Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Fan Fiction = 33% content around books

So apparently Annie Proulx gets a lot of manuscripts sexxing up Brokeback Mountain and she's annoyed.  According to "Bill Tancer–an online intelligence agent", Galley Cat got the following quote:

There's no way to stop people from interacting with your content. You can ignore or embrace it … to complain about it isn't going to make it better. Fan fiction makes up 33 percent of all content revolving around books."

I don't know what an online intelligence agent is or what "content revolving around books" exactly means, but I think the message is that fan fiction isn't going away no matter how much it irritates the author. 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

189 Comments

  1. veinglory
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 10:34:05

    Mailing the fanfic to the author expectign her to give a damn is pretty dumb. (Albeit the author responding with the equivalent of ‘its a silly unimportant story, don’t bother me’ isn’t tewwibly clever either.)

  2. Folklore Fanatic
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 11:06:47

    At least Proulx isn’t in a band. Then she would have random people emailing her smut featuring herself and have fans approaching her in public places to get her to pose for a photo holding a sign that says “Proulx + NEvans = Prevans 4EVAR!!!” Or something like that.

  3. Tina
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 11:29:25

    An online intelligence agent is a meta-blogger.

    Before computers, they were called Cliff Clavin’s.

  4. handyhunter
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 13:00:39

    The first rule of fanfic is that you don’t show or mention it to the creator.

  5. Lori
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 13:23:05

    There are rules to fanfic?

  6. Bev(BB)
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 13:54:35

    There are rules to fanfic?

    Well, of course there are. Aren’t there rules to all creative processes?

    Now, whether anyone follows them or not is another story. Or whether they’re actually written down or simply generally accepted.

    But sure there are rules. And an absolute cardinal rule, as it were, is that copyrighted material belongs to someone and fan fiction writers are only borrowing the elements therein for “play” purposes. It’s one thing for the rightful owners to ignore the playing as all in fun if it’s not waved in their faces, you know.

    Quite another to have it shoved in their faces.

    Sort of built into the concept of fan fiction that one doesn’t do that.

  7. Ann Somerville
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 17:11:48

    I don’t know what an online intelligence agent is

    Me either, but they’ve been falling down on the job :)

    the message is that fan fiction isn’t going away no matter how much it irritates the author.

    Lee Goldberg, that’s your dogwhistle calling.

    Sending fanfic – let alone porny fanfic – to anyone but a fellow fan, is stupid and rude. And in this case, possibly suicidal.

  8. Mouse
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 19:38:35

    Bev is right. There are two rules to fanfiction that most writer’s with half a brain cell know.

    1. You do not mention it to the talent, ever, and never shove your unedited gay porn in their faces.

    2. No profiting off of it. You don’t own the characters or the world. If you’re playing in it, so is everyone else. It’s like double-dipping in the communal sauce, one idiot can ruin it for everyone else.

  9. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 20:35:35

    From my blog:

    Author Annie Proulx, who wrote BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, tells the Wall Street Journal that the fanfic ripped off from her work by “remedial writers” is a “source of constant irritation.”

    There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story. They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for “fixing” the story. […] They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement-‘i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property

    Defamer comments on all the insipid BROKEBACK fanfic.

    We can see Proulx’s point; after all, it somewhat dilutes the gist of the original story if a sequel just happens to involve Ennis Del Mar meeting the slain Jack Twist’s identical twin (coincidentally, also gay!). When will the internet accept that Proulx’s simple, elegant tale simply can’t be done justice by a poorly written Livejournal follow-up?

  10. Brokeback fan
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 20:38:21

    Yes, there are the unwritten yet understood rules to writing and sharing fan-fiction, as MOUSE points out. The problem comes from the fact that approximately 85 to 95% of active BBM fans/fiction writers have NEVER been involved in a media/literary fandom before. They are, excuse the expression, fandom/fanfic ‘virgins’…. I’d roughly estimate that 99 out of a hundred new Brokeback fanfics I’ve read over the past two years have started with an Author’s Note to the effect “I’ve never written anything like this before in my life, but I was so moved by BBM that I HAD to….blah blah blah”…

    When I saw that news article, I cringed!

  11. Bev(BB)
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 21:08:24

    What’s interesting here, and this is just an observation, is that traditionally, most fan fiction has been for TV series and sometimes movies. Rarely books. At least book fan fiction appears to be a more recent phenomenon. The observation being that books tend to be more “complete” in terms of story, maybe, so they don’t tend to feed the need for fan fiction nearly as much in the eyes of fans. That’s not always the case but generally so.

    OTOH, the one aspect that nearly always triggers the “what if” of fan fiction is unresolved romantic relationships, straight or slash, regardless of medium. The bigger the romantic tangle left dangling the bigger the temptation the fans will have to, well, play. Which is why some of the most obscure series, movies and even books tend to end up having fan fiction while romance novels get touched very little. Romance authors have to really leave some threads dangling to give fans something to play with.

    I haven’t seen it or read it but I suspect there are a lot of unresolved issues with BBM. Almost to the point of a feeding frenzy. Am I correct?

  12. veinglory
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 21:45:18

    I dunno. I was always in book fandoms. I would argue book pastiche/fandom is older (e.g. Sherlock Holmes retellings, Robin Hood and so on).

  13. Jane
    Sep 18, 2008 @ 23:15:17

    It is ironic, isn’t it, that fan ficcers actively engage in the violation of copyright on a regular basis but have rules on how to go about doing it in an appropriate fashion?

  14. Ann Somerville
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 01:49:53

    fan ficcers actively engage in the violation of copyright on a regular basis

    Disappointed to hear a lawyer say that, when it’s never been established by a court that fanfiction is ab initio a copyright violation. Plenty of it is not – and a lot is published. Jane Austen fiction, anyone?

    Of course Mr Goldberg will work himself up into a frothing rage at the very idea of legal fanfiction (other than the kind he writes of course), but the fact remains that it’s possible to write fanfiction which is not a copyright violation, even if it’s based on material still in copyright. The key is the degree of transformation.

    People more invested in the topic will doubtless be able to add more to this subject than I care to, but I just wanted to note that the legal status of fanfiction is far from clear.

    rules on how to go about doing it in an appropriate fashion

    Fandom is a subset of the wider community. Of course it has rules as to how people within should interact. Unfortunately these rules change depending who’s laying them down – just like the wider community’s.

  15. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 09:19:36

    Disappointed to hear a lawyer say that, when it's never been established by a court that fanfiction is ab initio a copyright violation. Plenty of it is not – and a lot is published. Jane Austen fiction, anyone?

    You’ll just have to be disappointed then. Jane Austen fiction isn’t copyright infringing because Austen is out of copyright. But overall, yes, I think most fan ficcers do violate copyright (and know it) on a regular basis so I find it amusing that they have this set of rigid rules.

    Besides, as a long time reader of the blog would know, I’ve defended fan fiction and argued that its not per se a violation depending on the way in which it is written. But the idea that those who engage in illegal activity have strict rules about engaging in such activity is very amusing to me.

  16. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 09:44:01

    To reply somewhat here as an active fanficcer, Ann has the point. Fanfiction and derivative works is still a legal grey area, one that isn’t going to be settled because neither side wants to throw down and have to courts figure it out. Fanworks are good for ailing properties. It’s like free publicity put out there by the very people that love it so much. It keeps folks interested enough to keep being fans and keep buying stuff. Copyright holders of big properties like Star Trek, Star Wars, the LOTR movies, Potter, don’t want to piss off the fans by taking away their right to write or draw what they want with their favorite characters. Fans don’t want to see it taken away either, which leaves it at a stalemate.

    Ann points out the irony of Lee Goldberg too, and it is ironic. He writes novels of other properties that isn’t his idea or his characters to begin with. The difference between him and fanficcers is that he gets paid for his words along with the big glowing stamp of approval from the copyright holders, and they don’t. A reader has to pay to read his words while you get it for free from fandom writers, some of which might be arguable better writers than him.

    In reply to Bev and veinglory, yes, there have been book fandoms before Harry Potter broke it wide open. Sherlock Holmes and the fan authors continuing his mysteries comes to mind, so do the fandoms surrounding the Jane Austen novels or other classics like the Phantom of the Opera. A lot of people don’t consider them fanfiction because they’re based off works that aren’t protected by copyright, but they’re still derivative works created from someone else’s story.

    To me, that’s all fanfiction is, the same old oral story telling tradition of each teller saying the same story but with their own take on it, or adding on to someone else’s story, but in written form and on the internet. Not everyone tells a good story, but it’s something that wasn’t there before . . . and I’m waxing philosophically.

    I’m sure you all get the point by now. There’s greater people than me that have tried to explain fandom, but you can’t really explain it to someone else who hasn’t experienced it for themselves.

    It’s organized chaos really. Everyone has their own cliques and tribes or ships as it were, their own rules on how to conduct themselves, their own subset of rules within the properties canon and fandom cliches, and their own communities encompassing the talented, the geniuses, the smart-asses, the fools, and the downright mean.

    No one fan is the same, and to paint them all by the same ‘artless hack writer’ brush like Lee Goldberg does is to underestimate the creative talent that is out there. Most of the good ones are modest, have real lives, and don’t want to be up on anyone’s radar while a few are just writing for the glory of being popular among other fans. Like real life, you don’t have to be a good writer to get anywhere if you’re dramatic enough, but it’ll hurt eventually when the fans have had enough and turn on their own.

    Fandom is a beast. It eats its own at times, mocking those that don’t toe the line. It’s why the HP Lexicon case has made Steve Vander Ark a pariah in most Potter fandom circles with enough intelligence to understand the ramifications of what he did. He tried to profit off of something that wasn’t his and knew about it. He can plead that his arm got twisted into it or blame RDR all he wants, but it couldn’t have happen like that. He may not have been formally accused in the proceedings but it was still his site that he signed over. No one but himself made him sign the book papers, and fandom hates him for breaking that rule until he got legally smacked back into place.

    So, I guess that answers Jane question. Fandom does police itself like any other society, by shaming wrong-doing, shunning the guilty, and mocking those that make fools of themselves. Social-engineering at its finest and most cruel.

  17. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 10:12:40

    But overall, yes, I think most fan ficcers do violate copyright (and know it) on a regular basis so I find it amusing that they have this set of rigid rules.

    Rigid? Not exactly, except in that one respect with regard to keeping out of the way of the creators. And since that’s only logical and downright ethical I don’t understand your amusement, Jane. In everything else, fandoms pretty much vary just like all other communities like Mouse says.

    In reply to Bev and veinglory, yes, there have been book fandoms before Harry Potter broke it wide open. Sherlock Holmes and the fan authors continuing his mysteries comes to mind, so do the fandoms surrounding the Jane Austen novels or other classics like the Phantom of the Opera. A lot of people don't consider them fanfiction because they're based off works that aren't protected by copyright, but they're still derivative works created from someone else's story.

    I’m not sure I was even thinking of those types of fandoms when I mentioned book fan fiction. Sherlock Holmes fandoms are legendary for one thing and while people know they’re book associated fan fiction is not the first thing that comes mind when one thinks of them. ;)

    I guess what I was getting at was a more general reference to book fan fiction outside of more specialized fandoms. Where the fans haven’t necessarily been drawn into the greater existing universe first before they start cranking out fan fiction. Although now that I think about it, it does sound odd but isn’t that what the entire uproar over BBM is related to – a stand-alone book, albeit one that got made into a movie, getting all this attention and focus?

    To me, that's all fanfiction is, the same old oral story telling tradition of each teller saying the same story but with their own take on it, or adding on to someone else's story, but in written form and on the internet. Not everyone tells a good story, but it's something that wasn't there before . . . and I'm waxing philosophically.

    Philosophical or not, it’s pretty much the accepted definition of what fan fiction is – a continuation of true oral story telling. The masses taking back control of their own folklore, images and icons as it were. It’s not meant to be intrusive. It’s meant to be benign. It can profit both sides in its own way.

    That doesn’t mean it can’t get out of control if not respected for what it is.

  18. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 10:31:00

    In regards to the BBM fandom, I think you’re over-thinking it a little Bev, and disregarding the movie for the sake of the book. The masses didn’t latch onto the book so much as latch onto the movie. They latched onto it to see Heath Ledger be gay, much like a lot of them are suddenly lovers of the Joker over in the Batman fandom. None of them have read the comics before, but they’re still cranking out ‘Mary-Sue turning the Joker good’ fics. The same thing happened to LOTR when the movies came out. The hardcore Tolkien followers had to compete with the screaming fangirls going ‘OMG! Legolas! So hot! Must slash with Aragon! What do you mean he’s straight in canon!?’.

    To fandom and the women that predominantly write fanfiction, flashing two hot guys at them with a gay subtext is akin to ringing the dinner bell, story be damned. They will write slash and porny slash at that, especially if it is an unspoken, unrequited love, not that it’s required for slash. Even if they hate each other in canon, they will bend canon for the sake of hot slash.

    Yeah, I don’t quite get the compulsion either, and quite frankly it freaks me out at times, but then again, I’ve contemplated writing naughty tentacle porn too (anime fandom FTW!). To each their own.

  19. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 11:09:33

    Actually, I probably wasn’t thinking it through at all given that I haven’t read the book or seen the movie but your explanation makes complete sense given what I do know of fans and fandoms. Once they latch onto an idea. Oye.

    And yet that’s part of the fun. :D

    From what I do understand about the premise of that particular property, though, I can well see where there would be a wealth of, um, opportunities to get them started on stories ideas. It has always amazed me just how large a percentage of fan fiction is centered around relationships, though. Don’t get me wrong, there are other types of “what if” stories out there that do get generated from time to time but the by far larger percentage is about relationships of some form or other. Usually those that got overlooked, didn’t get consummated or otherwise in some way neglected. I mean what’s the motivation to “correct” or “fix” strong, healthy romances?

    Then again, how many times does Hollywood or non-romance fiction get romances right?

  20. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 12:14:26

    Mouse wrote:

    Ann points out the irony of Lee Goldberg too, and it is ironic. He writes novels of other properties that isn't his idea or his characters to begin with. The difference between him and fanficcers is that he gets paid for his words along with the big glowing stamp of approval from the copyright holders, and they don't. A reader has to pay to read his words while you get it for free from fandom writers, some of which might be arguable better writers than him.

    There’s a significant difference. What I do…and other tie-in writers…is the same as being hired to write an episode of a TV series (which I have also done). My MONK books are written with the consent, control and creative involvement of the creator/copyright holder. Fanficton is copyright infringement and is done without the creator/copyright holder’s consent, control or involvement…and often in direct opposition to their wishes.

    I’m not saying that my MONK books are creatively any better or worse than Monk fanfiction. But I am not violating the copyright or intellectual property rights of the MONK creators. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to write MONK books. They came to me. I would never write about someone else’s characters unless I was asked to by the people who created them (or own them). Why? Because they don’t belong to me.

    Why shouldn’t the creator/author have control over how THEIR characters and THEIR creation is used?

    I have no problem with fanfiction that is done with the consent of the creator/copyright holder (for example, Joss Wheden encourages fans to write fanfiction. Rowling is avidly against Potter slash, but that doesn’t stop scores of fanficcers from doing it anyway). But fanficcers don’t give a damn about what the authors/creators/rights-holders want.

    Bev writes:

    Rigid? Not exactly, except in that one respect with regard to keeping out of the way of the creators. And since that's only logical and downright ethical I don't understand your amusement, Jane.

    Jame probably finds it amusing, as I do,that people who actively and aggressively trample the copyright and intellectual property rights of authors consider what they are doing “ethical behavior.” The ethical thing to do would be to ask the author or copyright holder for their consent before writing fanfic and distributing it on the Internet. But fanficcers don’t care about the creator’s wishes (which I find ironic, since you’d think if they loved the author’s work that they would respect his or her intellectual property rights). Fanficcers think whatever someone writes and creates for books, TV or film belongs to them to do with as they please.

    The reason why it’s a big no-no in fandom to send an author your fanfic ripoff of their work is because they could object to it. And that is an unacceptable outcome to the fanficcers.

  21. Lori
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 12:17:13

    I believe Kelley Armstrong has encouraged fan fiction of the characters she’s created, at least she had previously on her website. She considered it a tribute, which was really very open of her.

    Do you think fan fiction is relationship heavy because women write much of it? And I’m asking that as guesswork. The only fan fiction I know really has been that based on movie stars and musical groups. And that work is predominantly written by women and heavily invested in romance and HEA.

  22. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 12:29:38

    Yes Lee pretty much encapsulates why the “rules” in fandom amuse me. (And I think I’ve disagreed with Goldberg’s stance on FF on my blog before). While I believe that fan fiction is not a per se copyright violation, it is safe to say that much of it is violative. Whether it is “ethical” probably depends upon the author’s stance on fan fiction but I think that there is a difference (not always though) between “ethics” and “legality”.

    In another case of irony, I think that the fan fiction that does the most violence to the original . . . (there is a name that fan ficcer use for this but it is escaping me) . . . the original precepts is the least likely to be infringing while the fan fiction that stays as close as possible inside the !canon! (just remembered it) of the author’s intent, vision and world is the most infringing.

    I do think that authors should embrace fan fiction instead of dismissing it. Nora Roberts, on the RWA panel on plagiarism and copyright, stated what I believe and that is that it serves as a good training ground for writers. I think authors should allow fan fiction to exist because it fosters fan loyalty to the original and can often serve as an advertisement for the original authors work, thus it is some type of grass roots promotion.

  23. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:00:51

    The reason why it's a big no-no in fandom to send an author your fanfic ripoff of their work is because they could object to it. And that is an unacceptable outcome to the fanficcers.

    Yep, got it in one. Exactly.

    I still think you and Jane are missing one point, however. And it’s a major one. Whether the stories are ever written down, once the properties are out there the fans will still have those “what if” ideas about them, simply because they are fans. That is the nature of the beast of popular culture. That is also what ties fan fiction to the tradition of oral storytelling. The tossing around of story ideas within our heads and between each other. Don’t we do it all the time in discussion forums within the romance community about the books we love?

    Fan fiction in its written form simply takes it the next step. And you know what? It takes a certain amount of courage to make the transition from simple ideas in one’s head to putting them down into written form – just like with any writer’s development. It’s an active growth process. Some people do grow quite a bit from it and some don’t.

    There are people I know from my fan fiction days that are now publishing romances. Or other fiction. I’m not even sure if that was their goal when they started either. There are others, though, that are still only writing fan fiction and I’d seriously put their stories up against most published for pay fiction I’ve ever seen. Some of it is that good. Sure, it’s a hobby, but there’s nothing that says that doing something as a hobby automatically makes it trash.

    In fact, I think in many ways we’ve forgotten the art of simply writing for the sake of writing in this video culture we live in. Which is something that fan fiction has tapped into ironically. Odd that writers who get paid writing would be the most resistant to encouraging the exercise of those same muscles, don’t you think?

    Or maybe not.

    Look, I know the copyright issue is a concern but for most fan fiction writers and fandoms, it’s a primary concern also. They respect the properties they are borrowing and actively show that respect up front with disclaimers on the stories. Why? Because they love the properties in the first place or they wouldn’t be wanting to play with the ideas that way.

    Sometimes there may be problems when you’re talking about people who don’t truly love the properties in the first place but there you’re not talking about fans. You’re talking about another animal altogether. Just don’t ask me how to deal with them because I have no idea.

  24. Laura
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:01:44

    Rowling is avidly against Potter slash

    Can you provide a citation to support that claim? I’d be interested to know where and when Rowling or any of her official representatives made a statement declaring her outright objection to slash. In 2004 her agent said that she preferred that Harry Potter fanfic not be sexually explicit (see article here), and less than a year ago, when she outed Dumbledore, Rowling laughed and said, “Oh, my God, the fan fiction” (see article here). I don’t see any avid objection to slash in either instance. While one might argue that perhaps most – though certainly not all – slash is sexually explicit, one cannot reasonably argue that all sexually explicit fanfic is slash, so it would be disingenuous to claim that the 2004 statement applied specifically and exclusively to slash.

    I don’t know what an online intelligence agent is

    Would s/he be an agent for online intelligence? Because, heaven knows, the Internet could use a whole team of such people.

  25. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:10:10

    Whether the stories are ever written down, once the properties are out there the fans will still have those “what if” ideas about them, simply because they are fans. That is the nature of the beast of popular culture. That is also what ties fan fiction to the tradition of oral storytelling. The tossing around of story ideas within our heads and between each other. Don't we do it all the time in discussion forums within the romance community about the books we love?

