Theory

The mediation of fandom in Karin Giphart's Maak me blij

Nicolle Lamerichs

Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

[0.1] Abstract—The plot of the Dutch novel Maak me blij (Make me happy) (2005) by Karin Giphart draws from the culture of online fan communities. It describes the life of a lesbian in her late 20s, Ziggy, who has a terminally ill mother. Ziggy is an active fan who writes and reads femmeslash fan fiction—that is, lesbian interpretations of characters from mainstream series such as Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001). By providing through Ziggy a personal view of fan communities and the genres that flourish there, Maak me blij connects the romantic motives of original lesbian fiction with its underground sister, fan fiction. The novel draws from various source texts and illustrates how fans interpret texts within a wider literary landscape. I use the concept of intermediality to analyze how Maak me blij mediates different types of original fiction (lesbian romances, science fiction) and fan fiction (femmeslash, Star Trek fan fiction) to establish new views on fandom and its construction of gender and intimacy. These motives are not only apparent within the text itself but also within the character of Ziggy as a fan writer with her own original alien characters.

[0.2] Keywords—Fan fiction; Femmeslash; Femslash; Intermediality; Lesbian fiction; Original fiction; Pro fic

Lamerichs, Nicolle. 2012. "The Mediation of Fandom in Karin Giphart's Maak me blij." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 11. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2012.0407.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Ziggy is a lesbian in her late 20s who lives in Amsterdam. She goes to the right gay bars, knows who's who, and has plenty of dates. She is also a geek with a rat named Spock, she writes smutty fan fiction, and she is always eager to check updates of fiction that she likes. Online, she discusses television series, writes about them, and meets virtually with friends all over the world. Although Ziggy enjoys the local lesbian community, fan communities appear to be her real home. She is primarily interested in Star Trek: Voyager and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. Her room is filled with binders collecting the fan fiction she has printed out. Ziggy's life is so characteristic of the fan experience that it is hard to believe that she is fictional.

[1.2] Maak me blij (Make me happy) (2005) by Karin Giphart integrates fandom into a full-fledged lesbian novel (note 1). It tells the story of a female fan and the value that she attaches to fan spaces in relation to the lesbian/queer spaces she inhabits. Maak me blij combines original and fan writing explicitly through its main character, an active writer of fan fiction. The novel also includes Ziggy-written fan texts based on Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001) that depict an original character that Ziggy has created who is half Klingon. Within Ziggy's fan fiction, a common theme emerges of displacement—displacement between the author and reader, and between existing characters pulled from an originary source text and the fan. It is not unusual for characters in fan fiction to behave in fannish ways and reveal themselves through their fan fiction as supposed authors or readers (Busse 2006); similarly, within so-called Mary Sue fan fiction, original characters are often avatars for the fan herself (Pflieger 1999). Maak me blij, however, provides a unique portrayal of a female fan that represents fannish culture as it is lived and experienced. The fan becomes a character who herself writes characters that reflect her own personality, as opposed to a character who behaves as a fan or author.

[1.3] In Maak me blij, original fiction, fan fiction, and media texts enhance one another's meaning. The novel centers around the writing of slash (homoerotic) fan fiction. In much slash, straight male characters are queered and emotionally confronted with homosexual feelings (Bacon-Smith 1992; Jenkins 1992; Penley 1997; Pugh 2005). The term slash connotes erotic intimacy between men; the term femmeslash (also spelled femslash) is thus used to more specifically refer to fiction depicting sexual relations between women. Slash and femmeslash both provide complicated representations of gender and emphases on different types of sexualities, including asexuality as well as same-sex sexuality. Maak me blij integrates femmeslash, blending lesbian-oriented original fiction (the novel itself) and fan fiction (Ziggy's femmeslash). Scholarship on fan fiction has focused on the relationship between the fan text and the media text it is based on (the source text), but little has been written about fan fiction's relationship to the wider literary landscape. Original fiction that has a component of in-text fan fiction, such as Maak me blij, demonstrates the complexity of this textual landscape.

