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-Personal blog for Janika Banks.
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

evil will always triumph

Fandoms are both brutal and loving. They are heart wrenching and uplifting. Even though they feel extremely personal, they come to life through sharing.


I remember the days when I used to freak out. I remember the year I pulled nearly all my stuff into private and brazenly deleted great chunks of it, even after I'd talked other people out of doing that exact same thing. I remember what it was like having anxiety attacks or dark feelings about other people having access to my stuff. To this day and far beyond, 1- I will always regret disappearing, and 2- I will always be grateful to the fans who salvaged some of my stuff, saved it, and even translated it before I made it disappear, never to come back.

You'd think being a world class fansite webmaster wouldn't be that big a deal, but I know people who are so huge in fandoms and still so deep behind avatars that no one knows who they are. I've met people who never cross the streams between their public and private lives and trusted me enough to whisper their real names to me, or show me pictures of themselves. Sometimes the only thing keeping some of us out there is a huge commitment to our love for a fandom.

Then there are fans who plunge headlong into fandoms, happily creating without a thought to consequences and then found lying slashed and bleeding on their emotional floors when a gang beats up on them in public. Sometimes the fan pulls back their cool stuff out of hurt and anger, sometimes the gang pulls strings and has it removed, mocking the victim they cruelly threw into shock.

So I understand when fans pull vids into private. It's bad enough that youtube capitulates to license and whatevs (two of my fave to rant about fan raids involve the song The Final Countdown in any shape or form and a clip from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's 'Vacation' by the Go-Gos, the most consistently hunted down and deleted uploads I've ever seen), but when fans yank their creations, weeping and gnashing of teeth go on in little rooms all over the world. Loss of cool stuff is mourned.

I never used to salvage youtubes because I didn't know anyone could. The only reason I didn't delete my youtube account the year I was deleting everything else was because I had two videos uploaded that my niece created, and her original disc AND hard drive had both crashed. I had the only copies. So I just pulled them into private and let them sit.

Just before I came back out public three years ago, I ran into such a cool little seen video in the Merlin fandom that I feared immediately the owner would trash it at any moment. I think it had 112 views on it and was so buried in the youtube search engine that I found it way off somewhere on something like page 23. I had seen loads of videos, but THAT one, to me, was like finding a gold nugget in piles and piles of fan overload. I immediately set about researching how to get that video so that if it ever disappeared, it wouldn't be truly lost. (Wish I'd done that with my own stuff before I deleted it, BAD ME!)

This is that video. I love the detail that went into the technique. Since it has never disappeared, I've never had to replace it.


After I successfully captured that one, I thought Hey, I wonder if I can fix another one of my fave fan videos from years earlier that was super messed up and wouldn't play at all any more on youtube without a horrible screechy noise all through it. And it must have been abandoned, because comments mention it going back years. I downloaded it and whadayaknow, that screech was gone, so it had to be a youtube code glitch. For awhile I was the only person on youtube that had a copy which actually worked. Over the last year or so, youtube must've fixed maintenance on whatever glitched it, because it's playing again now just fine without having to be reloaded. This is the original.


In the old days, videos would sometimes disappear almost as soon as I'd embed them on a blog post, the most irritating disappearance being an Alien Nation fanvid (from the series, not the movie) set to the BeeGees 'Staying Alive'. It was super cute and completely irreplaceable. I've never seen it since. What's really stupid is that Alien Nation was so out of print when I wanted it that I got it from a company that records old shows off reruns in other countries. I have no idea if that's legal or not, but I'm pretty sure the fanvid on youtube was far less innocuous, legally speaking. Alien Nation eps can now be watched for free on youtube, apparently, so whoever had claims on the content, that seems to be over now because it has become public access material or something. The original fanvid was yanked so hard it completely disappeared, as if it had never existed. Usually a vid search will show that something has been made private or the content has been blocked, but there was just no record that vid ever even existed very shortly after one of the actors saw my blog post and started talking to me. I seriously doubt he had anything to do with the video disappearing, but maybe someone else he knew did. Or someone else who knew me who got jealous and pulled the right strings about legal issues, who knows. I've seen that stuff happen before. On an afterthought, it might've had something to do with that actor announcing he's a Republican. Silly reason to poof something cool.

We've become accustomed, as fans with favorite shows going way way back, to being able to access the things we want to watch when we want to watch, for the most part. Well, as long as we've got the money. Once in awhile an old series will get picked up by Netflix for awhile and everyone marathons before it's gone again, like Lexx, or an old series that went out of print for awhile will be rescued by a distributor and reprinted, like Sliders. Once in a great while, fans will come forth and share that they've got something so out of print that other fans go crazy on youtube when videos start showing up, like the old Hanna-Barbera and Sid and Marty Krofft shows. Collecting videos has become as big a deal as collecting songs off the radio with tape decks used to be. Fans grab the videos as fast as they come out and hoard them for when they disappear again. No, I didn't download this one, I'm not that big of a hoarder, but  you get the picture.



