Benedict Cumberbatch just became the new president of LAMDA(London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art). that’s an impressive accomplishment, congrats! how do I know this, since I’m not really a Cumberbatch fan? because I follow someone on Twitter who is. why do I follow a fan account of an actor I’m not interested in? because I enjoy her passion.
Once upon a time, when I was active on a Christian Bale forum, I became friendly with a fellow fan who adored the actor William Fichtner. he acted alongside Christian in ‘Equilibrium’ and also had a bit part in ‘The Dark Knight’. this fan loved to make manips/signatures/avatars of both Christian and William, so she started her own thread in the art area of the forum. it tended to be heavy on the Bill and light on the Chris, but I didn’t mind. I liked seeing the different ideas that she came up with and how she applied them.
Wm. Fichtner aka Badass Bank Manager, The Dark Knight:
On the Twilight fan forum, we had a chat area where we would talk about anything and everything, from Robert Pattinson’s button fly jeans
to how annoying our coworkers were. if any of us were following other actors alongside Rob & the Twilight gang, we’d routinely discuss them too. that’s how I found Richard Armitage. come to think of it, Matthew Crawley was sometimes mentioned as well, but I scrolled past him. sorry, Dan! I just wasn’t ready for you yet.
I like when fellow fans expose me to things I may not be familiar with, be that movies, television shows, books, music, or actors. I also find it insightful to read about fan experiences in other fandoms. The Lost fandom was constantly divided among Jack and Sawyer fans, much like Twilight and ‘Team Edward vs Team Jacob’. Outlander and Twilight share their zealot shipper wars, though Outlander has William Shatner fighting with them in their ring! Jamie Dornan fandom seems to get wrapped up in what is and is not acceptable content to post, often using the phrase ‘true fan’ to shame each other (I despise that phrase, I absolutely loathe it). Richard Armitage fandom shares many of these as well. each fandom likes to think they’re different, and they are to some extent, but we’re more the same than not.
So the Benedict Cumberbatch fan I follow on Twitter, or the Robert Downey Jr. fan I sometimes peek in on, or the former Robert Pattinson fan who is now all about Chris Evans, and the Dan Stevens fan who knows all the ins and outs of Star Wars, and that other one who idolizes Michelle Dockery, or the one who swoons over Jared Leto… thank you for sharing your passion with me. I hope no one ever dulls your shine.
I have officially been nominated for the Liebster Award by SueBC of the ‘I’m Feeling This’ blog. I say ‘officially’ because the questions I recently answered in relation to the Liebster Award were a general shout out from zees muse to anyone who wanted to answer them; this time, SueBC nominated me directly.
One of the stipulations of this blogging award is that you not only answer the questions presented to you, but you then come up with a set of questions for the 5 other blogs that you nominate. Problem is, the blogs I read have either already been nominated or they don’t like to participate in these question/answer type of challenges. I can NOT pass up the opportunity to answer a blogging questionnaire though, so I will forfeit the ‘award’ but answer the questions anyway!
The first few questions are duplicates from the set I answered for zees muse, but I will be giving different answers this time around. I very rarely have just one favorite anything, so it’s not like I’ll be wracking my brain to come up with more answers!
1.) What is the best movie you have seen in the past year?
Does this question mean ‘best new release’ or just any movie that I’ve seen for the first time recently? If it’s the latter, then that would definitely be ‘The Guest’, which I wrote a little about here. If it’s ‘best newer release’, then my answer is: Doctor Strange. I really enjoy the Marvel movies but for some reason I had low expectations for this one. Benedict Cumberbatch proved me so wrong, I am very happy to say! I loved his look, I loved his accent, I loved the way I started out scoffing at the character’s selfish arrogance but grew to feel so warmly towards him by the end. I thought Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen were excellent as well.
2.) What is the most memorable live theatre and/or concert experience you’ve had in the past year?
