Thursday, June 10, 2010

about failfen, failfans, facerailing, and facerailers

Failfen and failfans both mean "fans of fail." Fen is an old scifi fannish plural for "fan." Lately, so many people are fans of fail—there's even a failblog—that it just seems like time for the new words.

Brad R. Torgersen coined facerail:
The word rail when used as a verb means, “to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against.)” During RaceFail, such railing was the hallmark of the discussion, with the self-appointed guardians of SF community political propriety railing at length against various authors, editors, publishers, other fans, and so forth. The attitude was one of, “in your face!“
Facerailer is useful because there's not a single subject or community to identify the subset of the scifi community that rails in the many Fails. The core group once centered on LiveJournal and Wiscon, but many have migrated to Dreamwidth, and some have never been to Wiscon. They became most visible during Racefail 09, but they were involved in earlier and later fails that had nothing to do with race, so facerailers or failfans are convenient names for them.

I also like facerailers because so often when I hear what failfans have done, I want to facepalm.

Added 6/11/10:

The most objective place I know to see what failfans are excited about is Fan History Wiki. Unlike the failfan sites, Fan History lets all sides add to the record. They've covered:

But no one site can keep up with failfandom. If you don't mind one-sided histories, Anti-Oppression Linkspam Community is useful, though it's currently on hiatus.

Some especially amusing fails:

Amanda Palmer and Ableism: Failfans do not believe in writing about conjoined twins.

Amanda Palmer and the KKK: Failfans do not believe in joking about the Ku Klux Klan. Whether you can joke about Nazis has not been determined. Hogan's Heroes and The Producers were before the failfans' time.

Mammothfail: The premise of an alternate history novel: Humans never came to the Americas until a few centuries ago. Failfans think this is genocide, even though the descendants of the people who came to the Americas are alive and well in Asia in that history. Whether alternate histories like The Man in the High Castle in which the Nazis won are anti-Jewish has yet to be determined.


  1. Facepalmers are those of us who -- upon encountering facerailing by failfen -- can't believe that grown people still act like this.

    Some of these tactics and these thought patterns you can recognize in gradeschool behavior. Especially the clustering cliquishness wherein friends must all be friends of the same friends, and if anyone is caught friending an unfriend, then that friend risks being defriended in kind. Conformity of feeling must be enforced, by golly.

    Seeing this crap iterated on an adult scale by supposedly mature people... As you've said, color me cronkled.

  2. Mature people? I'll sidestep the question of whether anyone is truly mature, but when Tempest and Kynn referred to me as "Shitterly," I had to laugh. I can't remember exactly how old I was when I first heard it, but I know it was the insult-of-choice when I was in fourth-grade.

  3. I really think that "before the failfans' time" has a significant amount to do with all this. I'm not talking about age (even though I'm an old broad, this isn't a case of the oldster complaining about them young'uns), but about whether or not they were alive, and if so old enough to understand, when certain events in the past took place.

  4. Yeah. In thirty years, they'll get it. Or they'll be clueless old fogeys and still not get it.

  5. I agree, youth appears to be a significant factor here. I also have the overwhelming sense that many of the failfen have been, and are, enormously sheltered. Ergo, they appear to suffer tremendous emotional distress over the idea that somewhere, somehow, someone is thinking thoughts which do not jive with the "correctness" of their own thoughts. This is, apparently, an intolerable situation, so they launch blog wars in a quixotic effort to 'stop' the incorrectness.

    Again, not precisely the behavior of what I'd nominally call mature adults. Sure, get mad, fine. Everyone is entitled to get angry over stuff. I think that's just part of being human. But the failfen take it a step further and try to silence, shout down, or otherwise damage those whom they target. In a real-world sense. Thus having an 'incorrect' opinion is worthy of real-world punishment, threats, stalking, etc.

    How can you not look at that sort of behavior and not conclude that too many failfen are, for lack of a better word, whacked out?

  6. I keep noticing the schools they come from, and "sheltered" covers that well. There are exceptions, of course, but they enjoy the bit of authenticity they bring to the group.

    I wouldn't call them whacked out. "Indoctrinated" seems closer: they've been given a model for understanding the world that works if you don't look too deeply, so it comforts them. Hmm. Sort of what Marx meant by opiate of the masses, though when he said it, opium was a medicine that was used to ease pain, so that isn't as harsh a statement as it sounds like today.