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20 August 2009 @ 06:47 pm
On inclusion and exclusion in vidding fandom: personal reflections  
I've been composing this post in my head for a long, long time. Months. But it's come to a head for several reasons. I've held back from making it because I thought it was just 'my' issue and because I have a great deal of love and respect for the Livejournal/VVC-centred vidding commmunity/fandom, both as a whole and the individuals who make it up.

The specific trigger for this post is laurashapiro's post on race, gender and accessibility--my thanks to her for making it, even if I don't agree with all that is said. While my post is not specifically about race or gender, it touches on both issues. It is. however, deeply personal, and I'm aware of that. This is my own personal view and I don't expect anyone to agree with me.

I've become increasingly uncomfortable about the politics of inclusion and exclusion within the community, and specifically at Vividcon. You might say I have no right to speak about Vividcon because I have never attended. That is true. I am told it is wonderful, and I believe that. I am told everyone is lovely. I believe that. That doesn't stop the institution being problematic.

These are my five things I wish that LJ/VVC-based fandom would remember. I use 'we' in this post, throughout, because for better or worse and whether other people accept me or not I consider myself part of this community and I am as much of the problem as anyone else.

1. We're not the only vidding tradition. We may be the oldest and the 'original' and I have hushed on this subject out of respect for that. I love the tradition! I'm a woman, I'm a slash fan (at least at times), I love the history. But there are a lot of other vidding communities out there. Starting with AMVs. AMVs seem to get a nod occasionally because people crossover from them to live action. A nod, but there is no real integration of the two--they seem to exist in separate bubbles. And what about all the swathes of Asian vidding communities? What about vidders in other languages? What about all the people on YouTube we'd like to ignore? They are vidders too! There are communities of vidders springing up constantly. They may not even have heard of LJ or VVC. And living-room watching is the number one means of viewing vids for most vidders. I vid for living room audiences and I was completely startled to find that this was looked down on as a secondary or inferior audience.

2. Vidding is by its nature a privileged act. It costs money to vid. Sorry, but it does. Even if you pirate everything you need access to some basic hardware--either through your own money or through a family member or friend. That means most of the citizens of this world do not have the opportunity to exercise the privilege we do. On top of that, the more serious you are about it, the more you have to spend. I have spent thousands on my hobby. I am lucky to have the discretionary income to do so. The very fact that it is an act of privilege means that it is more likely that vidders are a) white, b) middle class, c) reasonably well educated. That means we're a skewed community--we should acknowledge that as the starting point of ANY discussion about social class or race.

3. We're not all women. In LJ/VVC we tend to be women. But that's not the case in other communities! In a different vidding community, the majority may be men. Women build certain kinds of social networks. Male-centred communities may function differently and we may not even see them as being a community in our sense. The point here is that we shouldn't assume that all vidders and vidding communities are female. There are men in our community, but I feel like sometimes there's some awkwardness about that. I was discomfited to see this raised as an issue in laurashapiro's post. Perhaps it wasn't meant that way, but in our community men are the minority, and I think we should respect that fact and remember that they may feel even more out of place than other newcomers.

4. We're not all in the US. This one has the biggest consequences for me personally. And perhaps for that reason (we're all biased!) if I had to name the biggest blindness of this fandom it would be geography. Closely followed by language. I understand that most people in the community are in the US, but would it pay people to stop and check sometimes before assuming that? And stop and think about what that means. There are many aspects to this. But the hardest one for me personally is Vividcon and how central it is to this fandom's self-definition and to relationship building within the community. 'You should come to VVC!' people say. I'm sure they mean it kindly. But to me it translates as 'spend thousands of dollars to fly to my country for a weekend and see how awesome we are'. Well you probably are awesome. And I probably will do that! (If anyone remains friended to me after this post!) But please, please remember that I and anyone in my position is taking a massive risk here, and that it's a lot bigger commitment to make than for someone that lives in the States. Even the VVC registration process makes it hard for me to come: at the time registration occurs, airfares are still high because companies hope to fill planes; I have to either buy a VVC place and risk losing the money later because I don't get a cheaper flight or buy a flight at double the price I would if I could buy some months later. I can't be the only person out there with this issue. They probably just don't even consider going! You might say 'well you don't have to go' or 'well, this fandom started in the States, what did you expect?' and you are right to a point. However I've found there is a kind of glass ceiling in the community--you can hang out and talk vids to a certain point but after that if you don't take the next step and meet in person (i.e. in the States, at VVC) then you're always a bit on the outer and online friendships only go so far. I've even been told that I don't 'really understand' vids because I haven't seen them in the context they are meant to be viewed. *points back at 1*

5.Stop pretending to a diversity we don't have. It's admirable to encourage diversity, but often I find the efforts to do so--like this year's Vividcon theme--tokenistic and embarrassing. We're not inclusive! (See the points above.) I think we encourage diversity, but only within certain parameters (i.e. not true diversity). For instance, we celebrate different vidders within the community, particularly those with certain status or in the 'in crowd', but we collectively look down on other vidders, like, for instance YouTube vidders (some of their vids are awesome! and they may not even be part of ANY community, they may be self taught). We encourage vids of Characters of Colour but we're working (mainly) from biased source. American and UK television and movies are rife with racial stereotypes--sure we can reclaim those, but just making a vid about a character of colour doesn't win you a gold star in race relations. Sometimes I feel like this fandom wants a pat on the back: 'it's ok, we made that vid about how the show we love has really fucked up politics, how deep of us to notice, now we can sleep easy'. I'm sure the vidders have the best of intentions in doing this, and of course it's admirable to open up discussion about these things, but I just wish we'd admit that we're a really small, Western, English-speaking subculture with particular obsessions and particular aesthetics. That would be more honest. And from that place of honesty we might be able to open our minds to other kinds of vidding and try understanding them in their own contexts.

