There are many different Japanese fan cultures, of course, and some are themselves more culturally legitimated than others. Yet even in the case of otaku and fujoshi fan cultures—the former roughly equivalent to American geek culture, and the latter to English-language slash communities—we see slippage between fan and producer subjectivities.

Morimoto, Lori. 2017. “Sherlock (Holmes) in Japanese (Fan) Works.” In “Sherlock Holmes Fandom, Sherlockiana, and the Great Game,” edited by Betsy Rosenblatt and Roberta Pearson, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 23. 

I like this quote partly because it reminds me of how infernally difficult it is to put a name on any kind of fandom/fan community. Take “English-language slash communities.” This is certainly a much better term than things like the dreaded “Western fandom” or “Japanese fandom,” ridiculous concepts that mean absolutely nothing. The use of a plural–cultures, communities–is also a good way to hint at more diversity. 

Still, especially to people in such communities, it’s clear that the concept of “slash communities” has its own issues. To name just one, it pins people down according to the kind of content they favor, but many people in these communities will write/read non-slash works as well. They’re “crossover individuals” between different content-based communities. But what about groups of fans who hang out together no matter what content any of them are currently focusing on (to give just one example)? That’s a very common and meaningful way for fans to interact. How do you name that kind of community? More broadly, how can you put a proper focus on human interactions between fans, when so many naming conventions for groups of fans focus on the kind of content people produce?

And now we’ve arrived at the “What makes a community” discussion, so time for me to run away screaming.

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