    The point that you are making is that the fans love the work, right? How does that get beyond the fact that many people are “borrowing” against the law? A disclaimer does not make the copyright dissolve. Nor does a fan’s love of anything dissolve the law.

    Look, I understand fan fiction. I support it. But I still think there is alot of irony in the way that fan ficcers police fandom.

  26. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:19:11

    The point that you are making is that the fans love the work, right? How does that get beyond the fact that many people are “borrowing” against the law? A disclaimer does not make the copyright dissolve. Nor does a fan's love of anything dissolve the law.

    Jane, if they’re doing it against the law, go sue someone about it. Get them convicted of a crime. Otherwise I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  27. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:23:11

    I wouldn’t have standing to sue. I’m not the copyright holder. Neither does it make any sense for authors to sue over fan fiction because it’s like the RIAA suing music fans because that’s not a) going to stop it (piracy or fan fiction) or b) going to help them (musicians or authors).

  28. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:24:36

    I’m gonna ignore Lee long enough to reply to Jane.

    While it may seem to be a copyright violation, most fanfiction could fall under fair use if it is brought to trial, making it a legal copyright violation. Most fanfic is non-commercial, arguably helps the copyright by its existence, and arguably is of enough transformative nature that it doesn’t disrupt the production of the original work.

    But, the courts have never decided on it, and, quite frankly, I don’t think it ever will be. The closest it ever came was the Lexicon case, and that was over fan-made references. No half of the argument really wants to see it decided for most of the reasons you and I have point out already. Fanfiction is not a bad thing even if people like Lee only see the violation part of it without thinking past that.

  29. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:28:40

    I don’t read enough fan fiction to know whether the quantity of it would be fair use but I think that under the ruling from the Patterson judge in the Lexicon, that it’s not likely to be transformative enough if it sticks close to the canon (and which is the major reason I didn’t like the ruling in the Lexicon). I actually think that copyright law should be interpreted less broad, opening it up so that more fan fiction would fall under fair use provisions. As it stands now, though, I think that the fan fic that is most approved (i.e. follows the canon strictly) is not likely to be transformative enough.

    As I argued in a different thread on the Rowling ruling, I WISH that the emphasis were placed on marketability (which is the same prong as commercial v. non commercial) i.e., does the derivative work impede the marketability of the original.

  30. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:39:15

    Not to get into semantics, but relatively, nothing really sticks close enough to canon to be exactly the same as the original. Everyone has their own bends and twists on the characters and the world itself, plus their own style and certainly their own plot to work with that sometimes the only thing left of the original authors is just the names.

    No fan, no matter how faithful, can transplant the original author into their head and then write. The Harry Potter written by Mary Sue fan-author isn’t the same as the one written by JKR herself. A lot of fanficcers think they’re writing the One True version of their favorite character, but most times it’s what they perceive the character as being.

    If the author has a distinctive style and language that could be emulated, then the argument could be made, but . . .

    I don’t know if there’s people that fanatical left in fandom.

    I’m wishing fair use was more about marketability too. It would certainly cut down on arguments like this.

  31. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:58:14

    As I argued in a different thread on the Rowling ruling, I WISH that the emphasis were placed on marketability (which is the same prong as commercial v. non commercial) i.e., does the derivative work impede the marketability of the original.

    I’m sitting here chuckling because of my own experience in fandom and fan fiction. It was with LOIS & CLARK. A Superman property. We were always very careful about the marketability of the icon we were dealing with. I recall distinctly that slash fiction was always frowned upon by TPTB and within our little fandom community.

    Then along came SMALLVILLE.

    Snort. Snicker.

    Amazing how much the concept of marketability can change in the blink of an eye.

  32. Janet/Robin
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:06:57

    Why shouldn't the creator/author have control over how THEIR characters and THEIR creation is used?

    The question (well, one of them) is *how much control* should anyone have over creative work?

    The answer to that question is not definitive past a certain point. While copyright statutes spell out certain rights of copying and distribution that inhere in the author/creator, they also allow for a Fair Use defense, which reflects the fact that copyright violation is not always unprotected. And in that, it says something very important about copyright: that it’s about balancing the rights of the public and the rights of the creator.

    And that balance reflects a number of things. It reflects the reality that ALL creative work is built on that of previous creators. It reflects the fact that incentivizing new creative work requires loose enough reins to let new creators into the realm of protection while continuing to protect existing and previous creators. It reflects the uncertain boundaries around what constitutes acceptable copyright violation, which in turn reflects the amoral nature of copyright law (i.e. it’s not a matter of bad v. good).

    A secondary issue presented here is that of *who* usually holds copyright in this culture. And some of it is held by corporate publishers, to whom the author cedes/sells his or her rights. A transfer which, of course, is necessary for commercial publication, but one that also places a great deal of incentive in the hands of corporations to keep copyright protections as broad as possible, NOT to incentive more creativity, but to maximize profit (which, btw, could be seen as contravening the original philosophy of copyright). So we’ve seen Disney push for broader application of copyright protection through extended temporal application of the code. Which, one may argue quite persuasively, actually acts as a bar, rather than an incentive, for individual creators. As authors argue for “their” rights, IMO, they are often inadvertently arguing against their own interests *as creators*, if not as *published authors*.

    All one has to do is look at the plethora of incredible art and literature created during the period before either commercial publishing or copyright existed to see that copyright does not *necessarily* protect and promote creativity. And those cases that have held for more narrow application of copyright protection (e.g. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose) often do so on the question of “transformation” of the original work into something new, and on certain accepted uses of copyrighted material, like parody, commentary, and criticism, which are held to exceed the creator’s sphere of “control.”

    As for fan fiction, although I do not read nor write it, I am a defender, and I believe that whether or not any particular fan fiction infringes on copyright, that the self-policing of fan fiction writers, their IMO excessive perception that they exist through the goodwill of the author (as opposed to any legal right to create the work they do), and the overwhelmingly amateur (and I mean this only in the commercial/professional sense) nature of fan fiction all makes it an incentive to creativity rather than a detriment or an interference with the original author’s creative work. And I think we must be cautious when we talk about “original” work, because there is sometimes a very fine line differentiating derivative work from transformative work, and a very muddy expanse of work that is published as fully original but — if we’re being really picky — might contradict that label even beyond the realm of ideas, which are not subject to copyright protection.

  33. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:13:34

    I guess I don’t understand your comment, Bev(BB). The Superman copyright resides with Time Warner (who also owns DC Comics). The Superboy copyright is owned by the Seigels while TW owns the trademark (due to differences in the trademark law). The copyright dispute arose over whether Smallville was a derivative work of the Superboy (which DC Comics does not own) or Superman (which it does).

  34. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:17:58

    Do you think fan fiction is relationship heavy because women write much of it? And I'm asking that as guesswork. The only fan fiction I know really has been that based on movie stars and musical groups. And that work is predominantly written by women and heavily invested in romance and HEA.

    I think the sheer number of female writers plays a role but don’t discount the properties themselves. If you’re talking about a “property” that’s movie stars or musical groups then I’d say the chances of having relationships be the main focus of the stories dramatically increased regardless of the author’s gender. ;)

    OTOH, how “the powers that be” (TPTB) mess around with relationships within a property also plays a role, whether TPTB is an single author or a major corporation/studio. The longevity of the property also has an effect. A single movie or book might not have much impact but a series of them, definitely. There’s more time to shred relationships, isn’t there? I call it the soap opera effect. And it’s never more prevalent than in TV series no matter the genre even if it only last thirteen episodes. Let it last ten years or more and talk about material fans have to work with.

    I’d say it’s not so much the female writers alone as the combinations of those writers and the properties they’re drawn to in the first place. There are male writers out there. What’s interesting is that they also write relationship stories, too, right along with non-relationship ones.

    I don’t know if this in any ways helps answer the question.

  35. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:20:52

    But fandom doesn’t view it like that, Jane. It’s all Superman ‘canon’ to the fans from Smallville to the movies to the many takes within the comics like Red Son. Fans pick the version they like, like Bev and Lois and Clark, or all the girls in the Smallville fandom. I don’t think any of them would know who held the rights over what if asked, only that DC comics made Superman to begin with.

    And Robin is entirely correct. I feel like I’ve been trying to say what was so well put by you, and failed miserable. v.v

  36. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:28:45

    I guess I don't understand your comment, Bev(BB). The Superman copyright resides with Time Warner (who also owns DC Comics). The Superboy copyright is owned by the Seigels while TW owns the trademark (due to differences in the trademark law). The copyright dispute arose over whether Smallville was a derivative work of the Superboy (which DC Comics does not own) or Superman (which it does).

    I guess you don’t understand because I wasn’t talking about any copyright issue.

    I was talking about the fact that SMALLVILLE had an immediate slash following regarding the relationship between Clark and Lex and everyone reveled in it. Everyone. TPTB included, although they’d never admit it openly, they certainly allowed enough ads that capitalized on it.

    Before that point, to even link Superman in any way with, gasp, slash was just not done. We were even warned against it within L&C fan fiction. (Of course, that didn’t stop some people which shows you just how much canon means to some.)

    And, Jane, one point, regardless of ownership, somehow they’ve managed to have a lot of Superman and DC characters appear on SMALLVILLE over the years so I fail to see the distinction.

  37. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:30:49

    And, Jane, one point, regardless of ownership, somehow they’ve managed to have a lot of Superman and DC characters appear on SMALLVILLE over the years so I fail to see the distinction.

    Um, isn’t that because Smallville is also a TimeWarner project?

  38. handyhunter
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:37:31

    I recall distinctly that slash fiction was always frowned upon by TPTB and within our little fandom community.

    Then along came SMALLVILLE.

    Hee. I don’t even watch that show, and yet. Even I could see Clark/Lex from the 2 minutes and previews I sometimes saw before Supernatural (speaking of slash…) aired.

    Fannish osmosis is a pervasive thing.

  39. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:50:13

    But fandom doesn't view it like that, Jane. It's all Superman ‘canon' to the fans from Smallville to the movies to the many takes within the comics like Red Son. Fans pick the version they like, like Bev and Lois and Clark, or all the girls in the Smallville fandom. I don't think any of them would know who held the rights over what if asked, only that DC comics made Superman to begin with.

    Thank you, Mouse. I think that’s part of what I was trying to say and failing badly. Canon discussion makes my head hurt. ;p

    Seriously, the very idea that fan fiction should “follows the canon strictly” could in any way be enforced is almost laughable. Actually I did chuckle when I read it. It’s so counter to the entire point of fan fiction.

    On the surface, people assume fan fiction is or should be about the canon of a particular fandom. Let me ask you this question, do we expect romance authors to completely stick to romance traditions and conventions forever? Or do we expect them to expand them? Explore boundaries?

    In other words, what is the point of asking “what if”?

    Canon is the starting place. It’s not the fence holding everything in. It’s the backbone but, oddly enough, not necessarily the distinguishing features when it comes to fan fiction. So to use it as the “rule” would be to defeat the entire purpose of fan fiction.

    The part that makes my head hurt is anyone attempting to define canon for any particular fandom. Talk about oye.

  40. Ann Somerville
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 17:02:14

    most fan ficcers do violate copyright (and know it)

    People ‘know’ a lot of things. Apparently 25% of Americans ‘know’ that alien abductions are real and the story of Genesis is literally true. A lot of authors ‘know’ the best way to protect copyright is to send a copy of your manuscript to yourself by registered post.

    Actually, most fanficcers, as I did, write CYA disclaimers at the top of their stories, while simultaneously believing, as I did, that there was every chance they were doing nothing whatsoever illegal or immoral. They were just signalling, as I did, that they didn’t mean even the slightest disrespect to the show’s creators. It’s a bit like slowing down for a speed camera even if you’re not speeding. Even if a fanficcer would win a court case over their writing, they could never afford to take a case through the system to find out. It’s not legal right on the copyright holders’ side so much as a lot of money and legal power. Same logic about little bloggers giving into spurious threats by companies trying to silence them. Who wants to spend money they don’t have testing law which has no sound predecents?

    I find it amusing that they have this set of rigid rules.

    A lot of authors/creators have contracts which forbid them from reading fanfiction (which itself calls into question the the absolute nature of fanfiction being a copyright violation). Fans know this, and because they love the people creating the works, don’t go out of their way to offend or cause distress to those they respect.

    People who get parking tickets don’t routinely go home and abuse their children. You’re comparing two unrelated scenarious. And I remain disappointed you’ve bought into the Goldbergian logic that fanficcers==thieves==amoral scum.

    As a medium-term reader of your blog, I thought you knew better than that about fanfiction.

  41. veinglory
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 17:35:32

    It isn’t a rigid set of rules, it is common sense informed by knowledge of what one is doing and what is sensible and polite in the context. So it is about as rigid as the rule not sneeze in someone’s face or give a a shrill tin whistle to your nephew.

  42. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 17:35:42

    People who get parking tickets don't routinely go home and abuse their children. You're comparing two unrelated scenarious. And I remain disappointed you've bought into the Goldbergian logic that fanficcers==thieves==amoral scum.

    Good lord Ann, I’m not sure where you got the impression that I was making any such connection. I’m going to assume that you did not read any of my comments here wherein I supported fan fiction and think that the copyright law should be interpreted in such a way to protect such an endeavor.

    I am curious, though, why you would choose to make such an outrageous connection. But then you probably know that by making such outrageous arguments you lose credibility for the good sense points that are somewhere buried within the hyperbole.

  43. Mouse
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 17:58:57

    I am not a psychic, but I think what set off Ann is because you sided with Goldberg to an extent by unwittingly agreeing with his logic that fanfiction=copyright violation=theft=criminal argument, which I’m pretty sure you really didn’t mean to do. He’s a bit of a polarizing figure among the fandom-friendly, to say the least. (I’m trying to be gentle here since he’s probably reading this too.)

    Looking back over it, I wasn’t too sure where you sided in the debate either until you mentioned wanting a different definition of fair use too. It’s a passionate topic to a lot of people because when you say stuff like copyright violation, people assume open pirating and plagiarism, which is the exact opposite of what actual fanfiction is, and no one wants to be lumped in with things like that.

    The Lexicon case is about the closest it’ll ever be settled, but that was a fan reference, not a fan work of fiction. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. So, yeah, the matter may never be settled.

  44. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 18:00:07

    Um, isn't that because Smallville is also a TimeWarner project?

    Superman and Clark Kent are ultimately DC Comic character properties regardless of what studio (Warner Bros.) is producing the series. TimeWarner is simply the corporation that ultimately owns all of them. I’m not sure what lawsuit you’re talking about but I suspect that has more to do with merchandizing for the series itself, which is certainly a big issue with SMALLVILLE because they’ve gone all out on marketing to the fans for it. We could barely get a poster out of Warner Bros for LOIS & CLARK.

    It’s interesting that they’re using the distinction of him being Superboy to get the trademark rights, though, because they are and have been using all these characters from DC Comics that are directly associated with Superman not Superboy. Lex Luthor and Lois Lane being the two biggest examples. Clark and Lex definitely have early meetings in some Superboy incarnations but Lois and Clark? Not likely, no. Or at least it’s an extreme stretch of canon.

    See, that’s the thing about canon. It plays with your mind. Superman is an ultimate example. He’s had seventy plus years to have his built over so many incarnations that I’m not even sure the avid fans could list them all from memory. (But I wouldn’t bet on it.) And we’re talking about multiple mediums. So which one do we choose as the legal definition of canon? The one we’re currently discussing or the overall ownership of the character? Because the overall ownership of the character may not be the one currently under discussion. And around we go. We’re talking encyclopedia level of information here.

    I say that quite seriously because when LOIS & CLARK was still on the air and I was actively writing fan fiction for it, there were fanboys who insisted we weren’t sticking to comic canon, regardless of the fact that we were writing about a TV series. With Superman you get layers of canon that you have to wade through if you aren’t careful, whatever the incarnation. Sometimes you get really tired of hearing “But Superman wouldn’t do that.” never mind that he’d just done it in an episode. ;p

    All that aside, I’m curious about something now because I haven’t seen SMALLVILLE in so long, is Clark wearing the suit as Superboy now? They said he would never put it on when the series first came on. Did they break with their own intended canon?

  45. Jane
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 18:36:16

    Jame probably finds it amusing, as I do,that people who actively and aggressively trample the copyright and intellectual property rights of authors consider what they are doing “ethical behavior.”

    I agreed with this statement. I am not sure how you jump from there to theft to criminal to abusing children. I do think that much of FF violates copyright. Why else include the disclaimer. It is, in fact, from the disclaimer that I drew the conclusion that many FF’ers knew that they were violating copyright.

    I’m pretty well known for running around blogs and calling people amoral scum. Snerk.

  46. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 19:52:45

    Bev wrote:

    Whether the stories are ever written down, once the properties are out there the fans will still have those “what if” ideas about them, simply because they are fans. That is the nature of the beast of popular culture.

    Of course people will discuss works books, TV shows and movies and wonder “what if” the story or characters had gone in another direction….you might even write it down as an exercise in fiction-writing. All well and good. It becomes copyright infringement and intellectual property theft when you publish/distribute the story on the Internet for the world to see.

    Bev wrote:

    Look, I know the copyright issue is a concern but for most fan fiction writers and fandoms, it’s a primary concern also. They respect the properties they are borrowing and actively show that respect up front with disclaimers on the stories.

    A disclaimer doesn’t show respect — it’s a half-assed attempt to justify copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. It doesn’t.

    If you truly respected the authors, you would ask for their permission before distributing stories with their characters on the Internet…and respect their wishes if they say no. But as you say, you don’t give a damn what the creators of the work you love think about what you are doing with their creations.

    The ultimate irony and hypocrisy is that fanficcers want their fanfic protected from other fanficcers and from the authors of the original work.

    Lee

  47. Janet/Robin
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 19:55:50

    Okay, I think I see what happened here. I think there was an assumption made that Jane’s position that some fan fiction is technically in copyright violation is the equivalent of what I take as Goldberg’s characterization of fan fiction as unethical. But I know from personal conversations with Jane that she does not see fan fiction as unethical or “bad” behavior. She supports fan fiction and has said so numerous times.

    Once you cross over to the “dark side” (aka a career in the law), you acquire this ability to recognize that something is an infraction or violation without assigning any value judgment to that. People *potentially* and *in fact* violate copyright all the time, but we don’t characterize those violations as translating to badness in a person or their actions. That’s the whole point of the Fair Use defense, which presumes a violation. That is, it presumes that one has violated copyright but has an acceptable reason to do so.

    I may be completely wrong here, but I think the irony she was picking out was one in which you have a community of people who believe they’re violating copyright but who have very strong restrictions in terms of their community conduct around the production of that fiction. That the irony depends on the belief within the community that the activity is violative (i.e. a ‘I believe I’m breaking the law but have strict rules around how I do it,’ kind of thing). If I’m wrong about that, well, then, carry on, but in any case I know that Jane is an advocate of fan fiction and of having the law give it a safe harbor.

  48. Bev(BB)
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 20:51:55

    If you truly respected the authors, you would ask for their permission before distributing stories with their characters on the Internet…and respect their wishes if they say no. But as you say, you don't give a damn what the creators of the work you love think about what you are doing with their creations.

    It’s interesting how you can see into my soul and see what my motives for doing something are. Fascinating really.

    You know, this diatribe would also probably carry a lot more weight with me if I hadn’t read a lot of approved and paid for stuff over the years based on various properties that absolutely shredded the canon and characters of the creations. Just because it gets published the “right” way doesn’t automatically make it favorites with fans. It simply makes the writers feel more self-righteous apparently.

  49. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 21:33:20

    Bev wrote:

    It’s interesting how you can see into my soul and see what my motives for doing something are. Fascinating really.

    Bev, I didn’t have to read your mind. You came right out and said it when you responded to what I said here earlier.

    I wrote:

    The reason why it's a big no-no in fandom to send an author your fanfic ripoff of their work is because they could object to it. And that is an unacceptable outcome to the fanficcers.

    And you wrote:

    Yep, got it in one. Exactly.

    In other words, you don’t care whether an author approves of the fanfic or not. If I misunderstood your meaning, I apologize, and hope you will clarify what you were trying to say so that I get it this time.

    Bev wrote:

    You know, this diatribe would also probably carry a lot more weight with me if I hadn’t read a lot of approved and paid for stuff over the years based on various properties that absolutely shredded the canon and characters of the creations. Just because it gets published the “right” way doesn’t automatically make it favorites with fans. It simply makes the writers feel more self-righteous
    apparently.

    The issue here isn’t whether fanfic is enjoyed more by the fans than authorized tie-ins are. That is a matter of opinion.

