Right. So this is all analise010's fault, really. There was talk of "shameful" fandoms, and I started making a list of all of the fandoms I'd been in, and then I gave up on that and recorded the ones I'd actually spent significant time in. I'd also been chatting with concinnity about fannish origin narratives, and how everyone has their own story, and how so many of us have similar stories. So this is, for no good reason, the long and winding story of my participation in online media fandom, organized by fandom. With pictures. And bonus fic recs from waaaay back in the day.
Like most people in fandom, I was an avid media consumer as a child. And there was a particular book series that I think I consumed fannishly even before I knew what fandom was: Animorphs. My brother and I would bed our mom to go buy the new Animorphs book the day it came out, and then have very strongly worded shouting matches about who would read it first. The premise of Animorphs (written by K.A. Applegate) is that aliens have covertly invaded the earth. They're slugs that can take over human beings by entering their heads through the ear canal. (ewwww.) Our heroes, a group of three boys and two girls, meet a dying centaur-looking alien who gives them the power to turn into any animal they touch. These kids then conduct guerrilla warfare against the aliens for a total of 54 books. I liked it for a few reasons, one of which was that the awesomest warrior in the group was a girl, and another of which was that it explored lots of sticky ethical issues, like consent and ends vs. means and the fact that war has consequences. They made a movie, eventually, but it was pretty bad.
If I had known what fanfiction was at this point, I would have read and written so, so much of it for this fandom. When I eventually did discover internet fandom, I couldn't find a whole lot of Animorphs fic that I liked. Its demographic is preteens, so that didn't seem to lead to a whole lot of sophisticated fic. But. This is still the series of my heart. <3 <3 <3
Okay, so. Back in the day, when we had AOL and a dial-up modem and I had never heard of Usenet and didn't know what a fandom was or how to find one, I used my cute little AOL search engine to find stuff about The Pretender. And I still remember stumbling onto that awful Angelfire website, with its black background and garish green text, and having to squint at the screen in order to read NC-17 Ms. Parker/Jared fic (i.e. the two people wearing leather in the pic above. It's a very kinky pairing, but I don't think I realized at the time). Oh God. So very, very young, guys. I was sort of scandalized, but also hooked. Fanfiction was a revelation. I could get more of my favorite show, and I could get shippy stories, and I could get them now. I was reading het exclusively at this point, partly because I didn't see the appeal of slash yet and partly because Pretender fandom didn't really have much slash. I also remember having to find glossaries so that I could understand words like ship and slash and OTP. I was fascinated by the community and the vocabulary: it was like they had a sekrit language that I could learn. :)
Oh, JAG. A CBS show about military lawyers. The demographic for this show probably started at 35 on the low end. So yeah, the fandom was a tad more grown up. BUT. (and this is a big but) I was not really clued into all the vagaries of fandom yet. I knew of two ways to get fanfic: Fanfiction.net (oh yeah) and fandom-specific archives, if I could find them. And you know, now that I think of it, those and mailing lists might have been where most fanfic lived back then. Am I right that the move to LJ didn't happen until post 2000? Anyway, JAG had a couple of archives, and I gobbled down every piece of fic I could find there.
The West Wing
It took me a year or two to get into The West Wing properly for a couple of reasons. Originally, it seemed like such a grown-up's show. (More grown-up than JAG & Pretender? I apparently thought so.) And it was about the American government, which seemed like an awful thing for a TV show to be about. Once I figured out that, despite these things, the show was awesome, I had a second problem: I had trouble following the storylines. I would sit next to my mother and ask her to explain the jokes and the obscure culture references and the politics, and she would get a little frustrated with me, but explained anyway, and then I got really into it. Josh/Donna FTW! I loved them so, so much. I read every shippy piece of fic I could get my hands on, and my absolute favorite authors were Jo & Ryo (whose website is still unchanged and a lovely little time capsule back into 2001-2003 West Wing fandom). I went back to read some of their stuff again and was sort of shocked at myself: first person POVs! Epic, multi-part kidfic!