My daughter’s Spring Concert for Middle School Choir. I was really impressed with the selections, particularly Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
3.) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Truthfully, I’ve not read anything in the past year that could qualify. I did stumble across a Twilight fanfic that I really enjoyed though, and ended up reading more than once. It was called ‘Because of a Boy’. The story centered around a single mother of a child with Asperger’s, who meets and falls in love with a man whose father has Asperger’s as well. It made me cry several times throughout the story, not in sadness, but more for the way the families acknowledged and adapted to their circumstances so willingly. Edward understood the little boy in a way that most others could not because he had grown up with a father who was so similar. Edward not only loved his father but he genuinely liked being around him, and so he always made time for him. On the flip side, Bella was able to understand Edward’s father in a way that he never experienced as a young boy, because his parents were not as understanding and accepting as she was. One of my favorite aspects of the story was the way that Edward’s father called him several times a day to inform him of random facts. Because of this, Edward was able to bond with Bella’s son in the same way, the two often trying to stump each other. The story really touched me because of my struggles with anxiety as a child, and just imagining how much easier things could have been if I didn’t feel like I had to hide it all of the time. That, and the fact that the phrase ‘did you know’ is one that my husband and children are quite familiar with…speaking of, did you know that ‘Google’ is a misspelling of the term ‘googol’, which is the number 10 raised to the 100th power? Dan Stevens taught methat.
4.) What is your favorite photo of the past week on your mobile phone and are you willing to share it?
My son completed his Eagle Scout rank for Boy Scouts. This photo was taken at the ceremony, of him awarding me my ‘Mother’s Pin’. It’s funny to me because I had just fumbled with the pin I placed on his uniform; I couldn’t figure out how it worked (you had to push, then pull). So when it was his turn, he didn’t know how it worked either and I had to show him.
5.) What is your favorite photo ever of your favorite actor/actress?
I’m supposed to pick just one photo? Ha! That’s not happening. I’ll narrow it down to 3 instead:
and anytime he makes the ‘confused’ face, because I love the raised eyebrow.
6.) What songs are at the top of your playlist right now?
Two different songs by Sara Bareilles. ‘The Light‘ because I think it’s a beautiful song, both musically and lyrically.
You are the air in my breath, filling up my love soaked lungs
Such a beautiful mess, intertwined and overrun
Nothing better than this, knowing that the storm can come
You feel just like the sun
Just like the sun
and ‘I Choose You’because I find the beat uplifting and the lyrics optimistic.
7.) What is the most recent TV show that you binge-watched?
The Fall: season 3. And it was so good! I was nervous, with it being the last season and the assumption that Paul Spector would probably die. It was a lot more exciting than I anticipated, and Jamie Dornan delivered with some incredible eye acting! It feels wrong to say I ‘enjoyed’ the ending but I liked the way it turned out, and I really can’t imagine an alternate ending that would stay true to the story. All in all, this last batch of episodes was one of those rare times for me when the anticipation payed off.
8.) What time of day do you usually write and/or blog and why?
I do the writing part in the morning, because it’s quiet and I have time to myself without anything distracting me. Sometimes I post directly afterwards, while other times I’ll wait and just plug in the pics and post it in the evening before I sign off for the night (so that I can’t change my mind!)
9.) Does your avatar have special significance and if so, what is that significance?
Yes. The ‘DS’ image is a prop (a ring) from the television show Lost, which is my all time favorite show. ‘DS’ also happens to be the initials of my last name (I have one of those capital-lowercase-capital surnames).
10.) In your real life, how open are you about the fact that you have a blog?
In discussions that relate to fandom, blogging or the internet, I might mention that I blog in order to help illustrate a point, but I don’t elaborate about the blog itself/what I blog about unless I’m asked about it further (which I’m usually not). It’s not so much that I’m hiding it (though I don’t exactly want to shout it from the rooftops either) but just that I don’t normally share information about myself that isn’t relevant to the conversation at hand.
11.) What are the boundaries for you in terms of how much of your real life you share on your blog?
I have shared personal stories on this blog in the past, in answer to writing prompts but I don’t refer to the people in my stories by their names, just their relationship to me; it seems like the polite thing to do. I’m pretty open about who I am in real life, I don’t blog under an alter ego because I really have no reason to. I might say some embarrassing things sometimes in relation to fangirling but generally I’m rather mild. I have thought about how therapeutic it could be to blog about more personal things, get the negativity off of my chest and out of my system, but I wouldn’t want to hurt the people I talked about. Plus, I’m afraid if I started, it would become a habit of complaining. I’ve burned my fair share of bridges on Facebook, I’ll stick to blogging about actors/movies and retweeting on Twitter instead, it’s safer!
I’ve put it off long enough: I finally saw Fifty Shades of Grey. Why did I wait so long to see it, especially given my recent interest in Jamie Dornan? Well, that’s complicated. pretty much everything concerning that story is complicated for me.
