Tags: essay

teen wolf - erica apple

A Unified Theory of Teen Wolf by cupidsbow

A Unified Theory of Teen Wolf: Davis, Racism and the Use of Theme

In this essay, I’m going to talk about the theme of racism in Teen Wolf and why it continues to interest me. I’m going to discuss some of the elements of this theme that I think Davis has done well, and some that he has done poorly.

Something I’ve noticed in meta throughout season 3 of Teen Wolf is a refrain of criticism directed at Davis, which blames him for all the things people don’t like about the text, and credits him with none of the things they do. I don’t actually have a problem with this. Mostly, the criticisms are directed at the text and at Davis as the text’s creator, not Davis as a person. It doesn’t seem to have any homophobic elements. Even the Tumblr tag, “Jeff Davis is not a gift” is a commentary on the fan refrain of “Jeff Davis is a gift” that was used in seasons 1 and 2, rather than a personal attack on Davis.

I point this out not as a social justice issue, but rather to frame the conversation I want to have about one of the things I find compelling about Teen Wolf. I think as a creator Davis has several weaknesses, and he hasn’t always been good at getting help in order to strengthen those areas. I’ve actively disliked quite a few things about Teen Wolf over the seasons, especially the proportion of women and characters of colour who have died. However, I’m still watching because there are some things I am engaged by, even if I dislike other aspects. And yes, some of my favourite elements are clearly the contributions of the actors, but not everything. Some of it is clearly Davis’ work, and the biggest aspect that interests me -- the show’s commentary on race -- is something which has to be Davis’ work, because it’s so consistent across all the seasons.

To preface, I've written a lot of meta (here’s my Dreamwidth meta tag) trying to understand the themes I was seeing play out in Teen Wolf, but never felt I got it quite right. The meta I wrote on Derek as anti-hero (Teen Wolf meta - Why is Derek an anti-hero?, also posted on AO3), for instance, was predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding. I thought Derek was a victim so often because of his role as anti-hero, but in fact, he was the anti-hero because his main role was as a victim. Realising that was a big part of the “a-ha!” moment. This essay would not exist without those previous essays, nor without the discussions within fandom. I’ll link to my earlier meta where relevant, just to give a sense of how my thinking has changed over time. I can’t link to most of the meta by other people which has influenced me, because Tumblr is a terrible platform for keeping track of things, and I stupidly didn’t bookmark it on Diigo. I would still like to acknowledge that I am indebted to many clever people for reaching the conclusions I have in this essay -- thank you for your inspiring discussions. One of the more influential pieces, was this meta: An Arc in Shadow: Derek Hale and Assault by magess, which helped flip my thinking about what was cause and what was effect.

I first became aware of the theme of race very early in my watching of Teen Wolf. I actually started watching with season 2, but to draw a more chronological analysis, the discussion below will begin with season 1.

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Tumblr: http://cupidsbower.tumblr.com/post/78655877731/a-unified-theory-of-teen-wolf-davis-racism-and-the

This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/416520.html.
misc - reading

There's something about comments -- a comedy of manners

Let me tell you something about comments.

When I first started posting on LiveJournal, it was primarily to figure out whether my fiction made sense to real live readers. I loved fanfiction and admired fanfic readers because they were smart, erudite women, so of course that's the audience I wanted reading my work. And sure enough, I posted fic and started getting comments and found out pretty sharpish what was what.

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This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/347732.html.
misc - haiku-smackdown

"Let me show you my fannish entitlement" by cupidsbow

This phrase, "fannish entitlement," what does it mean?

I ask because I've seen it pop up a lot lately, in several different contexts. Fans speaking of other fans; creators speaking about fans; non-fannish commentators speaking about fans. It's used in such a range of ways, too; quite a few of which are contradictory. Here's a distillation of the ones I've seen in the last twelve months...