On popularity, criticism and the fannish middle ground
I should acknowledge that this fandom is the most wank-free fandom I have ever been in. *glances at Smallville and BSG* Mostly people are super-polite and careful to avoid upsetting people. However there also seem to be a lot of unspoken, unacknowledged politics.

For instance, criticism is not allowed ... except when it's allowed. I think most people feel it's 'not ok' to give concrit on a vid, let alone outright criticism. In some ways I feel this limits the community, in the same way that the same issue is limiting to fic writers. But I think it's far less discussed in vidding fandom and I'm not sure why. There are lots of vids I'd love to write crit of: thinky, reflective crit, because sometimes I find the reasons I don't like something or the reasons something doesn't work for me as interesting as the reasons I do/it does. It's also limiting in the sense that it gives a skewed perspective on what a good vid is. If 100 people comment and it gets 5 recs, then it probably is pretty good, right? But what if there are heaps of people out there thinking 'er, I found that really problematic' but not 'allowed' to talk about it?

And then every so often, usually post VVC, there is this sudden unleashing of crit. Only it is usually led by people who are very secure and established within the fandom and who feel free enough to talk without fear of ostracisation. I gather that's pretty much what happens at the con itself (I have no idea, really, it's amazing how hard it is to work out!): there is some discussion and criticism of the vids but it is dominated by particular people. Is there an unspoken rule that if you submit to Vividcon you should be prepared for any sort of criticism? If so, that needs to be made clearer. Also, it only adds to how intimidating the institution is. Since most of us are functioning, for better or worse, in a crit-less space, I'd find the leap a bit of a shock to the system, especially as it would also be my first in-person experience of vids. It also feels like you have to 'earn' criticism, by attending. And that attending or submitting you have to be a very confident vidder already. This is one of the main reasons Vividcon comes across as not welcoming to newbies and as exclusionary.

Every time this happens I feel how silent most people are. Myself included. When the 'big names' start making posts on issues, I tend to stay quiet out of respect. But I've concluded more and more than I'm not doing myself or anyone else any favours by doing so. Let little voices be heard too!

In reflecting on these issues I've inevitably hit the issue of the construction of status within the community. Some people have greater status than others. I think that is natural in any community, and is certainly not specific to vidding. As with all such communities, those people often become the 'voice' of the community--their tastes and their views dominate because they are most comfortable speaking their minds, most sure of themselves. It's natural and I'm not blaming anyone for that. However, I do wish people would stop and remember that being a newbie can be REALLY SCARY. Especially when you see the people you look up to as experienced and talented criticising things you do (like aspect ratio issues in your vids) or things you like (like shmooshy het ship vids). Often, the people making those posts don't even intend them to come across as saying 'people who do this are bad' but the subtext is there and suddenly a little excited newbie with all sorts of budding creativity feels crushed and feels sure they'll never fit in. I don't see that as constructive at all. As for the people that call themselves 'bitch elite vidders', well, the very fact that there is such a term says volumes about this community. Volumes and none of it pretty.

There are certain ways to become popular in vidding fandom. They include: vid popular fandoms; vid the 'right' way (follow the guidelines of those who've gone before you); make vids that have a point, but not too complex a one or people won't understand it; make your vids accessible to people that don't even know the fandom that well. There are heaps of other things that could be added. However, what I find problematic about this is not that this occurs but that 'popular' becomes conflated with 'good'.

Some of the best vids I've ever seen have only a handful of comments as feedback. Some of the best vids I've seen are on YouTube. Some of the best vids I've seen are in really, REALLY niche 'genres' or fandoms, and are not accessible to those not predisposed to like that particular genre/fandom. I may be alone in this but what I see happening is that there is a kind of vidding 'mainstream' of populist vids. The equivalent of blockbuster movies. They can be, like blockbusters, really really well made and eminently enjoyable. They can be moving, intelligent, funny and sometimes even groundbreaking. But they're not the only type of vidding.

As with films, I find that I like a lot of niche areas. I like martial arts vids (just as I like martial arts movies). I like esoteric or very meta-dense vids, vids that demand the audience is intelligent and engaged (though they are rare). I like trippy, disturbing, fucked up vids. I like vids that capture something about the source absolutely 'perfectly' (and that's their sole achievement--no popular 'point' or 'narrative'). I like really, really lightweight escapist vids. On top of that I have a whole bunch of fandom likes and dislikes that are often unpopular themselves (either unpopular characters or very small fandoms). What I don't much like is that vidding 'mainstream'. So even as a vid viewer I feel pretty marginalised. And I have done the community no favours by tending to rec things that I think other people will find 'good', assuming that the vid viewing community is homogenous.

That's not the case and I am personally resolving to respect and acknowledge good vidding wherever I see it, as defined by ME. I'm an intelligent, articulate person, I can 'read' visual sources well, and my tastes are as valid as anyone else's. I don't care if no one else agrees with me. As a reccer this means I'm going to have to think more about how I describe who the audience of a vid is--so that people that really will like the vid can find it and other people don't get irritated because I 'sold' it as something it wasn't. That's tricky, especially as all genre names within vidding fandom are debated and confusing. Regardless, I'm making a personal vow to spend more time with what I love and less time worrying about why I don't like what everyone else does.

