insufferable know-it-all (bironic) wrote,
insufferable know-it-all

Con.txt 2014: A good time, plus panel notes

I had a great weekend at con_txt. It was so nice to see friends again, and to make some new acquaintances.

I was concerned about the programming because I haven't been feeling enthused about any particular canon on the docket in a communal-fannish way lately, and because mass squee can be scary; but there turned out to be plenty of meta panels and entertaining moderators to make the experience enjoyable.

I also appreciate how, while con.txt is a slash con by definition, those of us who do not exclusively enjoy slash are welcomed and able to have discussions about a variety of sexual identities and relationship types in fandom (and life), plus gen topics.

In case you are interested, I jotted down some notes. Nothing fancy or thorough. has panel descriptions and mod names.

Werewolf Torts and Undead Annuities

a.k.a. "Do not sell life insurance to a vampire." a.a.k.a. "Advanced worldbuilding + take your fandom to work."

Perhaps my favorite panel of the con. v_greyson and alpheratz applied their legal and actuarial know-how, respectively, to fannish source material, exploring things like when an alpha werewolf could be sued for negligence due to an uncontrolled pack member, or whether and for how long an immortal would be allowed to collect a pension. As expected, a lot of the references were to Teen Wolf. It was just such a fun hour of whimsical discussion grounded in the mods' and a few audience members' expertise.

More amusing questions and insights:
  • A tort can be intentional or negligence or liability. An annuity is money you receive in installments such as pension, life insurance, lottery
  • Zombies could collect disability?
  • Vamp/Highlander – allowed life insurance? There is always "the True Death"
  • If your dead relatives keep coming back, is that insurance fraud? Only if company proves you knew they were alive
  • "Undeath opens a lot of career opportunities in the insurance field"
  • Vicarious liability is a thing
  • Want to be turned? Sign a waiver. Or even better, a contract
  • Wrongful death suit vs. assumption of risk. Can you sue for your own wrongful death? Maybe assault and battery
  • No matter what, law doesn't allow agreeing to being killed/killing someone
  • Alienation of affection if you make a timelord regenerate and they don't love you anymore
  • Ignoring a DNR against biting (vamp/wolf) = battery
  • If Golden Girls were turned into vampires, would Social Security cut off their checks?
  • Can you get vampire or unlife insurance? Would life insurance have to pay you back your premiums?
  • Disability = less able to do your job because full moon, not able to go out in daylight; blood addiction as mental illness
  • Occupational exposure – 'X% of healthcare workers are exposed to [supernatural creature] blood each year'
  • Supernatural creatures and tax law. Must have really high premiums. Older vamps support younger vamps' premiums. Like auto insurance for younger reckless drivers.
  • How do you prove identity of pile of ash to cash in on premiums?
  • When are fledglings no longer dependents?
  • Do pension plans for vampires expire?
  • Weighting/adjusting of mortality tables for vampires
  • Selling off of autographed memorabilia if ineligible for life insurance
  • Back taxes would only go through 1930 when income tax was enacted?

The Small Fandom Dating Game with your host, ellen_fremedon, was once again a hoot. Check out the 2012 con.txt recap for a description of how the game works.

It's useful and funny all at once. "Bachelorettes" get to try to recruit others into something they love (and be witty), contestants get to ask about canon qualities that matter to them, and audience members get to enjoy the show and chime in. It's also funny how even a well-known source can sound funky and new when you hear it described in a certain way in response to a certain set of questions.

I had the opportunity to get matched with a new fandom in one round. After asking about things like what kinks it offers, whether a character could say or has said "When I died," and what would happen to a Mary Sue who wandered into the canon, the winner turned out to be a video game, Drakengard, or at least the YouTube run-through of it, from Bachelorette #1, chicago_ruth, with runner-up movie Cracks, featuring Eva Green and boarding school f/f, from Bachelorette #3, recrudescence. I figured out that Bachelorette #2 was Penny Dreadful or else that would have been in the running too.

Anyway, I later got to sit alongside deelaundry (Sliders) and monkey_pie (Die Hard) and pitch the Chronicles of Riddick trilogy in the last round, which was fun even though Riddick didn't suit the contestant. It was enough to intrigue monkey_pie and generate a conversation with a tablemate at the vid show about Riddick and The Fast & the Furious.

