As always, psychic_serpent is made of win. And I want to talk more about what she talked about.
I spent the weekend working with lizzb on a presentation we're giving about fandom. One of the big parts of our presentation will be answering the question "What is fandom?" In three words, we're telling our audience that fandom is participation, for good or bad. Even though I have not read, nor am I going to read, Breaking Dawn (although I will take a moment to say I TOLD YOU SO! because I am above many things but that is not one of them), I have been following the fallout religiously. I could make the excuse that it's in my best professional interest as a YA librarian to do so, but the truth is that from time to time I just like a really good trainwreck. The thing I found trainwreckiest is the fact that fan forums are shutting down during parts of the day and not allowing anything negative to be said about the books.
Twilight fans, if the rest of the YA literature world acted like you did, there'd be no YA literature.
When I think of what makes fandom, my first thought is fanfic. Of course it is, because I enjoy reading and writing fic, and talking with others about the fic writing process. For others, fandom is cosplay, or RPGs. What Liz and I really want to emphasize, and what the Twilight fandom seems to be forgetting, is that fandom can be any form of participation, and that includes talking about a mutual dislike of the books. If a book inspires a strong negative reaction from you, why shouldn't you be allowed to talk about it? Lord knows half of everyone who reviews for Kirkus has written reviews inspired by strong negative reactions to a book. Fact is, there is no one book that is universally liked by everyone. I've even met people who didn't like Holes. I know, blasphemy, right? But if fandom is participation, negative talk about a book is also fandom. Maybe not in the way we think, but it is. It's people interacting over a book's world. I think for something to be considered fandom it does need to be ongoing, so perhaps a one-shot book discussion group doesn't count, but repeated analysis of a book, critical or glowing, is an integral part of what fandoms are. I prefer to do my analysis of a book/movie/tv show through fic. Others write essays. Some post on message boards. In books we love, we have characters we hate. We can find a book readable and compelling but hate many of the things the characters do. That doesn't make us bad fandomers. Authors and their works don't need protection from us.
But maybe we need protection from those who insist that fandom is only about loving a work.