[1.4] Maak me blij mediates different types or genres of narratives—fan fiction, lesbian romance, and science fiction—to query fandom and its construction of gender and intimacy. The plot of the novel draws on the culture of online fan communities, where alternative ideas on gender and sexuality flourish. These ideas can be traced in how the novel represents modern lesbians, narrates its main character, and articulates its romantic plot. I use intermediality—the dispersion of media content across various media platforms—to consider the media as entwined with other texts, both in terms of content and form, within a broader cultural discourse. The term is derived from intermedium, coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1812) to discuss aesthetic modes in various media and revisited in 1966 by Dick Higgins in his manifesto "Statement on Intermedia"; it became associated with the art scene through the artist network Fluxus. The concept has been developed further in Germany in late 20th-century aesthetic and literary studies and is sometimes combined with discourses on intertextuality (Helbig 1998; Rajewsky 2005; Meyer, Simanowski, and Zeller 2006).

[1.5] Today intermediality has again become relevant. Creators of art, media, and literature make use of multiple media sources, either to make a new product or to adapt existing content. With the advent of new media and the interest in combining various forms of media, modes such as opera, film, and novels may now also rely on other media, thus becoming hybrids (Helbig 1998). There is an increasing trend toward intermediality in storytelling, described by Jenkins (2006) as transmedia storytelling, wherein various media are used to tell a number of instances of a story. Each medium retains its own characteristics, and ideally, there is no actual source text because all the texts need to be combined to understand the narrative. The field of fan studies has analyzed the relation between fan fiction and its source text as intertextual or intermedial (Hellekson and Busse 2006). However, fan fiction is best analyzed by putting it into the context of the literary landscape at large and seeing how other genres play a role in the establishment of the fan text, and vice versa.

[1.6] Intermediality is evident in Maak me blij in three ways. First, Maak me blij relates fan fiction, mainstream romance, and lesbian fiction. Second are the novel's references to media texts, such as television series, films, and online discussions; the integration of science fiction, for example, is used not only to influence how the characters relate to each other, but also to narrate the main character. Third are the form of these texts: the novel mediates various types of texts and positions them within, but set apart from, the main text. Some critics classify written text as a single medium and consider it to be intramedial or intertextual (Rajewsky 2005; Lehtonen 2001). Maak me blij, however, features written texts that mimic diverse types of media, such as text messages, e-mail, and fan fiction, which, in terms of style and typography, qualify as intermedial. My analysis is a genre comparison that explores the novel's relations to fan fiction, notably femmeslash, and its original fiction counterpart, lesbian romance. I conclude by combining the levels of intermediality by analyzing how the fan character of Ziggy is focalized.

2. Combining fan fiction and original fiction

[2.1] Maak me blij begins as active fangirl Ziggy is about to leave for Greece with her ex-girlfriend, Adisa. Through flashbacks, we learn that Ziggy met Adisa, as borgqueen1456@gay.com, in the fandom of Star Trek: Voyager. Their first date takes place on the roof of Amsterdam's NEMO museum, which, as Ziggy describes it, looks just like a spaceship. Ziggy and Adisa fall in love. Their relationship is partly grounded in the fan communities they are both part of: "Adisa and I had talked a lot since we met. About Star Trek. Xena. Buffy. Ally. La femme Nikita. Babies, work, friendships. Dinner and politics. The WAO. Sex" (Adisa en ik hadden sinds onze ontmoeten veel gepraat. Over Star Trek. Xena. Buffy. Ally. La femme Nikita. Baby's, werk, vriendschappen. Eten en politiel. De WAO. Seks) (67) (note 2).

[2.2] Ziggy usually breaks up with her girlfriends quickly, but she considers Adisa special. The only negative side to this otherwise perfect romance is that Adisa takes drugs, but Ziggy learns to cope with this. When Ziggy finds out that Adisa is still in contact with her ex-girlfriend, she becomes suspicious and jealous. They go through a rough patch and eventually break up. Adisa, however, refuses to cancel the vacation to Greece that they had booked. While in Greece, Ziggy learns of her mother's death, and Ziggy and Adisa must overcome the logistical problems of leaving the country earlier than planned. In light of recent events, both women are forced to talk things over, and their relationship is repaired.