Also, was reminded that I need to check out Being Erica and the Lymond Chronicles.

alpheratz and corbae put together a rousing game of Fannish Pictionary.

Each round, one lucky contestant plucked a slip of paper from a basket containing a cracky and often lengthy prompt that they had to draw on an easel, usually with stick figures. Things like, and I know I'm mixing up the characters, but whatever: "Minerva McGonagall and Wonder Woman 'Thelma and Louise' AU" or "The White Orc, who is a florist in New York City, sells flowers to The Black Widow for International Spy Day." The audience pieced together the story, and the person who added the last segment was offered the next turn. As you can guess, hilarity ensued.

I hope someone took a picture of the result of "Professor Xavier has telepathic sex with Darth Vader that makes him turn away from the Dark Side." melannen's economy of style was impressive.

For the record, here is the one that I drew. Anyone want to try?

Line 1: Stick figure with insignia, plus sign, circled small stick figure next to a stick figure with bow and arrow and long flowing hair next to another stick figure with a wizard hat. Line 2: Road outside a house. Stick figure with implement and disc object with question mark over its head. Large eyeball with dotted line from line 1 figures to line 2 figure. Line 3: Line 1 figures in tree structure with line 2 figure stemming from them.

Vid Show was pretty solid.

Great opener with Problem, a Winter Soldier vid by talitha78 with a pounding beat. (In the second act, Talitha's Wrecking Ball [Thor etc.] received many cheers and laughs.) Speaking of Britney Spears artists who sound like Britney Spears, I also liked how trelkez in her Haven vid Trouble for Me used the tone shifts in the song to slide in and out of sexiness.

Another highlight for me was Wishin' and Hopin' by [personal profile] zeborah (White Collar), in which Elizabeth tells Peter how to seduce Neal and vice versa and then gets in on the action herself. Happy OT3 with a side of fannish meta. A bit long, but the premise was cute enough to make up for it.

Never Tear Us Apart by maichan (newer X-Men movies) had a cool premise. Maichan took clips from period films starring either James McAvoy or Michael Fassbender and stitched together a vid suggesting that they've been running into each other in different incarnations for centuries before Xavier and Magneto met, sort of like Cloud Atlas. Or the Vampire Diaries doppelgangers. I think. Anyway, it was cleverly done.

Also, holy hell, the editing in Taismoloverful's Bad Dog (various anime and manga sources). I believe the appropriate emoticon is O_O.

Somehow I had not seen laurashapiro's Troy/Abed vid Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt (Community). It was, as the hipsters say, delightful.

deelaundry's new vid, Roller Derby Queen (Sherlock BBC), did really well. \o/

Several other vids I had seen before and liked, including laurashapiro's Do My Thing (The Heat), jarrow's I Wanna Dance (Glee girls) and Motown Philly (Psych), and obsessive24's The Lightning Strike (Merlin/Kings/Alexander/history).

I wasn't able to make anything new to submit for consideration, but Trouble (Interview with the Vampire) and Cooking Breakfast (Big Eden) were included, which was fun. Trouble seemed to go over well, although nothing like Soccer Practice last time. In fact, when Dee and I were sitting in the hallway after the show, I overheard a couple of passersby going, "Soccer practice. Soc, soc, soc" and that was for some reason more gratifying than the applause after Trouble. :)

Full playlist here.

Monetizing Fandom
  • Why is it viewed as evil?
  • It matters whether fans or corporations are making the money
  • Ditto charity vs. self profit
  • What happens to author names/pseudonyms when you go pro
  • Are rules and attitudes different for fan art vs. fic
  • Gendering of fan creativity, gift culture – attitude that you're "supposed" to do it for love
  • Fontana's Bar in NYC, fanfic reading nights – making fun of, or celebrating?
  • Clearly legal avenues: Licensing, tie-in properties, fan recruitment by showrunners/property owners
  • In absence of legal framework, attitude of property owners matters. Discovery/recruitment of fan creators is scattershot.
  • What is evil? Exploitation. Plagiarism. Outing of RL name.
  • Slash isn't these days necessarily a "show would never cover it" thing that would be covered under fair use like parody
  • Resource for more info: Fanlore

