So over on pinkraygun.com, my five-parter piece on fans in fandom has been being posted regularly on Tuesdays. The last part posts this Thursday, right before SPN comes back from hiatus.
?I’m glad I finally got it posted, and my editors are pleased with it. But except for a few very lovely responses, I’m hearing crickets. I would have thought, so many fans like to hear and tell stories, what could be more interesting than learning about a fellow fan? Apparently this isn’t true.
There might be a problem with interviews overall. I’ve noticed that no matter who writes them, there’s usually a dearth of responses to interviews. I’ve done them, WorldofHiglet’s done them, Alpha-Girl’s done them, Thera’s done them, Theresa’s done them, and so on. When any of these writers (good writers all), or when I, write anything else, anything at all, there are comments or numbers or feedback or something. And whether readers hate the writing or they love it, the article resonates somewhere in the interwebs.
For example, pinkraygun.com has done a number of interviews with actors on popular shows. I’ve done a few myself, and it is fun and I get jazzed about talking to someone who plays a character I like, and usually the whole experience of talking to an actor is pleasant and fun. The article I write about it is pleasant and fun too, but afterward, the article just tends to sit there. And I don’t know if it’s because readers aren’t interested in reading interviews, or if the interviews themselves are boring, or if I did a terrible job presenting the material.
It might be a mixture of all of the above, because I’ve noticed, after the jazzy feeling of talking to someone with face of a character I enjoy watching wears off, that the answers I get seem rather practiced. Now, I can sure that being an actor with a public face and a career that depends on reputation as well as talent, that all these famous people have been groomed by someone (their PR guy, their agent, their mother, whoever) to put a positive spin on everything they say.
I’m not saying they’re being dishonest, but their answers are rather….ordinary. There’s no grit to them, no life, no passion. I’m not saying they have to give me the dirt, I certainly don’t want that. But when was the last time you heard an actor tell you how he or she really felt? They always say stuff like, “Oh, so-and-so director was really challenging to work with, I learned a lot.” And never, “Oh, my GOD it was really hard, and I didn’t enjoy it! I’d rather stick a PENCIL in my eye than work with So and So again!”
(For actor, you can also insert: director, writer, editor, webcomic drawer, foely artist, set designer, producer, whatever. I’m using actor as shorthand for any kind of person that gets interviewed.)
Maybe the actors are dying to tell us the truth, but can’t. Maybe the actors are just tired of answering the same questions. Or, maybe like me, a lot of readers have read these types of answers so many times, it’s hard to be interested in yet another actor telling us how interesting thus-and-such project was, or how they’re going to start a new line of perfume, or how they’re going to open up their own chain of fried chicken restaurants.
Meta discussions or reviews of books, movies, or shows tend to do better (both on pinkraygun.com and everywhere), and whether that’s because the meta/review comes directly from one person’s head onto the page or, in conjunction with that, there’s nothing less interesting than hearing Person A’s story filtered through Person B’s format, I can’t tell. And I really have no idea.
I know that I don’t read interviews most of the time, and if I do, it’s by accident, because I stumbled across it somehow or someone sent me the link. I find that the format of Q&A makes me drowsy, or maybe I’m drowsy because because I always have a feeling that the answers won’t tell me anything new. And maybe, as has been suggested to me, there’s nothing really to add to an interview because it’s a description of a conversation that’s already happened, and not an invitation to discuss at length.
I know very few interviews that I have liked or can even remember making a point of going to read or to watch. The ones I have read or watched seem…banal and ordinary and I remember thinking that they all sound like they’re saying what they think we want to hear. They come across as genuine…but not, if you see what I mean.
The ONE and only exception to this is ANY interview that Werner Herzog has ever done. I could listen to that man all day long. Check this guy out. To me, he brings a vibrancy to anything he says and I’m mesmerized every time he opens his mouth
Or if you want something really amazing, check out his documentary about Timothy Treadwell, called “The Grizzly Man.” If you can, get the unabridged, three hour version; it’s much better than the shorter one.
But I digress.
I don’t know showbiz and I surely don’t know how it feels at the other end of the microphone. But if fannish readers feel the way I do, in general, about interviews, then I can kind of understand why the crickets are singing as I’m telling stories about other fans.
Except, when Supernatural ends, the question was raised as to what I would write about for Pink Raygun? I’ve been discussing with my editors the prospect of continuing the Fan Whisperer pieces. This time around, I would interview one fan, asking a series of standard questions, and then following up with a series of more personalized questions that would be based on the first set of questions.
But that brings up two issues: First, do fans want to tell their story? I think some do, some don’t, and some don’t care. And second, do fans want to hear other fans’ stories?
I was completely interested and frankly enjoyed the heck out of getting the stories of the people who responded. I was amazed at how different they were, but how they all had some very strong, common threads. We’re so different, yet so alike. And I was excited about the prospect of talking to more fans. And even though there is the spotlights on vidders and writers over at spnrountable, and except for some pieces over at the Order for Transformative Works that focused on a particular work of a particular fan, or elsewhere on the interwebs (I’m thinking specifically about the songvid “Us” by lim), I’ve not yet seen interviews/pieces about fans doing their regular fannish things.Which brings me to my question, and thank you for reading this far: Do you want to be interviewed about your fannish life? And, equally important, are you interested in reading about other fans? When I write stories, I write for myself. When I write for pinkraygun I write with a different purpose; there’s an audience out there, and I’m writing for that audience. Did the Fan Whisperer piece work? And is it going to be productive and interesting to do more of the same?
You can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post a comment; I’d really like to know what you think.