Tag Archives: francesca coppa

Quick hit: a feminist fanvid sampler

I missed this when it was posted, but thought it was worth a quick hit. halfamoon is a celebration of women in fandom that occurs every February. This year, among the posts celebrating women characters, women writers, etc, was harriet_spy‘s post about feminist fanvids.

She breaks her recommendations into four sections:

Critique: vids that explicitly critique the source, or social attitudes reflected in the source.

Methods: is fangirling itself a feminist act?

Reclaiming the Narrative: “if you don’t like it, rewrite it”—how can you bring this approach to source that excludes or diminishes or demeans the stories of women?

Reclaiming the Gaze: A particular problem for fans who use visual media: how do you take footage conceived and edited to appeal to a sexist audience and use those very same images to tell a different kind of story?

Each fanvid is usually around 3 minutes long, and sets footage from film, tv, or other visual media to music to tell a story or evoke some kind of response. While many are streamable, some vids will need to be downloaded to watch; if your computer doesn’t have good video player, try VLC, which will play just about anything.

Women have been making fanvids for at least 35 years, since long before Youtube. For more information on the mostly-female vidding culture, check out Vidding, a documentary available on MIT’s Tech TV channel, or read just about anything from Francesca Coppa’s bibliography.

Geek Feminism interviews the OTW’s Francesca Coppa

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to give us your questions for an interview with Dr. Francesca Coppa, one of the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works. Thanks to those of you who suggested questions, and here are her responses…

The OTW is mostly by/for women, and most of the participants in its projects seem to be women. Do you have any interest in reaching out to primarily-male parts of fandom? How might that work, if you did?

The OTW’s mission is to provide a nonprofit space, and organized advocacy, for the kinds of transformative fanworks (fanfic, fan art, vids, podfic) that are a) potential targets for commercial exploitation (as in the case of FanLib), B) being squeezed out as Web 2.0 “business models” expand (as in the case of vids on Imeem or erotic fan art on LJ), or c) subject to takedowns or other legal challenges. Many, if not most, of those fanworks were and are made by women, but gender isn’t a central criterion; we protect these sorts of fanworks when men make them, too!

That being said, there are some secondary ways in which gender seems to be influencing the populations we serve and the work we do. First, male fans are somewhat more likely than female fans to be making fanworks that have commercial implications or aspirations (e.g. some machinima, some fan films, some video game design, the commercial version of the Harry Potter Lexicon, etc). Second, not all fanworks are subject to the kinds of economic or legal challenges I’ve just described: for instance, nobody’s doing takedowns of forums or wikis or fan films; male-made movie “parodies” are more clearly understood to be fair use than female-made shipper vids; video game designers mostly approve of and even help out machinima makers, etc. Moreover, in terms of financial support, many male or mixed gender areas of fandom are more economically stable than female-dominated areas, either because more guys are willing to turn their fan-ac into a fan-run business rather than depending on external companies or services, or because they’re willing to support their sites with ads. Women making transformative works have tended, rightly or wrongly, to be wary of ads or other forms of commercial support, fearing that it would give ammunition to copyright holders who already don’t like them or their works.

So the OTW’s goal is really to focus on 1) noncommercial works that are 2) currently subject to marketplace or legal pressures. It may be socially significant that most of those works are made by women, but we want to advocate for them no matter who makes them!

Continue reading

GF interviews the OTW’s Francesca Coppa: question time!

Francesca Coppa is one of the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works. She’s also…

… director of film studies and associate professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches courses in dramatic literature, popular fiction, and mass media storytelling. Her writings on media fandom have been included in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet and presented at MIT’s Media in Transition conference. Coppa has been attending conventions and buying zines since the early 1980s, when she and her friends wrote fanfiction by hand and circulated it by snail mail. She has been involved in online fandom since the mid-1990s as a writer, list administrator, vidder, archivist, and community moderator. (bio link)

If you haven’t read any of her work on the history of fan culture, take a look at Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding or Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video. There’s also a great interview with her at Reason Online and another on gender and fan culture over at Henry Jenkins’ blog. There are more links to related reading at fanlore.

And now it’s time for Geek Feminism to interview her! I’d like to open this up to our readers and commenters. What would you like to ask Francesca about the OTW, fan culture, vidding, and so on? Post your suggestions in the comments, and in a few days we’ll send them through to her to answer.

Edit: I’m shutting down comments now (Wednesday 9th September) and passing your questions through to Francesca. The interview should appear soon!