Inverting Tropes
  • What is a trope? Audience recognizes; common love/language.
  • Why invert? Shared cleverness, feels good. Like punning.
  • Inversion does commentary/analysis on the kink of the trope
  • Can invert from beginning, or later on, or by adding another trope
  • Or by focusing on realistic consequences/process of trope
  • Tag for inverted trope… and original trope? To attract everyone who might be interested
  • Gone all the way around, inverting the inversion-which-has-become-a-trope
  • Canons that do it: SGA, Farscape
  • Fun inversions we have seen or want to see: Two alphas roleplaying alpha/omega; John Sheppard woke up straight; aliens made them not do it; the "good" mirror self; accidentally acquire parents

ETA: Panel notes from mods corbae & v_greyson

D/s in Fandom

Always worth attending kink panels to see if anything new comes up, and to enjoy the company of some like-minded people. On this occasion, more time seemed to be spent on RL experience than on fannish applications, which was less interesting to me in an other-people's-TMI sort of way. That said, it was amusing to watch a room full of people test out a grab bag of floggers and paddles and whatnot on their forearms to help enrich descriptions of the implements and sensations in fic.
  • Touched on the "done it in life" vs. "write it well" question. As always, there are some people who haven't done it who write it well, and some people who've done it who still can't write it well.
  • How do you write scenes when intercourse or orgasm isn't the story climax
  • Hard to write visual kinks, like rope bondage? Focus on describing the effects, sensations, emotions
  • Don't forget that switches exist
  • BDSM AUs that are mostly or all about gender identity: Do we like them because they're a freeing metaphor for discussing gender relations by distancing, or dislike them because the focus isn't what it promised on the tin?
  • Could use "bad BDSM etiquette" tag
  • Writing characters who don't share your kink or power relations opinions
  • Plots to introduce characters to kink: undercover, etc.
  • Mod wants to see more non-abuse use of safewords, and "yellow" adjustments
  • It's hard to write subspace POV because character isn't [always] thinking while in it
  • Portrayal of mindset and emotion is even less commonly done right than physical descriptions
  • Resources: Fetlife-->local orgs; Beyond the Valley of the Femdoms; Work Is Never Over

Not My Fandom's OTP
  • Rare pairs may be more likely to feel genuine or break out of tropes (?) when the bulk of a fandom is all about some single other pairing
  • Whether your pairing(s) is/are fandom's preferred pairing(s) sometimes depends on how much canon you knew before seeking out fic
  • I don't have an OTP, I just want variety
  • How to find? AO3 tags, bookmarks of authors you like
  • How to create a place to find? Cultivate recs list, start an AO3 collection and ask authors of stories you've liked to add them to it. AO3 allows meta now; could do a ship_manifesto equivalent. Rec, reblog, create, support. Make or find aggregate/newsletter tumblrs.
  • Tell AO3 you want primary vs. secondary/background pairing tagging ability. Hard tech fix, but more requests can't hurt.
  • Bring back the friending meme, cross-platform
  • Don't forget about pinboard
  • Are gifsets an OK substitution for fic?

Awesome Robots
  • Obligatory opening list of robots, androids, AIs, mecha, cyborgs, etc. that we have loved
  • Themes often raised by sources that include robots: What is the nature of humanity/personhood? What is the nature of consent/free will? What is sentience? The allure—or rejection—of humanity. Overcoming constraints. Fear of sci/tech. Attraction to mech. Outsiders. Expanded time scale. Trustworthiness of robots or robot parts. Classism.
  • Additional themes that we enjoy exploring: Sexbots and consent. Learning how to feel feelings. Accomplishing your dream against your own or society's constraints/pressures. Experiencing a body – Bicentennial Man, Data, the TARDIS in Neil Gaiman's episode.
  • Don't want to see "robot is truly a person when they fall in love."
  • Are clarifications necessary between what is human and what is mechanical?