    What is being discussed here, provoked by Annie Proulx’s comments about BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN fanfic, is whether fanfic is copyright infringement and the theft of intellectual property. I believe that it is.

    The difference between fanfic and a tie-in is simple. Let’s use Monk as an example.

    A fanficcer wakes up one morning with a burning need to write a story about Monk having sex with Natalie, or Disher, or the fanficcer, or all of them at once, and posts that story on the Internet without asking whether Andy Breckman, the creator of Monk, approves. He doesn’t care whether Andy is offended by the work or is harmed and embarrassed by its dissemination. The fanficcer’s need to play with Andy’s characters is more important than Andy’s legal and creative rights.

    A tie-in writer, on the other hand, is selected and hired by Andy to write a Monk story. Andy has absolute control over what that hired writer does with the characters and the world that he created, loves, and has worked very hard to sustain. And Andy profits from the sale of any work based on his creation.

    Now you can argue that the “Monk having sex with Natalie” fanfic is better than any of the tie-in work, but that doesn’t change the fact that the fanfic story is done without the consent of the creator of those characters and violates his copyright.

    The fact that fanficcers won’t do authors (and rights holders)the simple courtesy of asking for their consent, and abiding by their wishes, before appropriating their characters clearly demonstrates how little respect they have for the creators of the characters and worlds that they love. It demonstrates an outrageous and unsupported sense of entitlement over something they didn’t create and don’t own.

    Lee

  50. Courtney Milan
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 21:41:06

    I just want to point out that many fanficcers are not committing copyright infringement of any kind. Rowling has given fanfics explicit permission to proceed. I recall that J. Michael Stracyznki (I’m screwing up the spelling) gave explicit permission for fan fic, too. Joss Whedon, too.

    And yet Potter fics, Babylon 5 fics, and Buffy fics all carry the same “disclaimer.” So I’m not really buying the argument that the “disclaimer” proves that people know they’re violating copyright. I think it proves that people don’t know anything about copyright infringement and just want to say, “My heart is in the right place.”

    So, just a note: It’s not copyright infringement if you’ve gotten a license from the copyright holder. I actually think the vast majority of fics don’t infringe, just because most of the truly popular fic areas are where authors or creators have given explicit permission. If an author says, “You can write fanfic so long as you don’t send it to me, and you don’t commercially exploit it,” the writing of fanfic is not a copyright infringement. It’s a licensed derivative work.

  51. Courtney Milan
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 21:53:25

    The fact that fanficcers won't do authors (and rights holders)the simple courtesy of asking for their consent, and abiding by their wishes, before appropriating their characters clearly demonstrates how little respect they have for the creators of the characters and worlds that they love. It demonstrates an outrageous and unsupported sense of entitlement over something they didn't create and don't own.

    Enh. The way I see it, once you release them into the wide world, they stop being your characters. You can’t control them in someone else’s mind. So you get some legal protections. But intellectual property is a legal construct. I don’t see why it’s a moral wrong to, say, write Mickey Mouse fan fiction when, if Mickey Mouse had been born in 1910 Mickey Mouse would be fair game.

    More, Brokeback Mountain is undoubtedly a political statement, and a very powerful one, one that can’t be rebutted with mere words. I can imagine that the author would be very pissed off if someone wrote an alternate ending for her book, that reflected (differing) political views. But as a disinterested observer, I think there’s something wrong about handicapping someone in that debate–not allowing them to use your argument to show you what they mean.

    Ultimately, you throw something like Brokeback Mountain out there to change the world, and I think you shouldn’t complain when the world changes it back.

    Now, if the person actually copies a substantial number of words, that’s a no go. But just using the characters? I don’t buy that that is anything but someone constructing an argument in the same language that the author originally used. And just because someone argues back at you doesn’t mean you have the right to stop them speaking.

  52. Ann Somerville
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 22:21:38

    Jane, you seem surprised that fanficcers have manners and a code of conduct. I assumed that you agreed with Goldberg that fanficcers are amoral scum (which isn’t an exaggeration of his views, even as expressed here), and that decency and mannerliness was hardly to be expected from people of that ilk. But I didn’t mean to exaggerate *your* views either, and I sincerely apologise for that.

    As for disclaimers meaning fanficcers *believe* they’re violating copyright – well no. I never did when I wrote it, and in fact, would have been confident of making a fair argument that my stories were transformative enough to get a pass.

    What’s ironic about this entire conversation is that Annie Proulx isn’t even complaining about copyright violation. She’s pissed off about the rudeness of fans assuming she wants to read their ‘fixes’, and that they haven’t the respect for her artistic vision not to tell her to her face they don’t like her story as written just because it lacks a HEA (a discourtesy frowned on in fandom itself in fact.)

    I haven’t any more to contribute as, unlike Goldberg, I’ve moved on some time ago from using other people’s characters as an inspiration. I’ve never attempted to profit from fanfiction either, so copyright violation or not, my conscience is entirely clear. I have always written for love, and most creators of books and TV shows understand that’s what motivates fan writers. Perhaps Goldberg will appreciate that more if anyone ever considers writing about a character he himself created.

    I'm pretty well known for running around blogs and calling people amoral scum

    Whereas, of course, such words would never leave my rosepetal like lips :)

  53. veinglory
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 22:43:13

    I see a whole range of outlooks in ficcers. Some deny it violates copyright, or are aggressively anti-intellectual property rights, or neither know nor care about copyright, or stay in legal or tolerate pastiche areas, or stay within uses other than ‘distribution’. It’s all very fascinating IMHO.

    I certainly think fanfic has a lot to do with my ebook income as slash underlies the breakthrough of MM as a thriving ebook genre–for all that is has become an annoyance to Ms. Proulx. She got the royalties off a copy of Close Range from me based on ficcer buzz, well before the movie.

  54. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 23:10:20

    Ann wrote:

    What's ironic about this entire conversation is that Annie Proulx isn't even complaining about copyright violation.

    Um, wrong. Proulx said:

    “They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement-‘i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property.”

    Ann wrote:

    I haven't any more to contribute as, unlike Goldberg, I've moved on some time ago from using other people's characters as an inspiration. I've never attempted to profit from fanfiction either, so copyright violation or not, my conscience is entirely clear. I have always written for love, and most creators of books and TV shows understand that's what motivates fan writers. Perhaps Goldberg will appreciate that more if anyone ever considers writing about a character he himself created.

    Um, wrong again. While I haven’t yet reached the stellar heights of writing ebooks about “pretty boys fucking,” I have written, produced and published many things that are wholly my own. For example, there’s the action movie FAST TRACK: NO LIMITS, which I wrote and produced on location in Berlin last summer and my novel THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Novel and received a starred review from Kirkus that said, in part:

    As dark and twisted as anything Hammett or Chandler ever dreamed up…leaving Travis McGee in the dust.

    My other novels include four .357 VIGILANTE paperbacks (from Pinnacle Books), MY GUN HAS BULLETS and BEYOND THE BEYOND (both from St. Martins Press) and THE WALK (from Five Star).

    That said, you are correct that the bulk of my career has been spent writing and producing TV shows (DIAGNOSIS MURDER, MISSING, SEAQUEST, MARTIAL LAW etc.) created by others. And I have written 16 novels to date (eight DIAGNOSIS MURDERs and eight MONKs) based on TV shows created by others, though I was the executive producer/principal writer of DIAGNOSIS MURDER and have also written episodes of MONK. That is why I have a healthy respect for the intellectual property rights of the original authors/creators and I am defensive when they are casually trampled on by others.

    Lee

  55. Ann Somerville
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 23:27:21

    leaving Travis McGee in the dust.

    Another example of review inflation, I suspect. The idea that John D. McDonald’s writing could be mentioned in the same breath as yours just shows how low the standard of reviewing can be. You might want to look into that, sport. Are you sure your publisher didn’t pay for advertising with that magazine? Could be dodgy, you know.

    I haven't yet reached the stellar heights of writing ebooks about “pretty boys fucking”

    You should try it. Might loosen a few things up. Mind you, you might want to look up that all the Lee/Tony slash before you do. You could learn a few things.

    Oh – I don’t just write ebooks, in case you’re under that delusion. I have three print books under contract with a really truly publisher – and none of them are novelisations.

    I have a healthy respect for the intellectual property rights of the original authors/creators

    Hmmm – respect and Lee Goldberg. No, can’t see it, really.

    I am defensive when they are casually trampled on by others.

    You’re defensive because people are giving away better stuff for free, than what you insist on being paid for, and you’re worried people might notice.

    Now, wanna send your brother over to smack me around? When you’re talking to him, tell him thanks for all the traffic to my blog. I guess he’s a fan of boy smut, even if you aren’t.

  56. MS Jones
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 23:34:31

    I do think that authors should embrace fan fiction instead of dismissing it…it serves as a good training ground for writers

    Naomi Novik, who’s written the wonderful Temeraire books, got started in fanfic and is one of the founding board members of the Organization for Transformative Works, a “nonprofit dedicated to protecting the fair-use rights of fan creators.”

    (Which I interpret to mean the right of fanficcers to “fairly use” other people’s work.)

    I can understand why Annie Proulx doesn’t want to see porny or even rainbowy alternative endings to BBM – the story’s perfect as is. She needs someone to screen her mail so she doesn’t have to read it, I guess.

  57. Ann Somerville
    Sep 19, 2008 @ 23:38:24

    She needs someone to screen her mail so she doesn't have to read it, I guess.

    She doesn’t have to read it anyway, but what’s needed is the fans of the movie to stop pestering her and learn some manners. Copyright violations issues aside, sending authors unsolicited fanfiction is beyond rude.

  58. MS Jones
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 00:06:38

    sending authors unsolicited fanfiction is beyond rude

    I agree, but I also think it is so rude of the Nigerian foreign minister to send me e-mails asking me to park six million dollars for him. What am I, a bank?

    But what are you gonna do? That’s why they call it spam.

    Lee Goldberg: you did not just diss the pretty boys fucking genre, did you? I’ve yet to see an “action” movie that’s better than Brokeback Mountain, and the short story by Proulx is a hundred times better than any mystery ever written. (Name one that comes close. I dare you.)

    Next you’ll be saying that Novik’s “arrogance and stupidity is [sic] mind-boggling.”

  59. Ann Somerville
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 00:13:24

    I also think it is so rude of the Nigerian foreign minister to send me e-mails asking me to park six million dollars for him. What am I, a bank?

    Maybe he thinks you’re safer than one :)

    (Name one that comes close. I dare you.

    Fie on you, MS Jones. I’ll have you know that in the estimation of the author, Mr Monk takes a leak is the last word in dramatic mysteries. Indeed, after reading it, John D. MacDonald himself said, “That’s it. No more Travis. People want Monk, they can have bloody Monk.”

    (Well, he totally would have if he hadn’t been dead.)

  60. Mouse
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 08:57:20

    You know. I think I’ve come to a conclusion about Mr. Goldberg looking over his works. He’s jealous that a really popular fandom hasn’t centered around him and Monk yet. The closest he ever got to possible fandom was SeaQuest, which kept changing hands too much to consistently be any good despite the strong premise.

    Now, everyone’s too busy drooling over the boys of Supernatural and Smallville to appreciate the manliness that is Tony Shalhoub. -_-

  61. Bev(BB)
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 09:22:33

    The fact that fanficcers won't do authors (and rights holders)the simple courtesy of asking for their consent, and abiding by their wishes, before appropriating their characters clearly demonstrates how little respect they have for the creators of the characters and worlds that they love. It demonstrates an outrageous and unsupported sense of entitlement over something they didn't create and don't own.

    You know, I’m not sure whether to agree or disagree. I do sense a great deal of frustration in this last comment here that someone is going to have to eventually work through on his own. No one else is going to be able to help him there.

    I will offer these thoughts for what it’s worth.

    If fans feel entitlement, maybe it’s because the works are created for them in the first place?

    Appropriating? Or being offered them on a platter?

    Is it really so outrageous and unsupported for fans to something made specifically for them or would it be better for the fans to hate it?

    Would they rather fans completely ignored the products completely?

    If the fans didn’t feel this “sense of entitlement”, where would they all be then?

  62. handyhunter
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 11:56:52

    Is it still fanfic if it’s the creator writing it? Aaron Sorkin just wrote a fic of Jed Bartlet and Barack Obama.

  63. Robin
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 13:52:32

    I don't see why it's a moral wrong to, say, write Mickey Mouse fan fiction when, if Mickey Mouse had been born in 1910 Mickey Mouse would be fair game.

    This is just one of the reasons I am so uneasy with arguments against fan fiction that rely on ethics or morality. Now, I guess you could argue that any violation of the law is unethical, but even copyright law doesn’t countenance such a position, as the Fair Use defense quite clearly demonstrates. And I wonder how many people feel that they are immoral or unethical when they speed or when they get a parking ticket. Speeding, if you think about it, is actually a legal violation that carries potential danger and even death to people on the road other than the speeding driver. Yet how many of us believe that speeding is immoral or unethical?

    It seems to me that if your objection to fan fiction rests on a moral or ethical dimension, then you must also be against all those works that riff on Shakespeare or Dante or Austen or Charlotte Bronte or any other creative figure no longer protected by copyright law. If your objection is that fan fiction is a “theft” of the “original” creator’s intellectual property, then why would derivative work of ANY creator be okay, even if it’s not protected by copyright? Why, under that argument, would one’s intellectual property be lessened in its potency? Which I why I just don’t think those arguments can be sustained in this context. If you want to argue that SOME fan fiction MIGHT be violating copyright, then that’s an argument that would ultimately be supported in SOME CASES if you sued every fan fiction writer. But it wouldn’t be supported across the board, not only because of the permission some authors give, but also because some fan fiction would likely prevail under Fair Use and others would not be deemed in violation at all, perhaps through categorization as transformative work (which is why authors who promise to sue fan ficcers REALLY frustrate me).

    Personally, I think authors who object to fan fiction are being shortsighted, not just in terms of their own fan base, but also in terms of benefits that accrue to them under copyright law. But even within a straight legal paradigm, copyright law is not morally or ethically policing, nor is it even concerned with intent. IMO authors often believe that copyright protects them far more than it actually does, and in those beliefs ironically weaken the benefits they (would and do) enjoy themselves under a more narrowly-enforced copyright system.

  64. AnjSmith
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 15:35:44

    Lee Wrote:

    The fact that fanficcers won't do authors (and rights holders)the simple courtesy of asking for their consent, and abiding by their wishes, before appropriating their characters clearly demonstrates how little respect they have for the creators of the characters and worlds that they love. It demonstrates an outrageous and unsupported sense of entitlement over something they didn't create and don't own.

    Following this line of reason, if I wanted to write a fan fiction about Harry Potter it would be kindest and most respectful of me to e-mail J.K. Rowling and ask if she minds? Does Rowling care to respond to the e-mail of every potential fan fic writer with permission. (I realize Rowling has expressed encouragement to fan ficcers, but I wanted someone with a large fan base) I would assume that is a complete waste of an authors time to sort through all requests. Then would you have to read all the stories to make sure you’re okaying good material, instead of awfully written gook?

    Personally, I can understand how an author would not want to be sent fan fic changing their carefully crafted story. But as long as the author is not profiting from their stories, it seems like banging your head against a wall to try and fight fan fic.

  65. Lori
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 16:15:51

    And I’m curious about how Ravaging Romance, I mean Ravenous Romance, the new super-duper, ultra-cool e-publisher who wants stories with thinly veiled celebs having sex, fits into the entire equation. So I can write Daniel Radcliffe having sex (thinly disguised) and get paid for it and not break copyright but as Harry Potter that’s a copyright violation because JK Rowling doesn’t own Daniel (and if she did then we could sell that story to Ridiculous Romance, sorry, I mean Ravenous Romance and make a quadrillion billion dollars).

    Wait… I might understand this after all. Except… what if it was a story about Harry Potter having sex with Daniel Radcliffe?

  66. Bev(BB)
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 16:52:38

    And I'm curious about how Ravaging Romance, I mean Ravenous Romance, the new super-duper, ultra-cool e-publisher who wants stories with thinly veiled celebs having sex, fits into the entire equation.

    Aren’t there already fan fictions about the real stars? Why would anyone pay for thinly veiled fakes?

    I was just thinking about celebrity fan fiction earlier today and I didn’t even know about the above. Celebrity fic has always squeaked me out to be honest. I’ve only ever been into TV series fan fiction and maybe some from a couple of movies. Book fan fiction has never appealed to me but think about it, it’s one thing to debate asking permission from authors. Usually one indidiual. With a TV series, you’re talking about episode writers, series creators, possibly character creators, maybe book authors, studios, major corporations, etc, etc. It really does come down to who exactly is one supposed to ask?

    But who on this side of sanity is going to ask a celebrity, “Hey, can I write a fan fiction about you?”

    Rrriiiigggghhhhtttt.

    See that’s the side of this everyone is ignoring. And, yet, it’s out there. And some it is part of established fandoms right along with the fan fiction associated with the stuff they star in.

  67. handyhunter
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 18:41:48

    Aren't there already fan fictions about the real stars?

    Yeah. RPF (or RPS – real person slash) exits. (The New York Times is even publishing Obama and Jed Bartlet fic (though it’s not at all slash).)

  68. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 21:28:52

    Ann wrote:

    “You're defensive because people are giving away better stuff for free, than what you insist on being paid for, and you're worried people might notice.”

    Gosh golly, you’re right, Ann. I insist that publishers and studios pay me for my writing instead of stealing other people’s creations, calling them my own, and giving the stories away for free (which would make them so much better).

    How could I have been so crass? So foolhardy? So wrong? Thank you for opening my eyes to the one true way.

    Now that you’ve made me aware of my serious personal failings, I am no longer going to insist that publishers or studios pay me for my work. Nor will I wait to be asked and hired before writing novels about other people’s characters. Instead, I will devote myself to the far more virtuous and creatively worthwhile pursuit of writing fanfic about Harry Potter having sex with Dr. Who…and give it away for free.

    Screw Rowling and the BBC. She’s rich and they’re a corporation of mindless suits. Neither one of them deserves (or has the fannish right) to have their creative, intellectual or legal rights respected. I’ll show my respect by adding a disclaimer to my work! Once their stories are printed or broadcast, those characters belong to me to exploit any way I please (and what better way than to have them screwing one another…and a thinly-disguised me?).

    Besides, everybody knows that the only real stories about the characters we love are written purely as an expression of a fan’s passion for them… or a fan’s desire to imagine them having sex. There is no higher creative calling or artistically enriching, literary experience.

    Thank you, Ann. You have not only changed my philosophy about writing, you have changed my life.

    Not only that, but you got me to rethink this whole Annie Proulx situation. She insists on getting paid for what she writes. So c’mon, how good could her writing be?

    She has no right to try to control what we write with her characters, that stuck-up bitch. She’s rich enough, isn’t she? She should just shut up and fondle her National Book Award and her Pulitzer Prize (which we all know are over-inflated “prizes” and totally rigged).

    Doesn’t she know she’s driving away the fans? We will never read her books now, the douche. She’s just defensive and afraid because people are giving away much better stories than the ones that she insists on being paid for.

    Besides, I think Proulx could learn a thing or two about real writing from masters like you and the literary giants of LiveJournal.

    Lee

  69. Ann Somerville
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 21:45:41

    You have not only changed my philosophy about writing, you have changed my life.

    Does that mean you’re no longer an arsehole?*

    everybody knows that the only real stories about the characters we love are written purely as an expression of a fan's passion for them… or a fan's desire to imagine them having sex.

    I guarantee that someone writing about someone else’s characters out of love is going to be at least or more worthy than someone doing it as a hack for hire.

    those characters belong to me to exploit any way I please

    You are the only person I’ve ever heard make that claim. For someone who spouts as much bullshit about fanfiction as you do, you’re very poorly informed on the subject.

    She has no right to try to control what we write with her characters, that stuck-up bitch.

    Does Ms Proulx know you speak so highly of her? You’re not fit to lick her shoes, and certainly using the word ‘bitch’ about a woman writer indicates a good deal of latent aggression. I know you’re insanely jealous of people with genuine creativity, but really, Goldberg, you need to deal with your issues.

    I think Proulx could learn a thing or two about real writing from masters like you and the literary giants of LiveJournal.

    You do? You must be nuttier than I thought you were.

    What’s Livejournal got to do with it? My writing’s on my website or with my publishers. The only one here claiming a deficiency in Proulx’s craft is you, and you’re not exactly in a position of strength on that score. (But I do have to wonder why, if I’m such a dismissable talent, why you and your brother are expending so much effort in trying to squish me.)

