Category Archives: Disaffection

Secret Diary of a Fangirl

Most of my visitors stumble here through Google [Other search engines are available. Though why would you bother?] and similarly I come across a good deal of my web stuff incidentally, stumbling around. This is the story of how I happened upon Tumblr and my first real brush with fandom. I know of fangirls, though I’ve met none personally as far as I’m aware, and I got that they all convened and communed somewhere online- message boards and what have you- from the comments on AfterEllen and IMDb and suchlike, I learnt of shipping and canon and the extreme seriousness with which some people take their popculture consumption.

Thing is- I did have the makings of a fangirl. Had there been such things as affordable laptops and unlimited broadband when I was of that age it is highly probable I would have fallen into the blog hole and never crawled out. My capriciousness, such a woeful flaw of personality IRL, is actually the trait that most distinguishes me from these fan types. That and a fundamental inability to feel genuine enthusiasm for more than an hour every lunar cycle. [Seriously I had this (I thought) amazing idea a month or two ago and I had been percolating it for a while, then when my last contract finished I got really buzzed about this project and was feverishly making notes and scrawling pages of potential directions to take it in and research I had to do; I even wrote to a couple of friends telling them how I was onto something big.  For a whole evening. The next day I just could not care less anymore and I’ve not even thought of it since. What is that?] They also have far beyond my rudimentary levels of technical nous, especially in the coding dept, though I suspect I would have picked it up easily enough, had I the tools at that malleable age.

So. My first ever submersion into genuine interactive fandom (There was my whole X-Files thing in the late nineties, but that was just between me and myself so it isn’t the same), Showcase Canada’s Lost Girl, I’ve mentioned it here before, but in no great detail. I fucking love this show. It’s one of the first ever things I’ve been in on right from the beginning, I’ve always been a late-to-the-party type. By serendipity, the week I heard of it online and started to get interested was the very week it launched on UK telly. Unheard of right? My mum even let me Series Record it in HD. Result.

I mean, I already knew pretty much everything that happened in it relationship-wise, though there was still the occasional plot surprise. Whilst dutifully watching each S1 episode the night it aired, I had been YouTubing the significant S2 OTP scenes in good conscience, knowing I would watch the series when it came to Blighty and definitely buy the boxset (which still has no UK release date incidentally) but by this point sporadic Googling had led me to the fansites. Oh hello Tumblr! That’s what you’re for. No one told me. Suddenly I had Urban Dictionary constantly open in the next tab for all the acronym thingies these kids use. (I worked a few out for myself, some of them though- where did that even come from?)

There is so much lore here, so many imbedded codes and shorthands (of language, not like HTML). It is genuinely amazing, it makes me want to go back to Sussex and do an MPhil in web community sociolects with a special focus on electronic communication of irony. For reals. The term ‘Fuck Yeah’ has been around donks right, but now it has specific meaning with respect to an artist, character or most commonly fictional couple (canon or subtext). These web savvy and occasionally literate, if utterly sex-obsessed and disconcertingly pervy, young women (almost always for any programmes I’m interested in following) are suddenly uninhibited linguistically and in their unabashed objectification of other women (men are in there too, just so much less so). Maybe it’s just because I’ve only really clicked on femslash tags (which isn’t nearly as nasty as it sounds. It just means FemaleA/FemaleB=OTP)

I think that blogs are a really valuable outlet for queer teens, especially in conservative towns/countries. It’s a safe means of confessing and connecting, of not being alone and that is a really vital thing though it may skew the demographic. I do wonder what the longer term social effect might be.

Team Lauren. Just sayin'

Anyway, there is a lovely (if you like that sort of thing) blog full of huge shiny GIFs and beautiful screencaps and manips [look at me with the lingo! Seriously, I barely knew what a GIF was three months ago. I thought they were extinct. And a bit annoying] and Zoie Palmer, run by a sweet Italian teenager and after an episode in which a significant canon occurrence occurred there was what I *thought* was a clip imbedded on this blog. So I click. It transpired after not too long that it was in fact a stream of the full episode and I felt bad about this because, despite my sub-Socialist and ‘Damn The Man’ rhetoric, I am in fact a very law-abiding citizen for the most part. (I fully condone and endorse underage drinking though. Tis a British rite of passage and they shall not take it from us!) More on that another post.