[2.3] Maak me blij is a work of original fiction, not of fan fiction, but it includes many examples of drafts and snippets of online fan texts that the characters produce, as well as interior scenarios that are narrated as fan fiction. The professional publication of fan texts is a fraught one: fan fiction must often be greatly altered and rewritten. For example, Camille Bacon-Smith (1992) analyzes professionally written fiction that was published in the mainstream press as part of the official franchises of, for instance, Star Trek. Such publication requires that certain fan values, such as queerness in slash fiction, must be downplayed to meet the demands of the media industry's franchise. Another strategy is to change the names of the characters and publish the text as original fiction. One fan, for example, published her t.A.T.u. fan fiction by altering the band members' names and gained success with the story as a lesbian novel (Viires 2005, 168). This was the tack taken by E. L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey, which started as Twilight fan fiction and ended up published professionally in 2012 (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2012/05/the-origins-of-50-shades-of-grey-go-missing.html).

[2.4] Although of course fan fiction may be turned into mainstream works, many authors write both original fiction and fan fiction. Bacon-Smith (1992) notes that fans who proceed to publish original fiction tend to write in similar genres as their fan fiction, such as science fiction or fantasy. Elizabeth Woledge further argues that scholars should not look at slash only as it is mediated into mainstream texts, but rather "from a literary perspective which could draw parallels to mainstream texts with which slash has no direct derivative relationship" (2005, 51). In a genre comparison of slash fan fiction and original fiction, Woledge demonstrates that certain themes occur in both slash and mainstream texts, although she primarily compares the works of authors who write both. In a later essay (2006), she calls the correlation between these genres intimatopia, suggesting that romantic or erotic texts in which intimacy is explored bear resemblances that cannot be fully captured by dividing them into, for instance, slash and mainstream texts. This similarity between genres is clear in Maak me blij.

[2.5] Maak me blij stands out as a narrative about the fan community that positions its characters as fans and integrates fan fiction into the larger narrative. Media portrayals of fans are, of course, nothing new; fans have been positioned as characters in various texts, and fans are often mentioned in journalistic accounts. However, such depictions of fans are prone to stereotypes, particularly of the fan as fanatic (Jenkins 1992; Jensen 1992). The characterization of fans has been discussed in analyses of fan characters (Kociemba 2009) or the integration of the fan community through metafictional strategies, as in Supernatural (2005–present; Garcia 2011). However, these portrayals are either detached from real fan experiences because they ridicule the experience or, in the case of Supernatural, are a nudge to the invested viewers who watch the series. More realistic and personal descriptions of fandom, such as those in Maak me blij, are quite rare.

[2.6] Importantly, in Maak me blij, Ziggy is fannishly focalized without being reduced to a flat, exaggerated, or stereotypical character. Maak me blij voices how fans invest in existing story worlds and, as I shall explain, how this feeds into the performance of their gender and sexuality. Moreover, it connects the online identities of fans to their off-line counterparts. The main relations in the novel—between Ziggy and Adisa, and Ziggy and her mother—are always filtered through their discussions of media texts and fan communities. Fandom is not understood in isolation here as a mere virtual space, but rather is enacted in daily life. It is depicted as a lifestyle with particular values that create social coherence, even if these relations are not primarily founded in fandom.

3. Femmeslash and romance in Maak me blij

[3.1] At first sight, Maak me blij seems to be an autobiography based on Giphart's own experience as a lesbian and a fan. This angle is intensified by the use of first-person narration. Still, it would be wrong to equate Ziggy with Giphart based only on the subcultures they have in common. Lesbian authors have often been mistaken for their characters and their fiction read as their life stories. As Paula Palmer notes, "Readers of lesbian fiction tend to identify the author with the characters whom she creates and to envisage a unified authorial voice dominating and controlling the text" (1993, 38). Although Ziggy is not Giphart, by drawing from her lived experiences, Giphart succeeds in creating a diverse picture of contemporary lesbian spaces online as well as off-line.

[3.2] In Maak me blij, lesbian identity and fan identity are intimately connected, although Ziggy usually introduces herself as a fan rather than lesbian. In her diary, she writes: "Hi, I'm Ziggy and I'm a Trekker, a Xenite (or Bard), and a Slayerette" (Hallo, ik ben Zigy en ik ben een Trekker, een Xenite [of Bard] en een Slayerette) (192). All of these words are slang terms used in fan communities of specific TV series to identify themselves and their fellow fans. The preface to the book properly introduces Ziggy: "Some people watch birds; others write steamy stories about existing characters from movies and television series. That other is me" (De een kijkt naar vogels, de ander schrijft smeulende verhalen met al bestaande karakters uit films en televisieseries. Die ander ben ik) (1). Ziggy is passionate about television series and loves writing fan fiction; when she introduces herself, it is as a writer of fan fiction.