What can we do?
The only person I can really speak for here is myself, and I've been trying to define for myself what I can personally do to make a difference. This is the list I've come up with:
1. Stop deifying people. It's a big crime of mine. I think the world of the vidders I love and I had them a whole lot of power over me. But objectively I know that even though I may think they are the most amazing vidders in the whole wide world, they themselves probably don't think so. They have their own issues and struggles and are just people.
2. Speak up even if it makes you unpopular. I'm making this post. I apologise to the people that had to hear about this privately before I had the courage to speak publicly. It means the world to me that you listened. Thank you.
3. Be generous with your time and attention. Recently a vidder approached me and asked me to watch their vid because they liked/respected me as a vidder. It's the first time this has happened to me and it was a weird moment of role reversal for me. Except I've never been brave enough to ask another vidder, one I really admired to do that. At first I felt uncomfortable--all my issues about not 'really' being that great came pouring out. But then I thought about how much courage it would take for me to do the same with someone else, and how everyone's taste is valid, and I really respected that person for approaching me. I also got to watch a really great vid. So I vow not to dismiss someone else's taste because it makes me uncomfortable, and to be welcoming to anyone who may feel nervous around me because I've got a few more vids in my collection or because they particularly liked a vid of mine. I know there are a few people out there who are very famous vidders, who are generous with their interactions. To them, I say: it is noticed and greatly appreciated. It is people like you that make this fandom a welcoming place despite the issues described above.
4. Don't assume. *waves at five things above* I need to remember them too. I'm sure I'll slip up but I'll keep correcting myself and other people should feel free to do so also.

Related to that, I thought this suggestion was wonderful. I think we as a fandom should be more encouraging of newbies. Yes, their vids can be clunky and annoying, yes they can make clumsy awkward social faux pas, but we were all newbies once. Without new people how will we ever grow as a fandom and as artists? That suggestion was specific to Vividcon, but on a broader scale it could be practised online as well. Even if only on a decentralised basis. At the moment I think a lot of newbies are left to find their feet on their own and they only get attention if they've either already got friends who are vidders (e.g. someone who is in a fandom with vidder friends and then decides to start vidding themselves) or do the hard yards on their own to begin with (and even then they probably feel the glass ceiling that I feel). Some lucky few may attract someone who acts like their mentor, but that's an uncommon case, I think. We could all be a bit more supportive, understanding, forgiving and welcoming of newbies.

ETA: There is one more thing that people can do--and it is the most important one I think. Claim your place in the community! I have done this in speaking collectively, including myself in the community in this post. But so often--most of the time, in fact--I don't feel part of it. And I think an awful lot of other people don't either. We all downplay things telling ourselves we're not a 'real' vidder yet, or we're not really part of the community until XXX. Well that's rubbish. When challenged recently to answer the question 'how would you define the vidding community?' I realised I define it very broadly. If you make or watch vids, even just one, once, and you interact with someone else who makes or watches vids (or a vid!) then you're part of the community. There are various levels of involvement, and all are legitimate--there is no hoop you have to jump to to gain membership. So this is me, claiming my place in vidding fandom.

I think that's quite enough from me, don't you? ;)

ETA: It may be too late to ETA with this, but since this post is about inclusion/exclusion and issues of silencing in fandom: if you don't feel able to speak publicly about this issue but wish to talk to someone about the issues, you are welcome to PM me or email me at bopradar at Gmail dot com.
 
 
 
Nickyobsessive24 on August 20th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Thank you for making the post, and being brave enough to do so. Similarly with Laura's post, there are some things that I very much agree with and some that I don't agree with (and a lot more that I know I haven't thought about so I don't have an opinion on), but I'm not good for off-the-cuff reactions and it's going to take me a long while to synthesise my thoughts on this. It's definitely thought-provoking, though, which is appreciated.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois red umbrellabop_radar on August 20th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
Thanks. I've let my fears silence for me for too long.
jagwriter78: Fozzy babyjagwriter78 on August 20th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
Here via your comment on laurashapiro's post.

I just spent 15 minutes reading your post and my mind is still reeling from it, but I have one important thing to ask because your post touched on so many things that I have been wondering about but was never brave enough to ask in public: will you keep on making such posts and if you do, can I friend you?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: EssayGirlbop_radar on August 20th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
Haha, now that I've started, you probably won't be able to shut me up. *friends*
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara can't notbop_radar on August 20th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
I blamed this feeling on myself for quite awhile, chalked it up to being intimidated and insecure,
*nods* So did I, just for even longer--I'm coming up for three years vidding and four-five watching vids. The thing is, those feelings never go away. If anything, they get worse if you let them grow.

I started to reply to your comment in chunks but I could seriously reply to every sentence with: ITA.

I thought the most controversial thing you said was that meta dense vids that demand intelligence and engagement are rare in the context of post about VVC. I may be off base here, but I always got the feeling that most people believe this is where those vids ARE (and thus that they rarely exist in other contexts).
Good point. I agree that there is a myth about this within the fandom. In my experience, VVC vids tend to be ones that have a point, but only a transparent one (and, if I'm to let my inner snark out: only one). And look, I can see good reason for that in a con setting: there is no capacity for multiple watching, and a whole lot of vids are getting shown in succession. To me, that's the OPPOSITE of how I watch vids and I'm really not sure I'll like it. When I download a vid, if I respond to it, I spend AT LEAST half an hour watching it repeatedly before either commenting or moving on. And the vids I love best require/reward a lot more time investment than that. If I can grasp the 'point' on first viewing and then on subsequent viewings I find there's nothing more to it than that... I can't help but feel a bit 'ok then' about the vid, if it billed itself as meta. I mean... a sentence doesn't really count as meta in my book, in prose. Perhaps a really exceptionally cutting edge and novel sentence? I don't know.

it makes me sad that it often seems like all vids are respected according to who made them and where they are released, for the most part, rather than according to their content
I'm with you there! I understand to a certain point that this will just 'happen' and that it's not any one person's or group's fault. These same kind of patterns are ones I rail against in most large groups/organisations. Some people are given more credence than others for personal-political reasons. But a bit more open mindedness on the part of the community would help a great deal.