Checking in on the Fannish Diaspora

This was one of two panels I requested. I was hoping to hear people's thoughts on the Tumblr migration in particular: Why so many fans complain about the format but drift away from Dreamwidth, whether I have to suck it up and open an account there, what the platform is good for besides gifs, how you achieve some kind of longform post that people will read, whether you can ever have a conversation over there, etc. There was a little bit of that. Highlights:
  • Web and phone client determines your experience (besides people you follow)
  • Reading on Twitter or Tumblr allays guilt of not keeping up because not expected. Friend declared internet bankruptcy when LJ/DW comment backlog got unmanageable
  • Can advertise your longform on Tumblr
  • Tumblr: Xkit.
  • Use it to find people to talk to somewhere else

Small Fandom and Between-Fandom Support Group

The other panel I requested, on account of aforementioned lack of communal fannish enthusiasm of late. Much of the session centered on tips for keeping small fandoms alive or making them grow. At the end we came back around to what to do when you aren't feeling fannish but want to be. Since some of my tastes have changed but I'm not sure what they've changed to, I wasn't sure how much I could be helped—but I came away with two good pieces of advice, and that made the whole thing worthwhile, for sure. 1) Just read random stuff until you hit on something that speaks to you, and you can try to figure out why. 2) Anonymemes can point you to people who hate the same stuff as you, which in turn may lead you to stuff you may like in common.

Other notes:
  • Tag differently to differentiate your small fandom or rare pairing? i.e. #got_edit on Tumblr for Game of Thrones
  • Tips for getting people into your small fandom: Make recruiter vids for cons and fests and AO3/YouTube and include a link to learn more about the fandom; start a TV Tropes page; make a recs list (that isn't full of broken links)
  • Crossovers, kink tags and trope tags can bring in people from other fandoms, but be careful that you're tagging appropriately so as not to disappoint/mislead, if you can
  • Third tip to regain fannish feelings: What did you used to like, what authors did you used to like?

Dubcon Fucking: How Does It Work

Man, I am not sure what to say about this panel. Dubcon is such a tricky topic to talk about, given that it pretty much doesn't apply to RL, that many fanpeople have strong and differing opinions about it, and that even when it's done well it's hard to distinguish, IMO, from noncon—which doesn't have to be a bad thing, although many people seem to disagree. I guess my general disappointment with the panel—a descriptor I'm even reluctant to use, given my respect for & friendship with ellen_fremedon, who modded—is rooted in a couple of things: how much the discussion veered into RL topics, and how many of the tropes and scenarios that were discussed do not only occur as/are not unique to dubcon. I guess I was hoping to leave with a better handle on the unique tools dubcon offers and more examples of ways in which it has been used to great effect in stories. Below, I put ** next to audience members' remarks that resonated for me.

Caveat: It's entirely possible this was my own failure to grasp the subject or pick up on subtleties of the conversation. It's possible I haven't been able to figure out what questions to even ask. & TBH I am not really in a place right now where I have the brainpower to pose these kinds of questions to anyone and engage in a meaningful discussion, or else I might have saved this for its own post.

Not to say there weren't good parts, too. People talked a bit about the literary origins of many of today's popular "dubcon tropes"—I'm putting that in quotes because see above—and explored possible personal motivations for opting for dubcon over clearly consensual or nonconsensual scenarios. ellen_fremedon delivered on her con.txt program promise to map "dubcon" onto a model of late-stage capitalism, which, if you want to set aside questions of differentiating dubcon from noncon and perhaps just call it "issues of consent" or something, was a neat, thought-provoking comparison. To wit: The targeted character is under complete social or biological constraint, has no power to fight or escape the system, and is expected to submit, either gracefully or with a fight. Their decision to make the experience not only bearable but good is an act of power. Sounds like economics, politics.

