La Cosa Nostra (This Thing of Ours)
by Victoria P.
In response to this post by cathexys, I mentioned that fandom is a very me-centric experience – I want fic I like, and I want my favorite writers to write it for me, and not waste their time writing that other stuff I don’t like (because who cares what they want, it’s all about me). But fandom is also a community, a shared experience, and it made me think of the expression la cosa nostra which means "this thing of ours." Which is also, as you know, a term for the mafia.
And then I started thinking about how oddly fitting a term "this thing of ours" is for fandom, how similar in many ways it is to the mafia. (As portrayed by the American media. My firsthand experience with the mob is growing up knowing a guy who knew a guy who knew somebody, and seeing the old soldiers sitting around the social club on 101st Avenue. I grew up in Ozone Park, which was Gotti territory, and his youngest son went to my high school [after I graduated], so there were always stories, but nobody knew anything, and well, that’s all beside the point now, isn’t it?)
Anyhow, aside from executrix's apt statement that quite a lot of fic is about going to the mattresses, there are some amusing parallels.
Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in
You may come and go from any specific fandom, but once Fandom itself has its hooks into you, you are in it for a good long while, and just when you think you’re done -- “ah, no more Buffy, no more Angel” (or whatever) -- your dear fandom friends pimp you into something else. Because fans like the life – we enjoy fandom, we are obsessive about things, we get attached, and we often feel at loose ends without a fandom to squee about (ala Henry Hill in the witness protection program: I'm an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.).
Never let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking.
There’s a thing called omertá, which is the code of silence of the mafia family. We have very similar things in fandom. You do not out someone to their friends/parents/significant others/bosses. You do not post real names (unless the person uses her real name) or private contact information publicly. These are the two most stringent rules of fandom, and breaking them should result in shunning by the rest of the community (until the person who talked changes their pseud and comes back, ala the witness protection program).
Also, many people remain in the fannish closet, and don't discuss their fannish activities with offline friends.
You don’t hit a made guy.
The mob has made guys (people who have established their credibility and reliability to the family) and cugines (the Italian word for ‘cousins’ - soldiers looking to become made guys; also what the rest of America used to call ‘guidos’). Fandom has BNFs and veterans - people who are well-known, whose writing or reccing or whatever is trusted, and fandom has newbies, people trying to gain attention, readership/audience (of their stories, art, vids or posts).
In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.
In fandom, too.
If you'd come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.
BNFs, cliques, fangirls, minions, etc. There really is no Sekrit BNF Cabal (at least, if there is, I've never been invited to the meetings), but there is that perception, which can sometimes be just as powerful. This can be mobilized for both bad and good ends.
You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me?
Ah, mob wars, street fights, flame wars, anonymous hate threads. Blood feuds that travel with us from fandom to fandom, and very rarely do they ever fully go away. Smart fans learn how to avoid the people they don’t get along with, to avoid trouble that is very much not worth the effort of having to finish once it’s started.
I want to keep it respectable. I don't want it near schools, I don't want it sold to children!
Also known as, use ratings and warnings to keep out the underaged. Don’t bring our activities to the attention of the PTB, no matter how cool you think they may be with it. It’s likely their lawyers will not be cool with it.
Leave the guns. Take the cannolis.
Plot? What plot? We’re here for the porn.
Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.
I got nothing. I just love this quote.