    Come back and lecture me when you write as many stories – novels – as I have with characters I created myself. And no, I don’t insist on being paid for what I write. Most of my stuff is available free, and what isn’t, is being used to support a charity. If you want to tell me my stuff’s not publishable because most of it isn’t pro published, then I have to inform you most of it hasn’t been submitted to a publisher. All but one story I’ve submitted for publication has been accepted. Can you say that?

    Now run away and get some therapy before you embark on your next magnum opus, Monk ties a cherry stem in a knot with his tongue.

    *I’m sorry to say, you still are.

  70. Robin
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 23:35:32

    I insist that publishers and studios pay me for my writing instead of stealing other people's creations, calling them my own,

    I feel like you’re conflating fan fiction and plagiarism here. Plagiarists attempt to hide the source of the material they use, making it true intellectual theft (i.e. depriving the source of BOTH credit and permission). But fan fiction *relies on* the well-known source of the material; in fact, it only exists *as a result of* widespread knowledge of the sourcework. You may object to the copyright violation, but because fan fiction is tied explicitly to common knowledge of its source characters, there is no intent to pass off the “creations” as the fan fiction author’s own, if you are referring, that is, to the source characters.

    Also, I raised an issue above that I will simply put to you as a direct question: how do you feel about those who write adaptations of, say, Shakespeare’s work — adaptations that modernize the plot and characters, interpret them in a wholly different setting, making the play work in the service of a different issue or conflict, even. How, besides the copyright limitation, is that any different from someone writing fan fiction of Harry Potter or Brokeback Mountain? And if it’s just the copyright limitation, does that make ANY legal infraction (and I’m merely assuming a violation for this question — not ALL fan fiction violates copyright in any way) an unethical or immoral violation?

  71. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 23:53:32

    Um, Ann, I was being sarcastic, but I can’t say I am surprised that this eluded you. I think Annie Proulx is an amazing writer.

    I am not surprised, however, that most of your work is available for free.

  72. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 00:03:13

    Robin,

    Tell me you didn’t actually compare modern literary works inspired by Shakespeare to Harry Potter and Brokeback fanfic. You’ve got to be joking, right? You honestly can’t see the legal and artistic differences? Come on. Now you’re just being ridiculous.

    Lee

  73. Robin
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 00:19:04

    Tell me you didn't actually compare modern literary works inspired by Shakespeare to Harry Potter and Brokeback fanfic. You've got to be joking, right? You honestly can't see the legal and artistic differences? Come on. Now you're just being ridiculous.

    Okay, let’s go with your assumption that one has artistic merit and one doesn’t (and for the record I was thinking more about films like “10 Things I Hate About You” and “O,” but whatever). Is THAT the issue for you? Would an incredibly literate and literary piece of fiction that violated copyright be okay? Because otherwise I feel that you’re evading the point of my question. And as much as I want to challenge the value judgments you just suggested, I don’t want to get distracted from the main focus of my question, which is whether your objection is simply the copyright infraction, since your comments seem imbued with all this ethical and moral (and now artistic) stuff that is completely outside the scope of the copyright statutes.

  74. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 00:21:16

    Ann wrote:

    If you want to tell me my stuff's not publishable because most of it isn't pro published, then I have to inform you most of it hasn't been submitted to a publisher. All but one story I've submitted for publication has been accepted. Can you say that?

    As a matter of fact, Ann, I can. I can say even more. For over 25 years, I have made my living as a writer for print and television. Every book I have written has been purchased by a publisher and only one hasn’t been published (and that’s because the publisher went belly-up before it could happen, tying my manuscript up as one of their assets).

    Unlike you, I am actually someone with extensive experience and considerable success in the publishing and television worlds, which may be why I am more sensitive to copyright infringement of media properties than you might be. Which brings me to your hilarious comment:

    Ann wrote:

    Come back and lecture me when you write as many stories – novels – as I have with characters I created myself.

    You’re pretty cocky and full of yourself for someone who is so unsuccessful and unknown as a writer…and who knows so pathetically little about what she is talking about.

    Come back to me when you’ve had eight original novels published by real publishers, when you’ve written and produced hundreds of television episodes seen world-wide, or when you have well over half-a-million copies of your work in print the U.S. alone (I’m not counting my foreign editions).

    I have written and published over two dozen novels and half-a-dozen non-fiction books…and was paid for them all. My books have been well reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Chicago Tribune, and Entertainment Weekly, to name a few of the many reputable publications.

    And you? You write ebooks and short stories about “pretty boys fucking” that you give away for free on a website…or that you paid to have published by lulu. Wow. And who has reviewed your work lately? Buttfuck Monthly?

    You’re right, given your vast experience, acclaim and accomplishments, I should be listening to you and bowing to your wisdom on the craft and business of writing. We all should.

    I’m not saying I’m right. My opinions are just opinions. But at least, unlike you, I am not a know-nothing wanna-be with delusions of greatness.

    Lee

  75. Lleeo
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 01:04:41

    OTOH, the one aspect that nearly always triggers the “what if” of fan fiction is unresolved romantic relationships, straight or slash, regardless of medium. The bigger the romantic tangle left dangling the bigger the temptation the fans will have to, well, play. Which is why some of the most obscure series, movies and even books tend to end up having fan fiction while romance novels get touched very little. Romance authors have to really leave some threads dangling to give fans something to play with.

    I completely agree, Bev. This is why I always go hunting for fanfiction when I’m left hanging without a satisfying resolution.

    I’ve never really understood the moral objection to fanfiction because, to me, it pays such homage to the original story and writer. People are writing this stuff because they literally cannot get enough of the original authors’ work. And from my experience, fanfiction is often if not always clearly marked as fanfiction because how else would fans find it?

    I’m a little fuzzy on how professional fanfiction works–like all of the Star Wars spin-offs in the Sci-fi section of the bookstore. And I understand wanting to protect your intellectual property and protect it from people making a cheap buck off it. But if you lock up the original work so rigidly that the fans can’t get at it, think of all the creativity, the fun, the enjoyment of the characters, the world etc. that would be lost. And like others have pointed out; a series with a huge, excited fan-base garners attention for the original work. Other potential fans want to know what all the fuss is about and go back to the original work.

    I don’t really see how you can tarnish a work by being creative and having fun with it. As an aspiring writer, I think I would have fun teasing fans of my series by drawing out the friction between a particular set of characters just so they’d go and furiously write sappy ‘resolution of the friction’ fics or make cheesey vids of clips from the show/series/etc. on Youtube. Because I’m a sap and I love watching those things on Youtube.

    Authors don’t need to know what cheesey things their fans have come up with to honour their work. Why not just let it roll off their backs as harmless, creative fun and either be amused/flattered or annoyed/exasperated and move on? Most fans would probably be too embarassed to show their hot and steamy slash fiction to the original writer like those fans of Annie Proulx did.

    And re: Jane’s amusement over the crazy fandom rules that “must not be broken.” I’d like to make a romance novel analogy because I think it fits perfectly: fans who want to get more of that steamy hot friction between Clark and Lex (yes, I’m using this example because it’s a well-known one) do not want to excitedly open a “Clex” fic only to find that some fan, who’s been reading a lot of T. S. Elliot lately and also been forced to watch endless episodes of Spongebob Square Pants with their little sister decided it would be funny to reinterpret “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” using the characters of Clark and Lex infused with the colourful backdrop of Spongebob and the cartoonish, exaggerated humour that gives that show part of its charm.

    Actually, that would probably be pretty amazing and creative and would sure as hell get published a lot faster than steamy “Clex sex fiction” (oh-ho, I’m on a roll tonight!). But the point is, most Clex and, for that matter, Smallville fans, would be pretty annoyed to click on this sort of fanfiction only to find that it decided to throw “dedication to imitating the canon” right out the window. They want their Clex sex (set in a believeable, ‘canon’ context which makes it more exciting that it ‘could’ happen if the series swung that way) just like romance readers want their happy ending.

  76. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 01:31:51

    using the characters of Clark and Lex infused with the colourful backdrop of Spongebob and the cartoonish, exaggerated humour that gives that show part of its charm.

    I know not from Clex fandom, but I know I’ve read Stargate Atlantis fanfiction at least this crazy. :) There is also actual Spongebob (and Carebear) slash.

    And as usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s Goldberg’s ignorant, insulting and repeated claims (taken up by people like RObin Hobb) that fanficcers are trying to ‘steal’ characters or original writing that really riles fans and detracts from whatever points he might validly hold – and the idiot needs to remember, it’s fans who buy and read his pathetic claim to literary greatness. Yet I’ve never, ever seen any fanfiction writer claim to own any of the characters or the original material, despite having literally read thousands of fanfiction stories. 90% of stories have a careful disclaimer explicitly stating they do *not* own the characters – note, Jane, this is not the same as explicitly stating they are violating copy right.

    If a fanficcer made such a stupid claim, the other members of fandom would be on them like flies on a turd sandwich. It’s fandom who police things like this, plagiarism, and the extremely rare attempts to make money from fanfiction. No lawyers ever need to get involved.

    But Goldberg doesn’t understand fanfiction, except as a threat to his income (which is nonsense, since fans don’t have a capped limit for ‘extra’ material. They will happily read fanfiction, and then buy his ‘novels’, and if they compare one poorly with the other, they will still continue to buy more of the same.) He uses it, like he uses his other hobby horses, to raise his profile and sound like a big man to his acolytes. He also assumes all fanfiction is slash (it’s not, not by a very long way) and assumes that slash is even more egregious than regular fanfic (only if you’re a prude.) He likes to make assumptions. It makes up for his lack of intellectual rigour.

  77. Lleeo
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 01:32:20

    Come back to me when you've had eight original novels published by real publishers, when you've written and produced hundreds of television episodes seen world-wide, or when you have well over half-a-million copies of your work in print the U.S. alone (I'm not counting my foreign editions).

    I have written and published over two dozen novels and half-a-dozen non-fiction books…and was paid for them all. My books have been well reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Chicago Tribune, and Entertainment Weekly, to name a few of the many reputable publications.

    And you? You write ebooks and short stories about “pretty boys fucking” that you give away for free on a website…or that you paid to have published by lulu. Wow. And who has reviewed your work lately? Buttfuck Monthly?

    Lee, I can’t help but lose a little respect for a writer who is belittling a fellow writer’s opinion on the moral and ethical rights and implications of fanfiction just because she doesn’t have as much published work as you and writes about “‘pretty boys fucking.'” This is primarily a romance review site and most of the posters here are readers and writers of the romance genre. Our genre gets denigrated and trampled on a lot and a common insult of the genre is to say that the writers and readers are only in it for the “steamy love scenes.” So you’re not going to make your point very effective by belittling one of the characteristics of the genre here.

    Why isn’t Ann’s opinion just as valid as yours? She’s a writer too and in a few years, if the popular trend of gay romance continues into more series and media, who knows, Ann might be making and publishing millions.

    I’ve seen some pretty popular writers come to post on this site and most of them, including Nora Roberts, have not felt the need to validate their opinions by listing off all of their famous accolades. Please get off your high horse because I love the show Monk but you’ve made me like it a little less with your condescending attitude.

  78. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 01:54:35

    You write ebooks and short stories about “pretty boys fucking” that you give away for free on a website…or that you paid to have published by lulu. Wow. And who has reviewed your work lately? Buttfuck Monthly?

    1. I already told you – I have three print books under contract, and I’m not paying for them to be published. The publisher, PD Publisher (which is a real publisher) is paying me. Given that I write about ‘pretty boys fucking’ and not a mainstream genre, that’s not bad. I only started submitting material to pro publishers last year and already have seven novels and novellas contracted – with real publishers (perhaps you were unaware that Kensington are teamed up with Samhain, and the two connected novellas will be coming out in print with them next year.)

    You’ve been writing since you were twenty, and you’re the same age as me. Yet you ‘only’ have eight original novels? I started writing original work in 2003, yet I’ve put more than that out for free, and nearly that many out for pay. Gosh, maybe you’re just short of ideas or something.

    2. What, the only proper writing is paid for writing? Well, good thing I have both.

    3. Reviews…well, let’s see. Mrs Giggles, Joyfully Reviewed for two – they’re not just about the buttfucking and are fairly big reviews sites for the romance genre. Oh, Mrs Giggles gave the novella I self-published a rating of 94. I suggest you ask around and find out how tough that lady is to impress.

    I’d give you Romantic Times credentials but unfortunately, that august magazine doesn’t review ‘pretty boys fucking’. I’m sure you think that’s because ‘pretty boys fucking’ is inherently less valid than ‘pretty men and women fucking’, but then we’ve already established how your mind works.

    You seem obsessed by the buttfucking. Previously I gave you the benefit of the doubt but now I’m calling it how I see it – you’re homophobic. An arsehole and a phobe.

    “I am not a know-nothing wanna-be with delusions of greatness.”

    Wanna-be? Wanna-be what? You? Hardly, dickwit. I don’t want to be published by the mainstream houses, because I don’t really feel like spending half my life dealing with the promotion side of things. You know, I’m exactly where I want to be in my career at this point in my life, and since I don’t want to be known as a Mr Monk noveliser, then I’m not jealous of you at all. You crank out scripts for high concept movies and low quality TV shows that get shown in the daytime in Britain and Australia. You’re not exactly the apogee of literary skill.

    Know nothing…oh yeah. I have almost as many university degrees as you’ve written Monk novels. And no, I didn’t buy them from a postbox university.

    I don’t need to impress you, Goldberg. Your opinion is worth nothing to me. I am confident of my writing skills and my views, and unlike you, I can back up claims and statements. You, on the other hand, have once again resorted to distortion and bombast.

    I think the expression in fandom is ‘your balls are pastede on, yay’.

    Piss off, kid, you’re bothering me.

  79. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:00:41

    Why isn't Ann's opinion just as valid as yours?

    Because I wrote fanfic for free and not for money. Goldberg, apart from being a homophobic waste of oxygen, is also incapable of understanding real fannish feeling, and assumes the only valid activity is what is paid for.

    Which is why he airily dismisses my free original writing as unpublishable, despite the fact I never wanted it to be pro published, or even submitted it. To him, if it’s given away, it’s worthless. No doubt he’s the kind who insists on finding out what price his birthday gifts cost too.

    I guess charging for it to raise money for MSF is equally squalid to him. Never mind – MSF certainly don’t care that the money I’ve sent this year comes from writing about ‘pretty boys fucking’.

    Still, he should rest easy – since I only write about attractive men, I won’t ever include him in my novels.

  80. Bev(BB)
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:26:35

    As a matter of fact, Ann, I can. I can say even more. For over 25 years, I have made my living as a writer for print and television.

    And I’m still left wondering how any studio or publisher tolerates someone who actively treats fans this way. Puzzling, no?

  81. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:35:08

    Puzzling, no?

    But not surprising. Homophobia and general condescension among studio types isn’t unusual, sadly.

    At least we know why Goldberg was never tapped to write for Queer as Folk.

  82. Lleeo
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:35:38

    I know not from Clex fandom, but I know I've read Stargate Atlantis fanfiction at least this crazy. :) There is also actual Spongebob (and Carebear) slash.

    Oh, my God, I love the insanity and randomness and creativity that is fandom and the Internet in general. XD

    And as usual, you've hit the nail on the head.

    Were you talking to me, here? Because if you were I’m flattered. I usually feel like I blather on too much to make my point clear. ;)

    It's Goldberg's ignorant, insulting and repeated claims (taken up by people like RObin Hobb) that fanficcers are trying to 'steal' characters or original writing that really riles fans and detracts from whatever points he might validly hold

    Yes, I find these claims insulting, too, as a fanfiction reader and writer. I know the copyright laws on fanfiction are a little vague right now but I’d like to know, honestly, how many cases there actually are where a fan has profited monetarily from fanfiction. They would have to try to sell it to a publisher or post it online as an e-book is all I can come up with. It’s been my experience that the really good fanfiction writers who sometimes get a following of their own, move on from the fandom and try to publish their own writing. Writing fanfiction can give you a lot of experience with the craft of, well, writing. Isn’t it a worthier use of a fan’s time than going to a message board and posting about how “Lol, Edward Cullen is hot.”? Not to mention the hours of reading fanfiction requires you to do and the fact that fans naturally gravitate toward better writing? ;)

    Yet I've never, ever seen any fanfiction writer claim to own any of the characters or the original material, despite having literally read thousands of fanfiction stories. 90% of stories have a careful disclaimer explicitly stating they do *not* own the characters

    This has been my experience too. You make some other really excellent points. Fans don’t tend to take it nicely when they see another fan trying to unfairly profit off of their idol.

    He also assumes all fanfiction is slash (it's not, not by a very long way) and assumes that slash is even more egregious than regular fanfic (only if you're a prude.)

    I wanted to comment on this, too, because as two people who have had a lot of experience with the fanfiction world, we’re also two of the representatives of this type of writing world because I don’t think there’s been a lot of other posters in this discussion who have the fanfic experience we do. And you write primarily gay romance (I think)? And my post used a lot of slash fic examples. Not to mention the specific example Jane used in her post on this topic contained an example of slash fanfiction.

    But really, that’s not *all* fanfiction is about. And it’s an unfair assumption to make based on the sheer amount of series, authors and fandoms that exist out there. When I joined Fanfiction.net back in the late 90s, the most popular fandoms on the site were The X-Files and Animorphs. Slash fiction didn’t even exist at that point, or it was on the fringes of fanfic world.

    Slash fiction is a new trend and by no means reflects the entirety of the fanfiction world or all of its creative possibilities.

    But since you brought it up, Ann, and since Lee Goldberg seems intent to make negative assumptions about it, I’d like to sing some of its praises. First of all, I think that part of the reason slash fiction is so big right now is because more of it exists in the minds of readers than is being published for mass consumption. I also believe that it’s more of a happy accident than any real concerted effort to help propel and celebrate the values and ideals of feminism and the pro-gay movement. I believe that slash fiction helps to crack open patriarchal stereotypes about gender and sexuality. It explores broader categories of gendered behaviour. In slash fiction, and especially in slash fanfiction, anyone and everyone can be gay and in a subversive sense; the writer can force anyone and everyone to fit into their own particular “gay fantasy mould.”

    I still feel that there is a lot of sexism and stereotypes that goes largely uncontested and unquestioned within slash fandoms and fiction and definitely a lack of racial diversity and some trans-phobia thrown in (but that can probably be said of a lot of popular writing these days). But my point is, I still think it’s doing a lot of good.

  83. Kat
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:54:12

    I will say that although I’ve heard of Goldberg, I had no idea of who Ann was, nor have anyone else with whom I regularly talk to and review books with. I wouldn’t even know she was an author but for her constant rude, belligerent, insulting, and vitriolic posts here and elsewhere.

    Because of her inability to converse with anyone in a civilized fashion without belittling, mocking, or setting out to smash anyone who dares take an opposing view, I will never read her work. I point any of my acquaintances who express an interest in her work to this blog, and they also decide not to support such a vicious person.

    I imagine that’s why she’s not more widely read. Regardless of how many books she claims to have published, she couldn’t possibly have a bestseller, not with her attitude. She’s never spoken to me personally this way, but it turns my stomach to see how she treats people.

    That said, I enjoy reading both slash and fan fics. I don’t think fan fics harm the author of the original work at all, and may actually contribute to sells. Nobody is passing off the work as original; as has been mentioned, it’s well understood that fan fics are derivative.

    I also think that authors are inspired by many things, one of those being books they’ve read. They may take a bit of an idea and change it around and add other elements, but isn’t that fan fic of a type as well?

  84. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:55:44

    Were you talking to me, here?

    Well, no, Robin, because I hadn’t seen your comment at that point.

    I think m/m and slash are incredibly liberating to write and I can’t see myself writing anything else for a very long time.

    I bet Goldberg would write it if there was any money in it. That it only attracts those who do it for love because it is so unprofitable, is one of the benefits.

  85. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 02:57:49

    will never read her work. I point any of my acquaintances who express an interest in her work to this blog, and they also decide not to support such a vicious person.

    Kat, sweetie, nothing delights me more than when small-minded little bitches like you declare they will never read my work. Unlike Goldberg, I’m picky about my readership.

    And I’ve never heard of you either, so we’re even on that score. Not to mention the fact, you’re a pretty vicious little character yourself, ain’t ya.

  86. Kat
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 03:02:17

    Small minded? I enjoy the genre in which you write in general, and my objection is with with your comments. If anyone who disagrees with the way you treat people is small minded, then….ok.

