Jan. 19th, 2012

slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. ((default))
Dear elected officials, lobbyists, various studio execs, and sundry corporate assholes,

I am slythwolf. I have been on the internet now for over seventeen years.

These past few months, mine has been one of the four or five million voices you may have heard shouting about SOPA. The thing is, something very important about the kind of political protest you’ve seen from us is that for every person who participates, there are about ten more people who don’t participate but who still agree with the aims of the movement.

We are legion.

We are your constituents.

We are your customers.

We are your audience.

And we are pissed off.

The thing is, you can go on as much as you want to about protecting copyright and stopping piracy—which, by the way, guys, if you wanted to demonize us, you probably should have gone with calling us something less self-evidently awesome than pirates—you can couch it, I mean to say, in as much sanctimonious, self-righteous, faux-noble language as you want. But what it comes down to is, you’re trying to shut down participatory culture, because participatory culture is owned collectively by the participants, and you can’t turn a profit on it.

And what you don’t understand is that if you shut down participatory culture on the internet, not only will participatory culture find another way to flourish (you can’t stop the signal), you will also not make any additional money; you may, in fact, make less money than you’re making now, and I’ll tell you why.

Fangirls and fanboys spend a lot of money on their chosen fandoms. As much as we download things you don’t think we should, and as much as we “violate copyright” by making fanworks out of our deep and abiding love for our fandoms, we spend a lot of money on official merchandise.

Do you know how much I paid for official Harry Potter candy? I still have like twelve little Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans bags floating around in my apartment somewhere—you’re damn right, I kept that shit. I bought official ties, official wallets, official T-shirts, official keychains, the list goes on. I bought two copies of each of the seven books and then? I bought two additional books, I bought Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both totally unnecessary to read and enjoy the main story but both invaluable to a writer of fan fiction. Why do you think I wanted two copies of each book in the series? I wanted an American and a UK copy of each so I could see the differences between them; I wanted a hardcover and a paperback copy of each so I could highlight and underline and dog-ear the crap out of the paperback for fan fiction research.

Why did I buy the Harry Potter books in the first place? You’ll never guess.

You see, one summer afternoon, almost eleven years ago, I was reading fan fiction. I got bored of what was available for fandoms I was already part of and I started reading fanfic for things I hadn’t read or seen. One of those things was Harry Potter.

The fanfic was so good it made me go out and buy the books.

That wasn’t the last time it happened to me, either. At least 75% of the books I buy, the movies I see, the TV shows I watch, I spend my hard-earned green American dollars on those things because of fandom.

Because of participatory culture, which terrifies you, I spend money on your products. If it were not for participatory culture, you would get at most 25% of the money you currently get from me.

Not that it’s about the money. Of course not. It’s the principle, right? Your intellectual property, your rules.

Participatory culture spits on your rules.

Everyone who loves a story owns a piece of that story. What lives and breathes about a story does so in the heart of the audience. You can’t give us stories to love and then dictate how we may love them—and I don’t mean that it’s wrong or cruel to do that, although it is; I mean you can’t do it; I mean it doesn’t work. You close a door, participatory culture will open a window. We’ll go back to zines if we have to go back to zines. Hell, we’ll go back to telling stories around a campfire. Participatory culture is universal to the human condition. There is nothing you can do to destroy it. It arises spontaneously and it cannot be stopped.

Not that we’re gonna let you pry our internet from our cold, dead hands in the first place.

Yours sincerely,

Wolf A. Woman (Slytherin)

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slythwolf: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set. (Default)
slythwolf

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