But, I was already hooked. It was a really good ep you know. And after that, I just had to know what would happen next. Terrible. So against my own oft-espoused values I streamed the next three or four episodes on VideoBB or similar, whilst still keeping abreast of S1 via legitimate channels (SyFy channel to be precise. Sky 114) This was the height of my Lost Girl fixation and by clicking on the tags on FYBL I was led to other Tumblrs of considerable interest. Who knew there were interesting, articulate and funny people just out there? Online.

Incisive social commentary

Then I found out that S2 of LG was coming to SyFy in January, which was only 3 or so weeks away at the time and I just couldn’t justify stealing it anymore, so I resolved to wait thereon. The upshot of this being I had to avoid the Tumblrs I had come to heavily frequent (in a stalky lurking way, being very resistant to opening my own account) to avoid spoiling forthcoming eps. I failed of course. AE always has spoilers in the headlines and I’d miss too much if I never went on there.

One of the amazing things about Tumblr is how quickly everything happens, how quickly news or ideas or jokes spread through the community. A fun little thing that happens is ‘Confessions’ sites where you anonymously type in a ‘confession’ about your favourite fandom and then the admins find appropriate images from the series and post your comment like a ‘censored’ bar over the character’s eyes. Simple, brilliant. I mention this because I’ve submitted a couple and they can be up within minutes sometimes, then in the time it takes to make a coffee later, people all over the world have reblogged your confession. Awe inspiring and terrifying. I mean, imagine if you made a comment IRL and a few hundred people over heard it and then three dozen of them liked it so much they went and repeated it to their friends. One of my confessions is the second most reblogged on the whole LGCsite. By looking at the ‘Notes’ on a Tumblr post and reading the comments people have added when reblogging I have found my way to witty, likeminded people. Strange and simple. Is this how people end up with internet friends? Because very few of my real life, actual friends are internetty people in a social way. There is a whole gay online Grindr thing, but choose not to be aware that, I’ve witnessed the consequences.

WIT.

Through Tumblr I have seen stunning artwork, read hilarious quips, had genuinely engaging conversations and been introduced to shit I never would have otherwise heard of. (Including ACTA which will  fuck with pretty much everyone in the world.) Which I believe is actually why Tim Berners-Lee made the internet open access in the first place.

So, my LG fandom has come to a natural impasse I feel, I have settled back into just being a normal fan, which is what most people are and would always be, if not for teh webs in general and Tumblr in particular. Shipping is something I have kind of done in the past, but not knowingly, and I know this level of investment isn’t healthy or productive, so I’m weaning myself off again. Crack ships are hilarious though: Lauren/Morrigan FTW. The interesting thing is the level of active participation, of fans taking ownership of their consumption. It’s sort of weird but in many ways it’s a positive thing, as long as people aren’t obsessed. [Just don’t let’s even mention fanfic right now.]

 

The result of all this however, one thousand and three hundred words later, is that there are two Tumblr accounts I hop to pretty much every time I’m online, just to see what they’re saying [Funny story about that expression. If you want to hear it- ask me in the comments] and as they have kept me entertained at 4am on many occasions and patiently respond to my barrage of anonymous comments (I don’t want to be anonymous, but as I said, I’m leery of being a full-blooded Tumblrer and there’s no OpenID option or anything) I feel I should give them honourable mention herein. So Tedra of Evanevieve and Heartsways of Pathetic Poetic– Respect to you both.

Also, I really wish WordPress let you make #TAGS that appeared in the order you wrote them like on Tumblr. I narrate my life in my head and I’m reconciled with that, I’ve decided it’s a writerly thing, but now I’ve started mentally footnoting my actions with #TAGS. This cannot be a good thing. Though it is quite amusing. But no one knows!