  87. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 03:08:15

    anyone who disagrees with you is small minded

    No, just the ones with small brains.

    Who are you again? Oh right, someone without a website who claims to be a reviewer. Which site was that? I mean, if it’s not the Chicago Tribune, it may as well be Buttfuck Weekly according to Gouldberg.

    I’ll never write a best seller because I’m mean and nasty, is that the logic? I thought it was because I write about pretty boys fucking.

    Happily, writing a best seller isn’t even on the list of things I want to do in my life. I wish you and Glodberg would get it into your pointy little heads, not everyone on earth wants to make a fortune out of their writing. I know creativity for love is frowned on, but you’ll just have to get over it.

    Yet again, someone waving the banner of the cult of nice does it (a) anonymously and (b) by insulting the shit out of people. I’m happy to be a mean girl, actually. At least people know the face they see is the only one I own.

  88. Kat
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 03:18:26

    I’m sorry. I was under the impression that Ann Somerville was a pseud. Which would have made you yet another person insulting people anonymously. My apologies.

    Like I said, I enjoy reading slash. I never said anything about pretty boys or fucking, so I’m not sure where that comment comes from in relation to me.

    Anyways, I dislike wasting my time in futile conversations, so I’ll leave you to it. Enjoy.

  89. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 03:23:04

    Yeah, it’s a pseud. The one on my books and my site and on my comments, and the name people can contact me under and ask what my real name is, which I give readily. I own what I say. I don’t just drive by and slam people.

    I dislike wasting my time in futile conversations

    So do I and it saves Jane having to close the comments off.

    I guess we’ll just have to wonder which fantastically influential review site you work for. After all, you’re so busy spreading the word about who not to read, you must be someone *really* important.

  90. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 04:03:48

    Lleeo wrote:

    Lee, I can't help but lose a little respect for a writer who is belittling a fellow writer's opinion on the moral and ethical rights and implications of fanfiction just because she doesn't have as much published work as you and writes about “’pretty boys fucking.'”

    I wasn’t belittling her opinion. I was responding directly to her request. Ann wrote:

    If you want to tell me my stuff's not publishable because most of it isn't pro published, then I have to inform you most of it hasn't been submitted to a publisher. All but one story I've submitted for publication has been accepted. Can you say that? […]Come back and lecture me when you write as many stories – novels – as I have with characters I created myself.

    So I did.

    My problem with Ann isn’t that she writes stories about men having sex with one another. I think the subject matter she’s chosen for her work is no better or worse than writing about straight people having sex or a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder solving crimes.

    My problem with Ann is that she’s someone with no knowledge, experience or success in the fields that she likes lecturing people about. She’s one of those judgmental, bitter wanna-bees whose ignorance is matched only by the self-righteous arrogance with which she parades it.

    Lleeo wrote:

    I've seen some pretty popular writers come to post on this site and most of them, including Nora Roberts, have not felt the need to validate their opinions by listing off all of their famous accolades.

    I suspect that Ann wasn’t dumb enough to say to any of them “All but one story I've submitted for publication has been accepted. Can you say that?” or “come back and lecture me when you write as many stories – novels – as I have with characters I created myself.”

    And if she did, and they didn’t respond, either they are better people than I am (which is probably the case) or were too busy laughing at Ann to reply.

    Lee

  91. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 04:11:13

    Ann wrote:

    I own what I say.

    Under a pseudonym!? And you don’t see the contradiction/hypocrisy there?!

    Unlike you, I actually do “own what I say.” I’m not afraid to stand behind what I say under my own name. I believe the willingness to do that says a lot about a person.

    Considering how you treat people, I can understand why you might want to hide behind another name.

    Lee

  92. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 04:11:25

    My problem with Ann is that she’s someone with no knowledge, experience or success in the fields that she likes lecturing people about.

    Writing fanfiction for money? You’re right – I have no experience of that. I’d never stoop that low.

    Sigh. You measure success by criteria I have no interest in. My writing I’d hold up against yours any day of the week. And I’ve only been lecturing you about your hypocrisy, homophobia, arrogance and general twattiness. According to you, I’m perfectly well qualified to do that. I’m also a former fanfiction writer and a writer of original (and published) work. I have more than experience and knowledge to talk about the issues here.

    And actually, I’ve written more novels than you with my original characters. So you are still talking from behind.

    Tell me something, Glodberg. Why are you expending so much time on me? According to you I’m a nothing (based on absolutely no knowledge of me at all, I might add.) So…my opinion matters, why? I mean, if you’re going to personally attempt to put down every person who holds you in low esteem, you’d do nothing else from dawn to dusk. No time for Mr Monk then.

    Seriously, you should go play with your Edgars. Write some Monk slash, get all that obsession with anal intercourse out of your system. Just remember to use lots and lots of lube.

  93. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 04:19:21

    Goldberb, some of us have more than one job and career, and I very much doubt the people who read my historical research want to know I write homosexual romance. Many of us don’t care to give homophobic dickheads like you identifying information in public, because we’ve been stalked and harassed. “Lee Goldberg” isn’t a unique name. My real name *is*. I’m not giving up my personal safety just to score points with a peabrain like you.

    But you don’t write gay stories, or erotica, so you have no idea and no interest in what you’re bullshitting about. Any number of people participating in this thread and reading this, know exactly who I am and how to reach me.

  94. Lila
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 04:24:35

    I imagine that's why she's not more widely read. Regardless of how many books she claims to have published, she couldn't possibly have a bestseller, not with her attitude.

    It must be hard, Kat, to only read the authors you personally like.

    I couldn’t care less who the author is and what his attitudes in conversation are if the books he/she writes are amazing. One of my favorite fantasy writers turned out to be (at a convention, in a q&a panel) a myzoginistic pig with whom I wouldn’t be albe, I believe, to talk for more than five minutes without resorting to bitchslapping and frustrated screaming. Reading interviews with him is like watching a trainwreck, but I still buy and immensely enjoy his books. I must be strange.

  95. Emmy
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 05:03:10

    I prefer to know nothing about the person who writes what I’m reading, lolz. Think I enjoy the books better that way. Whatever happened to author mystique?

    It does seem that what people think of some authors influences the books they buy. Remember Victoria Laurie? DAM? Many of the people commenting in various discussions said they would no longer be purchasing their books.

  96. Amanda J
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 06:05:33

    I know the copyright laws on fanfiction are a little vague right now but I'd like to know, honestly, how many cases there actually are where a fan has profited monetarily from fanfiction. They would have to try to sell it to a publisher or post it online as an e-book is all I can come up with.

    It’s almost deliciously ironic that someone Mr Goldberg would describe as a ‘real’ writer (and therefore of a higher moral fibre than myself – a fanfiction writer) profited monetarily by taking one of my fanfictions and publishing it as a successful ebook (and later a paperback) by simply changing the characters names, the location and the odd word here and there.

    Under the circumstances, I find it hard to reconcile the idea that I (as a fanfiction writer)am intrinsically less moral than professional writers. Therefore, I find Mr Goldberg’s generalisations very insulting.

  97. Anne Douglas
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 06:27:49

    Oh look, another episode of the Lee and Ann show…

    Can someone get these two a blog of their own to bitch at each other on? Surely I can’t be the only one who’s tired of waking up to an RSS feed filled with bitching between these two?

    I’d block them if I could. (I can’t can I? Block posters from an Rss feed, that is?)

  98. Angelia Sparrow
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 07:50:13

    Lleo, slash fiction is NOT new. It’s at least 40 years old. Star Trek fandom in the late 60s gave us the term “slash.” It was how fanzines designated the same-sex (usually Kirk and Spock) from the opposite sex pairings. I was reading articles about it in fanzines in the 80s.

    I find it annoying that, as usual, some man has come into our sandbox and decided to kick down our castles and dump a few bucketfuls of sand on Ann’s head as an object lesson.

    Now, on with talk about fanfiction.

    I see it as the grown-up version of playing in the backyard. It is no different content-wise from when my kids dress up and play Jack Sparrow et al. The only difference is the form. And I don’t see much difference between posting fanfic on the net and circulating dog-eared copies among your friends.

    Why is it fine for me to write an H.P. Lovecraft pastiche or a transgender Robin Hood legend, professionally, but not okay to write an undisguised homage to “Brimstone,” a TV show that couldn’t even get all 13 episodes aired?

    I could say something nasty about the fact it seems to be mostly males and feral fans sending the fic to Ms. Proulx. But it’s going to be a bear of a day and if I start growling about male privilege and improper socialization now, I’ll never last.

  99. Paul Bens
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 11:14:03

    And you? You write ebooks and short stories about “pretty boys fucking” that you give away for free on a website…or that you paid to have published by lulu. Wow. And who has reviewed your work lately? Buttfuck Monthly?

    OK. As a gay man, this freaking comment pisses me the hell off, Lee. And you know that I do have respect for you.

    Have you read and m/m fiction? Have you seen the quality of the stuff that is out there? Granted it is not all brilliant, but some of the best stuff I’ve read this year is m/m fiction which is about a lot more than butt-fucking. Because gay people are about a whole lot more than butt-fucking.

    You wanna go picknicking over people, fine. You wanna say stuff in the heat of the moment, fine? But you might wanna be aware of the epithets you throw out there. Because, Lee, in that one statement, you did lose my respect and I would appreciate it if you would not denigrate an entire group of people (my people, thank you so very much) by reducing the totality of our lives to butt-fucking.

  100. Laura
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 11:18:29

    The other day Neil Gaiman responded to a query about the new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sequel that Eoin Colfer has been hired to write, expressing his best wishes for Colfer. Gaiman then said:

    For the record, if I don’t get around to writing a sequel to something while I’m alive, I’d very much rather that nobody else does it once I’m dead. It should exist in your head or in Lucien’s library, or in fanfic. But that’s me, and not every author feels the same way.

    So if an author declares that he (or she) would rather any posthumous sequels of his books be in fanfic (or the imagination), yet still his estate hires someone to write a sequel for publication – for pay, to borrow Mr. Goldberg’s criterion of preference – which holds the moral high ground: the fanfic, or the “official” published sequel?

  101. veinglory
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 12:05:24

    Lee, I like a lot of your stuff, but I feel you need to learn to agree to disagree, rather than making with shot gun ad homs from your high horse. It just lets me know who you don’t consider a “real” writer due any kind of consideration–i.e. people like me.

  102. MoJo
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 12:06:37

    yet still his estate hires someone to write a sequel for publication

    If that’s his wish, he should specify that in the trust that holds his literary properties. I’m not sure it would hold up in court, but there should be no legal means for his estate’s executor to commission an “official” anything.

    Of course, fans will do what they will.

  103. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 13:50:08

    Paul wrote:

    OK. As a gay man, this freaking comment pisses me the hell off, Lee. And you know that I do have respect for you.

    Sorry, Paul, I certainly didn’t mean to denigrate gay people. I meant to denigrate Ann (or whatever her name is). Please replace “Buttfuck Monthly” with “Miss Giggles.”

    Anne Douglas wrote:

    Can someone get these two a blog of their own to bitch at each other on? Surely I can't be the only one who's tired of waking up to an RSS feed filled with bitching between these two?

    You’re absolutely right, Anne. I apologize. I shouldn’t have responded to her childish baiting, it was foolish of me. I won’t post any more more comments in this discussion and, in the future, I will ignore anything that Ann posts.

    Lee

  104. Paul Bens
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 16:00:20

    Sorry, Paul, I certainly didn't mean to denigrate gay people. I meant to denigrate Ann (or whatever her name is). Please replace “Buttfuck Monthly” with “Miss Giggles.”

    Sorry, Lee. No takesies-backsies on homophobic comments no more than one would be able to take back racist comments had they made them. See here’s the problem…using a homophobic comment to slam someone (gay or not) sends a big old message out there. “Them gays are bad.” Now, some may see it OK to make these kinda comments in an argument such as is transpiring here, but it is not. In any way shape or form. Because all it does is fuel hate. Using a homophobic comments to denigrate anyone simply because you do not like them or because you think it is clever only manages to do three things…slam all gay people, perpetuate the idea that it is acceptable to sling hateful language at gay men and women, and shows the true feelings that the speaker obviously holds inside in other circumstances.

    And can I say that this type of reaction is exactly why some people choose to write under pseudonyms. There are people in this world that are homophobic and would not for one second hesitate on tracking someone down who writes in a “filthy, degenerate” genre. I’ve seen it happen. I know people who have had whackos show up at their doorsteps and threaten. Personal information, sadly, is not hard to come by in the internet age. There are a lot of good reasons to use pseudonyms: professional, personal and otherwise. And there are a lot of major authors who have done so (and some who even continue to do so). Use of a pseudonym does not have anything to do with the quality or the validity of someone’s writing or someone’s opinion. And I will say that most of the authors I know who comment on this site and who do use pseudonyms in their professional writing careers, maintain the same pseudonym when commenting in forums such as this. And then there are the people who create multiple on-line names just so they can slam people without it impacting their careers by using their primary pseudonym. I for one applaud those who speak their mind using their professional pseudonym or their real names. Just because someone consistently uses one pseudo does not invalidate their opinions nor does it mean they are hiding behind anything.

    It also doesn’t help that you’ve decided to replace that homophobic verbiage with a dig at a reviewer I read regularly, whose reviews are amusing and insightful and who buys and reads more books in a year that I bet all the people on this list combined. Have you read Mrs. Giggles reviews? If not, how can you feel informed enough to take a jab at her. The problem with striking at people you disagree with in a forum such as this is that in the heat of the moment–and often ill-informed–people take swipes at people they don’t even know. So, I really advise reading Mrs. Giggles.

    In the end everyone can argue the points they want to however they wish to do so. But when it comes to homophobic and/or racist comments (the later I have not seen here), I will not forgive and forget and I won’t let it pass without calling it for exactly what it is. Whether the comments apply to me or not.

  105. Lori
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 17:32:55

    Lee was gracious and adult enough to apologize. A gracious and adult response is to accept an apology and hope that all have learned from it.

    I have enjoyed this blog since I found it but I find these constant personal attacks exhausting. Is this how we act in Jane’s sandbox? Is this the respect we show to Jane and the others in how we act here?

    This is tiresome and tedious and you do Jane a disservice everytime you react like schoolyard bullies. (And if you don’t like the ‘mean girls’ name, start acting like responsible adults).

  106. Paul Bens
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 17:44:29

    If this was directed at me…

    Lee was gracious and adult enough to apologize. A gracious and adult response is to accept an apology and hope that all have learned from it.

    No…Lee apologized and then took a swipe at someone else who is not here and even involved. If we are to hold the adult behavior yardstick up, then must apply it equally to everyone.

    And, as a gay man who has been threatened with violence because of my orientation, I absolutely will not accept an apology for saying homophobic things, especially when the apology is uttered in the same breath as a swipe at someone else.

    And let’s please keep in mind that I worked with Lee and held him in good regard. The fact that I won’t him off the hook is no better or worse a standard than I would hold my closest personal friends to in real life.

    Saying “I didn’t mean it that way” does not erase what was said and the spirit in which it was said.

  107. Ann Somerville
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 17:49:26

    Lee was gracious and adult enough to apologize

    You call “I certainly didn't mean to denigrate gay people. I meant to denigrate Ann (or whatever her name is). Please replace “Buttfuck Monthly” with “Miss Giggles.”” a gracious apology?

    You mean, he’s called out for his homophobia by a gay man, so he claims it’s okay, he only meant to insult a straight woman by using a homophobic slur (not just one, either.) (Not to mention the unwarranted and ignorant slam against Mrs G, simply for the crime of reviewing my novellas.)

    I’m as tired of this bullshit as everyone else. But if Goldberg is going to throw his filthy words around in scattergun fashion, uncaring who he hits or libels, then he’s going to find other people are going to take issue. He’s insulted and defamed a very large number of people on this post alone, and the fact he ‘apologised’ in the mealymouthed fashion (‘I’m sorry if you’re upset’) he did, doesn’t do anything more than add to the original offence.

    Jane, I’m sure, despises all this and has made her disapproval of me well-known. However, if she’s going to host a post about fanfiction, she knows perfectly well Goldberg and his loathsome opinions will show up, and those attacked by Goldberg, will fight back.

    I don’t intend to participate in this discussion further, but make no mistake – Goldberg isn’t sorry he used a homophobic slur, he’s just sorry he was called on it. He’s a nasty, small-minded bigot.

    There. Sorry if you were offended. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

  108. Jane
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 19:13:53

    I don’t know that I disapprove of you Ann. I think that you are taking that a little too personal. I thought your comment was full of hyperbole and not related to the previously stated opinions on fan fiction I had made. As for Lee, he stokes the fire and throwing logs on it doesn’t make him go away.

    I also believe, like Paul, that you can’t take back homophobic slurs but maybe Lee didn’t mean to make a homophobic slur. I don’t really know him and can’t really say. Can we make an assumption from one statement? I think we can say that too many slurs are made, even offhandedly and that should be eradicated. (That’s not being PC in my opinion either).

    Like Paul, though, I believe that certain attitudes pervade the internet and that is why anonymity is important and should be protected.

  109. Janine
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 19:39:28

    Jane, I'm sure, despises all this and has made her disapproval of me well-known.

    I think too many assumptions which may or may not be true are being made. It seems to be an ongoing problem on internet boards and blogs. Could we all refrain from jumping to conclusions and give one another the benefit of the doubt, please?

  110. kirsten saell
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 19:40:08

    I'm as tired of this bullshit as everyone else. But if Goldberg is going to throw his filthy words around in scattergun fashion, uncaring who he hits or libels, then he's going to find other people are going to take issue.

    If you’re tired of the bullshit, then why on earth do you start it?

    Lee Goldberg, that's your dogwhistle calling.

    That was from your very first comment on this thread, before Goldberg even showed up. He didn’t bother to respond to that one, yet you continued to bait, insult and berate him:

    Of course Mr Goldberg will work himself up into a frothing rage at the very idea of legal fanfiction (other than the kind he writes of course),

    I haven't any more to contribute as, unlike Goldberg, I've moved on some time ago from using other people's characters as an inspiration… Perhaps Goldberg will appreciate that more if anyone ever considers writing about a character he himself created.

    Through all this, Goldberg defended his position (however wrong-headed I personally believe it to be) with civility and politeness–until finally in post 54 he gives Ann the reaction she’s obviously looking for. In the process, he commits the cardinal sin of denegrating gay people.

    Commence calls for his immediate decapitation. He’s obviously a homophobe. Not an angry man who’s been pushed and pushed and pushed, but a homophobe. Uh huh.

    And then god forbid, Kat has the gall to actually say what I and others must be thinking, and call Ann on her disrespectful, antagonistic, bilious, narrow-minded, judgmental tirades, and she gets called a “vicious”, “small-minded little bitch”. Way to prove Kat’s point on your first try, Ann.

    Apparently, the only people allowed to get offended by name-calling, insults and vitriol are gay people and Ann Somerville.

    *sigh*

    I don’t agree with your position on fan fiction, Mr. Goldberg, but I certainly feel for you.

  111. Paul Bens
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 20:10:50

    In the process, he commits the cardinal sin of denegrating gay people.

    OK…let’s say his words were a racial epithet. Would your sarcasm be used in that circumstance as well?

    My point being in all this that if one is so quick to use a homophobic comment, then one should be prepared to be called on it and not just decide it is OK to use because he really meant it to be aimed at a non-gay. Jst because it is aimed at a straight person doesn’t diminish the effect it can have on gay people. There are repercussions of such usage even though those who utter them may not be directly affected. I ask that people be aware that words do have effect way beyond themselves.

    Commence calls for his immediate decapitation.

    Yes indeed, that it what I called for.

    He's obviously a homophobe. Not an angry man who's been pushed and pushed and pushed, but a homophobe. Uh huh.

    Hmmm…oh, I see. Angry people are allowed to say whatever they desire without accountability? Homophobic things only or are other things fair game as well? The “wounded” can say whatever they like? Are those “wronged” also permitted to make racial slurs or anti-semitic remarks as well?

    Apparently, the only people allowed to get offended by name-calling, insults and vitriol are gay people and Ann Somerville.

    Yes, that is very clearly the logical end result of this conversation. Clearly.

    Just for the record, do I think Lee is a homophobe? From my past working relationship I wouldn’t think so and not necessarily now do I think so (yet I reserve the right to make my own judgment). But what he is, is a man who used a homophobic dig and he deserved to be called on it. Others may draw whatever conclusion they like as I do not even pretend to be the conclusion police.