I bring a lot of baggage to the table in regards to personal feelings about the author and the conundrum of liking the story but critiquing the writing. yadda, yadda, all you really need to know is that I like the love story, and find the red flags that should appear for every woman who reads this story, interesting. interesting for those who acknowledge those flags but keep moving forwards, regardless. I can personally relate to Ana in many ways, so when she gets to the point where she realizes she’s in too deep but can’t get out- doesn’t want to get out- because she’s already in love with Christian, I understand. because I’ve fallen for him too.
Why would you fall for someone who wants to punish and control you? who doesn’t permit himself to show you affection? because I want to help him see that he is worth more, that what happened to him as a child doesn’t have to define him as an adult. would I have been strong enough to do that without losing myself in the process? that’s the real question. the punishment angle really bothers me but the control issue doesn’t as much. once upon a time I often relinquished control in order to feel safe, cared for, free from daily stress. not to the extreme described in the story, of course, but there are undercurrents running through the story that can be viewed apart from BDSM. over time I decided I didn’t like it, my stubborn streak was too strong and my sense of self needed much more breathing room. it was, and continues to be, a learning process.
Some question how realistic the character of Ana actually is, in her naivete towards the kinkier side of life. I didn’t know a lot of things concerning my own body because I was embarrassed to talk about them and when my peers did, I didn’t want to be ridiculed for not knowing. so I didn’t ask questions, even though I didn’t have buttoned-up parents who wouldn’t talk to me if I had asked– quite the opposite, at least in regards to my mother. I could draw definite parallels between Ana’s parents and mine. I learned more as life went on, from movies and books and keeping my ears open when others had those kinds of conversations but it wasn’t until I started reading erotic fan-fiction that I really became educated. did I mention I was 30 years old by that time and the mother of two children? yeah. so I can relate to Ana. I can relate to her curiosity, to her self-worth. I can relate to her romantic notions, and the longing to be noticed by someone who wasn’t a friend first.
Why did I avoid the movie? well, first and foremost I was embarrassed to see it in the cinema. I didn’t want to see it with someone because I would have been too conscious of their body language, wondering whether they thought it was ridiculous or not. I didn’t exactly want to see it alone either–the stigma of a middle-aged woman going to see soft porn alone at 10 am on a weekday morning! I was tempted, mind you, but I never gave in, opting to wait for the dvd release instead. that occurred this past weekend. part of me wanted to run out and rent it on the first day but then Husband said he’d watch it with me. umm…maybe I should see it myself first? again, the worry of having to defend what was on screen to someone who wasn’t familiar with the whole story beforehand.
I was apprehensive for other reasons too. fear that it would be less-than-satisfactory, like most of the Twilight movies. fear that it’s similarities to Twilight would distract me too much (I was a fan of the fanfiction form first, so the changes tend to stick out to me like a sore thumb) fear that it would take the character I loved (Christian/Edward) and make him less, somehow. but here’s the thing: it took the character I loved, and made him more.
Christian was softer in the movie version, more methodical than mean, charming than suave. he seemed more mysterious than closed off, at least at first. it was easy to see why Ana would be drawn to him and why she wouldn’t have run away screaming when she found out about the playroom. he was trusting, through all of it, until the very end when the darkness finally peeked through. the movie version made it more clear that Ana thought it was a game. she thought it was odd, but exciting. she liked teasing Christian, flirting with him and testing his boundaries. slowly she started to see that it wasn’t a game but by that time she was in over her head.
I thought Dakota did an excellent job portraying Ana. she made her playful and ditzy and adorable, but with a sense of self that was admirable. I can easily see why Christian was captivated by her, why the darkness inside of him craved her light. by the same token I thought Jamie did a fine job portraying Christian, though his strong points were more subtle. I was impressed with the scene in the coffee shop when Ana said she was a romantic: Christian’s eyes lost their light and you were able to see a real emptiness there almost instantly; that was impressive. I also appreciated the fine balance of drawing Ana in and then pushing her away.
The movie itself was visually pleasant to watch. the wide shots of Christian’s apartment with all of it’s classic modern lines, and the rich sophistication of the playroom with all of it’s reds and golds. the sex scenes were tastefully done, though I felt they were a bit choppy, not having enough of a lead in or cool down. I particularly enjoyed the montage of playroom activities that flitted between Christian and Ana using the ceiling grid and shots of Ana’s body being caressed by the riding crops; the background music really enhanced that scene (as did the Sinatra song during the dance scene).