[3.3] The novel integrates fan fiction, especially femmeslash. Although slash has been a thriving genre in fan communities since at least the 1970s, femmeslash gained popularity fairly late when series with strong female leads, such as Xena and Gabrielle in Xena: Warrior Princess (1995–2001), gained a large fan base (Ross 2008). Slash features male characters and is mostly written by heterosexual women. In contrast, femmeslash deals with female characters and is often written by lesbians. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Xena: Warrior Princess is one of Ziggy's favorite series. Her other fandoms, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996–2003) and Star Trek: Voyager, are also among the more popular ones in femmeslash communities; they are still extensively discussed and written about even today. Ziggy, then, is a television viewer who enjoys interpreting mainstream texts as gay and writing her own stories about this. This kind of resistant reading, in which readers read a text against dominant cultural beliefs or, arguably, against the text itself, is an important source of joy in fan cultures (Fetterley 1978). Some scholars, such as Alexander Doty (2000), have understood this to be a type of queer reading that is also partly given shape by the desires of the fan herself.

[3.4] Maak me blij also highlights these reading practices by showing Ziggy's interpretations of television series. She closely rewatches her favorite shows, then reproduces or subverts these motives in her queer fan fiction. The reading practices of fans and the pairings that they support cannot be understood in isolation from the queer discourses in fan communities that function as interpretive frameworks. Moreover, the relations between these characters, and their potential for a more intimate relationship, are often inherent in the text itself. This makes their resistant dimension debatable. Gwenllian Jones (2002) has argued that rather than being actually subversive, slash fiction picks up subtext and motives from mainstream series and should always be understood in this light. The novel also illustrates this point: Ziggy tries to explain subtext to outsiders as hints that are already there within the text. What fan fiction mediates, and whether this is a dominant or oppositional reading, is thus up for discussion.

[3.5] The plot of Maak me blij is similar to the type of plots produced in fan cultures; the novel itself evokes femmeslash. As Jenkins (1992) notes, a typical slash (or, I would argue, femmeslash) story is set up according to the following steps: an initial relationship in which the characters are not together but are interested in one another; a dystopic stage in which they cannot deal with their emotions; a confession of love to one another; and finally a utopia where they are together. The slash/femmeslash plot exaggerates the template of the genre of romance, in which the female character first dislikes a male character, goes through an unsettling time with him, and then experiences a change in her feelings. She learns to understand the hero, and eventually, the relationship becomes intimate (Radway 1984). Maak me blij echoes these romantic motives by depicting two characters who find each other, go through a rough patch, and eventually repair their relationship and end up together. Still, the plot elements in slash, femmeslash, and romance are not extraordinary and can be found as much in heterosexual fan fiction as in gay and lesbian stories.

4. Mediation of lesbian literature

[4.1] As a work of modern lesbian fiction, Maak me blij is an interesting case study. Lesbian writing is as old as Sappho, but it only became a recognized publishing category in the 1970s. Bonnie Zimmerman identifies the genre as texts that have a "central, not marginal, lesbian main character, one who understands herself to be a lesbian" and include sexual passion between women (1990, 15). Studies on the topic remain few and often focus on the Anglo-American landscape, with some well-known works—notably Virginia Woolf's Orlando (1928) and Radcliffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (1928)—receiving the bulk of the attention. Lesbian fiction discusses the problems of gender and intimacy among women, and Maak me blij is no exception.

[4.2] Although some novels may seem prototypically lesbian or queer, defining a text as lesbian fiction has become increasingly problematic. Early studies try to identify lesbian elements in a text as sexual tension between women; postmodern studies reject this essentialism by supposing that lesbianism is a reflection of fluid sexuality—a practice rather than a fixed identity. As a result, lesbian analyses could also be applied to heteronormative texts; such analyses are less dependent on sexual activity and more on emotion (Farwell 1996, 5). Identifying such moments of female intimacy as queer is difficult because they depend on the reader's interpretation. The practice of fans who identify queer subtext corresponds to that of queer readers, a tension that Alexander Doty (2000) points out when he reflects on his reading process as a queer fan. As he explains, in queer readings, certain marginal textual features become "the organizational pivot of narrative meaning construction" (80). A text, then, may have a lesbian potential that its readers seek to explore. This textual openness is what makes defining a lesbian genre difficult. Still, I want to point out some themes in the representation of lesbian romance that resonate in Maak me blij.