  • "Dubcon tropes": Pon farr, sex pollen, potions, soulbonds, possession and mind control, AMTDI, undercover/honeytrap, slavefic, blanket consent, drugs/alcohol
  • Unfortunately, many inexperienced people writing noncon think they're writing dubcon
  • Good Vulcans don't say yes
  • Dubcon does not obviate the consent, but changes/alleviates the tensions
  • [Reluctance to engage in sexual acts as a result of] external constraint has evolved to internal constraint
  • Dubcon as shortcut to healthy, consenting relationship?
  • Noncon vs. dubcon
  • **Retroactive consent is conceivable
  • As kink vs. as warning. Says something about what we're interrogating
  • Difference when both/all participants are impaired vs. one – then everyone is not fully consenting but also not culpable
  • Your character can be the hurt and the comfort
  • Inversion? Sex pollen victim as sexual aggressor
  • Interrogating rape culture, women/subaltern groups
  • Dubcon lets you indulge without acknowledging/confronting label
  • Harlequin Presents line. Japanese boys' love manga. Cecilia Tan's Slow Submission series, reply to 50 Shades
  • Understanding of consent leads to increased awareness of all the nonconsensual things that are happening or have happened around you.
  • Incredible complexity, not necessarily trauma. **No good choices but you're comfortable with the one you made.
  • POV matters. Allays guilt. Condescending.
  • Can't look at things in black and white.
  • **Dubcon takes away ability to say yes as well as ability to say no
  • In RL you can't take away my right to say yes [just because I had one glass of wine or have a mental health issue, etc.]. What I said is consent for me is consent for me.

ETA: Notes from deelaundry

Rule 34 in a Magical Universe

A lighthearted, freeform conversation about canons and characters where superpowers can be used for sexy purposes. A few ideas and fic examples appealed to me and/or sounded familiar.
  • Magneto + someone with piercings
  • HP charms for contraception and lubrication [those were the days]
  • Telepathy and shared orgasms
  • Superhero power as kink—tentacles, temperature play, etc.
  • Giving up your power as a kink (i.e. use Rogue)
  • Yenta telepaths? Or always done as non-con instead of cute?
  • Scientists, doctors and engineers using their "powers"
  • Cross-referencing your fandoms or characters list with Kink Bingo categories


Despite exhaustion and/or hangovers, v_greyson and cincodemaygirl ran one of the weekend's best panels toward the end of the con on Sunday. The discussion began with a definition of bisexuality in the context of this particular panel, plus a mention of why it's an imperfect term; then some sobering stats; then positive examples of canons with lots of bisexual characters, canons with one or two great bisexual characters, and canons with less great bisexual characters or characters who aren't allowed to be textually bisexual or characters who might have been bisexual but instead switched from, say, straight to lesbian (Willow Rosenburg), and why it's important to respect how people define their sexual orientation instead of labeling them based on their current/past relationships; and last, a call to action about what we can do as media critics and fan creators to combat the erasure of bisexual people, such as not taking a male character who has had many straight relationships in canon, slashing him with another guy, and assuming/claiming that necessarily means he's "gay" now. And not assuming that characters engaging in m/f behavior in your fic are necessarily straight. See also the AO3 collection, "Het not straight."

It was an informative and convivial hour. Wish it had gone longer.

  • "If you're erased in space, at least you're in space."
  • "Everyone's bi" trope: Torchwood, Rocky Horror, Ursula Le Guin's sedoretu stories, Velvet Goldmine, Vampire Chronicles, Glee. See it a lot in horror/supernatural stuff. Unfortunately bc of bi = evil and/or hedonistic stereotypes. But growing beyond that. See it a lot in vampires too. Maybe with age they mature beyond the binary relationship model. Maybe there is a support group for minority monosexual vampires.
  • Bi characters: In the Flesh, Orphan Black, Teen Wolf, House, Slings & Arrows, BtVS, L Word/Queer as Folk, Game of Thrones (yay Oberyn and Ellaria), Lost Girl, Revenge, Orange Is the New Black. BtVS/Willow doesn't count. Less great example/played for laughs: How I Met Your Mother (Lily).
  • Call to action: Make your characters bi! Bemoaning the fannish echo chamber.
  • Helps you not erase women, too
  • Helps you come at m/f from a queer perspective, too

Mods have promised a resource post soon. Will link it here when it's up. ETA: Here it is.

Also attended a panel about tagging and another about AUs.

Note to self: Action items:

- DS9 essential episodes list for corbae (post likely to follow)
- Riddick recs list for monkey_pie (ditto)
- Read bmouse's Garak/Bashir collection
- Check out stuff from Small Fandom Dating Game
- Figure out naming issue and start a new Twitter to keep in touch with fan friends?
- Grin and bear it open a Tumblr account???
Tags: cons, fandom is a wonderful thing, fanfic meta, friends, kink meta, meta, thinky, vidrec
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