I feel that one fundamental acknowledgment that needs to be made is that in being non-fandom-specific Vividcon (and the community centring on it) promotes vids that aren't TOO fandom-y (or only fandom-y in the largest more popular fandoms) so everyone can 'get' them. Vids that play well to someone with peripheral knowledge of a show but don't say anything new to people that know it intimately. There are some vids that are THE SHIT in their own fandoms: get pages and pages of comments, because they really capture that zeigeist and match the perfect song to the perfect ship, for instance. They may not even get a nod from the vidding community elite because either they don't know about them or they see them as being too .. I'm not even sure what the word is... but specific to that fandom at that place in time. What's so wrong about making a vid that pleases your audience? I think a lot of times people don't stop and think that there is a difference between making vids for the vidding community and making vids for a specific fandom. Or making ones for two or three of your friends that have a really specific kink! How can you say those latter vids aren't successful or 'good' if they make your audience euphorically happy?
I completely agree with many of your points... - sherrold on August 21st, 2009 01:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 05:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - klia on August 21st, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - klia on August 21st, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - elynross on August 21st, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - ex_akemi42 on August 22nd, 2009 02:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 22nd, 2009 07:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on August 23rd, 2009 01:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - stacialy on September 2nd, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I completely agree with many of your points... - bop_radar on September 2nd, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Everywhere and Nowhereallzugern on August 20th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on August 20th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
:) thanks!
Mary Crawfordmarycrawford on August 20th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)
There's a lot to digest here, and I'm not sure yet how I feel on some points, but I have to leap on this:

I understand that most people in the community are in the US, but would it pay people to stop and check sometimes before assuming that? And stop and think about what that means.

THANK YOU. For me, US-centricity is is already an uncomfortable, frustrating and largely unacknowledged issue within the wider LJ-based media fandom, which I am not sure how to address -- being involved in fraught discussions and/or wank makes me lose sleep at night, so I tend to shut myself up a lot instead. And this general problem is made worse by the fact that VVC, as the central hub of this particular subset of vidding fandom, is physically based in the US, for all the reasons you name.

A small addendum to the flights issue is that it also really doesn't help that VVC is based in Chicago, which is a business flight destination primarily (at least, from the Netherlands, where I live). There are really good flight deals to be had now and then to other US cities that are bigger tourist destinations, like New York and San Francisco, but I've never seen one for Chicago, let alone in August.
jagwriter78: Fozzy babyjagwriter78 on August 20th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
Before I delve into my reply to you, let me just say, we both live on the same continent (waves to the Netherlands from Germany). What I want to say is that I never really thought of Chicago to be a problematic city until you just pointed out the business flight aspect. I never even considered that. Things must be different though in the Netherlands when it comes to flights though because here in Germany, if you are flying to a big tourist destination, flights are usually more expensive than to smaller, not so much know airports. Like flying into Washington DC is more expensive than flying into Baltimore or flying to any of the New York airports is more expensive than flying to of the surrounding airports. And don't even get me started on flights to Florida, the big tourist attraction. Flights to there are way more expensive than anywhere else on the East coast, most of the time even more expensive than flying to somewhere in the MidWest.

What I mostly had and still have an issue is rather with the date, August. It's peak season, both national and international flights are more than double the price than they are during off peak times. I always wondered why such a date was chosen. People attending will have to take days off work no matter what time you place the con, so the whole August timeslot kind of baffles me. Maybe one of these days the concom or someone else can fill us in why VVC chose a time during peak season while usually con organizers try to avoid this time.
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(no subject) - bop_radar on August 23rd, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
Naomi0mindthegap0 on August 20th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
I.... I really love this post. Especially acknowledging that there are now many different communities out there and many more subfactions of those. Youtube is a great big sprawling treasure trove, and I suspect one of the main reasons it's looked down on by many traditionalists is because it's so big. Being easily accessible goes directly against the traditional 'cloak and dagger' approach of hiding away from mainstream attention. Either way of going about your vidding is perfectly fine, but that doesn't make one more valid than the other.

Aesthetically, there seems to be one very large community on youtube which has its own particular style (I'm bad at describing these things, but you probably know what I'm talking about), and a different way of approaching and coding the text. Learning how to 'read' the creative output from a different culture can be difficult. And because of the sheer wealth of vids there, the quality of each one can be extremely hit and miss, and it can be intimidatingly scary to navigate through it all. One thing about the VVC community staying small-ish is that you can still keep tabs on everyone fairly easily.

That said, I really would love to see more recs from other communities from you. A lot of us don't have the bravery/determination to nose around that far.

The privilege and racefail that will continue to make this community prolematic is something I also feel uncomfortable talking about most of the time. This corner of fandom's been extremely active in that sort of conversation lately thanks to That Incident earlier this year, but it still rubs me the wrong way to see a community that is vastly very white speaking with such an air of authority.

Yes, making the effort to educate yourself on and discuss privilege is a good thing, but I've felt like my opinion wouldn't matter so much because I am not as well educated as the people leading the discussion. I'm probably in a better position through personal experience to have a pretty good idea, but there is an elaborate terminology being used which can alienate the very people we're discussing like special fucking snowflakes. It's a discussion being very often led from a place of privilege. Have a hard look at your own community before criticising your tv shows for making the same mistakes.

I really liked Swing (for instance) for what it was, but it was extremely telling that she said that she'd wanted to make an Uhura vid to start with because she's a character of colour, but the source didn't really give the vidder enough material to work with. Most of our source material is going to be inherently problematic, and it can be difficult to recognise tolkenism when you're part of the majority group.