[4.3] First, the atmosphere of lesbian fiction can be contrasted to that of other romance stories. Across various media, lesbian texts have been identified as being more depressing than other romantic stories and gay fiction (Zimmerman 1990; Farwell 1996). Although femmeslash is often seen as having similar structures to its (male) slash counterpart, which results in a utopian rather than dystopian ending, this cannot be said of mainstream lesbian writings. Often, lesbians are depicted as uncomfortable with their sexuality and unhappy or depressed as a result. Lesbian novels tell of young lovers who break up, repress their sexuality, or marry men. Palmer (1993) identifies these depressing tropes in current lesbian fiction but describes them as related to a still largely homophobic sociopolitical climate. Even though Ziggy and Adisa break up, Maak me blij has a more positive, even ironic tone that differs from Palmer's sketches and differs from the dominant character motives in slash. In part, the romantic plotline emphasizes reconciliation rather than emotional confusion. The emotional motives in the novel often relate to circumstance and arise from miscommunication and, later, the death Ziggy's mother.

[4.4] Second, unlike much lesbian fiction, Maak me blij portrays lesbians in the gay community but is not about finding one's place in this community. In much original and fan fiction, lesbian characters discover their queer feelings and have to learn to cope with them. Lesbian fiction is often about one's first experiences with same-sex love. Most lesbian novels of the 1970s and early 1980s, including texts in Dutch literary landscape, are coming-out novels shaped as bildungsromans—topics innately tied to feminism and the identity politics of the era. Lesbian fiction was a feminist hub and a space for lesbians to identify their desires (Meijer 1978, 1988). In the 1980s, when lesbian identity was more solidified, the genre moved away from the theme of individual struggles for sexual identity and started to portray the lesbian and feminist community in ways that reflected the shaping of such communities in society. Still, finding one's place in such a community and accepting one's sexual feelings for the same sex still plays a major role in much contemporary lesbian fiction. By contrast, Maak me blij discusses lesbian communities, both online and off-line, but has a main character who already knows her way around them.

[4.5] Third, the story introduces two lesbian main characters comfortable with their lesbian sexuality and their identity as women. Adisa and Ziggy are no butch-femme couple. Problems of gender, transgender, and bisexuality are hardly mentioned, although in the past such topics were often blended with the imagery of lesbian couples (Palmer 1993). The novel portrays traditional lesbian communities, such as lesbian bars or the Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (Centre for Culture and Leisure, a Dutch foundation for the integration of lesbians and gays into society), as static. There, women are primarily linked by their same-sex preferences, although they also relate to each other through, for instance, popular culture. However, the online fan communities that Ziggy participates in are more diverse and allow for different social ties. The novel includes gender-neutral usernames and e-mail addresses: Ziggy, for example, is halfklingon@hotmail.com. Indeed, in fan communities, all kinds of people, no matter their gender or sexuality, write and read queer fiction (Lothian, Busse, and Reid 2007).

[4.6] Fourth, the novel does not reproduce the mother-daughter imagery typical of lesbian literature. Much of that has to do with the fact that Ziggy and her mother have a good relationship that refers to fan fiction and media texts. As Palmer (1993) points out, lesbian fiction often features questionable mother-daughter relationships. In particular, the idea of a Freudian pre-Oedipal phase affected lesbian fiction written in the late 1980s and the 1990s. The concept is a variation of Freud's Oedipus complex (Freud [1899] 2009), in which a child develops its relationship with its father and (in Freud's later writings) its mother (Freud [1905] 1991). In his reworking of the concept, Lacan (1989) explains it as a period in the early development of a child when the child has no language or clear gender identity. A disturbance in this formative period leads to perversion (Evans 1996). Feminist psychoanalytic theory relates this to female intimacy or lesbianism as a displacement of the mother-daughter relationship (Whitford 1991; Gartrell 2000). Lesbian literature reflects on this cultural discourse. The relationship between mother and daughter is often either too distant or too close, and thus emotionally scarring.