    And on this particular subject I have little more to say and even less desire to get into pissing matches with anyone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to voice it however they like. But I for one am going to call them exactly as I see them.

  112. kirsten saell
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 20:56:46

    Hmmm…oh, I see. Angry people are allowed to say whatever they desire without accountability?

    But what he is, is a man who used a homophobic dig and he deserved to be called on it. Others may draw whatever conclusion they like as I do not even pretend to be the conclusion police.

    Apparently only Ann Somerville is allowed to say whatever she desires without accountability. The thing is, yes, I thought he was wrong to say what he said, to use insults and slurs and bile the way he did. But I also believe Ann frequently provokes just such exchanges, and resorts to just as nasty retoric, and I rarely see her taken to task for her blatant antagonism. On the infrequent occasions that she is, her attacks are redoubled, smacking down anyone who dares to say she offends them.

    What I’m trying to say is that everyone should take it down a notch. And that Lee Goldberg is not alone in his willingness to offend people, and gays and Ann Somerville are not alone in their right to be offended by intentionally insulting language.

  113. Sparky
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 21:13:20

    I have to agree with Paul. Lee’s lashing out at “pretty boys fucking” and “buttfuck monthly” is unabashedly homophobic and I fail to see how it can be anything BUT a homophobic slur. I certainly dispute the idea that someone can say something like that and “not mean it” to be a homophobic slur.

    Such backhand contempt for homosexuals is sadly prevalent and vicious and not so easily dismissed. It’s this background acceptance and dismissal of such hate that has lead to homophobia being such an “acceptable” prejudice – as well as acting as wonderful background cheerleading to the bigotry homosexuals still face

    I do not see anger as an excuse. No matter how angry I am, I have never felt a need to lash out at someone because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality. I don’t see how anger would suddenly spawn contempt for a group within your mind. I am actually rather depressed by the people wanting to dismiss, justify, excuse or belittle the impact of such a slur

  114. kirsten saell
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 21:54:41

    No matter how angry I am, I have never felt a need to lash out at someone because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality.

    And I commend you for that. I’m the same way.

    But, using racial/sexist/homophobic slurs in a heated exchange with someone who is doing their damnedest to provoke just that sort of nastiness is not, IMO, indicative of racism/sexism/homophobia. If I, in the heat of the moment, call a woman I hate a bitch or a c*nt, that doesn’t mean I hate all women. If I call my unbelievably, intolerably inconsiderate neighbors a bunch of white trash psychos, it doesn’t mean I hate whites, the poor or the mentally ill. What it means is I want to lash out and say something that will insult and upset them, and I pick the words I think will work.

    For myself, I don’t like to call anyone anything. I prefer to draw attention to people’s words and deeds, rather than flinging hurtful names. And Ann has shown herself to be no less hateful in her comments than Lee Goldberg, despite the fact that she hasn’t aimed her rancor at an identifiable group (unless bitches, arseholes, dickheads and twats are members of an identifiable group, that is).

    A little more civility is in order, all around. But saying “pretty boys fucking” is unacceptable while letting “small-minded bitch” slide is, to me, something of a double standard.

  115. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 22:14:35

    On fan fic in general… personally, I don’t want to read fanfic about my characters. I’m not going to freak if it exists, unless somebody is trying to claim ownership over the worlds/characters I created and/or make a profit from it.

    A little more civility is in order, all around. But saying “pretty boys fucking” is unacceptable while letting “small-minded bitch” slide is, to me, something of a double standard.

    I heart Kirsten.

    Surely I can't be the only one who's tired of waking up to an RSS feed filled with bitching between these two?

    I also heart Anne Douglas.

    Insults don’t accomplish anything. Insults are cruel.

    However, responding to those who disagree with you with insults certainly doesn’t do much, either.

    There were probably a few other things I wanted to address, but I’m tired and I’m sick and I’m unabashedly lazy.

  116. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 22:29:54

    I wasn’t going to comment here again. But I am compelled to correct a factual error before it gets any further out-of-hand.

    Sparky and Kristen: when I referred to Ann’s stories about “pretty boys fucking,” I was quoting her own description of her own work, not in this thread, but the one about Affaire de Coeur.

    Ann wrote:

    I know it's a long way to look down from the lofty heights of Mr Monk novelisations to the sordid world of epublishing but those of us who write about pretty boys fucking don't tend to find our stuff reviewed in print mags.

    If you find the reference to “stories about ‘pretty boys fucking'” homophobic, I suggest you take it up with her.

    I do, however, take full blame for my unfortunate, joking reference to the non-existent magazine Buttfuck Monthly. I apologize if anyone found it offensive.

    Okay, now I’m bowing out of this discussion.

    Lee

  117. Paul Bens
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 22:37:55

    I do, however, take full blame for my unfortunate, joking reference to the non-existent magazine Buttfuck Monthly. I apologize if anyone found it offensive.

    Yes because repeating a homophobic comment, Lee, in your apology for the comment is certainly the way to make things better.

    And I like the qualified “if anyone was offended.” It is all the fad to apologise without really apologising. It’s already been shown that you have offended so why the need to qualify it. Generally, an apology is “I’m sorry that I offended.” Not “if I offended” or “that you were offended.” That is, of course, unless you are a politician.

    You lost me here, Lee.

  118. kirsten saell
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 23:51:53

    And I like the qualified “if anyone was offended.” It is all the fad to apologise without really apologising. It's already been shown that you have offended so why the need to qualify it. Generally, an apology is “I'm sorry that I offended.” Not “if I offended” or “that you were offended.” That is, of course, unless you are a politician.

    Here we go again–calling people arseholes, bitches, dickheads, twats or despicable sacks of shit requires no apology at all, but a dig at homosexuals is unforgivable. Maybe you don’t care because Ann’s insults weren’t aimed directly at you as an individual. It’s okay to be rude and insulting, as long as it’s inflicted on someone else…

    And no, Paul, I’m not expecting you to call your good friend Ann on her inexcusable behavior. You all seem to be more predictable than that.

    *waiting to be lambasted on Ann’s blog in 3…2…1…*

  119. Robin
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 23:52:56

    I have waffled all day, wanting to comment on this thread but feeling unhappy with anything I’ve tried to say, but I do want to comment on this invocation of civility, and I’m simply posting this as a commenter and not as a blogger here; that is, this is my opinion alone.

    However, responding to those who disagree with you with insults certainly doesn't do much, either.

    Exactly! And this includes the insults that have been aimed at Ann Somerville in this thread, too, IMO. In the same way that those who have hurled them feel justified, so, I think, did Ann feel justified in her comments to Lee Goldberg and others (i.e. an injustice had been done and someone had to speak out). There’s just a lot of hurt feelings abounding here, a lot of defensiveness, and a lot of mutual antagonism, IMO. Has Ann been insulting in some of her comments? Yes. But she’s not the only one, and I frankly don’t think there are any saints in this particular morality play. I certainly don’t see Lee Goldberg as a victim, and he’s been quite willing to spar with Ann, both here and in the AdC thread, as well as being quite harsh, even insulting, in his own assessment of fan fiction and its authors, completely independent of his issues with Ann.

    I love civility, and I believe that the bounds are actually much, much broader than most people feel comfortable with them being. Because you need to have a certain amount of freedom in any discussion, too, especially one that brings out passionate responses. People will be offended in perfectly civil discussions. But civility can be wielded as a weapon, too, as an excuse for piling on someone you might feel has stepped over the line. Which pretty much exceeds the boundaries of the term, IMO. In all directions.

    I *know* it’s sometimes difficult to speak up when you feel someone has stepped over a line, and heaven knows I HATE being yelled at online, so I know how intimidating it can be to comment when things get tense or on the strident side. I hate it that people feel afraid to comment because they’re scared of being insulted, even as I know we’re all going to step in it from time to time and say something thoughtless and harsh and insensitive and hurt someone else’s feelings. It’s part of the price for engaging in what I call “stranger criticism” in these online discussions. I tend to be a hothead myself, and it’s been a hard lesson to learn that restraint really is sometimes the better part of valor. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to reconsider a position or comment I’ve taken or made, as time and other perspectives shift my own view of something. It’s pretty much a constant process.

    Essentially, I think we’re all always going to be negotiating that line between saying what we think and being sensitive to the feelings of others, and sometimes we’re each going to do a crappy job of maintaining the balance. But if we’re all truly committed to civility, then I think that can only be achieved through whatever example each of us sets with our own words, regardless of how righteous we believe our particular cause to be and however over the line we feel someone else has gone.

  120. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 00:17:16

    I tend to be a hothead myself, and it's been a hard lesson to learn that restraint really is sometimes the better part of valor. I can't even count the number of times I've had to reconsider a position or comment I've taken or made, as time and other perspectives shift my own view of something. It's pretty much a constant process.

    I’m sorry, Robin, I guess I have simply never seen the hotheaded side of you reflected in your comments. Sometimes you say things I disagree with. Sometimes you say things I think are, well, annoying or infuriating–but I have never, ever seen you berate, belittle or attack someone for disagreeing with you.

    I spoke up here because the direction of this thread, and another one earlier in the week, led me to believe that civility is not valued here at all–unless the lack of it is linked to race, religion or sexuality.

    The excuses for inexcusable behavior abound: I’m justified in calling someone a dickhead or a twat because s/he’s stupid/misguided/a moron/disagrees with me. Well, I’m sorry, it’s not justified. I don’t see Lee Goldberg as a victim, but neither do I see Ann as righteous in any way shape or form. I’ve come to hate agreeing with her opinions on issues, because the way she expresses them makes me feel like I shouldn’t.

    I say this fully expecting to be called a twat/bitch/moron on her blog the moment she pours her coffee in the morning.

  121. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 00:41:53

    I've come to hate agreeing with her opinions on issues, because the way she expresses them makes me feel like I shouldn't.

    I understand that you want to see more civility, Kirsten, and I can respect that but what you feel as a result of someone else’s comments can’t be on them. I agree with Ann far more than I disagree with her. In fact, I think she makes great points and has alot of insight but that her commentary is lost alot of time beneath the bluster.

    But to say that Lee Goldberg is an innocent here or isn’t taunting people and trying to provoke a certain response would fail to give him enough credit for his actions. He did make a homophobic slur. I won’t say that one homophobic slur does a homophobe make, but it is easy to read that as a provocatively challenging statement.

    Goldberg has a long history of fighting fan fiction. I recall he once spoke out in support of Holly Lisle who proclaimed that she would prosecute any fan ficcers or something to that extent. I think that is entirely wrongheaded.

    While I might not agree with “fandom”, I do read fandom wank from time to time and I find the group to be smart, funny, and wildly passionate about their work. Fandom and what they produce in terms of fan fiction should be admired and embraced and not reviled. Those who do so, do it at their own peril. Fandom represents to me a subset of the superfan and their continued and passionate interest in a particular tv show, movie, or book series helps to embed a love for that particular entertainment piece that is hard to shake.

    Goldberg’s continued diatribes against fan fiction reads to me like someone protecting his own turf. Maybe I’m reading that wrong. But it’s like he’s saying that since he’s paid to do it, he’s the only one who can write fan fiction disregarding the law (things like fair use) and permission of the author.

    Now I don’t pretend to understand half of the thinking of fandom. Bev BB’s comments in particularly are fairly puzzling, but again, fan fiction isn’t going anywhere and there isn’t anything to suggest that fan fiction actually hurts an author’s sales. Does it harm their sensibilities? Perhaps but Authors have alot of things that harm their sensibilities and if we would allow those sensibilities to dictate fandom, DA wouldn’t even exist.

    So that is my long rambling way of saying that while Ann doesn’t say things the way that I would say them; I would agree with her more than disagree. Do I wish she would say them differently? Sometimes I do but only because she has such insight that I am afraid her tone obscures the message.

  122. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 00:50:03

    I've come to hate agreeing with her opinions on issues, because the way she expresses them makes me feel like I shouldn't.

    So why not just say that? Why not just say, geez, that comes across as really condescending, insulting, aggressive, whatever. I can tell you that if someone calls me a name for calling someone else a name, I’m going to get even MORE defensive than I already was. I’m not a big fan of sarcasm, either, or passive aggressive backslapping, or the ever-popular f***wit. But if someone says to me, “I agree with your point but your delivery is really insulting,” in fact, if three, ten, twenty people say this, it’s going to be a lot hard for me to dismiss my critics. Not that I have to proclaim my critics correct — everyone has to be the judge of their own comments and views, and I think we get far, far too hung up on being nice, which ironically leads to a lot of insulting and sniping. Strong, even harsh voices can be perfectly civil, even if they aren’t comfortable to people, and I think sometimes we are too hard on strong voices that aren’t masterfully snarky or funny. So IMO all you can do is register your feelings and let the other person decide their own course of action or response.

  123. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 00:55:04

    Goldberg has a long history of fighting fan fiction. I recall he once spoke out in support of Holly Lisle who proclaimed that she would prosecute any fan ficcers or something to that extent. I think that is entirely wrongheaded.

    But there we are again. Because someone is wrongheaded, it’s okay to heap abuse on them. Again, I don’t think I have excused Goldberg’s opinions on fanfic or his use of the homophobic slur. I just hate the double standard.

    Maybe I'm reading that wrong. But it's like he's saying that since he's paid to do it, he's the only one who can write fan fiction disregarding the law (things like fair use) and permission of the author.

    He has a right to his opinion, doesn’t he? He arrived here today expressing that opinion with a fair amount of civility. The descent into vitriol was not one-sided. If your only complaint about him is that he’s wrong, well, god help me if I am ever deemed to be wrong around here.

    And I’m not just referring to Lee Goldberg, but to Kat and any number of other people on other blogs who have been deemed by Ann (or others) to be “wrong” and therefore deserving of abuse.

    There’s a line between disagreeing with someone and castigating them. I’d rather everyone stay on the civil side of it.

  124. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:02:51

    But if someone says to me, “I agree with your point but your delivery is really insulting,” in fact, if three, ten, twenty people say this, it's going to be a lot hard for me to dismiss my critics.

    Oh I have done that. I have. I’ll give you three guesses as to how effective it is, and the first two don’t count. What three, ten, twenty people are going to speak up when one (such as Kat) gets smacked down with extreme prejudice and everyone else on the thread thinks it’s all good? I keep saying I don’t agree with Goldberg’s tactics. I just hate to see everyone piling on him while giving Ann free reign to spew her bile on anyone who has the nerve to disagree with her.

    I am not the only person to feel this way. Maybe I’m just the only one who doesn’t care what names she’ll call me tomorrow…

  125. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:13:53

    I hardly think Goldberg has been piled on. Paul Bens, in particular, has been particularly restrained and even-handed in his comments, IMO. And, as I said, Goldberg has been particularly cooperative in sparring with Ann, detouring right around a perfectly reasonably question I asked him directly about his views on fan fiction, views I don’t fully understand. So he hasn’t really convinced me that he wants to have a civil discussion about fan fiction, regardless of how cerebral his presentation may appear. I know that rhetorical strategy pretty well, myself, and I know it can serve as a very effective form of provocation if it’s not used with the intent to actually HAVE a conversation.

  126. Paul Bens
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:14:57

    And no, Paul, I'm not expecting you to call your good friend Ann on her inexcusable behavior. You all seem to be more predictable than that.

    I don’t feel the need to get in the middle of a fight between Lee and Ann (yes, who is my friend) which is why I stayed out of it. I took umbrage at a homophobic comment by Lee and other points he was trying to make (sometimes tactfully and sometimes not). I purposely stayed out of the argument between the two of them because (1) Ann doesn’t need my help in defending herself and contrary to your belief she and I do not always agree and (2) pouring gasoline on a fire has never been a good idea.

    Frankly, I do find that generic “fuckwits” and “dubasses” are a far, far, far cry from homophobic or racist comments. Calling someone the N word, for example, is far different and has far more implications is far more damaging than calling someone an asshole. Sorry, but it is. (For clarity’s sake, I have not heard racists comments here and am not attributing any such comments to anyone).

    So, Lee doesn’t like Ann and you don’t like Ann. Not really a whole lot to do with me And yes, Ann is a friend, one who I happen to respect because she is willing to call bullshit bullshit when it comes to issues. As Jane said, the times I agree with Ann far outweigh the times I don’t.

    So, if you have an issue with Ann, that is your issue and not mine and I won’t be dragged into it. I had issue with comments made by Lee. And I spoke out about those in, I think, a fairly civil way. Period.

    And if you are worried about being lambasted in Ann’s journal…it’s very simple…don’t read it. If you don’t like the program, change the channel. It really isn’t more difficult than that…for any of us.

  127. Paul Bens
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:22:59

    Paul Bens, in particular, has been particularly restrained and even-handed in his comments, IMO.

    Thanks, Robin. I do try. I may not always be effective at it, but I do try. (Frankly it is the Mr. Spock in me which may be a good thing or a bad thing.)

  128. Paul Bens
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:26:05

    Sparky said:

    Such backhand contempt for homosexuals is sadly prevalent and vicious and not so easily dismissed. It's this background acceptance and dismissal of such hate that has lead to homophobia being such an “acceptable” prejudice – as well as acting as wonderful background cheerleading to the bigotry homosexuals still face

    You said that so much concisely than I did. Thanks Sparky.

  129. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:33:44

    As Jane said, the times I agree with Ann far outweigh the times I don't.

    That is immaterial. You all are missing my point. I don’t care who is right or who agrees with whom. As human beings, we ought to be able to debate issues in a respectful fashion. To be honest, I feel a visceral embarrassment anytime I find myself in agreement with someone like Ann, because I just can’t reconcile her message with her delivery.

    Calling someone the N word, for example, is far different and has far more implications is far more damaging than calling someone an asshole. Sorry, but it is.

    Sigh. So because racist/homophobic/sexist insults are arguably more damaging than generic ones, they are the only ones deserving of criticism? Part of me wants to call you an unpleasant name, but I just can’t make myself do it…

  130. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:35:49

    I don't feel the need to get in the middle of a fight between Lee and Ann

    I was actually referring to her treatment of Kat.

  131. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:38:35

    Kirsten, what’s the difference to you between Karen Scott calling someone a f***wit and Ann doing so?

  132. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:41:06

    Heck, I don’t like it when she does it, either. But her blog is her blog.

  133. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 01:56:45

    So it comes down to venue? Because I think you could argue that two ways if the whole point is online civility (i.e. who has a greater responsibility, etc. etc.). I think Karen can be extremely funny and insightful, but she can also be extremely, unapologetically harsh. And yet some of those folks who seem to be great fans of her blog seem less tolerant of harshness in other venues. I can’t say for sure that that’s a double standard, but could it be as much of a double standard as the one you see in the responses to Lee Goldberg and Ann Somerville?

  134. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 02:35:06

    I think Karen can be extremely funny and insightful, but she can also be extremely, unapologetically harsh. And yet some of those folks who seem to be great fans of her blog seem less tolerant of harshness in other venues. I can't say for sure that that's a double standard, but could it be as much of a double standard as the one you see in the responses to Lee Goldberg and Ann Somerville?

    I will admit that Karen’s harshness usually doesn’t get on my nerves to the degree Ann’s sometimes does, largely because it doesn’t feel as personal. It’s like badmouthing someone when they aren’t there to hear it, vs calling someone a bitch to her face. Because this is the internet, you can say things to people’s faces you would never get away with saying in real life.

    And I make a point of not making an appearance on Ann’s blog–no matter how wrong or harsh I might think she is–to antagonize her. That’s another reason why I don’t take issue with Karen. It’s her blog, and she can say what she wants to.

    I will say that I rarely comment on threads at Karen’s that have an overtly judgmental feel, except an occasional attempt to support an underdog–those aren’t duscussions I want to be a part of.

    Also, there is a very subtle, but real, difference between saying “she’s a fuckwit” and “you’re a fuckwit”. They both essentially say the same thing, but one feels more personal and invites response in a way the other doesn’t.

    And to conclude, I have always believed one should be more well behaved in other people’s houses than in one’s own. That applies to farting, saying “please” and calling people rude names.

  135. choice
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 03:03:56

    I’m with you and Annie Proulx! People certainly shouldn’t write short stories about pretty boys fucking. They should write short stories about cowboys who… oh. Oops!

  136. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 06:41:01

    I see where Kirsten is coming from.

    There have been times when I have agreed with what Ann says, but despise her delivery.

    Yet when I try to point out that her delivery comes off as insulting and belittling, that her point is lost among the insults, she comes out insults flinging and bile flying.

    It is a routine, regular thing with her. Do I personally care if she insults me? No. There is no love lost between us. But when she comes down on others, routinely, who are then afraid to post in the future because of her attacks (yes, I see them as attacks), that irritates the hell out of me.

