Fanfiction – The Youtube Clip I can’t bear to take down

To this day, there exists a video on Youtube, a video that I’m sure will haunt me should I ever have kids, or undergrad students (They are practically the same thing anyways, aren’t they?)

In my 2nd year of undergrad, I was asked to create a youtube video en lieu of writing an actual term paper. Once I got over the offence of making my participation in social media (effectively compromising my online anonymity by having my face anywhere on  Youtube) contingent to my academic success (pretty sure I didn’t put it quite so pompously back then, and there was a lot more swearing), I decided to just go for it, and go for it I did.

Continuing my quest to write about the seemingly least serious topics possible and see if I could get away with it (a.k.a. have the teacher still grade me), I chose the topic of Fanfiction, a long-term guilty pleasure I shared with a number of my female friends. I think that was the part that initially got me into talking about the topic, that I felt guilty and embarrassed admitting to reading fanfiction out loud and to people I met. It felt like the equivalent of telling people  your walls are covered in Boy Band  posters, or admitting that you could speak Klingon. Some voice in the back of my head told me that most “people” would find it “silly” or “weird”, and I still wasn’t nearly as okay with those labels as I am now. Even amongst Trekkies, fanfiction is sometimes seen as geeky or overly fannish behaviour, despite the booming Fanfiction industry for Star Trek.

As has often become the case over the past few years, when something infuriates me, baffles me, or embarrasses me, I become driven to find out why. I mean, I love reading fanfiction, have shared countless hours of laughter, gossip, and inside jokes with close friends over the imagination of others. I Had seen the truly horrendous, but also the truly magnificent. Why should I feel embarrassed by it, and why were so many people dismissive of what we did? There just had to be more to it than meets the eye.

And so I looked, and so I found. The video attached to this post is my completed video project (I figure I might as well own my ridiculousness). It is in no way a complete look at the topic of fanfiction, but I still think it’s an interesting summary introduction to the topic, and makes the compelling argument for the social and cultural processes that fanfiction readers and writers go through, while interacting with their favourite canons.

Enjoy!

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Grad Student No More – Will that be paper or plastic?

Residents of the Internet, you may now all refer to me as your new Mistress. 

That is all,

Sarah J.

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Actually, no, that is not all. Let me clarify: The McMaster University, in all of the pomp and wisdom usually afforded to a reputable university, has somehow decided to grant me with a Master of Arts degree. Indeed, since we last spoke, I somehow survived grad studies and even passed. A lot of people have been asking me in the last few weeks how I feel about that, and I’ve sort of just been smiling bemusedly and nodding politely. I can’t help but feel like the people I talk to are expecting some sort of profound and eloquent answer about the true meaning of higher education, or some other useless but seemingly impressive crap. The fact is my brain cells gave out sometime at the end of August, and have only just started to recover. And besides, if I were that clever in-person, these posts would be pod-casts, and not carefully crafted and edited written posts, which hide all the awkward moments of silence staring at my computer screen.

So instead I’ll just start my post with a cheeky one liner I’ve been waiting all year to say, urge you to imagine me proclaiming it with the intonation of a true megalomaniac, and move on from there. Irony and arrogance seem fitting in these circumstances, As there is an incredible arrogance in claiming to be a master of something, and and certain hilarity in the idea of being a Master of the Arts. I keep staring at that diploma (or at least the suitcase in which it has been stashed in since my return from convocation) and wondering what the heck that even means. Not in a great big, existential, academic pondering, navel-gazing sort of way, but in a “I honestly can’t wrap my head around what that is even supposed to mean” sort of way. It’s like, so what exactly are the “Arts” I’m apparently a Master of? What is it that I’m expected to know now, exactly? Has this really added anything to people’s experience as I offer them water or popcorn during my latest stint as a temp worker?

I suppose that it doesn’t really matter. I got this degree because it was an excuse to learn more and talk about things that I love, not to stare adoringly at a piece of paper. It is, however, really nice to start in on the month of December and not be drowning under term papers and undergrad gradings. That part is quite nice. The only real problem is, now I need a new excuse to drink cheap wine.

I suppose I could always just remind people that I’m French…

Sarah J.

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An Introduction of Sorts… Or Why I’ll Never Get Anything Done Ever Again.

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Hello out there blog dwellers and fellow cyber-spacians,

My name, should that sort of information interest you, is Sarah James, and I would like to kindly welcome you to my attempt to do anything other than that which I really should be doing. As I’m sure you’ll quickly grasp, I’m a student. A grad student, no less. As such, I live a life of crazy deadlines, imposing reading lists, annoying landlords, never-ending papers, mind-boggling undergrads, wine in boxes, stress, existential questions (read: Oh god, why?), amazing discoveries, frustrating bureaucracies, self-delusions of competence, suspected masochistic tendencies (Read: grad student), and crap television. There are a number of different things I should be doing at the moment, productive things, but I’m an art student. A Cultural Studies and Critical theory student actually, but that title’s a lot harder to poke easy fun at. Mostly cause no one really knows what Cultural Studies is, and really shouldn’t all theory be critical?

In my increasingly creative attempt to ignore that which some might term more productive work (read: homework, thesis proposals, reality), I’ve decided to take action and start the blog I always told myself I should write but never did. It’s funny how many things one gets done in the name of academic procrastination. In the posts to come you’ll find commentaries, arguments, musings, anecdotes and occasional rants on a number of different topics that will hopefully tickle your fancy the way they’ve tickled mine.

This is, ultimately, an experiment of sorts, into what one can do with a venue to create or produce content online. A chance for me to interact with the great digital soapbox that is the internet. I can’t tell you yet in which directions I’ll go or what I’ll do. But I can say that I intend to speak, first and foremost, about popular culture. Because that’s what I do, as a Cultural Theorist, I take a critical look and perspective into the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I get to write term papers on Jon Stewart, Glee, or even fanfiction, and call it academic. I somehow got a BA (with honors, no less) writing about this stuff. The kid in me is constantly fascinated with what I can get away with, because school is, you know, serious, apparently, and Dragon Ball Z is not. And yet it is, or it can be.

So we’ll wait and see what this becomes, a fascinating glimpse into popular culture, or a series of whiny posts about last minute deadlines I’ve probably brought upon myself. Either way, there is only one way to find out.

Allons-y!

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