So, Claus Raasted just posted a set of thoughts about “fun-shaming”. I know for sure that my fun might not be your fun, and I’d prefer not to be pilloried for that. Jonaya Kemper wrote a wall of text in response, and rather it end up lost forever in Zuckerberg’s Aether – here it is…
“On the whole, I agree with your article about fun shaming. I really enjoy it. I think we should stop holding our noses in the air about what’s the “real” deal of our hobbies. However, I also think we need to take a step back and think about a few things. Like the intersections of fun shaming.
1. I wished someone has taken a snapshot of my face at KP when I found out that larp was beginning to be more like Game of Thrones (and that I accidentally was beginning to feel like Sansa) and less like the happy fun romp in the woods and fun and games I was used to. I really do. The more I study larp, the more I realize that in our quest to be wanted, we can accidentally and intentionally recreate social and power dynamics that are rather harmful.
For instance, in America there is a tendency for some academics to tell Americans that if they aren’t paying for Cow or NWM, or doing the most extreme Nordic larp, then they are too stupid to understand the concept. If they aren’t studying larp academically, then they are beneath the entirety of the larp scene. I had to explain that Nordic countries kill orcs in the woods, too. I had to explain that larp academia could be useful.
I am consistently putting out larp fires of elitism, simply because I don’t want this beautiful community to accidentally block off some of the most brilliant people…who just happen to prefer you to ask before touching them and who prefer to slay demons with foam. And these people will probably never try Nordic larp because they are told that they’re too stupid to understand it. My personal summer project is running Nordic larps for my friends who hate them. Since I don’t fun shame them and they trust me, I can get an olive branch out. As a community, we need more olive branches and less high horses.
Back to Larp as Game of Thrones and fun shaming. Let’s intersect that with social capital and gender, okay?
As a woman, social capital is a nasty double edged sword that I never want to deal with, but I must. I never want anyone to ever think that I accomplish things because I’m a pretty face. This means, I must consistently and aggressively mention my actual abilities. I don’t want anything handed to me just because I’m “a cool kid”. Like beauty, you can lose that status any time. However, if you’re a generous player and worker who gives to others? If you consistently make a game fun and rewarding for yourself and others? Sure. But how do you put that on the little forms in International larps?
Since I’m studying larp, I have the privilege of trying to squeeze in as many larps as I can in two years. This means I have filled out a lot of larp forms. International larp forms make me feel like applying to college. It’s uncomfortable to trot out a resume when applying to larps. Like, do we need larp CVs now to prove that we are capable of being in a game? Is there going to be larp headshots? Larp videos? Do I need to be an International player to get into an American blockbuster larp? How much social capital do I *really* have? Do I trot that out or do I stand by on my own merit?
In the short time I’ve been larping I have made some massive strides. I’m known for my costuming and acting skills, and folks who’ve played my socio-political games like them a lot. When a friend recently told me I was a “Queen.” I freaked right the fuck out. In my brain, we can all be just as cool when we lift each other up. Maybe that’s the naïve sweetness I have never managed to scrub off, but it is genuine. When I mentioned I was going to Conscience and more than one person told me that some of the best larpers would be there, I freaked the fuck out. Why?
I never want people to think that just because someone is well known for larp, that they are somehow better than others. I certainly don’t want that to be *me*. Hell, it isn’t. I’m just a really nice, very passionate, smart person who just wants larp to be fun and accessible to as many people as it can be. So when folks start to funshame around me, and expect me to join in? It makes me uncomfortable. Their funshaming can be rooted in social status and class hierarches.
When I learned that there are famous larpers and tastemakers? I started to feel a bit strange. Why are they tastemakers? Who can afford to go? Is this why we don’t see more people of color in International larps (probably)? Larp as one big community won’t be that accessible or welcoming if we start replicating social hierarchies that disadvantage the same marginalized communities we claim to support. We can’t look down on Cow players like we can’t look down on the people who play American Boffers. We can critique a larp, but we need to be careful that we aren’t smashing an entire category of larp to bits because it is not our fun time. And we need to realize funshaming is rooted in class and social hierarchy. It’s a pyramid, where only a few get to be special. Someone is at the bottom of the pyramid, and no one wants it to be them. Wouldn’t it better though, if when we realize that we are recreating these structures that we create a more horizontal building? One where more well known people are less unapproachable and elitist, and more egalitarian?
I don’t know, but here is a massive wall of text and and a 1,000 word essay I didn’t mean to write at 8:00 am.