    Did Lee G screw up? Yes. Was he insulting? Yes. Was he wrong? Yes. Is there an excuse? No.

    However, Ann is wrong for routinely flinging out insults, for going after those who disagree with her in a guns-blazing fashion. Is there an excuse for her behavior? Not in my eyes. Is she insulting? Very frequently.

    You can’t point out to Ann that her delivery is insulting, inciting, immature and that her message is lost among the insults, among the attacks-because she just fires off, If you don’t like what I have to say, that’s your problem. But when she doesn’t like what somebody else had to say, like Kat, in this instance, is it Ann’s problem? Nope…it’s Kat’s.

    It’s a double-standard and I imagine that’s what has Kirsten so irritated.

  137. Bev(BB)
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 07:18:50

    Now I don't pretend to understand half of the thinking of fandom. Bev BB's comments in particularly are fairly puzzling, but again, fan fiction isn't going anywhere and there isn't anything to suggest that fan fiction actually hurts an author's sales.

    Okay, Jane, I’ll bite and since you brought up my name and it’s on topic, I’m curious as to what’s so puzzling. (Or is this more a case of you simply wanting to be dense about anything I say on general principle. ;p)

  138. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 08:50:14

    Bev – I didn’t understand your complaints about Smallville. Particularly this point:

    And, Jane, one point, regardless of ownership, somehow they've managed to have a lot of Superman and DC characters appear on SMALLVILLE over the years so I fail to see the distinction.

    Why wouldn’t they (Time Warner) have the characters appear in smallville over the years when they own all the characters?

  139. Bev(BB)
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 09:43:50

    Bev – I didn't understand your complaints about Smallville. Particularly this point:

    And, Jane, one point, regardless of ownership, somehow they've managed to have a lot of Superman and DC characters appear on SMALLVILLE over the years so I fail to see the distinction.

    Why wouldn't they (Time Warner) have the characters appear in smallville over the years when they own all the characters?

    Oh, whoa. You really don’t understand fans, do you? I’m not even sure where to start with this one.

    Okay, strictly speaking the corporation that “owns” the characters can do anything they want with them. Sure they can.

    But is “doing whatever they want” going to be true to the spirit – and quite possibly established “canon” – of the characters the fans already love? See that’s the question that gets asked by fans and promptly answered by fan fiction all the time. Over and over again. Usually when the corporations mess up royally in some incarnation of the characters.

    Imagine if you will that the J.D. Robb series were to be made into a TV series. It’s well known by romance readers, many of whom can already quote you chapter and verse on what’s happened in the books. So, now we’d have these beloved characters reincarnated into flesh and blood versions on a weekly basis. Possibly in some of the same episodes. Probably in some new ones. Then there could be movies. Maybe with even different actors all over again.

    Each time it’s done, the character incarnation is reinvented. Just slightly. It moves away from what was originally in the books a little bit more until it reaches the point that Eve and Roark are basically unrecognizable to some extent. The supporting characters may change but that’s all part of process.

    It’s all okay, you know, because whatever the big corporation wants to do with the characters they should be able to do.

    Right?

  140. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 09:56:04

    Okay, so when you talk about “right” v. “wrong”, you are talking about whether the TPTB are following the original canon. So if you say that they (TPTB) did something wrong by allowing characters from Superman and other DC Comics enter into the Smallville world, it is because you believe that the original canon wouldn’t allow that to happen.

    Did I state that correctly? (and I don’t know if I don’t understand fans as I myself am a “fan” of things, but I don’t understand all that goes on in fandom which is a term I use to describe those who write fan fiction and maybe I am even using that term incorrectly)

  141. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 10:10:14

    Thanks, Shiloh. You get it exactly.

  142. Bev(BB)
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 10:41:41

    Okay, so when you talk about “right” v. “wrong”, you are talking about whether the TPTB are following the original canon. So if you say that they (TPTB) did something wrong by allowing characters from Superman and other DC Comics enter into the Smallville world, it is because you believe that the original canon wouldn't allow that to happen.

    Did I state that correctly?

    By George, I think she’s actually got it. ;) It’s not so much that TPTB are in the wrong legally as that the fans know the properties inside and out and always will. And when they don’t like what TPTB do with that which they love, they vent. Creatively.

    You can probably find reference to this online somewhere if you look but this guy’s work was the definition for fan fiction that was making the rounds back when I was actively writing it:

    “Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk.”
    Henry Jenkins
    Director of Media Studies at MIT

    (and I don't know if I don't understand fans as I myself am a “fan” of things, but I don't understand all that goes on in fandom which is a term I use to describe those who write fan fiction and maybe I am even using that term incorrectly)

    Fans and fandoms are walking encyclopedias of information about the properties they love. Some are more complicated than others, granted, but at heart, they’re about collecting and sharing information and memorabilia related to the property the fandom is based on. Some authors have their own individual fandoms, sure, but do not doubt that this thing that we call “romancelandia” or the “romance community” is a fandom. We trade and collect information and products. We’re also pretty much walking encyclopedias of information about them. We are a fandom and always have been even though we call ourselves simply readers. Nothing wrong with that.

  143. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 11:06:27

    Also, there is a very subtle, but real, difference between saying “she's a fuckwit” and “you're a fuckwit”.

    Yeah, it’s generally much easier to talk behind someone’s back, lol. But actualy Karen does both, Kirsten (and I give her credit for taking full responsibility for her words — that’s not so common), although usually the term is f***tard. And it probably doesn’t feel personal unless you’ve been on the business end of the stick. As someone who HAS been, I know a little about what it feels like. And as someone who is not instinctively comfortable with sarcasm and snark, I have had to fine tune my own tolerance level to distinguish instead between words spoken with cruelty and without. If I feel there is real malice behind someone’s words, I’m much more likely to object than if I feel plain rudeness. I’m not a big fan of just trying to whip stuff up, either, but I’d still rank that as lower than malice on the hierarchy of Internet sins. Ann’s a big girl, she dished it out, she’ll just have to take it in return. But as possibly the first person to publicly object here to something Ann said (way back on the Tess Gerritsen thread), I know it can be done without bloodshed on either side.

    There are blogs and bloggers I don’t read or comment on their blogs because they cross that line of meanness for me. Others see it differently because some of them have a healthy fan base. We all have different levels of tolerance, I get that. I just think that maybe we have all these artificial rules around who deserves to be called f***wit, crazy, etc. and who doesn’t, and I think we all get trapped sometimes in a double standard or two in deciding who is and isn’t crossing a certain line.

  144. Paul Bens
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 11:12:28

    As someone who wrote fan fiction long before it became an “issue” (i.e., back in the stone age before computers and the internet…Lordy I am that old) and as someone who works for a major corporation that owns intellectual property rights in a ton of material (including at least one which has a huge fanfic and slash community), I just wanted to chime in on a few things Bev said:

    is “doing whatever they want” [whoever owns the rights] going to be true to the spirit – and quite possibly established “canon” – of the characters the fans already love?

    Possibly yes and possibly no. But it is their property to do with as they please. Whether is stays true to the canon the fans love or not can be an issue they might consider (and, frankly, from a business standpoint they should consider IMO). They might or might not. It is their choice because it is their property, one that many times they have invested millions and millions of dollars in. While a lot of us fans may be vested in a property and hold it close to our hearts, that does not give us ownership (metaphorically) of it. It is not ours. Yeah, we may not like what they do with it, but it really isn’t our material.

    I recall when the new Battlestar Galactica came out there was a huge brouhaha by fans over the fact that big corporation was making Starbuck a woman. Now, I watched the original show and enjoyed it (I can’t say I was a fan, but I do know it well) and I personally thought it would have been interesting to keep Starbuck a man and have a play at m/m flirtation/relationship between him and Apollo. When I saw the remake of Galactica I was very impressed, especially by how they handled Starbuck. In many, many way, they were true to the original Starbuck character–a cigar chomping hot shot who was cocky beyond belief but also had the stuff to back it up. They simply gave her a different set of genitalia. I think (and I could be wrong) that the majority of fans who didn’t like the idea were surprised by how the producers of the new version actually did stick with the original canon of BSG and brought something new and interesting to it. And it became a major female showcase…a character that would never have been written for a woman back when the original was written).

    It's all okay, you know, because whatever the big corporation wants to do with the characters they should be able to do. Right?

    Yes. It is their property no matter how much fans love and adore it.

    Now, as far as fan fic goes, I personally don’t have an issue with it (but then I don’t really have people writing fanfic based on stuff I’ve written and likely never will). I think fan fic can be an important part of the success of a show. It all depends on how the owners want to address it. If they want to see it as an infringement, that is their choice. Or they can embrace it and let it help the show. I think George Lucas has done this for the most part with the Star Wars films. He embraces much of the derivative works created by fans because he sees that it can increase the value of a property as easily as it can “devalue” the worth. But even Lucas has a line he knows cannot be crossed and he has (if I’m not mistaken) refused to approve of certain fan-based works and may have even prosecuted.) As an aside: Frankly, as a huge fan of the original Star Wars movies I despised what Lucas did with the recent movie…but his to do with as he pleases.

    So, in the end I guess all my babbling comes down to a couple of things. (1) Fanfic has always existed and always will in some form or another. (2) Owners of intellectual property own it no matter how much the fans may love it. (3) Fanficcers should be aware of how the owners feel about such fan-based works and behave accordingly. If the owner doesn’t embrace it, it is probably not best to wave it in their faces. If the owners do embrace fan works, rejoice and enjoy, but always remember that you don’t own the work just because it means something to you.

  145. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 11:33:47

    I just think that maybe we have all these artificial rules around who deserves to be called f***wit, crazy, etc. and who doesn't, and I think we all get trapped sometimes in a double standard or two in deciding who is and isn't crossing a certain line.

    See, I don’t think anyone deserves to be called fuckwit, crazy, dickhead, whatever. Not Kat. Not Ann. Not Lee Goldberg. Certainly not for being wrong or disagreeing with someone. Not even for using those words themselves, which is why I don’t respond in kind to them.

    As for Karen, well, if I’m visiting someone else’s house, I don’t presume to tell them how they should behave there. If I don’t like the way they act in their own place, I stay away. And if I’m standing on the stoop and hear screaming and profanity inside, I usually decide maybe now is not the time to visit, or I watch from outside where I’m not likely to get hit by the hand grenades.

    That said, Karen’s blog is what it is. DA is what it is. I go to Karen’s expecting snark, drama and the odd bench-clearing brawl. I come here for something different, and expect the level of discourse to reflect that. It’s just disappointing when it doesn’t.

    I find it odd how many people routinely leap to excuse Ann’s behavior–behavior I don’t often see tolerated in others. Is it because they agree with her opinion, so it doesn’t matter who she craps on?

    Do only those who agree with us deserve respect now?

  146. Sparky
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 11:44:34

    Kirsten:
    “But, using racial/sexist/homophobic slurs in a heated exchange with someone who is doing their damnedest to provoke just that sort of nastiness is not, IMO, indicative of racism/sexism/homophobia.”

    Is it not? I mean, why, no matter how emotionally overwrought, would you suddenly feel the need to lash out against a collective group?

    “Here we go again-calling people arseholes, bitches, dickheads, twats or despicable sacks of shit requires no apology at all, but a dig at homosexuals is unforgivable.”

    You don’t see a difference between attacking an individual and using a bigoted slur against a group? Frankly Ann and Lee and throw rocks at each other until the cows come home for all I care – and as long as they were exchange blows with each other I wouldn’t have been moved to comment. Neither side needs me to fight their battles for them

    However, I don’t let homophobic slurs pass uncommented on – nor do I allow them to be belittled or dismissed as unimportant or stay silent while people try to reduce a bigoted slur against an entire oppressed group to the level of personal insult.

    I said before that homophobia is an “acceptable prejudice.” And it is. For many people homophobia is ok, it’s fine, it’s OPENLY fine to be homophobic. While other breeds of bigotry may be forced to be more subtle, homophobia is still something you can wear proudly on your sleeve. And part of the reason for this is because people DO use horrendous homophobic slurs and they’re not called on it and people treat it as OK. It is not OK. Not even close. But every time it passes without comment, every time someone dismisses it as “just anger,” every time we pretend it’s just the same as yelling a personal insult at someone then we are saying that it is acceptable, normal, business as usual.

  147. handyhunter
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 11:58:01

    I don't understand all that goes on in fandom which is a term I use to describe those who write fan fiction

    One doesn’t have to write fanfic to be a part of fandom, of which there are many different types. Fandom is as big or small as one’s participation in it, from the more active (posting meta or fic/art or whatever) to the passive (lurking), and everything in between. It’s fluid too; if Cease & Desist letters were to come raining down on fansites, fans would find a way to reroute or go underground (not that there wouldn’t be a lot of grumbling and wank to go with it). Discussion over the original or copyrighted material is what keeps it alive, and, for me, fic is one way in which it’s discussed.

    I prefer fanfic that inspires discussion, in the comments or with meta posts or by being another springboard for more fics. I like stuff that’s well written and pays attention to detail, especially with regards to POV/character voice; I’m not adverse to smut or PWP, but they’re not the only types of fic I read. I don’t read fic indiscriminately; I’ve learned to stay far away from fanfic.net because I don’t like having to sift through so much of what I don’t want to read to get to what I like. I wait for recommendations or stories by fic authors whose writing I know I enjoy. Not unlike how I look for books to read or movies to watch; as Bev BB pointed out, romanceland – this place and SBTB, eg – is a fandom too, not of any one author or specific work, but of a genre, certainly. I’m also multi-fannish; I have several fandoms I’m interested in (Iron Man, Slings & Arrows, Bruce Springsteen, X-Men, etc), and my interest may come and go (or be cyclical), but fandom will likely still be around.

    There was a good essay by Jessica Bridges called “Why Read Fan Fiction: Sometimes The End Is Just The Beginning” that I was searching for to link to, but it seems to have fallen off the edges of the ‘net. Also, someone had a great sports analogy to fandom, but I can’t find that one either. Or maybe it was just that being in fandom is like having a favourite sports team and being very involved in how they’re doing, etc.

    But is “doing whatever they want” going to be true to the spirit – and quite possibly established “canon” – of the characters the fans already love? See that's the question that gets asked by fans and promptly answered by fan fiction all the time. Over and over again. Usually when the corporations mess up royally in some incarnation of the characters.

    And there will always be someone or groups of someones who disagree and LIKE what happened (maybe especially if it is their introduction to this world or set of characters), even if to others it seems like a huge misstep on the part of TPTB.

  148. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:14:31

    As for Karen, well, if I'm visiting someone else's house, I don't presume to tell them how they should behave there. If I don't like the way they act in their own place, I stay away. And if I'm standing on the stoop and hear screaming and profanity inside, I usually decide maybe now is not the time to visit, or I watch from outside where I'm not likely to get hit by the hand grenades.

    Well, if you’re not going to criticize someone for the way they conduct themselves on their own blog, then the next issue is why be a fan of a blog where insulting things are said by the blogger? See, I think this argument skews in the opposite direction of where you want it to go, Kirsten, and I think the innocent bystander comment at the end of your paragraph is a perfect illustration of that.

    *oncoming rant alert* One of the things that makes me feel like the top of my head is going to explode is when people flock to a blog to read a controversial thread (and we all know traffic increases during these times), only to crow elsewhere about how HORRIBLE and MEAN that blog is. Often in very insulting terms. I read one comment by an author this morning on another blog lambasting DA from the moral high ground, and yet I know for a fact that this particular author visits and comments on one of the most hate-filled blogs in Romancelandia. The double standard is so glaring I cannot believe it hasn’t generated enough electricity for a year. Now, maybe this person should get points for doing this publicly rather than semi-privately or in lurid whispers, but I’m not feeling all that generous toward this person, so I’m not assigning any extra credit for that.

    If no one deserves to be called names, then why are any of us happy to be bystanders in these discussions as if that wipes the stain of collaboration away? Because it’s someone else’s blog or because someone else struck first or because someone else stepped in, or whatever? When I made that comment about how it’s easier to talk behind someone’s back rather than to their face, isn’t that the preferred mode of the Internet these days? How many things that you say about other people would you say to their face?

    I go to Karen's expecting snark, drama and the odd bench-clearing brawl. I come here for something different, and expect the level of discourse to reflect that. It's just disappointing when it doesn't.

    If you’re suggesting that Ann Somerville is the most offensive commenter ever to hit DA, well, I’m going to challenge that in a big way. And she has hardly gone unchallenged, either, not only by me and by Jane, but by others, too. As I said, I think I was the first person to publicly challenge a comment she made months ago, and I came away unscathed.

    But in all honesty, this is starting to feel like a scapegoating. We all talk all the time about how Romancelandia is too nicey-nice, but how many people really are just willing to be honest without rancor or personal insults? How many people don’t stand on the sidelines cheering some new online brawl (either one side or the other or the general entertainment value), all the while talking about how horrible it all is, how mean everyone is? IMO it’s very hard for us to have this discussion without getting quickly to a point where we’re all talking about of both sides of our mouths.

  149. Bev(BB)
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:17:15

    And there will always be someone or groups of someones who disagree and LIKE what happened, even if to others it seems like a huge misstep on the part of TPTB.

    And either way, it’s almost always fodder for more fan fiction ideas. ;)

    I think I’ve seen that “Why Read Fan Fiction” essay and may have a link to it around here somewhere. I’ll have to check. Took me a while to remember I had that other definition saved.

    Possibly yes and possibly no. But it is their property to do with as they please. Whether is stays true to the canon the fans love or not can be an issue they might consider (and, frankly, from a business standpoint they should consider IMO). They might or might not. It is their choice because it is their property, one that many times they have invested millions and millions of dollars in. While a lot of us fans may be vested in a property and hold it close to our hearts, that does not give us ownership (metaphorically) of it. It is not ours. Yeah, we may not like what they do with it, but it really isn't our material.

    Thing is, though, that we also love the fact that they invest those millions the properties. As fans we simply reserve the right to, um, how to say this, analyze the results in some detail.

    Not unlike reviewing. Just done a different way.

    And in case anyone thinks I’m being facetious, I’m not. This in-depth analysis is exactly what handyhunter is talking about with the comment “Discussion over the original or copyrighted material is what keeps it alive, and, for me, fic is one way in which it's discussed.”

    That’s exactly what writing fan fiction within a community is about, even if there are only one or two in the group.

  150. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:26:57

    Frankly Ann and Lee and throw rocks at each other until the cows come home for all I care

    I wonder if there isn’t a certain gender stereotyping here, too, because you have a male who uses the pretense of politeness to provoke (which is probably a lot easier when your brother can do most of the smearing on his own blog) and a female who ends up taking the bait and becoming more emotional. One gets characterized as civil, the other uncivil, even though the provocation was mutual right from the start.

  151. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:28:46

    And part of the reason for this is because people DO use horrendous homophobic slurs and they're not called on it and people treat it as OK. It is not OK. Not even close. But every time it passes without comment, every time someone dismisses it as “just anger,” every time we pretend it's just the same as yelling a personal insult at someone then we are saying that it is acceptable, normal, business as usual.

    Sigh. I have no problem with you taking him to task for using that slur. I believe you and Paul Bens are perfectly within your rights to say what you said to Lee–and I’m gratified that you both did so in a way that reflected well on yourselves.

    That said, I’m not and will never be convinced that words spoken in anger with a specific purpose to offend someone are always reflective of the personal beliefs of those who speak them. Am I to believe Ann is a misogynist because she called Kat a bitch–a pegorative aimed at women as an identifiable group? Is it okay for her to use that word because women are not as oppressed as gays in our society? Does Kat as an individual not deserve to be spoken of with simple, human respect?

    How is it asking too much to suggest we all watch our words and consider how the ones we choose might reflect on us as individuals? To suggest that a comment loaded with profanity and bile might not be the best way to get our message across?

    Would I be afforded the same latitude as Ann if I started calling people all sorts of unpleasant names here–so long as you agreed with my message and I stayed away from using racial/homophobic slurs? Because being polite doesn’t seem to be working for me at this point…

  152. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:41:24

    Would I be afforded the same latitude as Ann if I started calling people all sorts of unpleasant names here-so long as you agreed with my message and I stayed away from using racial/homophobic slurs? Because being polite doesn't seem to be working for me at this point…

    What do you mean by this? I don’t think any one has called you names nor been impolite to you. But I don’t agree with all of what you are saying and I don’t see how it is “not affording you the same latitude” by disagreeing with you.

