It's not just the story of one woman's often shady dealings: it's a story about *fandom*. - The 32nd Flavor — LiveJournal

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Milkshake Butterfly
Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 06:33 am
It's not just the story of one woman's often shady dealings: it's a story about *fandom*.

So, I've just used up a major chunk of the past two days reading The MsScribe Story on Bad_Penny. Well, the story in itself isn't that long, although it's the most lengthy, deeply researched thing of this nature I've ever seen, so much so I've had to invent my own word for it: the Wankcycle. Think ancient epic poetry.

What ate so much time in particular was reading the comments, the reactions, the unfolding of new evidence and discoveries. I haven't even done it for the newer posts, or all of the older ones. It reminds me of old epic tale-telling in another important way: much like all of the local people gathering together to listen to the storyteller, you've got a huge section of fandom come together over this, including a lot of elements who haven't been in the same general location for longer than a few minutes for a very long time. There's been some healing of old wounds makings of new ones, some bridging of old gaps and widening of others, there's been tears, apologies, vindications, and drinking. It's a party all right, and everybody's invited. Except for fpb. And it's more that he got thrown out of the hall for being annoying.

If you want to know what it's all about without reading through all ten parts (I idly clicked on part five, and ended up reading out of order as a result because I couldn't put it down), you can poke around for summaries in the Fandom Wank report, or go with this:
MsScribe wanted to be a BNF real bad, so she made up a bunch of sockpuppets to alternately flame her, praise her, support her, and flame her anew. The flaming in particular got her sympathy and notice from the major HP BNFs of the time. When the site she set up to take the fall for some of this flaming posted evidence of the fact these socks were all MsScribe, she denied it and those HP BNFs backed her, with the net result that everyone believed those people were persecuting MsScribe, and they got massively shunned. MsScribe went on to make more sockpuppets to generate more wank to keep her in the eye of the public, and was one of the worst anonymice in Charitywank, which the strong of stomach can find discussed here.
Really, you should read the write-up itself: I don't know who charlottelennox is, but she spins a good tale, full of such classic elements as friendship, betrayal, fame, rises to fortune, and falls from grace. And mythical Pakistani women.

But like I said, the reaction to it is equally breathtaking, though a lot less well written-up. The impressive denials, the grudging admissions, the stunned reactions, the heartfelt apologies, the comments that combined both stunned reactions and heartfelt apologies, the vindicated "I knew it!" and "I told you so!" posts, the questions of relevance, the rebuttals about relevance, the ponderings on the nature of trust and identity, and the fact that all-told, we marked off just about every square of Internet Argument-Losing Bingo. It really is astoundingly unifying. And, like so many astoundingly unifying things, also extremely divisive.

But is it true, you might ask?

I've been reading Daughter of the Shining Isles by Elizabeth Cunningham this past week. It's the first book of an interesting series I've been meaning to recommend, one of the most startling takes on the story of Jesus I've ever seen. It's told from Mary of Magdalen's point of view, only when we first meet her, she's not calling herself that: she's Maeve, an utterly barbarian red-headed Celtic pagan sorceress. It's worth noting only the name really changes even after she hooks up with Jesus and the Gospels get going; that's part of what makes it so interesting. (Of course, by then, she's added prostitute, ex-slave, and priestess of Isis to her list of descriptors, and the story of all that is in The Passion of Mary Magdalen, which I read first. As you might imagine, the reviews of this series are rather wildly mixed.) It's a remarkable book and series in a lot of ways, but there's one repeated line in this book which really struck a cord for me, and I found myself thinking of as the tale CharlotteLennox was weaving drew to a close:

"A story is 'true' if it's well-told."

There's a lot of hard facts in the account, and a lot of very sound logic. There's a lot of people coming forward to corroborate evidence, and even a lot of people who initially tried to deny the validity of the accusations have themselves ended up contributing things that confirm it. But for some people, even without the IP evidence about Charitygate that finally convinced so many, it will always be true, simply because it's told well. It's given the attention and presentation needed to make it believable.

And, ironically, that's part of why MsScribe was able do do what she did with Gryffindor Tower--the part where she pretty much convinced everyone that the IP evidence presented against her then was entirely false and made up to persecute her. Her story was well-told, better told than theirs: it had more compelling voices (the BNFs speaking in her support), cleaner lines (the GT admins didn't painstakingly explain all of their evidence, which made it look a bit muddled; I still say a diagram might have helped), a more sympathetic plot, and of course it was carefully crafted through and through to appeal to the assumptions, beliefs, and prejudices of her audience.

Of course, that illustrates the reason why, particularly in this day and age, it's best not to stray too far from what the realities are when you start telling 'true' stories. Because of the two, in the end, CharlotteLennox will be remembered as more true because it's be better told--better told because she included more of what really happened in them, which virtually always strengthens a story. MsScribe's story could even serve example of why authors should try to make their details as realistic as possible: small mistakes, and the CharlotteLennox story contains a number of these, might be overlookable by the readership, even if they know they're wrong, because they don't ultimately sabotage the tale you're telling. But with big ones, with integral ones, as soon as someone who knows better reads it, the story is sunk. Telling things well can only take you so far. It might take a while, you might even be really popular for a time, but hell. So is The Da Vinci Code. (So was Naked Came the Stranger.)

This, however, was very weirdly not what I wanted to talk about when it comes to this at all. I'm going to break for tea--or maybe cinnamon rolls and a nap--and then try and decide if I think my original topic was even worth discussing. In the meantime, click the links, read the story, become part of the story. This is a milestone in fandom history; even if you're not in HP fandom, it's a tale worth hearing--because it's well-told and true.

Current Mood: contemplative going for the other fandom tie-in with the icon, yes


The Nat That Walks By Herself
Wed, Jun. 21st, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC)

Big fat word. That saga is absolutely incredible, in more ways than one. I still want to know who charlottelennox is, but altogether I feel that the mythical storytelling element is even more enhanced by the fact that we have no clue about her real identity--kinda like those old strangers in the old world who wandered into the great halls, sat down by the fireplace and started to spin a yarn, and everyone fell silent as they were totally transfixed...

Except of course the silence is only metaphorical for the attention being given to her; I've seen the comments, yes, and they are staggering.

Thu, Jun. 22nd, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)

So true! That tale was incredibly well written and entrancing.

I've been hearing tales of people thinking that the write ip might actually be MsScribe drawing even more attention to herself, though that seems far fetched.

Thu, Jun. 22nd, 2006 05:49 am (UTC)

I guess it's somewhat odd that I've been noticing you in a lot of communities that I belong to, or maybe not. LJ has the weird habit of being a "small world." But metafandom is the big one, and eventually I found myself clicking on the links to your metas and I've found them...enjoyable, concise, well written. I hope you don't mind.

Thu, Jun. 22nd, 2006 06:07 am (UTC)

You've nailed it. I found myself looking at all the beautiful IP evidence, and I could have cross checked it (although of course, given that she arranged it, I suppose nothing would have stopped charlottelennox from fudging it) and I didn't want to because I wanted to keep reading. It grips the imagination, and that's a close cousin tot "true."