It's entitled to want warnings for commonly acknowledged PTSD triggers, such as rape. It's entitled to want warnings for anything that squicks you. It's entitled to want to play in the fannish community without engaging with the etiquette. It's entitled to expect canon to satisfy you. It's entitled to critique canon. It's only entitled to critique canon if you go "too far" or send it directly to the writers or confuse the writer with the text. It's entitled to start a campaign to change/bring back canon. It's only entitled to start a campaign if it's based on stupid reasons. It's entitled to create fanworks at all, because fans don't own canon in any way. It's only entitled to create fanworks if they're schmoopy; srs bzns is okay. It's entitled to inflict "out of character" writing or Mary Sues or poor grammar and spelling on fandom. It's entitled to expect your fannish tastes to be met by fanworks. It's entitled to get a lot of comments and/or recs. It's entitled to want more comments and/or recs. It's entitled to use your BNF status for anything. It's entitled not to use your BNF status for good. It's entitled for BNFs to hang out with other BNFs. It's entitled to point out misogyny or racism in canon or fanworks. It's entitled to be upset if creators speak back to fandom in disapproving ways (and no, I will never get over my entitled fannish eye-roll about the "nine hysterical women" comment). It's entitled to want outsiders to approach fandom with respect if they want something from us.

I'm sure we each have pretty strong opinions about these different usages, and think some are genuine cases of fannish entitlement, and others are not. I'm also sure that our lists of which are genuine would not neatly match-up.

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misc - hands together

Intellectual Property, Remixing and Art

In my recent post on cliches and idfic, I casually said that I identify as a remix artist. It just occurred to me today that I haven't really said why that is.

The thing is, for a while now I've been seeing strong parallels and cross-connection between all sorts of different movements, from Warhol to opensource, DeviantArt to AMV, fanfiction to mashups, sampling to critique and review. All these things are about how people are interacting with technology every day, and not just digital technology, but pens and paper and clothes and food fusions and everything else.

And many, but not all, of these remixes exist in legal grey areas. Some, like critique and review, are largely considered legal. Some, like transformative fanworks, are likely legal under the doctrine of Fair Use in the US, but may or may not be legal elsewhere. Some may technically be legal as a finished product, but to get there require types of 'copying' or decrypting which are considered flat-out piracy and theft.

I see a common thread linking these practices, which is the act of remixing to create a new thing. I also see a common battlefront in terms of how Intellectual Property laws are encroaching on the Public Domain, and also how fencing laws, like Digital Rights Management, are effectively attempting to stifle acts of creativity, many of which (or their precursors) were legal in the non-digital era.

Perhaps worst of all, the pro-IP side of the battlefront is so white, so rich, so male, so Western, so concerned with making sure that corporations continue to get theirs, and that everyone else is locked out.

I don't want to be on that side. I want to share the wealth. I want artists to be able to create, and preferably to eat (which doesn't seem to me to be a focus of the pro-IP side at all, despite the rhetoric).

So, yeah. For a while now, I've thought of myself as a writer, an artist, a remixer.

Behind the cut are some links to videos and a few other bits and pieces about IP and remix, just so you can see the kind of stuff I'm marinating in.

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I'd love to hear your take on remix. What made you sit up and take notice of remix culture? How did you end up here? Where do you think we're going to end up?

I tell you what, ten years ago, I never would have dreamed we'd end up here. Imagine where we might be in another decade.

ETA: I have been meaning to post about how I'm using tech differently to find fanworks and now I don't have to, thanks to catechism.

misc - cupidsbow vidding

'Clichés and the id: a map to fictional seduction' by cupidsbow

Those of you who have been reading my meta for a while will know that I've been on a long journey in terms of figuring out what makes fiction work. Something I've been mulling over for many years now, is how the lizard brain influences writing. Over the last few months several things have fallen into place, and I can finally express my ideas about the power of clichés and the importance of the id.

The short version is that tapping into primal story patterns (clichés) and emotions (satisfying the id) makes fiction more powerful.

That sounds like a ridiculous "duh!" kind of statement, doesn't it? Yeah, I figured. So I'm going to start this essay with a quick discussion of what led me astray -- why I didn't always know this -- and then go on to discuss how I go about turning clichés to my own ends and consulting my id when writing fiction.

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ncis - tony camera

The Gumby's Guide to Vidding by cupidsbow

When I first started vidding, I looked around for guides and found several really great ones. However, they were aimed at people who were, shall we say, less technologically challenged than I was.

I've made two-and-a-half vids since then, and while I don't pretend to be an expert at vidding yet, I have managed to answer some of my first-time gumby questions through trial and error; so I thought I'd put together a very basic guide that includes those hard-won facts. I'm also going to list the software I use, which is mostly freeware, shareware or cheapware for the PC.

Warning: Make sure you have good anti-virus software installed before you start downloading stuff off the web. It should protect you from malware and spyware as well as the usual viruses, trojans, worms etc. I make no guarantees that the software I'm reccing here is 100% safe; although obviously, I've scanned it and it's working fine on my computer.