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GRAFFITI WARS: Because refusing to grow up will teach ‘authority’ some kind of ill-defined lesson

A polished up copy of King Robbo's famous tag

C4’S Street Summer has thrown out some fairly engaging content, if only in tried and tested formats, which provide a nice counterpart to the backwards looking programming favoured by Auntie and the Other Channel of late. One programme that particularly caught my attention was Sunday’s Graffiti Wars– an hour long interview-doc about tagger King Robbo and his childish feud with the fabled Banksy. [In the absence of doing any actual research, I’m going to assume that all the information contained therein is factually accurate and impartial. Or pretend that I am assuming as much. I’m also not going to bother roasting Banksy- it’s been done over and again.]

Both men take great pains to conceal their identities- in order to avoid prosecution for their profligate and ostentatious criminality and to perpetuate the myth of some kind of urban heroism. Like Batman or something. But with spray cans instead of an unassuagable desire for justice. Robo- who must be well into his forties- spends(t) most of his time working out how to plaster his trademark in hard to reach places. Legendary in the underground- figuratively and literally- for plastering his squiggle all over Tube trains throughout the eighties, he resents Banksy’s cult→mainstream appeal and mushrooming commercial success. He feels that stencilled pictures are artistically and politically inferior to the timeless art of writing your name on things- the accepted gold standard way of fucking the system and raging against the machine.

A “seminal piece” of his, wittily placed on a canal underpass beneath the London Transport Police HQ, which had been left untouched by city clean-up crews since 1985, was half obliterated by Banksy and incorporated into a new work by the Bristol spritzer.

Banky's piece incorporating King Robbo's old tag

This followed the low key rumbling of a newspaper flame war between the two and resulted in full-scale street conflagration. KR had ‘retired’ from his life as an eloquent and demonstrative political activist on account of his children needing a father. A grown man who runs around with his hood up and a scarf over his face, slapping people who haven’t heard of him, being the kind of role model children are desperately in need of, judging by recent events. Banksy’s aesthetic affront (tantamount to child murder apparently) was enough to bring our Bob out of retirement and back onto our streets with Teams Robbo and Banksy taking every opportunity to sting each other and escalate a tit-for-tat campaign of defacing each other’s work.

What with his being neither famous, nor apparently gainfully employed, our Bob had plenty of time to stew over the dispute, taking any chance he could engineer to snipe at his more successful rival and ‘modify’ Banksy’s works. Because at forty-five your priority in life should be getting revenge on some bloke who painted a picture over the name that you painted on a public wall twenty five years ago. Suggestion: Try using the expression ‘street cred’, unheard by relevant ears since 1991, to point out to your opponent how much cooler you are than him. Failing that, you could get your mum to tell his mum that he hasn’t being playing fair and it’s your turn.

Incidentally the GraffitiArtists™ (men who tag and write their names on things- as opposed to StreetArtists®: self-dubbed artists who paint on streets and buildings) so outraged by Banksy’s imposition in assimilating KR’s famous tag, are the ones who so besmirched this ‘priceless’ work of British urban art that it was barely recognisable by the time Banksy did his thing. But that’s okay, cos they’re graffitos.

King Robbo's famous tag under layers of graffiti

Heaven forfend graffiti should be overlaid with art. It’s worth noting that the film opens with Robbo himself painting out someone else’s tag.

Banksy had it down with this quote:

“If you want things to last you shouldn’t paint them under a bridge on the canal.”

Truesay.

According to the programme, shortly after his first exhibition as a legitimate if highly derivative artist, King Robbo was set upon in the street and left in a coma. It’s considered poor form to kick a man when he’s down, but I considered the programme itself worthy of response. If he comes round, hopefully he’ll reassess his priorities and stop griping over such a minor act. Maybe. You’ve got to hope it was random street violence and not one of Banksy’s sycophants fans who did this, because as far as Robbo took it- that is well beyond a joke or even childishness.


Watch this space if you care and aren’t especially diurnal

This isn’t in and of itself a post, however it will be. Here‘s my blogging playlist.


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