I absolutely loved Nicky's entry because the film and the song were Chinese, and culturally it was over my head, but that's my problem, not hers. I've felt hesitant to use source or songs that aren't in English for fear that it would come across as weird to other people, but in retrospect that is a really horrible, self-hating attitude for anyone to have.

This is getting kind of long and rambly and I'll shut up now, but thank you for simply speaking your mind at this breadth. It's really, really refreshing.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya Raibop_radar on August 20th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I have admired your own refreshing honesty, as you know. ;) I'm so glad we friended one another. Your message totally buoyed me and helped me make this post.

suspect one of the main reasons it's looked down on by many traditionalists is because it's so big
And because it's undeniable that there are many people on their that don't give a rat's ass about making a 'good' vid, one without technical problems or newbie errors. ;) I think a lot of people aren't patient enough to wade through to find the treasures--I admit I find it hard work sometimes too!

one very large community on youtube which has its own particular style (I'm bad at describing these things, but you probably know what I'm talking about), and a different way of approaching and coding the text
Yeah, I think I do... Certainly I agree that there is a different aesthetic on YouTube. One I sometimes find 'better' for some types of vids, to be honest. I don't know what the behind-the-scenes community building is like on YouTube but I can see/feel that vidders riff off one another and organically seem to develop distinct ways of vidding that may be different from on LJ. I find it hard to describe in part because no-one else on LJ has described it (to my knowledge). There are probably some YouTube vidders reading this and laughing at my naivety. Or maybe not because they're all on YouTube. :p

I really would love to see more recs from other communities from you.
Haha, I'll try! Though you'll be a the mercy of my own crazy little fondnesses.

there is an elaborate terminology being used which can alienate the very people we're discussing like special fucking snowflakes
Hell yeah!

Have a hard look at your own community before criticising your tv shows for making the same mistakes.
I agree. Surely if you LIKE those shows, that says something in itself for your tolerance of those issues? And I include myself in this. Smallville and BSG have massive gender and race fail. I sometimes ignore it in order to enjoy what I like about the shows.

Most of our source material is going to be inherently problematic, and it can be difficult to recognise tokenism when you're part of the majority group.
Thank you for making this point in more detail than I managed in my post (I was rushing through so much ground). I haven't watched a great many VVC vids yet and I admit I've been personally avoiding the themed entries.

I've felt hesitant to use source or songs that aren't in English for fear that it would come across as weird to other people
I've been hesitant to do so because it would come across as cultural appropriation. Ditto all the Asian source I would love to vid. I watch a lot of Asian cinema (Korean martial arts movies and Bollywood epics being two of my favourite genres), but I hesitate to vid them because they aren't my culture. I still don't know if that is right or wrong.
(no subject) - balistik94 on August 21st, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 0mindthegap0 on August 23rd, 2009 03:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
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deathisyourartdeathisyourart on August 20th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
I appreciate this post so much!
I know that I need to work on my own bias against youtube, so thank you for bringing that up. For most of what you have written here I can do nothing but nod along. *nods*

Being a non-vidder I had to carve out my own little corner to play in, and it took me a while before I decided that I was part of the community whether anyone agreed with me or not. Both my vid communities were about encouraging open dialogue about vids, but the constructive-criticism issue is a tricky one for several reasons: social niceties, the possibility of defensive wank occurring (usually from friends of the vidder), even just a misunderstanding of what is actually constructive versus destructive, etc... And vidders, like anyone else, have the right to tailor their online experience as they see fit. Perhaps we just need a few more spaces encouraging dissection and open dialogue, as well as more and varied individuals talking honestly about vids (both the positive and the negative) in their own journals?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Audrey Tautoubop_radar on August 20th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Re: I appreciate this post so much!
Thank you for letting me know!

I decided that I was part of the community whether anyone agreed with me or not.
I decided that too as a non-vidder! And then I found that as a vidder, I had to start from the bottom again. It's only now, three years in that I'm brave enough to get back to where I was before I started vidding.

constructive-criticism issue is a tricky one for several reasons: social niceties, the possibility of defensive wank occurring (usually from friends of the vidder), even just a misunderstanding of what is actually constructive versus destructive
I absolutely acknowledge that! It's rife with problems of logistics and possible misunderstanding. I think this is discussed very well in fiction circles. And they haven't come up with a perfect solution either.

a few more spaces encouraging dissection and open dialogue, as well as more and varied individuals talking honestly about vids (both the positive and the negative) in their own journals?
That would help! I have sometimes felt that if I had a close friendship with the vidder in question they might feel 'safe' enough to let me critique their vid. Because I know personally that vidders may see the flaws in their own works too! Or may recognise them and acknowledge them graciously when they are pointed out. But it takes trust for that to occur, and the exclusionary elitist aspect of the fandom makes it pretty hard for that to happen except at the top echelons. I've never reached that place with anyone whose vids I'm seriously interested in critiquing, I don't know if I ever will.
daybreak777: viddingdaybreak777 on August 20th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
What an interesting post! Your's and laurashapiro's. I take both your posts as your opinions and I'm very glad you both took time to reflect and write about vidding and the vidding community.

Like Chaila, I should probably take some time to reflect on this post but I'm actually excited to participate in this discussion, so I'll jump right in.

I have to say if I didn't know you, I wouldn't even know about the vidding community. It's always interesting here on LJ when people indicate a community as a community. As you say, there are lots of vidders on and off LJ. Could all the vidding communities every come together someday? Who knows? I think what happens is that people with like interests become friends. That's pretty simplistic but I think that's how a community starts. What you view as the vidding community isn't exactly my vidding community and how interesting is that? You talk about 'big names' and what people like and don't and for a long while I didn't even know who you were talking about. I'm newish and have my few vidding friends and that's fine for me for now.