I've already had to replace a few Sherlock fanvids. I don't know if I'm spooking someone or if they're being rooted out, since once in awhile there really is a content issue, but the last one I replaced went poof. Usually if it goes private a person can at least see the title and an announcement that the vid is private, but when an embed goes completely blank without any title or explanation, it's been deleted. Who knows why. And when this stuff is happening almost as fast as I'm happily jumping on them, it makes a person wonder what's going on. The really good fanvid creators know how to dance around the limitations and do their own salvage moves, but the fans who don't know the ropes just simply lose their accounts and everything in them. Or they get mad at someone because something was said in a forum or elsewhere and delete their stuff in an emotional power play so no one can have it.

I actually grab as I go and write down when I used what in a notebook. I've learned to do that because I've had to replace so many videos during blog salvages over the years. Fans who worry about others taking credit or ripping them off or whatever usually don't realize they actually cause the situation that looks like theft. It's a compliment when other fans salvage content. When stuff disappears too quickly, I'm not able to give credit during salvage. I see this happen all the time. A great example is the original Adult Wednesday Addams web series, which has been lovingly snuck back onto youtube by various fans after the creator had to withdraw over a legal question regarding character usage.

Before anyone gets all gung ho about ownership, I should remind you that pictures you put on facebook are legally usable by facebook for ads in other places, and there has been debate for a long time whether blogger/google actually 'owns' your blog content since they are hosting it. Facebook has an opt out now (not easy to find), but there are plenty of stories out there about people finding their baby's picture somewhere online, and I'm sure we've all seen the wild variety of weird and old faces that show up in pop up ads. I've found my own content spread across several countries, oftentimes translated into other languages, sometimes used as bait to get people clicking on over to some kind of sales or sex site. Anything uploaded onto the internet is as easy to swipe as recording TV shows used to be on VHS. That's why I'm not that adamant about stamping my ownership all over my own material that I let everyone see for free. I truthfully get more traffic from curious bystanders running into my hacked stuff and looking for more than I do from direct linking on twitter or listing with fan listings. This blog is an exception, although it still pulls in loads of indirect traffic.

I don't steal. I back up content, like thousands do and have for a long time, and we owe our thanks for many memories existing on the internet to diligent fans. I don't take. I give credit every chance I can during the rare times I replace content. My sig shows up on salvage vids now, yeah. because I decided that since I'm uploading grandkid videos now, it's smart to put a sig somewhere on my videos so the content can be identified, although anyone could chop it back off if they wanted. It doesn't mean I claim someone else's work, but it does mean that I rescued it.

This idea of creator ownership is fine, but we've got to be sensible and admit that using two different kinds of copyright material in the forms of both original film and original audio owned by different sources really doesn't give anyone the right to claim ownership of anything except assembly of precreated content into a unique idea, but even that is on a borrowed format (the host) and an idea using other people's ideas. Some of the cleverest fan creations I've seen involve hacking and splicing several sources together into a new commentary or story, if you will, sometimes in such a brilliant way that even the owners of the original content are pleased at this new form of flattery. One gauge of true success in entertainment nowadays is how avidly fans will grab, hack up, and rearrange content. Any original content owner/creator fighting against their own fandoms without recognizing the free promo value in the creativity is foolish, I think.

Case in point- I not only started watching Sherlock because of fandoms on youtube, but bought two complete sets, one on DVR and one on blu-ray. Seeing the first episode on BBCA didn't prompt that, the fans did. I was sold on Sherlock because so many other fans were having such a good time smashing it around into new fan art.

~~~~~~~~~~

Why did I write all that, good question. Discipline. I've been at a pretty high pain level last few days and I needed to focus away from it. Running into a very recently placed and quite suddenly deleted vid set those little wheels in motion, and I started writing to fill up the time while the copy uploaded.

One more thought. The word 'slash' doesn't automatically made a fanvid actual slash. Once in awhile fans will insert graphics or actual footage they create themselves, but it's pretty rare. Just mashing two or more characters together doesn't automatically mean the content is rated any worse than the original content was in the first place. All slash is, for the most part in fanvids, is a signal to other fanfic shippers that here is a new 'ship' to check out. And honestly, I really like this song. I think it's well matched to the scenes in this fanvid.




I could probably write a thesis about getting brain high on violent scenes and how that can lead to (but not always) sexual fantasizing for some people just because the brain is syncing along throwing chemicals around, and that's just how bodies respond to an onslaught of new exciting stuff happening, but I won't. What I will say in closing is that THIS is how I have pulled through so much pain for so many years in my life, THIS is how I've been handling depression without meds or alcohol, THIS is what pushes me back out there to KEEP WORKING. Fans. Save. Me.

Don't be afraid of cool fanvids that make you feel like conquering.

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