Following on from Fandom as Exploration, what if you do decide to try and tackle some issues in your fan-based work? It can be quite a daunting prospect to consider exploring something as serious and emotive as say addiction or feminism or teenage pregnancy. This is regardless of whether you have personal experience or professional knowledge of the issue in question. But don’t be put off, hopefully these tips will give you enough confidence to set off down the road of exploration.
- Do the research: Even if you think you know there is to know about the issue, it doesn’t hurt to take some time to find out a little more. There is a wealth of information out there that you can use including statistics, case studies, personal testimonies and of course the work of other fans. Sometimes, it can be the case that there is information overload, particularly when using the internet. Select and utilise your sources carefully, try to ensure that they are as credible as possible. For example organisations such as the NSPCC (UK based charity) are more likely to have accurate and up to date information on the mistreatment of children.
- Flag appropriately: You should present your work in as honest a way as possible, you are more likely to receive a negative reaction from your audience if they click on your work with false expectations. Use whatever systems are in place to flag up the content of your work and warn your potential audience of the issues and themes involved. That way they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to continue and view your work.
- Pay attention to rating systems: Following on from the last point, one useful way of warning your audience about the nature of your work, is to use the ratings systems on the relevant website.
- Mind your language: Try to handle the subject matter in as sensitive way as possible. It is always worth bearing in mind that some of the issues you are exploring may be a reality for some of your audience. Language is always tricky, there isn’t a general consensus on what is and isn’t appropriate, some people may find the use of a particular word highly offensive whereas others may think it is appropriate to use within a certain context. Ask yourself whether you need to use that particularly provocative word or sentence. Does it play an integral role in what you are trying to achieve? Or it is simply for shock value? The same message can be equally applied to images.
- Be prepared for different opinions: It may be the case that no matter how many warnings you put in place or how carefully you try to explore the issue, other fans may disagree with or even dislike your work. Even if you think they are in the wrong or that they simply don’t understand what you are seeking to achieve, try to remember that they are free to hold opinions which are different from yours. Instead, focus on those who have enjoyed or found meaning in your exploration.
Red Hamilton (loves doing her research, mmm knowledge)