But as a vid watcher, I do realize on a very dim level (I'm so on the periphery just because I'm new) that some type of vids are more popular than others. Some people like vids by vidders who seem popular while a lot of really good lesser-known vidders don't get recognition for their good work.

But what to do? Some lesser-known vidders are just quiet. Or they have busy lives. Or they are busy vidding. :-) The squeaky wheel gets the oil sometimes. But some people are also intimidated. It's true. I'm trying to think if I personally feel intimidated when I'm vidding or post vids. I don't really. I guess I make vids for me and a few friends and my interests are just different that other vidders in the VVC/vidding community as you describe it. That's okay for me right now. I'm new and my vids are growing and changing.

I love vids and vidding. I try to encourage anyone who has ever expressed an interest in it. I don't know a lot but I do enjoy figuring it out with other people. There is something rather homegrown about my vidding learning and I completely enjoy it.

I know one thing. I welcome comments on all my vids and vidding posts from anyone at any time. I love talking about it. As for me commenting in other vidding communities. Well, I don't feel that comfortable commenting out of the blue in someone's journal. Because I'm shy to begin with. Because my vids haven't met my own standards yet and I feel I'll be judged by them. And because I think my interests simply run differently. And, I don't know if I'll be really 'heard' in the way I'd like. One thing about online discourse is that people can get defensive. And you're right. Every voice isn't 'heard' the same. I like to engage on a topic, really discuss it with people. It's hard to put your opinion out there to someone you don't know and get a limited response. I mean it's vidding. Who doesn't want to talk about it and talk about it lots? I gravitate toward people who want to have that conversation about vidding with me.

So I don't know what solutions are. People will always gravitate to others with like interests. Some people will always be quiet. I have this dream in my head that there will be this safe space somewhere online that any vidder will feel comfortable to speak up and share different opinions and different vids and be really heard and engaged with. But I have no idea how to make that happen. Maybe your post is a start.

I'm off now, but I will be watching comments here with interest. I have more to say about class and vidding. Thank you for being the first person I've ever heard mention this. But I'll stop now because I'm more curious about reading more.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Madame Pompadourbop_radar on August 20th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
I don't really. I guess I make vids for me and a few friends and my interests are just different that other vidders in the VVC/vidding community as you describe it.
Yup, and I love you for it! I think HEAPS of vidders on LJ are like that. And more power to them! I happen to like a lot of vidders who attend VVC. In a way I sometimes wish I didn't, :p. I also like other vidders, but because my initial figures of inspiration vidded for that group, I have got caught up in that particular circle--and lim calls me out on it beautifully below.

I don't know if I'll be really 'heard' in the way I'd like.
That's a good way of putting it. I haven't felt 'heard' in vidding fandom for a long time. I did to begin with when I was new and enthusiastic and naive and blind to some of the issues. But then I realised that the social politics were a lot harder than I realised.

I have more to say about class and vidding. Thank you for being the first person I've ever heard mention this.
I was absolutely euphoric with joy to see 0mindthegap0 say something similar here. I'd like to acknowledge her as inspiration in making this post. My reaction was: OMG SOMEONE MENTIONED CLASS. RIGHT OUT THERE. ;)
dianora: han mock (snarkel)dianora2 on August 20th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
I vid for living room audiences and I was completely startled to find that this was looked down on as a secondary or inferior audience.

Um....what? This doesn't even make sense to me. Is the primary desirable audience a group of fangirls sitting in a room at Vivid Con? If so....huh? I guess now I know why you're my favorite vidder. ;) Seriously, can you explain the thinking to me? Because I don't even get it.

(Also, why is it called Vivid Con when Vivid is a major pr0n company? That has always confused me. LOL.)

Anyway, as someone who keeps wanting to make vids (and made XF vids back in VCR days), I applaud you, and think it's sad that it requires courage (which you have surely shown) just to express an opinion about something, especially when, FWIW, your opinion seems obvious and common sensical to an outsider.
dianora: bsg lee kara shippydianora2 on August 20th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
P.S. Great to see a long post from you. :)
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jagwriter78: ehjagwriter78 on August 20th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
Can you clarify this for me?

You see anyone outside the US has to register on a US site to be considered of any importance.

What do you consider a US site to be? Hosted on US servers? Have someone living in the US paying for the space? Just wondering.
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Destina: other vid farrdestina on August 20th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Is there an unspoken rule that if you submit to Vividcon you should be prepared for any sort of criticism?

Well, yes. And no. Let me try to explain my point of view on this. I've been attending VVC since year one, and in the first few years, it became very clear to me that this was an environment where if you show a vid, you will hear it discussed openly in the hallways, in room parties, in group vid dissections after shows in rooms, and at vid review. And by 'discussed', I mean you will hear how people loved it, why they hated it, why it didn't work for them, what they took away from it, why it failed for them. This discussion really is not for the vidder. It does not actually matter if the vidder is present, nearby, or at the con at all. This is discussion by and for the community, discussion about the thing we love, and vidders need to be prepared for that. It is a tradition going back all the way to the start of the con. It's what the con is about, from my perspective. The first vid review I attended, not all the vids were discussed. Only about five or ten, and those vids were taken apart and examined with a fine tooth comb, and I wanted desperately to make the kind of vid someone would want to discuss that way, whether they liked it, or not. I don't think this should change. I think these kinds of open discussions should continue, and I think vidders should put on a nice thick skin and get ready for it. And perhaps you are right - that should be made clearer by those who do attend the con and who are used to it.