    How is it asking too much to suggest we all watch our words and consider how the ones we choose might reflect on us as individuals? To suggest that a comment loaded with profanity and bile might not be the best way to get our message across?

    I think you’ve done that but I also think you’ve been provocative as well. Simply because you do it without using perjoratives, doesn’t make it less provocative. At least two of them with the same message that you expect to be mocked on Ann’s LJ in the morning. How is that not an attack or a provocation? Just because it is said in nice terms?

    If you’ve read my comments here on the thread, and I’ll assume that you have, you’ll note that I challenged Ann’s comments (and have in other places). You’ll have read, too, that I don’t agree with her tone. But Lee is no angel in this. He’s been able to come off as having the higher moral standing simply because he has a greater control over his tone and is able to make his shivs more elegantly.

  153. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:42:23

    and a female who ends up taking the bait and becoming more emotional. One gets characterized as civil, the other uncivil, even though the provocation was mutual right from the start.

    I never called Goldberg civil (except in his first couple of posts in this thread, where he ignored Ann–unless simply disagreeing with the prevailing opinion here constitutes baiting). I have no prior knowledge of their history. I have not seen Goldberg in action anywhere other than this particular thread, and I will concede that if I knew that history, my opinion might alter somewhat. But:

    Lee Goldberg, that's your dogwhistle calling.

    …the baiting is not onesided here, either.

    But let’s set aside Goldberg. I’m swiftly coming to the realization that he’s distracting everyone from the point I’m trying to make.

    I have seen Ann in action here and elsewhere, viciously attacking people who did nothing other than disagree with her. How is what she said to Kat (and has said to many, many others here and elsewhere) excusable in any way?

  154. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:46:30

    I have seen Ann in action here and elsewhere, viciously attacking people who did nothing other than disagree with her. How is what she said to Kat (and has said to many, many others here and elsewhere) excusable in any way?

    Who says its excusable? What Robin’s point is that by taking Ann to task but not taking others to task (ie reveling in the blogdom brawl), one is being inconsistent. (at least that’s the point I think she is getting at).

    Essentially, if you are going to call out one commenter, call them all out. But that’s a near impossibility because at one time or another, we all act without thought. I did it just a couple of weeks ago. But if you are going to call out one commenter for using perjoratives, then call out others for using perjoratives otherwise, where’s the moral standing?

  155. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:50:53

    I have seen Ann in action here and elsewhere, viciously attacking people who did nothing other than disagree with her. How is what she said to Kat (and has said to many, many others here and elsewhere) excusable in any way?

    I don’t think she’s any more “vicious” than Karen Scott, so is Karen now inexcusable, too?

    I haven’t excused Ann’s insults. I’ve challenged her here, and, as you might be able to tell from my comments about talking behind people’s back, I’ve commented to her privately, as well, although I’m not inclined to speak about that here in any more detail than that.

    You object to her commenting here, and I object to what I think is a reverse pile on, so maybe that’s just a draw.

  156. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 12:51:26

    As an aside, I think Karen Scott gives attribution for the term “Fucktard” to Lee Goldberg’s brother, Tod. I don’t think the Goldberg brothers are known for their general civility online.

  157. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:00:05

    What do you mean by this? I don't think any one has called you names nor been impolite to you. But I don't agree with all of what you are saying and I don't see how it is “not affording you the same latitude” by disagreeing with you.

    You are affording me latitude now, Jane. But would you if I started spouting profanity and name-calling the way Ann does? Even if you agreed with me more often than not? That’s what I’m asking.

    At least two of them with the same message that you expect to be mocked on Ann's LJ in the morning. How is that not an attack or a provocation? Just because it is said in nice terms?

    It wasn’t intended so much as a provocation, as resignation to what I believed — from others’ past experiences — would happen. And yes, I can be provocative, I’m not denying that. But I think — actually, I know, because I have been contacted by several — that many people keep their mouths shut about this because they know what they’ll get in retaliation from Ann, here and on her blog. Part of my intent in those comments was an attempt to address that, as well.

    You'll have read, too, that I don't agree with her tone.

    No, you don’t, but you don’t disapprove of it, either.

    I don't know that I disapprove of you Ann. I think that you are taking that a little too personal.

    I understand that you want to see more civility, Kirsten, and I can respect that but what you feel as a result of someone else's comments can't be on them. I agree with Ann far more than I disagree with her.

    What does agreeing with her have to do with anything? Heck, I agree with her more than half the time. There’s a lot of talk about “owning our words”, but I see the concept applied haphazardly at best. If Lee Goldberg is an asshole for engaging in personal attacks, why isn’t Ann an asshole for doing the same?

  158. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:02:03

    Who says its excusable? What Robin's point is that by taking Ann to task but not taking others to task (ie reveling in the blogdom brawl), one is being inconsistent. (at least that's the point I think she is getting at).

    Who hasn’t been taken to task?

  159. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:02:43

    You'll have read, too, that I don't agree with her tone.

    No, you don't, but you don't disapprove of it, either.

    I don't know that I disapprove of you Ann. I think that you are taking that a little too personal.

    What I am saying is that I don’t agree with Ann’s tone, but I don’t disapprove of her as a person. How is that inconsistent?

  160. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:06:38

    But I think -‘ actually, I know, because I have been contacted by several -‘ that many people keep their mouths shut about this because they know what they'll get in retaliation from Ann, here and on her blog.

    See, this is the kind of thing that just makes me crazy. All this frantic behind the scenes whispering, no one willing to say anything in public, followed by someone who steps up to the plate to take a swing at the offender. Turning the whole thing into some schoolyard brawl. It just seems to me this is one more version of the whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say. . .” school of thought people are always decrying around here. Yeah, I know it seems different, but seriously, how many who are afraid to say anything are also cheering on the sidelines when someone else throws a punch?

  161. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:18:19

    What I am saying is that I don't agree with Ann's tone, but I don't disapprove of her as a person. How is that inconsistent?

    That isn’t inconsistent. But time after time I see people making excuses for her. “Oh, it’s just the way she comes across, she doesn’t mean anything by it. It isn’t intended as malice.” And I missed Robin’s *rant alert* post–got swallowed by the other posts, and I appreciate knowing that she has expressed her disapproval, even if it isn’t public.

    If no one deserves to be called names, then why are any of us happy to be bystanders in these discussions as if that wipes the stain of collaboration away?

    What do you think I’m trying to do here? And have done elsewhere when I see someone being attacked. Regardless of whether I agree with them, when someone shares their opinion in a respectful way and they’re attacked for it, I do try to speak up.

    As I said, I think I was the first person to publicly challenge a comment she made months ago, and I came away unscathed.

    How many have not? Just because you were lucky, doesn’t mean others aren’t.

    How many people don't stand on the sidelines cheering some new online brawl (either one side or the other or the general entertainment value), all the while talking about how horrible it all is, how mean everyone is?

    I don’t stand on the sidelines and cheer. Sometimes I watch things progress with the horror I would watch a train wreck, but I don’t cheer. Sometimes I get involved. Maybe I shouldn’t bother.

  162. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:19:54

    See, this is the kind of thing that just makes me crazy. All this frantic behind the scenes whispering, no one willing to say anything in public, followed by someone who steps up to the plate to take a swing at the offender.

    It makes me crazy, too, but can you really blame people for not wanting to put themselves out there to be smacked down? Guess I’m just masochistic that way.

  163. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:21:52

    It just seems to me this is one more version of the whole “if you don't have anything nice to say. . .” school of thought people are always decrying around here.

    I have plenty to say that isn’t nice, but I do try to say it in a way that doesn’t needlessly offend people.

  164. Lori
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:34:14

    If there’s such an outcry made here and in Karen’s blog about the authors that behave badly, even to the extent of Jane writing a letter to an author’s agent, then aren’t we as a group in fact asking that people play nicer?

    If it isn’t okay for Victoria Laurie to threaten a reader (“nyah, nyah, I’m going to make you a pox marked, diseased hooker in my next lousy selling book”) then it isn’t okay for Ann or Lee or any author to act so unprofessionally on a blog (that decries unprofessionalism in author actions) without a smack-down.

    I don’t like sticking my neck out in this fashion but I guess I’m wondering where the standards are dwelling. Is it so wrong to demand people act well-behaved as a standard? And when the epitaphs go flying, is it wrong to step in and refuse to allow voice to it?

  165. Antonella
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:39:55

    Okay, I’m kinda new to this, so please forgive me if I don’t wax eloquent…

    Why has this devolved into an argument over semantics? Was Ann rude? Yes. Was Lee out of line with the use of a certain term that I refuse to repeat? Absolutely. (Nice job, Paul, BTW) I think we can all agree on that, right? If so, what’s the point of the constant back and forth?

    I’ve lurked on this site for quite some time and have seen the periodic brawls. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new on the net. Since we’re reading instead of hearing, it’s often hard to determine exactly what someone means.

    I don’t know. It just seems to me like the whole back and forth is a waste of time and takes away from the original topic at hand. Each person believes what they want to believe, and all the infighting isn’t going to make a dent in their concrete opinions.

    If I offended anybody, it was not my intention, and I do sincerely apologize.

  166. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:40:38

    First, I wrote an email to the editor to apprise her of what VL was saying about her online that I thought she might want to know given that VL was saying that the editor a) approved of VL including a possibly defamatory piece about an online reviewer in her book and b) thought that VL should get lawyer to protect herself.

    Second, I think that there is a big difference between throwing epithets around and engaging in what VL or DAM did. YMMV.

    That said, I am not saying that epithets should be tossed around primarily because it obscures the message. The fact that it is rude is secondary because so many people online use epithets and I’m not going to go around calling personal foul every time someone does.

  167. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:42:41

    then it isn't okay for Ann or Lee or any author to act so unprofessionally on a blog (that decries unprofessionalism in author actions) without a smack-down.

    Heck, not even a smack-down. Just a direct “Please try to speak to others with respect, even when you have something unpleasant or disagreeable to say.” I don’t think we all need to be “nice”. But we shouldn’t be condoning bullying, abusive behavior, either. From anyone.

  168. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:48:18

    That said, I am not saying that epithets should be tossed around primarily because it obscures the message. The fact that it is rude is secondary because so many people online use epithets and I'm not going to go around calling personal foul every time someone does.

    It does obscure the message. But there is a difference in someone saying “Christ, I’ve got better fucking things to do than deal with this bullshit,” and saying “Christ, you’re a fucking retard and I have better things to do than talk to moronic assholes like you.”

    One applies the epithets to the discussion or the behavior of another person, the other is an attack on that person herself. It’s sad how few people seem to see the difference.

  169. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 13:51:41

    I’m sad that there is a difference because they both seem to be attacks to me.

  170. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:06:13

    They are both attacks. One is attacking a behavior, the other a person. If it’s possible to disapprove of Ann’s tone without disapproving of her as a person, how does it not follow that we should attack (when justified) what someone says without attacking them as a person?

  171. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:07:45

    Aren’t you making my point for me?

  172. Tod Goldberg
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:09:02

    Jane said: As an aside, I think Karen Scott gives attribution for the term “Fucktard” to Lee Goldberg's brother, Tod. I don't think the Goldberg brothers are known for their general civility online.

    Now I’m offended. I am civil as a motherfucker.

    I will say that after reading this all, this is one of the greatest soap operas since Ryan’s Hope went off the air.

  173. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:10:42

    I’ve accomplished every impossible task on earth then because you seem unoffendable Tod Goldberg, if I may call you that.

  174. Tod Goldberg
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:13:40

    We should get together and head over to the Middle East and see if we can make some miracles happen, Jane.

  175. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:15:21

    Don’t we have a plan for that. It’s called The Surge. And it’s working. We’ve won. No need to go over there. I crossed that one off my list long ago.

  176. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:19:51

    Aren't you making my point for me?

    Well, if we agree, why the hell are we arguing? I just wish everyone knew the difference, too. If Ann had responded to Kat by attacking what she said, I wouldn’t have even cared. But how can this be maintained as an open evironment for debate when people are afraid to disagree with someone, or to speak their minds? And chiding a bully in a private email may address the behavior, but how are others to know it’s now okay to comment without fear of being smacked down?

    Now I'm offended. I am civil as a motherfucker.

    Unless motherfuckers are an identifiable and oppressed group, you’re wasting your breath here, dude.

    Sorry, sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Please don’t hurt me…

  177. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:28:56

    We are arguing because I don’t agree with you, Kirsten.

  178. Tod Goldberg
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:30:16

    Oh, Jane, I was thinking of Gaza…of finding Eden…figuring out if the aliens built the pyramids…how to pronounce the guy from Iran’s name… There is much work to be done and you and I could do magical things.

  179. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:31:10

    So to you there is no difference at all between saying “I think what you said is stupid,” and “you are stupid”?

  180. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:36:07

    And I missed Robin's *rant alert* post-got swallowed by the other posts, and I appreciate knowing that she has expressed her disapproval, even if it isn't public.

    I just want to clarify that IMO it’s not my place to approve or disapprove of anyone’s commenting style. It’s my place, as a reader, to like or not like it, agree or disagree with it, argue with it, challenge it, or do nothing.

    How many have not? Just because you were lucky, doesn't mean others aren't.

    I honestly don’t think it was luck, Kirsten.

    I don't like sticking my neck out in this fashion but I guess I'm wondering where the standards are dwelling. Is it so wrong to demand people act well-behaved as a standard? And when the epitaphs go flying, is it wrong to step in and refuse to allow voice to it?

    I have no objection to people challenging what others say or how they say it. What I object to — strongly — is what Steve Almond calls the “throw the rock and hide the hand” approach. I’m NOT going to argue that this is because women are more passive aggressive by nature, but I do believe that a lot of the “calling out” does not get expressed in the form of a demand or even a request to behave more civilly, but a countretemps that is offensive on both sides. By all means, challenge others, ask for accountability, disagree vigorously, express outrage or insult or whatever. All of these things can be done in a civil and reasonable way. But all the backhanded slapping just exponentially reproduces itself, IMO, making it more difficult for people to discern between blunt commentary and true insults/attacks/downright hate (and I’m not convicting or acquitting ANYONE here). The mere hint of harshness gets everyone’s blood pressure up (again, not a reference to anyone). And yet how many people even blink anymore when a dissenting commenter is called a “troll”?

    I have to say, though, that this discussion has been really good for me, because it’s reminded me of something I forgot, namely, that if I’m feeling wearied or angered or frustrated by what’s going on online, I have two choices: I can either tune it out or off, of I can speak up. Both make me responsible for how I feel in the most fundamental way, because both empower me to respond. Now that’s fucking liberating.

  181. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:39:44

    Tod Goldberg, of course, aliens built the pyramids. Did you not watch the documentary called Stargate? And every romance reader knows how to pronounce the Iran leader’s name. ah-ma-deen-ah-zhad (admittedly I had to google this, but what possible woman under 50 should actually have to know this answer).

    Also, Eden, is apparently also inhabited by Aliens. Sometimes, according to the books I read, those Aliens have two dicks and a snake between their legs. Adam’s original sin and all.

  182. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:42:24

    There is a great irony in the “open forum” issue, which is that while one faction of people think that means silencing someone who has made a number of harsh, sometimes insulting comments, while another faction believes that some of the comments made in the service of that silencing are themselves making the blog unwelcome to open debate (i.e. that they promote homophobia, etc.).

  183. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 14:53:50

    I have no objection to people challenging what others say or how they say it… I'm NOT going to argue that this is because women are more passive aggressive by nature, but I do believe that a lot of the “calling out” does not get expressed in the form of a demand or even a request to behave more civilly… By all means, challenge others, ask for accountability, disagree vigorously, express outrage or insult or whatever. All of these things can be done in a civil and reasonable way.

    I thought that’s what I was doing. I thought that’s what Kat was doing. How am I supposed to word my challenge in order for it not to be objectionable? And I’m not asking for a pile-on. I’m looking for some affirmation that “Yes, we agree that rude, hostile behavior is offensive, but sometimes we’re just stuck with it” rather than “Well, rude, hostile behavior is offensive, but I agree with the message this time, so it’s okay.”

    And yet how many people even blink anymore when a dissenting commenter is called a “troll”?

    I do. I hate it.

    Both make me responsible for how I feel in the most fundamental way, because both empower me to respond. Now that's fucking liberating.

    That’s true enough.

  184. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 15:01:23

    There is a great irony in the “open forum” issue, which is that while one faction of people think that means silencing someone who has made a number of harsh, sometimes insulting comments, while another faction believes that some of the comments made in the service of that silencing are themselves making the blog unwelcome to open debate (i.e. that they promote homophobia, etc.).

    I find it ironic that some here seem to be arguing against the value of courtesy, civility and respect within intelligent debate. I’m for all those things, even when I disagree with someone.

  185. Paul Bens
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 15:17:08

    Also, Eden, is apparently also inhabited by Aliens. Sometimes, according to the books I read, those Aliens have two dicks and a snake between their legs.

    Hmmm. This Eden sounds like a nice place. =-)

  186. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 15:22:55

    Also, Eden, is apparently also inhabited by Aliens. Sometimes, according to the books I read, those Aliens have two dicks and a snake between their legs. Adam's original sin and all.

    What books are these and where can I find them?

  187. Robin
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 15:23:14

    I do. I hate it.

    And yet those accusations routinely pass muster on at least one of the blogs we both frequent.

    “Well, rude, hostile behavior is offensive, but I agree with the message this time, so it's okay.”

    I haven’t said this, nor has Jane.

    But what I also haven’t said, and refuse to say, because I do not believe it, is that I think Ann Somerville is some horrible person who can’t speak a civil word and who isn’t more widely read because she’s so “vicious.”

    Now people can say whatever they want, and all of us have different levels of tolerance. I don’t dislike or disapprove of Ann, in the same way I don’t dislike a number of outspoken, even harsh online voices, some of whom have criticized her. I think there’s been over-reaction and harshness on BOTH sides, and, as I’ve said numerous times (but god forbid I should stop before I hammer my point right through the ground), I think there’s a double standard at work when it comes to the way some people are lauded for their outrageous commentary, while others are demonized.

  188. kirsten saell
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 16:04:10

    But what I also haven't said, and refuse to say, because I do not believe it, is that I think Ann Somerville is some horrible person who can't speak a civil word and who isn't more widely read because she's so “vicious.”….I think there's a double standard at work when it comes to the way some people are lauded for their outrageous commentary, while others are demonized.

    I do know that there are some out there who are intrigued by her books but will not buy them because her behavior puts them off. I do not think she’s a horrible person, nor do I think Karen is a horrible person.

    I don’t laud Karen for her outrageous commentary. But I don’t challenge Karen’s outrageousness on her blog because it’s her blog (just like I keep my mouth shut over at Ann’s). If Karen came here, singled someone out and attacked them, I just might call her on it.

    I do think Karen gets away with it because frequently (not always) people can sense a shit-eating grin behind her epithet-riddled comments, and I almost never get that feeling when reading Ann’s. I feel often, with Karen, the most outrageous of her comments are intended to encourage a shitstorm of opposing opinions, whereas the most outrageous of Ann’s are intended to make a dissenter shut up and go away.

    I may be entirely wrong to apply those interpretations to their comments–but as not just a writer, but one who is “confident of my writing skills and my views”, Ann should be able to weigh the impact of her words. In other words, I think she knows how she comes across. I think she intends to come across that way.

  189. Jane
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 16:13:26

    Here’s what I think, since we are assigning motives to commenters. I think you and some of the people you know have had a beef with Ann S for some time and this was the perfect opportunity for you to say how much her actions distress you to the point where you cannot have a decent conversation on a blog where she is present.

    Because it’s not about decency and civility in blogland, otherwise, you wouldn’t be so quick to enjoy the mud slinging other places.

    I’m not following commenters around crying “personal foul” and no snacks for you the rest of the day for a) saying homophobic slurs or for b) calling people fucktards. I expect you all to act like adults and figure if you don’t, it will come home to roost for you (as it is apparently doing for Ann).

    So, preach, if you want, how you think civility in discourse is necessary for discussion on the internet, but then follow it up and don’t participate at places where civility isn’t necessary for discussion else that is inconsistent.

    I’m frankly tired of people accusing DA of hosting uncivil discussions because we won’t step in and chastise various commenters (on all sides, thanks for the personal emails guys). I’m not going to do that and have said I’m not going to do that. We don’t moderate the comments because I think that chills speech. I’m not going to come in and hand out yellow and red cards because that will chill free speech.

    What I will probably do in the future is start closing down threads because apparently some of you can’t behave without a playground moderator.

%d bloggers like this: