mijan: (Doctor Crusher is NOT amused.)
[personal profile] mijan
I get reviews on old fics on my ff.net account fairly frequently. Usually, it's my big Harry/Draco fanfic from back in the day. Sometimes, it's my smaller fics.

The one in question today was a one-shot. Posted in October of 2005, it had just over 5,000 words, wasn't terribly deep (although it did have some insightful content), and could almost be categorized as crackfic in some regards. The title was "Stop the World! (I Wanna Get Off.)"

Anyway, it's a one-shot. It was MEANT to be a one-shot. That's it. Some readers, it seems, jut can't accept that. There were some reviews begging for a sequel, or asking why I wouldn't just continue the story. (Uh, because THAT IS THE STORY. Period.)

However, we all know that when people beg for more, it's really a compliment. I totally get that. I've expressed to some of my favorite writers that I hope there will be more of a particular fic, or a sequel in the works. That's not what today's meta is about. Today, we're discussing entitlement culture.

You see, today's review gave me pause, NOT because the person wanted more. No, it was actually the specific phrasing is what caught my attention:

That.is.not.fair. What do you mean no sequel is planned? D:

It's not fair? o rly? In what way "not fair," dare I ask? Maybe I'm reading far too much into this, but tough luck... I'm gonna read into it anyway. See, it's a trend I've been seeing in the generation coming up behind me. The following assumptions:

1. Life is fair. And by fair, they mean "all about me," providing all their desires with no effort or input from them.
2. Pouting is an effective way to get what they want.
3. The things they want will magically appear out of thin air simply because they want it.
4. Everyone owes them something.

You see, my fellow fandom friends, we don't OWE each other anything when it comes to fanfics. We really don't. I could be completely in awe of the best fanfic writer EVER, could sing his/her praises, and dote on every word they've ever posted... but that writer owes me NOTHING. Doesn't owe me a sequel. Doesn't owe me another chapter. Doesn't even owe me a "thanks" for my carefully penned review. It would be nice, but they don't owe me. And thus, if I read a fanfic or see a piece of art that I get to enjoy, I find myself grateful that someone put in the effort to create something wonderful, and then were nice enough to share it with us.

Now, we're a polite fandom, yes. And we usually engage in certain courtesies. For example, I write fanfic, you read fanfic, you review fanfic, I say thank you for the review. Politeness achieved. Also, as someone who likes to write long, complex fics, I understand the amount of time and effort that goes into the labors of love. That's what these are. We're not getting paid, and we don't expect payment. We hope for reviews, but we don't even expect that as an automatic response for what we post. So, when I READ a long, complex fic (which is my preferred fic format for reading - I LOVE a thick, juicy fic), I KNOW just how much personal time the writer put into that story. They don't owe me a damned thing. They've already given me so much. I just got to read a free novel. And if that writer DECIDES to write more in a fanfic universe I've come to love, then I count myself fortunate, and sing their praises for the next story. But they don't owe me.

At the end of the day, every fanfic is a labor of love, and nothing more. We write our artistic expressions (some more artful than others) of our beloved fandoms and characters. We post them to share our enthusiasm for these stories, ideas, characters, and fictional worlds. Our creations begin and end where our passion and enthusiasm begin and end. No matter how much we might want to write something, in fandom, if we can't get our brains behind it, it's not going to happen.

Really, what got me today was the "That.Is.Not.Fair." If the true sentiment had been appreciation for the story and a wish for more to be written along that line, the general comment would have been, "Oh, I loved that! But why did you stop there? It seems like it could be the start of a longer story." See, I could totally understand that. I've read fics that could have opened a delightful continuation, and I've sometimes asked the authors if they might continue to write in that universe. But if the answer is "no," then I can simply appreciate that they took the time to write something good enough that kept such a strong interest from me. Their time is valuable, and their creativity does not belong to me.

It's not fair? Oh, my dear, my dear... LIFE isn't fair. But not getting an unlimited supply of the fanfic you want, on demand, for free? That's perfectly fair. What is NOT fair is the EXPECTATION that another human being owes you their time and effort for something as trivial as a fanfiction.

Of course, there are levels of human decency that we should be able to expect from people who are not our friends or relatives. If you're choking on a hard candy, you can reasonably EXPECT me to attempt to save your life with the Heimlich maneuver. If you are in a car accident, you can expect someone to at least call for help, and offer aid if they're capable. If you are lost, generally, you can expect people to give you accurate directions if you ask for help, or at least direct you to a place where you can get directions.

Truly altruistic people might go a step further and offer you food, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs of life, but unless they're FAMILY (and even then, not always), you can't EXPECT that.

But to pout that it's "not fair" that you're not getting more of the fanfic you desire? That's like someone giving you a home-baked chocolate-chip cookie, and then you stomp you foot and whine, "It's not fair! I want a whole dozen!"

Oh, honey, it's VERY fair. You got a free cookie. Be happy with it. The baker has finished making cookies, and has moved on to scones. The scones will also be free, if the baker decides to share. I'd say that's pretty damned generous. The baker has enjoyed the free sandwiches from the deli down the road, and the delicatessen has enjoyed the free ice cream from the local ice cream shop, and the ice cream maker just got a free happy-ending massage from the local spa. Folks in this fandom small town love to share with each other. What keeps the system going is the appreciation for what we do get for free, the respect for each others' work, and the knowledge that this is ALL gravy. We don't owe anybody anything here in Fandomville. But damn, we do like to share.

Date: 2011-03-21 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vampireanneke.livejournal.com
It's terminology I would use, and it would totally be an expression of how much I enjoyed the story and wished there was more to read about it, because it did get me thinking, etc... I"m sure the person is not wanting to force you to write more, but they see alot of potential in the story and just want it continued. You gave them a cookie, and it was sooo good they want another one. Their expression of wanting more is their way of showing how awsome the first taste was. They'll take the scones, but always have that haunting taste in their mouth of the awsome cookie. (shrugs) It happens. They can try an recreate the awsome cookie they once had, but in regards to Fanfiction that would be a high level of rudeness.

Date: 2011-03-21 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
See, it's not the desire for more. I totally understand that part. It was the "IT'S NOT FAIR!" that caught my attention here.

Date: 2011-03-21 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syredronning.livejournal.com

Well, I would mean it as appreciation, and would take it as such from a reader. I'd still say "sorry, no sequel is planned" but I rather have a reader ask for MORE than saying (what happened to me too) "pointless and badly written".

Date: 2011-03-21 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
Very true that it might be meant as appreciation, but the particular phrasing struck me for several reasons, related to a certain psychology I've seen in the younger generation. Recent real-life events highlighted this sort of thing, and the way it came out in that review caused me to take pause. Asking for more is a compliment. Pouting that it's not fair... there's a different mind-set at work there. It's symptomatic of a larger problem with the "millenials" generation that a LOT of folks have been noticing lately.

It was actually more of a social commentary, based on observations of this particular "symptom" of the problem. This symptom happens to be a fandom thing, but I've seen the same psychological quirks in other situations. And, of course, it's definitely not that whole generation, but it seems to be a theme I'm seeing more and more often.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] akaemilyrose.livejournal.com
Some people fail to understand the built-in fun of leaving a story unfinished. Classic example: Gone With the Wind. (Yes, I know, the author's great-niece or someone did write a sequel, but NOT the original author). It's called, "Use your own imagination, people".

Unless I miss my guess, that's the bit with fanfic: "I don't own the rights, but choose to write or continue a story started by someone else myself. No expectations of either compensation or lawsuit for plagerizing expected". Isn't it?

Date: 2011-03-21 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
Some of it is leaving stuff to the imagination. Also, some people can't comprehend the idea of a complete story. Not EVERYTHING needs to be continued, plotless, just to keep putting words on the page. I see a lot of that. The author finishes the initial idea for the story, but keep rambling on, pointlessly.

And yeah, that's pretty much the deal with fanfic, to some degree. However, it's not all finishing or continuing a story someone else wrote. More often, you take the characters, settings, or situations, and expand OR extrapolate. For example, what if the crew of the Enterprise lived in the current time, in New York City, and they were part of a crime investigation unit? Someone would write that story, where Pike runs the criminal investigations unit, Jim is their young hotshot detective, Spock is the forensics expert, Uhura does wire taps, Chekov is the office intern, Scotty handles equipment, and Bones is the paramedic who got stuck in the middle of a sting operation when he went in to treat Jim for a gunshot wound. That would be what they call an AU (alternate universe) fanfic.

But yeah, no pay, no lawsuit.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] themadfish.livejournal.com
Hey, it's not just limited to free fanfic. Published authors have the same problem with entitlement fans: George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.

It's not quite the same as someone demanding more for a sequel, but the sort of mentality is there.

Date: 2011-03-21 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
It's just another facet of the entitlement culture. This one... the phrasing of that "review"... just really rubbed me the wrong way today. I've just seen so much of the entitlement culture lately from certain people, it really irked me.

Thanks for the link!

Date: 2011-03-22 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corvidae9.livejournal.com
That's a fantastic post, btw. Thanks for linking it. :)

This is why I love reading your journal

Date: 2011-03-21 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] killpurakat.livejournal.com
I can see the reviewer maybe just trying to express his/her appreciation of the fic and hoping for more of the same, but like you, I REALLY hate that wording. And you have summed up my exact feelings about whiny pushers who think they can make a difference by just sitting and yelling at others. Bravo! :) If I ever give a presentation on fanfic writing/reading (did once, but it wasn't the right time/place for it so I want to do it again), I may use this entry as an example of what not to do as a reviewer (I would give full credit to you, obviously).

When I was a budding young noob, experiencing the Internet for the first time (and for quite a while after that), I would leave reviews like that. However, I ALWAYS meant it in jest and as a compliment (the "not really a complaint" sort). I sometimes succeeded in conveying that (sometimes not; a sarcastic voice does not carry over the 'net; rather, words must be chosen to express that sarcasm without a voice). My writing has gotten better as a result of realizing exactly how to express myself with just words.

This person may have meant it like I would had I left something similar, but I believe your indignation is justified and this person needs to grow up and get a clue about social interactions, proper grammar, and correct phrasing.

My review, if I wrote one with a similar meaning to the fic in question, would have probable been: "ARG! Why aren't you writing a sequel? That was so good, I can't believe you're just going to leave us wanting more! My brain is going nuts thinking of what happens next, and it will never know if it is right or not! ... but if you're going to keep writing other fics and posting, I think I can beat my brain into submission and just go read everything else you've penned. Please keep writing, as you excel at it."

See? Sort of the same message, but FLATTERING.

Re: This is why I love reading your journal

Date: 2011-03-23 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
Heee... yeah. Maybe they were intending to express appreciation, but what they actually SAID was very very poorly worded. Made me uncomfortable, and reminded me of the entitlement culture.

See, I know that some folks wrote reviews like that when they were new to fandom, but they always made me uncomfortable. I'm glad you've learned new ways to express what you think. That's just part of the process. But... yeah, some of the reviews I've read have made me question the thought-process of the reader.

Anyway... I'm tipsy, and it's all good.

Date: 2011-03-21 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mintcloud.livejournal.com
See, you could be right, or this could be nothing.

I've left my fair share of, "Awww, it's over? Not fair! *pouty face* ;)" reviews before. It's an expression of, "Oh, man, this was great - I really wish there were more, and life is not fair that the author chose to not continue the story. This sucks for me, I hope I can find some other fanfic that is just as good so I can spend more time reading."

I'm not saying you're not right, and there's certainly an epidemic of that going around. I'm just saying that it's not necessarily what you think it is. When I get those reviews - and I've gotten them, mostly for NCIS stuff - I send back a smiley response along the lines of, "Aww, thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! I'm afraid my brain is burned out for this story, but I might write more in this fandom some day, so check back once in awhile!" and what I get back if I get anything back is, "Oh, I understand, but I'll keep checking back! Thanks for a great story!" It very, very rarely turns out to be entitlement the way you're describing.

Maybe it's because of the age difference - I grew up in fandom from the age of thirteen, whereas you were old enough to drink by the time Harry Potter came out, and among us younger folk "It's not fair!" developed into a compliment the same way "Please update soon!" or "I will hunt you down if I don't get a new chapter soon! ;)" did.

I dunno. I could be wrong. I mean, there's always the nasty ones, but most of the time, in my experience, it doesn't mean that.