However. Lately, I have noticed a trend toward lack of honesty or lack of crit in online discussion of vids and at VVC - ie, only positive things are said, and people seem shocked! and appalled! when something negative is said. This is actually a pronounced shift *away* from how it used to be in the vidding community ten years ago. I prefer it the way it used to be. Nowadays, I find posts with mixed reviews of vids refreshing, because they are no longer the norm, and I frankly think that's a shame. I think there are a number of vidders out there who need to hear and see a different perspective on what they are creating, so they don't become insular in their groups of friends who think their vids are wonderful. It raises the bar.

But there are a lot of other vidding communities out there.

Your statements on this are a bit problematic, as are your statements about men and the inclusivity thereof, but unfortunately, I don't have time to unpack them at the moment. Maybe others will come along to do so. *g*

supacatsupacat on August 20th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
But there are a lot of other vidding communities out there.

Your statements on this are a bit problematic...


Are they? Genuine question. I'm a viewer, not a vidder, but I hang out mostly at AMV, though I also watch YouTube vids and LJ vids. I see them as very distinct communities - to me, AMV and LJ are as separate now as slash and yaoi fandoms used to be 10+ years ago. Entirely different cultures, and AMV vidders even show at different cons, like Japan Expo.

If I had to point out specific differences, I'd say that LJ vidding fandom is US-centric (AMV is international, you can't assume English as a first language) and that the AMV starting definition of 'vid' is generally more broad, so that things like trailers and lipsynching are well populated subgenres there. Even the tech side is different, lots of MP4s at AMV as opposed to the DIVX stranglehold over LJ vid fandom.
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Morgan Dawnmorgandawn on August 20th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
"Claim your place in the community!
"Claim your place in the community! I really like this advice. along with the realization that this is a community and the issues of inclusion and communication are not unique to just LJ and/or VVC. And last, that the responsibility/power to change is not just in the hands of the concom (frankly how could they 'influence' what people say or or do at or after the convention like some may be implying). That rests in our hands.

I think you should repost this (or a shorter version) again before the next VVC. We should be encouraging each other to take active steps. the fact that VVC continues to bring in new vidders to run the panels and VJ the shows will help along this path. but - as you point out - we each individually need to take thoughtful steps to make this into the community we want to have. while there is a huge amount of online and in person mentoring going on - I want to see more of that.

ps. re submitting your vid to VVC = "Is there an unspoken rule that if you submit to Vividcon you should be prepared for any sort of criticism?" . I'd look at this from a practical perspective. How each vid review is handled at the convention varies and it is left up to the vid reviewer. they announce their 'strategy' before they start.

what happens after the convention - well that has nothing to do with the convention or its submission rules. that has to do with real life. and it has to do with how we as a community handle giving and receiving feedback. so I'd shift this part of the conversation away from unspoken rules of submitting vids to VVC and more towards community approaches to feedback and concrit online and offline.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on August 21st, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
Re: "Claim your place in the community!
along with the realization that this is a community and the issues of inclusion and communication are not unique to just LJ and/or VVC
Absolutely not! In fact I shushed on all these points for a long time because I could see how universal they were. But I concluded eventually that just because they are universal to all communities doesn't mean that they shouldn't be voiced and discussed in this one. I hope it's healthier to have them in the open. And yes, we all have the power to change this community--that can be a hard thing to realise, especially when so many of us struggle with seeing ourselves as part of it. Basically I hope that we can recognise some community-wide issues (without personalising them) and that individuals can take personal responsibility for change (without feeling guilt).

or a shorter version)
Haha, yeah it is tl;dr, and it shmooshes a lot of different issues together. To the detriment of full discussion of each. Thank you for the encouragement to repost though.

the fact that VVC continues to bring in new vidders to run the panels and VJ the shows
Yeah, I'm not really clear on how that happens. Could someone explain? It feels like an 'invitation only' thing? But maybe that's not the case?

there is a huge amount of online and in person mentoring going on
How does one get access to that, exactly? I can only speak from personal experience but I don't have the faintest clue how to find such mentoring, though I would love it. It seems like if someone doesn't take a personal shine to you you're on your own.

How each vid review is handled at the convention varies and it is left up to the vid reviewer. they announce their 'strategy' before they start.
Oh, thank you for explaining that. Do they explain this before the con?

t has to do with how we as a community handle giving and receiving feedback
Absolutely. I agree that a separate discussion of handling feedback and concrit would be very valuable.
Re: "Claim your place in the community! pt 2 0f 2 - morgandawn on August 21st, 2009 03:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
VVC programming, mentoring - elynross on August 21st, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
VividCon Vid Review - elynross on August 21st, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
DC: Spider-Man - Comics - MJbananainpyjamas on August 20th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I agree with a lot of what was said here. A few (long-winded) specific points:

Re: The AMV community, in my experience LJ/VVC vidders are more open to including AMVers than AMVers are to reaching out to live-action vidders. A few AMVs played at Club Vivid, and while there were a couple rumblings of complaint, most attendees seemed to embrace and enjoy them. For my part, I premiered an AMV at CVV last year and received a mostly positive reaction. Thanks to the proliferation of vidding across the internet, and the rise of sites like YouTube, there is much more crossover than before, but I don't think the divide between the two is easily crossed, nor is one party more at fault than the other.

I *do* think the elitism towards YouTube and other non-VVC vidding communities is a problem. The vidorama kerfluffle illustrated that. Beyond the (understandable) anger regarding homophobia and the problematic grouping of slash with incest, rape, and other forms of sexual assault, there seemed to be an undercurrent of, "Who are these people anyways and what right do THEY have to judge vids?" As a vidder who runs an award site and met a lot of vidding friends through the awards circuit, it was discouraging to read all of the bashing towards those sites that occurred and the refusal of some people to acknowledge that they do have a place in the overall vidding community that cannot be filled by LJ institutions.