All in all I felt the movie was cute, more a fluffy romance than taboo erotica. I wasn’t expecting that kind of tone going in but I liked it. I liked that it started light, touching upon the mysterious, before transforming into darker angst. I didn’t like that we were just getting a taste of plot before it ended abruptly. that’s how the book was, so really they had no choice but to end it there; it was still frustrating (the fanfic version was two installments vs the published version’s three. I’ve always felt that ending the first book where it did was a blatant marketing ploy).
The next movie will have more plot and we’ll get to see more of the darkness that Christian has been keeping locked inside of him. Ana will be riding an emotional rollercoaster and so I look forward to seeing how this version of her character will approach that. a new screenwriter and a new director will be coming on board though, so I’m apprehensive once again (the screenwriter is the author’s husband). at least I can stop wondering whether or not I would like the movie. I did like it and am off to watch it again before my rental runs out…
Once Upon a Time the Twilight fan-fiction community was my happy place. Countless big name fics were updating weekly. Internet sites dedicated to Twi fanfic regularly reviewed stories, interviewed authors, held contests, and promoted charity drives. Lively discussions about the stories took place on forums, blogs, and Facebook pages. The community had it’s fair share of drama, don’t get me wrong, but there was an order to things- a balance. And the world kept spinning on, the way it was supposed to.
Every once in awhile someone would come along and try to spoil my happy place by calling out the main fan-fiction hosting site on it’s Terms of Service regarding explicit adult content, causing some of my favorite stories to be yanked from the site. The authors would counteract this by creating their own blogs for the beloved stories and fans would flock there to read them, while waiting for the drama to die down on the main fanfic site and the rules to lax once again. The order and balance of things altered to accommodate- and the world kept spinning on.
There were so many stories to read, that Index sites started popping up to keep track of them all. Review blogs kept up to date on what was happening with the popular fics and their authors, and alternate fanfic hosting sites were created to better meet the needs of the Twilight community; bypassing the content guidelines issues- balance was restored and it was good.
I was a Twilight fanfic devotee, living and breathing the many forms of Edward Cullen. He was one fictional person but many at the same time. He became my ideal and I loved him. I was learning so much about myself from reading the stories he took part in. The pop culture aspects were fun, the social and economic aspects were informative, the psychological aspects were vastly interesting, the intellectual and literary aspects were beneficial, and the sexual aspects were enlightening-especially for a shy yet strong willed “good girl” like me.
Soon a new story started to get a lot of buzz within the community. It was a BDSM fic called “Master of the Universe” (aka Fifty Shades of Grey). I steered clear of it at first because although I had read some BDSM themed stories previously, they weren’t really my thing. Fellow readers assured me that this story didn’t follow the classic “collared submissive” storyline, not really; it was more of a love story. Well, okay. I guess I can give it a go. I found rather quickly that I did indeed like the story. It was more about Edward’s (Christian) tortured past and whether or not love could save him. The Bella (Ana) character was curious about the taboo lifestyle but it was him that she was drawn to, him that she couldn’t resist. How far was she willing to go to win him-how much of herself was she willing to sacrifice to keep him? I was firmly on board and waited impatiently for weekly updates, along with everyone else. But towards the end of the story, suddenly previous chapters started disappearing and the window of time to read current chapters before they were no longer available, was getting smaller and smaller. Oh here we go with the Pull to Publish bullshit again!
Something that had been happening more and more within the fandom at that time was that authors of popular stories were trying to get published out there in the “real world”. At first it was a minor issue that didn’t really touch many but the authors themselves; going through the process of endless edits and revisions just to get a publisher to consider you was time consuming and not something that warranted removing the fic from public view until you were much further along in the process. But then Independent publishing companies, some with ties to the Twi fanfic community, started to appear. Now a fanfic author could get their story into print, with real pages in a book format or downloadable in E-Book form, with much more ease. Several of the older stories started disappearing because even though the authors had to revise and edit for copyright reasons, the stories were still similar enough to the original Twilight that the fanfics had to be removed from public view. What a bummer! On one hand, I was happy for the authors in their achievement, but on the other hand my happy place was getting smaller because of it.