Anyway. My two cents. :)

Date: 2011-03-21 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
Well, this was an "anonymous" review on ff.net, so there's no way for me to even reply to her. That's neither here nor there. But seriously, that's considered polite by the younger fandom? Good grief.

But before you laugh, I've actually received reviews that were "joking" threats to my physical safety. I'm not kidding. I wish I was. The reviewers (it happened more than once) allegedly loved my fic so much that they felt it necessary to threaten me into writing more fic so that I knew how much they loved my writing. Suffice to say, I was not impressed, and when there was a way to contact those folks in reply, I let them know what I thought of their phrasing.

This is a different brand, though. This "you owe me" phrasing. Maybe the younger generation sees this as a normal way to communicate appreciation, but I just can't read it that way. ESPECIALLY true in light of the real-life behaviors I've observed from a surprising number of people the current college-aged crowd.

Just my thoughts, that's all.

Date: 2011-03-21 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mintcloud.livejournal.com
Well, yeah. It's not polite so much as normal. But there's a difference, you know? I mean, I've seen reviews that just - they didn't look right, you know? Oh yeah, we'll get into joking, over-the-top elaborate threats - "I will hunt you down and run you over with a purple moose in Hawaii if you don't update!" The more explicit and impossible the threat is, the more you liked the story - for example, I might try to top the previous example by saying, "...run you over with a lime-green elephant in Antarctica!" and then someone else would try to top me, and so on. Like I said, the more elaborate and creative the threat, the higher the compliment. Now if I got, "I will kill you if you don't write more," that would make me nervous. Very nervous, actually.

What it all really rides on is your ability to make it clear that it's just teasing, and that it really is a compliment. It's a language of its own, really, and one that is very hard to master just by looking. That review you got? That would be borderline. Maybe it's someone who's not quite got the hang of it yet, or maybe it's someone with a real entitlement complex; I don't know. I'm just saying that those of us who grew up in fandom from a young age tend to play by a different set of rules, and the vocabulary we use with each other doesn't always translate.

Date: 2011-03-21 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tresa-cho.livejournal.com
I want scones! Wait... I want cookies... Wait...

What were we talking about again?

In all seriousness though, love all your stories, and you will find nothing but appreciation from this little corner of the internet. Keep rockin my fandom world, you! <3

Date: 2011-03-21 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anruiukimi.livejournal.com
I'm only running on 2 cylinders so far, so no deep response to this, but in short, I agree completely. I mean, I've done the "I hope you might consider a sequel sometime" bit on a few occasions, but never just "BAWWW WHERE'S THE REST" that you got and I see sometimes too. xD;


Date: 2011-03-22 03:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corvidae9.livejournal.com
Super lame comment, there. I'm thinking this specific incident may have been have petulant, whiny, entitled bitchiness, or just poorly worded awe and yearning. That said, you are TOTALLY right about the fact that people out there that feel like authors, artists and everyone, really, owes them 11 more cookies. Ugh. And I'm not sure that it's tied to an age range. D:

Date: 2011-03-22 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trigeekgirl.livejournal.com
There was a really long HP fic that actually ended because the author felt such stress about updating after being hounded by too many people. I didn't understand until I started seeing reviews on fics that were much like this one. Sure, it could be a joke, but it's hard to convey that in the absence of facial cues and verbal tones. Either way, it has made me very careful about how I respond to fics that have ended when I wanted another chapter.

Now I want a scone, though.

Date: 2011-03-23 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
I got quite a few really demanding reviews, and even some freaky threatening reviews on Eclipse, but I was determined to finish it, and it didn't impact the story. But... I think the pressure was part of the reason I just couldn't get up the personal passion for writing the sequel. I felt like I was just writing because other people were making demands. But yeah, there were some actual threats, and some other really demanding comments. Even if they were MEANT to be this perverse form of encouragement, I just can't get a positive vibe from anything phrased as a threat. Forget facial cues or verbal tones - there are some things you just don't say, period. I totally don't blame that fanfic writer for quitting. Saying, "Oh, it's so sad that it's over!" is very different from saying, "How dare you stop there?!? Write another chapter, or I'll hunt you down!" I could probably go through old reviews and find some real gems.

Don't worry, there are scones in the oven! :)


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