me to this exchange, and I'm glad she did. Very interesting.
Starting point: lyda222
's Livejournal, where she talks about Rob Bricken's Fan Fiction Friday
on io9, in which he ridicules a Steve/Tony slash story and a Harry Potter story
And she makes some very cogent, significant points: that fanfic, especially erotic fanfic, and especially slash, is very personal, written by fans for fans, and it takes courage - I would add, and passion - to put it out in the world. To see strangers ridicule it is distressing. Yes, I'd be upset to see a stranger ridiculing my stories in a public forum like io9 - or anywhere else.
I don't ike to see mockery in public forums. If you must mock, mock what you love, not what you hate. Hatred isn't funny. I don't mind scathing reviews - I've written a few of them myself. But ridicule for the sake of ridicule is cruel. You shouldn't do it at all, and if you do, you shouldn't do it in public and you certainly shouldn't do it in such a way that the object of the mockery will know about it. Why encourage unkindness in a public forum? Aren't we supposed to be putting an end to bullying?
Moreover, if you're going to ridicule something, it's way too easy to do so as an outsider. People often ridicule what they don't like, just because they don't like it. ("Look at that ugly sweater on sale! Who'd wear that?") Respect for the tastes of others is a very difficult lesson to learn. To my eyes, it's an important one.
When I read lyda222
's comments I thought io9 would reply: suck it up
. Or some version of "fan fiction is fair game". And I think the consequences of that ultimately would be for slash fandom to go underground again, to retreat to the days when it was a secret; scattered, hard to find, kept under passwords and in fannish communities that were hard to find and hard to get into. I'm not sure how many people realize it, but fandom is fragile, even if stronger and bigger than it used to be. And there are a lot of people out there who would attack it, in various ways and for different reasons, with various weapons.
It's all the worse that this happened in a forum for fans - not some right-wing Rush Limbaugh site.
I was surprised and delighted to see that io9 was less insensitive that I expected, and the feature was dropped, without an apology, but with an explanation by io9 editor Annalee Newitz, who said:
Most fanfic archives and communities are run as safe spaces, places where writers are encouraged to pour their hearts and fantasies out without fear of reprisals. Many of the people who wrote to us to explain their concerns about FFF used the word "shaming" to describe what they felt the feature was doing. Again, this was not our intent, but intent doesn't matter.
So what did
they think they were doing, and how clueless can they be? They did what they did: what kind of innocence can they plausibly claim? That they didn't mean to subject fans to scathing mockery? By their own admission, that's exactly what they intended. They may think they were just targeting bad writing, but they weren't. They were targeting a genre, and the fans who read it.
I thought Rob Bricken's comment was both insensitive and stupid:
On the plus side, I can stop reading hundreds of shitty fan fic each week, and may give my liver a chance to recover. I'm happy so many of you enjoyed it and will miss it, but I promise you there's no need to rake io9 over the coals. Annalee and io9 have been incredibly supportive of me and FFF, but it just didn't jibe with io9's audience. It happens.
Clearly he's not someone I'd want to invite over for supper. He sounds like a total lout. I'm so glad to hear that open cruelty isn't something that jibes with io9's audience. Reassures me no end.
A point that wasn't made on any of these forums - but which seems significant to me - is that slash is a women's fandom of fic written by and for women, and here we have a man ruthlessly demeaning it, and a female editor making the decision to stop the feature.
Looks to me like sexism at its worst.