The best Bleach pairing art coming out of Japan right now is (arguably) UlquiHime stuffs. Here's something g-g-g-g-gorgeous by an American artist who doesn't draw like everyone else who does anime fanart. I'm crazy for her style, the depth in her tones, the little stories in her pictures. Oh look at this! Look at this!
The Bribe by lookingback7
And I'm on vacation so I was late to get the news but pardon me while I spaz with joy:
SZAYEL WILL SING!. The next Bleach superstar! Bleach Beat Collection 3rd Session: Szayel Aporro Granz Vol. 06 due out March 5, 2008!
Now, to a more somber subject. Is it just me? Or is every other cranky fan shaking his or her head and going "there goes the neighborhood?" Did fandom cynicism hit me later than most? I've been in the Bleach fandom around 5 yrs now, so I think it's my perpetual naivete being whomped on the head every now and then. I must have reoccurring amnesia. I should've learned my lessons from my previous fandoms or from my tippy-toeings on Naruto boards
... or from freshman year in union cafeteria.... (warning: long obsessive rant ahead)
I was seventeen or so when a nineteen-year-old I adored, a fairly gorgeous and accomplished young honors student who dressed so cool and always said the right things, suggested that we start a rumor about this girl (someone we both disliked) having an affair with one of her professors. I thought she was joking at first and laughed loudly in reverence of her awesome wit, but then she told me who to tell and what invented details to spill and how the rumor could best be smeared across the humanities departments for optimum effect.
I'd apparently missed taking "Bitchery 101" so I was floored.
It was a long while before I ran into anyone like this particular demon in college but some years later, every fifth fangirl I encountered on the internet seemed to be some version of her. Is it just me or are girls getting nastier? Or is the phenomenon just more talked about in books like Odd Girl Out and Mean Girls?
The forthright dumbness or insensitivity of some fans doesn't faze me. Tell me my favorite character is a frootie or my pairing sucks camel balls and I don't bat an eye. What always makes be blink (and die a little inside) is the relentlessness of some anonymous smear campaigns and fandom memes. One really has to wonder about people who will go to such lengths as to make laundry lists of things they hate about some fic writer or blogger.
But la-de-dah, I was above all that. I repeated to myself: it's only fandom; people are weird; just forget it, oh look!--there's a fanart of Grimmjow's bare chest!
The phenomenon that grabbed me by the heel and dragged me into the quicksand was rep-spamming. I was premenstrual when some fans of a particular ship (yeah, and one I happen to dislike) over at my favorite board started mass-repping one of their own for such inane posts as "Vote for the bird that best represents our pairing!" and managed to kick some fangirl from nowhere into the top five board reps. Some of the people booted from the top positions just happened to be friends of mine who regularly--that means for years in some cases--had been contributing to the fandom with diligent, delicate translations from Japanese and Chinese and who had organized events, contests, clubs and all sorts of laudable stuff. I was premenstrual so I'm going to claim the LOW LEVELS OF NACHOES in my bloodstream as my legal defense for how I responded.
What follows herein are the confessions of a REP-WHORE.
But first, the long answer I gave to someone who asked me what forum reputation points were:
Repping is giving reputation points. At various fan forums, to encourage more intelligent discourse or I don't know what--maybe its just a forum game--there's a system whereby you can give posters points for posts. People are pos-repped for astute observations, funny remarks, witty signatures, the posting of valuable spoilers or translations or elucidations of fan material. People are neg-repped for combative behavior, stepping outside the lines of fan propriety, insulting other people, being general trolls or sexist smartasses, sporting offensive icons or making pointless dumb comments. People will neg-rep you if they disagree with you sometimes. Shippers tend to be particularly nasty and take any remark that questions their intepretations of canon characters as a threat against their right to enjoy fandom as they please (I think that's why I get neg-repped a lot? Or maybe ****** was just playing with me today. Three neg-reps this morning). A moderator can overrule or nullify a neg-rep as having been given unfairly. People with more reputation have more weight assigned to their own judgements of others' posts. Like, I have a fairly high rep so if I pos-rep someone that person will get twenty points more than if that person were pos-repped by a newcomer to the forums. I don't really follow the numbers or watch how they play; I do read all the comments that are made with pos-reps or neg-reps people give me.
I pos-rep posts all the time. I've never neg-repped. If I've got an issue with someone's post, I take it out with him/her in the open or contact a moderator (I've reported only a couple posts in my history at Bleach Asylum--one time I told one on some guy who had some anti-lesbian sig that I think violated TOS. This morning I reported someone I believed was just being a dork---hey, but I was sensitive this morning. I should've left it alone. Most of the time I have a sense of humor about being a fan.
Anyway, that's the social life of fan forums. Great way to distract oneself from RL. The rep system is sometimes petty, usually benign, often abused and often ignored. Another Bleach forum I frequented got rid of it altogether because the mods were sick of dealing with it.
A friend clarified my points thusly:
Repping is a way of stoking your ego that occasionally backfires on you.
Another pointed out that repping is a nice way of thanking people for giving the fandom a useful translation or pretty art and at its worst, it's a stupid popularity contest.
Enter my initiation into "Bitchery 101." At first it was fun. My friends were all doing it. I felt justified in repping posts to the maxium allotted per 24 hours because on this particular board and in my particular FCs there happen to be a lot of smart, witty, talented people. I fricken clickety-clicked that rep button like no one's business in retaliation for some dumb girls (no, not teenagers--ever notice how the most bonkers people in fandom tend to be sex-deprived females in their 20's?) throwing rep points like candy at their own friends.
It was the holiday stress and the unavailability of salty processed foods in my time of need, I tell you.
I tried to stop. I tried to get help. I posted at one point:
The best advice I've gotten recently is for the IchiRukis to keep doing what they do best--producing art, fic, graphics, and posting AWESOME INSIGHTS and being awesome--because "true reputation" doesn't come in points or keyboard clicks that can be given gratuitously--it comes from the strength of the IchiRuki fandom itself--it's a rich, beautiful, lively, fun, talented fandom with so many intelligent and lovely fans. I'm happy and proud to play here!
And then again I posted, obviously in a state of delirium and salt deprivation:
I was wildly repped for those posts. <.<
At this point, I'm trying to maintain the Buddhist detachment of my friend syneiam who laughs at fandom and doesn't seem to worry too much when she's hated on or neg-repped for "elitism."
One friend asked me recently how I can stand forums, period. I was immediately ashamed of my fannish weakness but then noticed that SHE haunts y!gallery complaints from fangirls who struggle to understand the posting rules, so I guess we've all got our weaknesses. (<3 to emlan !)
That, and I also want Aizen to take charge of the throne that has for too long been unoccupied in Heaven and for Aizen to make the universe more fair. Like Tousen, I will continue to rep for great justice.
Oh, and because I still think the whole Nemu-rape topic is still worthy, here's a link to a friend's post on the subject:
Not Tonight Dear, I'm Disgusted