Fandom, Critique, and Art

In order to criticize a movie, you have to make another movie.

– Jean-Luc Godard (

Fellow blogger Serdar turned me on to the above quote, which speaks volumes really about media, culture, and profans (and fans doing pro-activity as fans).

I’m a great believer in people practicing an art, be it writing, or music, or drawing.  Some form of communication is worth practicing and even mastering, for the sake of expressing ourselves, understanding how others communicate, understanding how others manipulate, and to create a dialogue.  To have an art is to engage other people.

This is one of the reasons I love fandom, geeks, nerds, otaku, and more.  Many of them are engaged in their art, from fanfic to fanart to fan games.  They are practicing their creativity and communication.

Godard’s quote made me realize that in a way, they’re really engaging other creators in a dialogue and in a critique.

Think of many fanfics go down paths that authors avoided.  Yes at times there were damn good reasons for that.  But still, the dialogue is there, even if it’s more telling about a fans desires or a misinterpretation or a wish fulfillment.

Think of the artists who show characters in new light, from the humorous to the deep to the bizarre.  Each piece of art is a glimpse into an opinion, and analysis, and/or an artists ideas.  Even if it’s just pandering or a simple piece for fun it tells you something.

Fan creations are a kind of dialogue.  Often about the fans themselves and among the fans themselves, but it is a dialogue.  So many of us are following Godard’s advice in writing, art, music videos and more.

In some cases however it breaks into the larger world (even if not always well received). Hasbro’s engagement with the Bronies.  50 Shades of Gray bringing fanfic and taboo subjects to the fore.  User-created content being encouraged by gaming companies.  There are moments the fan/otaku/nerd/geek dialogue breaks out – and it’s magic when it does.

In a way, I think that’s part of what I’m trying to do in my work here and elsewhere – connect people up and expand the horizons of what they do and who they reach.  I want to see the dialogue expand.

Of course I also want to see you make money at it too.  That’s a given.  Seeing what it can be can help.

The fanart, fanfic, games, RPGs, and more are all, in a way, a form of dialogue.  We’re all doing a critique or commentary on previous art, even if we never go as far as Godard and make a movie to critique another film.  It’s powerful and amazing, and it should be appreciated as such.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at