Mundie Moms

Friday, June 12, 2015

MTV News Talks To Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater About Fandoms, Being An Author and More

MTV News shared a great interview this week they had with both Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater about fans, fandoms, and how how female authors can be dehumanized by their own fandom. Both YA (young adult) authors are respectable female authors in the YA community, and are widely accessible to their fans via social media. Neither are strangers to dealing with with the not so nice side of social media. While I've not talked about it here on Mundie Moms, some Mortal Instruments fans may be aware of inner TMI fandom battle that had Cassandra Clare taking a step by from social media. Yes, it got ugly with fans, and that spewed over to Cassandra Clare, whom herself received a lot of hate. 

I'll just say it, social media is a breeding ground to do a lot of good, but it's also a place where hate and dehumanizing people thrives. The recent hate attacks against Cassandra Clare, and fans against fans is what inspired MTV News to reach out to Cassandra Clare, and Maggie Stievfater to talk to them about handling online hate, being apart of a fandom, and more. I highly recommend reading the entire frankly said interview here

Here are a few excerpts from the interview: 

Stiefvater: Now, though, as Cassie pointed out, the Internet climate seems to have shifted — do you feel like it’s different from when you first were an author-in-public, Cassie? Because I feel like there’s a change that hasn’t come about because of my own numbers. It’s come about from the outside. Someone has peed in the Internet pool. There has always been general negativity online, of course, but now even positive things are described in negative ways. I get told all the time by fans that they hate me — but they mean it as a compliment. I suppose it can be argued that both of these constructs come from a good place, a place of affection. But as someone who loves words, I see a culture shift to a place where being enthusiastic and positive is no longer cool.

Clare: I think Twitter has changed everything. It amplifies voices and that’s great when those voices are voices that are traditionally not being heard. But it also encourages snap judgments and witch hunts. Everything happens so fast that there is no time to check facts or moderate virulence. There are so many creators I have seen come onto social media and start Twitters with great optimism only to be driven away. I was talking to one of the writers on the Shadowhunters TV show about getting on Twitter and his response was total horror and “Why would any writer subject themselves to that?”

A Fandom Divided
Clare: Whenever there is an adaptation of your work into a movie or a TV show, it increases the tension in the fandom by 500 percent. It also brings in new people whose primary investment is in the media rather than the books. And it brings in new readers who have discovered the books for the first time. A greatly increased audience is obviously a wonderful thing, and means an enormous benefit to my career, but at the same time all of this sudden change leads to a lot of turbulence and disputes.
Let me give you an example: Some fans were angry that the “Mortal Instruments” movie cast wasn’t cast again in the “Shadowhunters” TV show. When the new cast was announced, a lot of other fans fell in love with them and there was huge bitterness between the people who liked the “old cast” and the ones who liked “the new cast.” Over and over, I was called in to arbitrate, which I wouldn’t do — I’ve had to build up a lot of rules and boundaries for myself to be able to participate in what happens in my fandom to the extent that I do, and one of those rules is not taking sides. I’m a flawed, imperfect person, and I am sure I screw up a lot, but that’s one of my biggest rules. There have been a number of issues regarding the show that have split the TMI fandom. The issue that caused me to leave [Twitter] was my own refusal to “pick a side” in a fight. I do understand that it’s natural, if you believe you’re right, to want people to take your side. I just believe it is absolutely the moral job of a creator not to do that.

Stiefvater: The most aggravating part about being the creator is that even if you have an opinion on an aspect of your own work, you must be cautious about sharing it. Because the creator’s voice will inevitably be louder than any fan’s. If I post about a character in the “Raven Cycle” on Tumblr, no matter how offhandedly, I have in essence pulled out a bullhorn and shouted WAR EVERYTHING WAR GO GO GO. Expressing an opinion shared by one side of a divided fandom can seem as if you have given that side an unfair advantage. But like Cassie said, not being able to take sides is frustrating. The fact is that we write these books and characters and issues because they live close to our heart. Not being able to talk about it feels muzzling.

Clare: For the record, I think my fans are some of the best, most generous, and smartest people around. They make beautiful art, create fun inside jokes, and thoughtful reviews. I am incredibly grateful to have them and I love hearing their feedback and even their criticism. As the fandom grows, however, it is easy for even a small percentage of angry people to overwhelm my inbox or twitter feed. And as the fandom gets bigger, I think some readers lose sight of the fact that I am a person at all and that can be scary. Again, this is a tiny percentage of fans. Ninety-nine percent of my fans are very kind to me and kind to each other. But recently, I came to realize I was going to be called in over and over to mediate disputes to which there was no right answer, and that my not having the right answer would necessarily breed this certain intense type of hostility, so I took a break. Now, I am trying to figure out how I want to move forward. 

Please note that this is only an excerpt from the much bigger interview, which MTV News has posted here. I'll wrap up this post with this quote from Cassie from the interview:

Clare: Obviously my books mean an enormous amount to me and are so close to my heart, so when I see people loving them, living inside them, it means the world to me. I think being an awesome fan also means being kind to other fans, and kind to yourself. Know that loving a book doesn’t make you a nerd or a geek, it makes you special and amazing.

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