The Basics

  • A video editor
  • A video clipper
  • A video reformatting tool

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Once you have a Video Editor, and can cut up clips and convert file formats, there are a few extra bits and pieces it's useful to have so that you can add snazzy stuff to your songvid.

The Beginner's Toolkit of Extras

  • A paint program
  • An audio recording program
  • A video player
  • A video hosting service

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Advanced Vidding Guide

If you are really keen, you will also need stuff like video and audio rippers, and effects packages, but I haven't used those, so I'm not going to talk about them. If you're interested, a really good guide that goes into a lot of detail can be found here: A&E's Technical Guides to All Things Audio and Video mk 2.

You now know pretty much everything I do about vidding. If you have questions, suggestions or recommendations, please feel free to comment. I'm sure there's still heaps of useful things to learn.

ETA: I should have said -- I'm at Swancon all weekend. I'll answer questions when I get back home.
otw - logo

The Fastest Ever Guide to Songvid Watching, by cupidsbow

"How on earth do you watch a songvid? They make no sense to me!"

This is a question that has been put to me more than once, and has led to many long and interesting discussions about vidding. Most recently, watersword and ainsley both said something similar in the comments of my Songvid Surprise Game, so I thought I'd take a stab at putting together a beginner's guide to watching vids which answered the question.

Other vid-watching guides I've seen tend to focus on trying to find the "best" vids to ease people into the groove. I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to break down what cues I look for when watching a vid, and hope that it doesn't come across as too simplistic.

Basically, this guide will cover: 1) the best video playing software, 2) the two main types of songvids and how to watch them (along with a few examples, broken down step-by-step), and 3) links to some other "How To Watch" guides.

(It's the "fastest ever guide" because I'm still mired in marking hell, so I've only allowed myself an hour to expound on this topic. Please do ask questions if something is unclear, and I'll answer as I can. Likewise, please feel free to give your own take on how to read songvids in the comments.)

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So there you have it. The fastest ever beginner's guide to watching vids. :)

Let me know if anything isn't clear, and happy watching!
sga - mcshep vr

Revisiting Love: Why John and Rodney Rocked My World

Title: Revisiting Love: Why John and Rodney Rocked My World
Author: cupidsbow
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Rating: PG-13
For: velocitygrass's It's Only Just Begun fest.

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Title: Three Strikes
Author: cupidsbow
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG-13
Summary: There's nothing John won't do to win, and Rodney is the biggest prize of all.

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misc - pen

"The Things We Never Talk About" by cupidsbow

There are some questions about writing that I find really hard to talk about, because they're just... *waves hands* ...there are no answers! Questions like: "When is a story finished?" and "Can you learn to be talented?"

Despite the impossibility of such things, I've been prodded into action on this front by Ms Bunny, who recently made a request for an essay on writing, and who asked exactly these kinds of questions (my paraphrases):
  • How can you tell when a story is good?
  • How do you know when a story is finished (ie. the best you can make it)?
  • How do you edit effectively?
  • How can you pick a good editing choice from a bad one?
  • Can you learn "talent"?

My forte is mainly in explaining concrete writing techniques, and these questions are more about judgement, expertise and instinct. That said, I think they are worthwhile topics, so I've done my best to give some useful answers -- thank you for the challenge, Ms Bunny.

My take on the answers is behind the cut, but given the nature of the topic, and that my answers are certainly not definitive, I invite you all to share your ideas about assessing your own creativity: what works, what doesn't, what questions do you still have? I'm very curious to see what other techniques people use and how well they work.

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And that's all I have to say about that. So what do you think? How do you know if your work is good? When do you decide a story is finished? Do you have any fool-proof editing tips? Do you feel you've become a more talented writer with practice?

Talk to me.

ETA: Sorry, I'm having a bad day. Please go ahead and keep talking -- I'm reading and enjoying what you have to say; I just can't reply like a reasonable human being right now.
misc - pen

Viewpoint Techniques 102, by cupidsbow

Viewpoint Techniques 102 by cupidsbow

Today I want to talk about a story's point of view from a nuts-and-bolts technical perspective. I don't mean in the broad strokes of the narrative voice: first person, second person, etc., or whether the viewpoint character is outside or inside the story. These aspects are viewpoint 101, if you will, and any decent book on writing fiction will give you this kind of information; I've recommended some at the end of this post.

What I'm focusing on here is the line-by-line detail of how you transition between dialogue and action when writing scenes involving two or more characters.

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