If one looks at the flood of fancams, no context screenshot accounts, and TikTok explainers, it can feel like fandom is now less about exploring the things you love about a piece of media — and more about evangelizing the media to others.
Betsy Ladyzhets on the.
Ladyzhets’s data point is the relative paucity of fanfic for Succession, despite its popularity on for e.g. Twitter, which . . . okay. But there’s always also been a tension between “evangelizing” and “exploratory” fandom; Back In The LiveJournal Days people used to write long essay chains about it in the context of transformative versus curative fandom, for example. And fandoms that are popular in one sphere aren’t always popular in another; again, endless essays have been written on this topic.
This includes by yours truly; I have a pretty solid line in my media consumption between “properties I enjoy and evangelize” and “properties I write fanfic for” and they have almost zero overlap. I actively dislike a non-zero number of the properties I’ve written (often tens or hundreds of thousands of words of) fic for because, for me, the act of exploring a text through something like fanfic is always a partially destructive one. There has to be something about the property in the first place I find fundamentally dissatisfying in order to write fic about it,1 and I think this is a lot more common than a lot of fandom wants to admit; I doubt the AO3 would host its hundreds of thousands of Destiel fics if the pairing had hooked up in season seven, for example.
That being said, I don’t think Ladyzhets is wrong per se, particular noting that most “evangelizing” fanworks
are just easier to make. It takes a few seconds to take and post a screenshot, while writing a long fanfic takes months. Which, uh. Yeah. They’re easier to make, there’s a lot more of them, and modern mass social media platforms are designed to surface them in ways they aren’t designed to surface, say, hundred thousand word Stucky novels.
- This is also why it’s always a touch awkward when I start getting to “known” status for a particular pairing: “Yes, I wrote that fic you love. No, sorry, I don’t actually want to squee about the canon with you because, uh. I think the canon sucks. Sorry.” Doesn’t generally go down so great. ↩