(Although, seriously, what's the deal with first person? At some point it became this mistake in the genre of fanfic. When did that happen? Because I know I avoid it now, but in reading through Jo's first person stuff on the above site, it's all good. She writes dialogue worthy of West Wing, and that's saying something. Makes me wonder about the history of genre conventions in fanfic.)
I didn't come to HP fandom until the 3rd book had been published. My little brother had been reading them, and I was too cool to read stuff my brother was reading. But then I did, and then I got into the fandom. The first movie didn't come out 'til after the fourth book so I was very firmly part of HP book fandom. Although I'd seen and probably even read slash before, this is the first fandom I can remember regularly reading slash in. You're thinking, "But there is SO MUCH good slash in West Wing fandom!!" You're right, but I wasn't reading it. Not yet, at least. I was grown up enough at this point (and far enough away from my super fundamentalist religious upbringings) to let myself enjoy the hotness of two beautiful dudes getting it on. I actually remember the moment on Fanfiction.net when I first saw the pairing Harry/Snape and this happening in my brain:
"WTF that is so wrong"
And then, obviously, I read it and then read them all and became a rampant Harry/Snape shipper and the rest is history. My teacher/student, May/December kink goes way back. This was also back in the day when people (or at least the teens on FF.net) were using the word "lemon" to warn for m/m sex. It was a precious time.
I also beta-ed my first fic in this fandom: it was my very first foray out of lurking. The fic was a Harry/Draco snowball fight, and I'm pretty sure I scared off the poor, teenaged writer by giving hundreds of words of feedback on her 3K fic.
Yet, despite the amount I read, I remember a very limited number of fics from my time in HP fandom. (I was not bookmarking yet.) In fact, I can list every fic I remember right here:
- The Rebirth and Galatea by Irina - These are the first two parts in an unfinished epic trilogy; both are novel-length by themselves. Basically, Ginny Weasley is the Chosen One and is mentored by badass Celtic goddess. Main pairing is Ginny/Harry, but there is some astoundingly hot Ginny/Draco in Galatea. I loved this fic, and so did many other people. It had a Yahoo Group dedicated to it. Heck, the OCs in this fic had fan followings. (They really are amazingly well-written OCs: all three dimensional, with storylines and motivations of their own.) These two fics are still well worth the read
- The Mirror of Maybe by midnightblue - I think I remember this one clearly because it is unfinished and I kept checking back for updates. The front page of the author's website claims that midnightblue is the "author of some of the best fan-fiction ever written." I don't know if that was written by the author or not, but this fic does display a certain...self-assurance. The premise is that Harry steps into a magic mirror in which he lives about 15 years in an alternate universe and then returns to his own time, a man in a teenaged body, determined to alter the course of the war and to re-win the heart of Severus Snape. It's a great premise, and some of the world-building is fantastic. But Harry is essentially a Gary Stu: he is grown-up, powerful, emotionally unflappable, and thus deprived of all the things that make HP interesting.
- Girl Most Likely, The Revenge of Lord Vodkamort, and other things by lizbee - I became a fan of Lizbee for an amazing Snape/Lily fic that she never finished and has since taken down, and I stayed a fan for her humor and her shiny, three-dimensional female characters. Girl Most Likely features an OFC who is strong and fucked up and somehow not a Mary Sue despite being Snape's daughter. <3 "Revenge" is hysterical, as is so much of her other fic. Additionally, she has written HP/Doctor Who crossovers (!!!), one of which is called Very Important Fic About How Romana and Tonks Are In Love (!!!). Lizbee was, I think, one of the main authors who drew me over to the glories of LiveJournal.
Next to HP and Star Wars, this was one of the first places where I was reading slash. And it was oh-so good. I don't recall a lot of what I read in this fandom, just that I was reading most of it on LOTR-specific archives. Mostly elf/human slash. I was probably one of three people in LOTR fandom who had never read the books, so I didn't always get the details of what I was reading, but that's not exactly what I was there for. *blush*
Oh God. This was the shameful time when I went through pretty much the entire Master/Apprentice archive. It was all super, super angsty and epically long and the kind of stuff that you read so quickly and obsessively that you get to the end and don't remember a damn thing that you just read. (I.e. Twilight. Reading Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon was like reading Twilight.) And it made me feel particularly dirty for my teacher/student kink, because there were sketchy consent issues all over the place, but I read them all anyway. Whew.
(I'm pretty sure there was some other fandoms in this 2000-2005 period, but I can't remember what they were. Hmmm...)
The fandom that made me and many, many other people read incest on a regular basis. A very angsty fandom (a very angsty canon); it was hard for me to keep up with this one consistently because I'm a pretty sensitive soul who needs to be pampered with happiness and crack. I was in it for a good 5 solid seasons before I wandered off. Really, there's a whole paragraph to write about my weird relationship with this fandom, and the things that it made me read, but there's probably been enough said by everyone everywhere about that. Oh SPN.
Xena: Warrior Princess
I discovered Xena fandom very, very late, guys. I'd seen some of the show in the 90s, but it wasn't until later, when I was writing a paper about femslash that I was like, wait. Did I miss something? And oh god, yes, yes I did. This is the femslash fandom: they have all their own vocabulary (altfic? Subtext? Remember that shit?). And then I read all the things. And all the things were good. Amen.
Another fandom I discovered really, really late. I did things completely backwards. I watched about 10 minutes of episode 1 of the New Who: it was Christopher Eccleston in all his glory and the unbelievable cheesiness of evil plastic aliens and I was like, "What. Why does everyone like this?" and turned it off. And then I ended up watching some Torchwood, because it seemed sexier and not as campy (and why did I think I wouldn't like a show b/c it was campy? Absolutely no idea. Crazypants, I was.) And then I was confused about all of Jack's mysterious, pining references to his ~doctor~ and then I went back to give DW another chance. I saw them all, in order, and was caught up in time for the premiere of Eleven. Which I now watch religiously with the rest of the UK. Incidentally, since I saw the last three Doctors in such quick succession, I don't have one whom I consider my doctor or the doctor or even my favorite. I understand this is a tad unusual for this fandom, but it's a happy position to be in: equal-opportunity fic reading! (Except for, you know, all those doctors that came before. Haven't seen them yet. *makes to-do list*)
Legend of the Seeker
Oh God, this was a wonderful fandom. Full of joy and crack and cracky joy and and AWESOME female characters and canonical kinky lesbians and femslash by the bucketful and OT3s. Good times. Until they canceled it after the second season due to it being sort of ridiculous and cracky. There was a letter-writing campaign. But it was nice while it lasted. LOTS was the first fandom for which I ever wrote and posted fic: a tiny commentfic (ohgod, don't ask, it's awful) in a kink meme , but ended up being a fun experience b/c some kind soul actually wrote a cute and funny follow-up, and then I felt all warm and cuddly about popping my fic cherry.
- HERE, HAVE SOME PICSPAMS. This fandom basically existed in picspam form. Kahlan's hair. Cracky picspam-y episode recaps. The Legend of the
SeekerSneaker. An entire community dedicated to crack: sword_of_lies.
- Also this: "I’ll do things to you those women can’t even imagine. Many know of a Mord-Sith’s ability to bring pain…but few know we’re equally skilled at bringing pleasure…" THINGS LIKE THIS HAPPEN ON A REGULAR BASIS ON THIS SHOW.
Remember how Glee actually aired its first episode like six months before the show actually started? After the American Idol finale? Right, so that happened, and lots of people, including me, were very excited about a primetime TV musical, and a fandom formed for them pretty much overnight. It was an odd experience, to be in a fandom for months before the show was actually running. But exciting, all that anticipation and build-up. The problem was, of course, that Glee actually started running episodes. I stuck with them for the first season and then fizzled out when I kept yelling at the TV about ableism and sexism and character development and consistency. *sadface* I occasionally still listen to the music to make sure I don't need it. I usually don't.
I got into this fandom at that point in my life when I was trying to delurk in a more aggressive way. So I built a Delicious page for community_tv and I made a single picspam for that one ship I liked. While I'm not really following the comms anymore, I still love and watch this show religiously. It brings me joy each and every week. Remember that one time when it was in claymation? Or that other time when they parodied Glee?? Oh God, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this show. And even though my original May/December ship is kinda drifting away, I don't really care. Because this is basically an OT7 show, guys. They all just REALLY LOVE EACH OTHER, OKAY, AND NEVER WANT TO BE APART. *sigh* I want to watch this show for all the rest of my days.
And I damn well hope I will be able to, NBC. Community was recently "put on hold," so it's not going to get to finish out its season, but should apparently be back next fall?? It had better be, is all I'm sayin.
Star Trek AOS & TOS
So here's what happened. I had seen some TOS and TNG and many of the movies before, but it didn't really stick. I had even seen some of the TOS fic, and I had read Henry Jenkins' Textual Poachers, and I had a very healthy respect for how TOS fandom had basically invented fanfiction and slash as we know it, but I wasn't IN that fandom. And then I saw the 2009 movie, and it was all flashy and lens flare-y and very improbable and coincidental, but so fast-paced that you didn't notice the first two times through, and yeah. I was on board with that shit. And then there was ST_kink, which remains, to this day, one of the biggest kink memes ever to exist on the internet. And I spent so much time in that meme, and then I was like, oh shit, I have to write a Master's Report. And so I wrote basically 50K of meta about the Star Trek kink meme, and then they gave me a Master's degree. I also attended ICFA (International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts), where I met several wonderful fannish people and finally, finally started a LiveJournal account after being in fandom for, let's see, 14? 13? years. And I am now learning to make icons for where_no_woman, so that's one more thing I have ST fandoms to thank for. In other words, my affiliation with this fandom has been really, really good for me. Thanks, guys!
Merlin. So here's the story of Merlin, just in case you've hidden in the dark corners of fandom where people never flailed about it: a very silly family-friendly retelling of the King Arthur myths with not particularly good writing, but, but. The SLASHIEST SHIT ON A TELEVISION SCREEN SINCE STARSKY & HUTCH, NO JOKE. And lo, there came to be a fandom made of sparkles and cuddles and p0rny goodness, especially during season 1. Then there was some downhill parts during seasons 2-3 where we lost good chunks of the fandom, but gained other people who were just then reading the season 1 fic, and here we are in season 4, still trucking along, and the show is doing it's usual flighty thing where one epsiode is solid gold and full of love and destiny and watersports jokes (seriously) and then a couple episodes later we're back to fail. But I'M STILL HERE. I'm in an abusive relationship with this show, actually, but in a very loving, long-term partnership with this fandom. &hearts&hearts&hearts. The end.
Bandom - Mostly My Chemical Romance
My reading in this fandom is completely and utterly the fault of concinnity Bandom is...how to describe bandom? Y'know what? No, I'm not even going to try. But they've got great fic and great podfic. So here, have some things:
- An 11K MCR Primer which will explain everything you need to know about My Chemical Romance. Part 2 even has some fic recs!
- This Never Happened by Bexless, which was the first thing I read in bandom and still one of best. Bexless claims it's not a fic: it's "costumed" as a fic. It's a high school AU told with emoticons and crossdressing and teenage angst, and GO READ IT, seriously, you don't need to know a single thing about MCR to understand it. (But knowing things does make it a tad better, because you understand that Mikey Way's face literally looks like this - :| He's on the far right above. )
SUITS. Oh, my love for you is strong, Suits fandom. You've got a meme, and you're still in the process of writing all the fandom must-haves (y'know, the barista AU, the vampire AU, the slave AU, etc and so forth). Also, your canon is nothing but snappy dialogue and fancy people, one of whom is Gina Fucking Torres. And there's very little angst! AND. AND. You are very, very interested in formal BDSM for your OTP. I like that about you a lot. Let's be friends. No, strike that. Let me go down on you and then make you breakfast in the morning, Suits fandom. I will treat you right, I promise. <3
Huh. So I had meant to add more fic recs than I did, but this ended up obscenely long, and I ran out of energy. If you'd actually like recs for any of these fandoms, let me know.
Why did I do this? I'm fairly sure this is not what you meant when you encouraged me to make a list of my fandoms, analise010. ;)