By Nomad (Brain the size of a planet and here I am… ) Otto
In the not too distant future (by the end of this week), I’ll be headed out to France to work on the experiment which will make up my thesis. This will mean that I have a month of limited to no internet access, which means that I can throw some firebombs around and BigN will have to clean up the mess. I do this because in addition to studying science, I’m also making a career of evil (as per the Blue Oyster [I wish I knew how to do the umlat in HTML] Cult, though mad science might be a better description); learning to rain on the parade is a vital skill, vital to spotting errors in plans etc. Therefore, let the flaming begin!
So, the past two years have marked a shift in my thinking about Fanfiction/Doujin culture, and, by consequence, about the ability of fan-culture to survive. As you may have heard from some of my previous articles, Anglophone anime fan culture is in the process of changing. No-longer do the previous models of viewership-based interaction work, and, so, something needs to replace the hollow center that’s developing. When I was in charge of the anime Illuminati, I thought that the way out was to switch over to a doujin-y culture, based on manufacturing our own content. Fundamentally, I felt that moving from a culture of passive consumption to active creation was a good step, especially since it fits in with my theory of active vs. consumer cultures. To this end, I not only wrote for the newsletter (newsletta, for you hep cats who still remember my valient cry, “go write something, you lazy sacks of shit”), but I also tried to get a series of Doujin and translation projects started, all of which ended in failure (which is a rather strong strike against the whole idea of “self-created content” as a model for fan interactions).
In fact, the only creative work I’ve seen come out of my old haunt in recent days are a series of pretty miserable fan-fics and a re-dubbing of Utawarerumono done to mock the fact that we couldn’t continue showing it. In the pre-dying mode, however, the club was able to churn out of series of actually fairly ambitious projects, including a hilarious stop-motion animation and an AMV of such horror that it was actually banned from being shown at some con (oh, psysaiz, you’re so crizzazzy). Normally, failure wouldn’t bother me very much, since it’s more or less a constant function of existence, but I get the feeling that I’m going about things the wrong way, failing in the prime requirement of “do[ing] things that work.”
If this hunch is correct, rather than trying to migrate from a consumption interaction model to a creative interaction model is an organic process which cannot be forced, cajoled, or otherwise manipulated. If this is the case, then we are fore-doomed, utterly without hope for a strong presence in the future. The reason for this is pretty simple, the death of the old center came too soon, as the new center has shown itself to be incapable of existing without source material to draw on, i.e. the culture is cable of responding to stimuli, but is unable to yet form its own thoughts, and, therefore, cannot maintain the momentum required for continued survival. Q.E.D. sooner or later, we will end up like American Musical theatre, a masturbatory, self-referential wasteland which has almost zero relevance to the course of art (Zing, as they say).
I believe that I’m wrong, but I’m not sure where the counterargument can best be directed. Anyway, later, as I’ve got a fat stack of papers to grade before I leave. Comments, as always, are free.