So when Master of the Universe seemed to be on it’s way to a similar fate, it should have just been bunched in with all of the other authors who were doing the same thing; but this time was a little different. This time there was very little revising and editing involved-with no traditional editor to answer to only proper names were switched out, some descriptive adjectives added and a few minor scenarios tweaked. The story itself was a good one but the writing could have benefited from an editor’s expertise. This didn’t matter all that much in it’s amateur fanfic form because the purpose of the fan-fiction world is to provide a safe haven of sorts, an atmosphere of learning and growing, in order to perfect one’s writing voice. But in this case, when a traditional publisher did come along they chose to keep the story in it’s rough form. This added an integrity angle to the ever growing issues surrounding the story’s journey into the real world. And an ethical one as well: because the storyline, no matter how far removed from vampires and werewolves, clearly still followed the plot path of Twilight. Fans started splitting down the middle- those who were loyal to the author and her story and thus willing to follow it where ever it ended up, and those who were loyal to the community and the spirit of what fanfic was supposed to be grounded in.
The Twilight community was dealing with it’s own issues and incidents of drama at the time, so if you happened to be involved in both communities, the burden was becoming a little too heavy to bear. One “Big Name” fanfic author had had enough, all the way around, and wanted out. This author chose to set the record straight on some things, go out in a blaze of glory, before she bowed out for good- and one of those things was sharing who she knew the writer of the Master of the Universe story, aka E.L.James, to really be. Her claims painted Ms. James as someone who didn’t care about the fanfic community where “Fifty” was born, didn’t understand how or why it worked, and had never been all that interested in trying to adapt-someone who had dreams of making it big and was using the fanfic community to get her there. The Big Name author chose to release private conversations between herself and E.L. to illustrate her claims. A shitty thing to do, some might say, but what those conversations showed was the last straw for many in the community. Where had my happy place gone? Was it all about money and fame now? Had it always been and I just didn’t realize it? The readers were sick of getting yo-yo-ed around and a big portion of them threw in the towel. The blogs dedicated to reviewing fanfic were focusing more and more on the flourishing YA genre in traditional publishing instead; it was safer and more readily available. The Index sites couldn’t keep up with the ever changing information that the Pull to Publish trend created: tracking down story locations, knowing which stories you were allowed to feature and which ones you weren’t, what the published stories and authors were now named, etc. etc. And a new normal, a new balance, was struggling to be found. It wasn’t my happy place anymore, and so I left.
I still read Twilight fanfiction from time to time. I enjoy my fanfic Edward too much to give him up completely! but I read completed stories only now, ones that fly under the radar and don’t have huge followings. I play it safe.
So when Fifty Shades of Grey took the world by storm, I struggled to keep my bitterness at bay. I did still love “Fifty”, even if he’d changed his name to Christian. It was odd seeing so many go ga-ga over him years after I did, to have them implore me to read the book and then watch them fidget as they try to explain it to me while skimming over the fact that it’s actually Erotica…I think a lot of people genuinely didn’t know that it was racy in content, until they read it. The word of mouth and promotion campaigns that I had seen conveniently left the Kink label out- ah, the world of marketing! I moved on to another fandom and my PDF copy of Master of the Universe got shoved into a folder and collected dust. Then “Fifty” signed on to become a movie star, accumulating new drama all his own- the politics of respecting women, misrepresentation of BDSM communities, the popularity of “Mommy Porn” and whether it should be shamed or celebrated, not to mention the general drama that happens behind the scenes on any movie set. But underneath it all, he was still Fifty-the one that had been the topic of many a discussion between my fanfic friends and I as we quoted him, photoshopped him, shared inside jokes about him; it was the same Fifty.
In the end, I’ve had to let all that past history go. Did I really care about all the baggage that went with it anymore? Nah, not really. It was what it was in a time that has since passed for me, in a fandom I’m no longer involved in. The fanfic community didn’t fall apart because E.L.James decided to try and make a name for herself. Just like the Twilight community didn’t fold because “real life” Bella made some not-so-wise choices. Both communities were in the process of dismantling long before those incidents happened. I needed someone to blame though, so E.L.James stepped into that role for me. I’m over it now. It’s not so important to me how she got where she is. I’m finally willing to let the bitterness go and enjoy seeing Fifty have his moment a second time around, on a much larger scale this time. Do I want to see the movie? Hell yeah, that’s my Fifty up there on screen! And better yet, he now looks like Jamie Dornan- win/win!
So why hasn’t my bum been in one of those theater seats yet? Because “good girls” don’t watch skin flicks in public, they do it in the privacy of their own homes when no one is looking. Because just like the story was in it’s fanfic form, it’s dirty and it’s wrong, and it’s “fifty shades of fucked up”…which is what makes it all the more thrilling!
I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold out for the dvd, the anticipation is strong. So I might see it in the theater eventually-preferably alone and sitting towards the back. In the dark…