I think this also speaks to the perceived gender gap. I was introduced to vidding through AMV and video game vids, which are primarily made by males, so I was honestly quite surprised to find that vidding was supposedly a great female tradition. Similarly, I know of off-LJ vidding communities, especially those geared towards movie vidding, that are primarily male. Among "superhero vidders" I am actually one of the few well-known females and often get mistaken for a guy, despite my (off-LJ) username. VVC may be primarily female, but vidding as a whole is probably more evenly-split, so we really shouldn't be surprised to see more men taking an interest in attending.

And THANK YOU for speaking to the resources needed to vid in the first place. Yes, WMM and iMovie are free, but a lot of computers don't have the processing power to run them easily. I know the computer I had in high school didn't, which is why I didn't start vidding until I got a shiny new laptop in college. The barriers to entry are much lower than they've been in the past, but they still exist, and some people seem to be oblivious to that.

In fact, some people seem to resent vidding becoming any more accessible. I've certainly seen that in the rants about YouTube and how "just anyone" can make a vid and put it online nowadays. And sometimes when newbies ask for help or shortcuts for something like clipping, a few people respond in a patronizing manner, saying "VIDDING IS HARD" and they should get used to it or not even bother. I try to be as nice as possible and respond to newbie posts in vidding or vidding_tech whenever I can help, but it's definitely something I need to work on.

Geography is definitely something I am conscious of when encouraging people to come to VVC but I'm never sure of how to acknowledge it. Maybe because of the underlying financial issues? I feel weird saying, "I hope you can come but I know it might be really hard to afford it." Probably because I come from a privileged background in this respect. But that is very much my problem and not yours or anyone else's, so I will try to be more conscious of it in the future. FWIW, I do hope you can come someday, but am aware of the time and expense involved, and really do appreciate our online interaction. :)

(cont'd)
DC: Final Fantasy VIII - Quistisbananainpyjamas on August 20th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
I agree with your points regarding popularity and how certain people become big names while other don't, but I think that's an inevitable result of any creative endeavor and not necessarily something that can be "fixed." While I don't think any BNVs are undeserving of the title, I do know there are lots of criminally underappreciated vidders that are probably never going to really break out, regardless of how good their vids are, for the reasons you mentioned. For my part, I know I could raise my profile substantially just by changing the fandoms I vid (see: Intergalactic Friends) but, well, that's not what I want to vid. I am okay with the consequences but I can see how it would be discouraging to others, especially if they are not fortunate enough to have a close group of vidding friends.

Wow, I think I've rambled on enough. Kudos to you if you read all of this. :)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - supacat on August 20th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bananainpyjamas on August 20th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: vidding isn't *that* expensive, monetary-wise - redina on August 20th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 12:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 01:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - giandujakiss on August 22nd, 2009 05:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - bop_radar on August 22nd, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elynross on August 24th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 24th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elynross on August 25th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 22nd, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 22nd, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - supacat on August 22nd, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - supacat on August 22nd, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - supacat on August 22nd, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
why is Moby Dick not about needle work??? - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: why is Moby Dick not about needle work??? - supacat on August 22nd, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 22nd, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cathexys on August 22nd, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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chasa: bondawakechasarumba on August 20th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
Agreed on a number of counts. I came to vidding via conduits other than LJ and intentionally stayed away from LJ for a long period of time because I perceived the vidding community here to be cliquish and insular. Even now that I've been here for a number of years, I still feel very much on the fringes. It was intimidating to go to VVC by myself last year, since I didn't feel a part of the vidding glitterati who normally seem to attend (but on the flip side, I worked myself up to it and ended up having a wonderful time).

Of course, all of this is filtered through my own perceptions and insecurities...maybe there really is no inner circle and we're all just a bunch of terminally insecure people who cling to the folks with whom we've made some sort of connection and by doing so, appear to form groups. Anyway, I own that part of the feeling of exclusion is my own bullshit, but that doesn't mean that exclusivity and politics don't exist here on LJ (and by extension, at VVC).

Man, I didn't say anything much coherent and I can't write more since I'm at work. Basically, I guess I just wanted to say that you're not alone on many of these points. I agree with some of it and (even on those points where I differ) appreciate you saying all of it.
Nickyobsessive24 on August 20th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Of course, all of this is filtered through my own perceptions and insecurities...maybe there really is no inner circle and we're all just a bunch of terminally insecure people who cling to the folks with whom we've made some sort of connection and by doing so, appear to form groups. Anyway, I own that part of the feeling of exclusion is my own bullshit, but that doesn't mean that exclusivity and politics don't exist here on LJ (and by extension, at VVC).
I love this. You express things good, you. *clings*
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 12:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
grime and livestock: IJ - Marion hatcofax7 on August 20th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
You could think that VVC is marginalising some vidders by excluding certain ways of vidding, or you could think that VVC is marginalising itself. There is no particular reason why it should work one way or another.

This might be the best comment I've seen about this yet.

bop_radar, thank you for this post. I think it's really easy to get wrapped up in this idea that the LJ-based live-action vidding community (or the LJ-based live-action media fandom) are the only fannish communities around, because we do tend to live with this wall around us. And sometimes that wall protects us (because many of us really do value working creatively in a mostly-female space), and other times that wall prevents us from meeting people and learning things from outside. I wish this were more openly acknowledged in fandom.

But brava on making this post, particularly with respect to the various financial, linguistic, and geographic barriers to entry.
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 21st, 2009 02:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on August 20th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)