Monetising Fandom: Is It Wrong?
(BEHOLD, I have made A Heading like in an academic essay!)
I am in two minds about the monetisation of fandom. I mostly do fic which I obviously can't sell to anyone, and I am a poor so I can't afford to buy into everyone's Patreons even if I felt inclined to. (Disclosure: I have one Patreon $5 payment every month, it goes to a guy who makes a game-inside-the-game in Second Life, which helps the virtual community I live in plus he's a pretty cool guy. It is however top of the list of things to cut back on if I need to reduce my spending.)
I come at this mostly from Dr Whom fandom, which has been monetising fandom in one way or another since at least the 90s. (It use to be fairly easy to find old bits of fic by NA/EDA/BF writers online, and some of it's probably still there.) I once got into a fight on Outpost Gallifrey because I called the tie-in books "published fanfic" and one of the authors assumed I meant "they're shit, because all fanfic is shit." I know a couple of people who have gone pro (fner fner) over the past decade or so. It's kind of weird, giving us a sort of intermingling two-tier fandom, but it is what it is. Anyway the main thing is if your job is fandom you can't really critique anyone else for trying to make fandom their job. I mean that's just hilarious, really.
I'm not *comfortable* with monetised amatuer fandom but it does seem to be getting quite common and fan artists have always been able to sell their stuff anyway. Possibly I worry too much about getting locked out as everything vanishes behind a paywall, but that's silly of me because there will always be hobbyists willing to do it for fun and feedback (by which I mean praise, because what kind of masochist gets into writing for the fun of someone saying they suck at it?)
I dunno if I'd monetise my fandom if I could. I can't for various reasons, but what if I could? I don't have a PhD or contract but I can write some shithot metay stuff when I'm in the right frame of mind, not all of which is just repeating other people's ideas as if they were my own. I don't think it's worth paying for though, and I'd feel awful locking out people who couldn't afford it. Plus there's always that slight guilt element at play when you ask someone to support your work and they're not really getting anything in return. I don't want to pass on the feelings of uselessness and "I am so coldhearted" that poor people get when you ask them for money for a good(ish) cause. (Yes, I have indeed unfollowed people on tumblr and the like for linking to fundraisers all the time. Good causes, yes, but I can't afford to help and it just makes me feel bad. My mental health is more important than me seeing problems I can't fix anyway.) (It's worst on tumblr where it mixes with what people call "identity politics" to get people having to list their marginalised identities to seem worthy of aid. WTF is with that? Do you only help people who look(etc) like you? Is that the done thing now? Anyway, I digress.)
Fandom is less middle-class than it used to be (all praise cheap broadband) but I'm not sure it's as poor as people seem to be saying, especially people who have historically had easy access to DVD boxsets and books and cons and vidding/image/etc software and iPods. And the internet, of course. I just don't see enough class-based analysis of things to convince me that most of fandom exists on a knife-edge more than the average of outside society does? I see a lot of "and then we went to see Black Panther at the cinema for the 15th time and..." which makes me doubt some things. There are plenty of poor people in fandom, but we can live with the very good free fannishness that someone will always want to provide. There are *always* people who are willing to churn out professional-quality content for free, because they just feel like doing that or for some political ideal or whatever.
Basically idk. But look words! Lots of them!