[4.7] By portraying a close and loving mother-daughter relationship, Maak me blij criticizes this discourse. Ziggy's mother always supports her daughter, does not disapprove of her sexuality, and motivates her writing of fan fiction. She shows a genuine interest in her daughter's life, and despite her illness, she never complains about her own circumstances. It is because of the illness that Ziggy and her mother are close. "If we'd lived in a Star Trek world, we could've transported her to the toilet, I call out. If she'd lived in the Star Trek world, she might not have been ill, she calls out. Then we would probably not have watched Star Trek together. And the Bold" (Als we in een Star Trek–wereld hadden geleefd, hadden we haar naar het toilet kunnen teleporteren, roep ik dan. Als zij in de Star Trek–wereld had geleefd, was ze niet ziek geweest, roept zij dan. Dan zouden we waarschijnlijk niet samen naar Star Trek kijken. En de Bold) (25). Although the relationship between Ziggy and her mother seems sound and is based on shared interests as well as family ties, it is also partly reversed: Ziggy now takes care of her mother, thus becoming a mother figure.

[4.8] The text hints that the family circumstances were not always positive, but this is never fully explained. The mother character is mostly portrayed as a sick person. She is referred to as "mom"; her name and history are never mentioned, nor is Ziggy's father. It is within the void of the text, then, that the reader gets the impression that Ziggy might have struggled in the past, and that it is only through fiction that mother and daughter can bond at all. In this silence, the novel addresses the drawback of fan communities in which fans use characters as a way of speaking to each other while ignoring other facts of life. Fiction becomes Ziggy's way of escaping the disease that her mother faces.

5. Original half-Klingon character

[5.1] The blending of original and fan fiction also resides in Maak me blij's portrayal of the fan writer. The identity of the fan writer can be understood to be a performative role by itself, an identity that is constructed online rather than one that coincides with an off-line identity (Busse 2006). In Maak me blij, the division between the off-line and online self does not sit easily because the character always relates herself to fiction and actively envisions the fan community that she engages with. Her focalization as a first-person narrator is deeply informed by media texts. In a narrow sense, Ziggy refers to, and quotes from, popular texts. These texts vary from lines from internationalized texts, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charlie's Angels (1976–81), to local ones, such as references to Dutch TV hosts. These references both support the theme of the novel that deals with fan communities and develop the main character. Ziggy understands many events by comparing them to fiction. She describes Adisa's behavior through references: her witty remarks as "a Bart Simpson voice with a Jack Nicholson laugh" (63), her appearance as "clearly a vampire" (49), and her eating shellfish as Star Trek: Voyager's Janeway making first contact with a species (123).

[5.2] Ziggy's own persona is also established in close relation to science fiction texts—more specifically, to alien races—that ground her in fiction as much as in real life. Her name, Ziggy, is an allusion to David Bowie's rock star persona from outer space, Ziggy Stardust, from his 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which is also acknowledged in the novel when a character remarks this. Ziggy identifies with Klingons, a violent, fictional race from the Star Trek canon. Her e-mail address, halfklingon@hotmail.com, hints at this, as do the stories she writes, which often feature her own main character, who is half Klingon and half human. Through this character, she immerses herself in both the Star Trek universe and the real world.

[5.3] Importantly, Ziggy narrates her most intense emotions, like anger or passion, through her half-Klingon persona, often as embedded fan fiction. These inner scenarios can only be understood when one compares them to the popular content that they are derived from. Klingons symbolize intense emotions and violence in the Star Trek universe. The race seems primitive because its people lack self-control and immediately act on lust and aggression. However, the half-Klingon persona is not only Ziggy's fictional counterpart but is also evoked by Ziggy's language and behavior: "'qaStaHvlS wa'ram loS SaD Hugh SljaH qetbogh loD.' It feels great to shout in Klingon. The pronunciation might not be entirely correct, but…" (Het voelt heerlijk om het Klingon eruit te schreeuwen. De uitspraak is misschien niet helemaal correct, maar…) (169). Whenever Ziggy curses, she opts for the Klingon term p'tahk, "pig," rather than cursing in Dutch; her half-Klingon persona narrates her most intense emotions. The novel thus actively uses Star Trek imagery and texts through which Ziggy makes sense of events.

[5.4] Femmeslash motives are also integrated within the narration to describe Ziggy's love life. Ziggy captures the relationship between her and Adisa as one between a half-Klingon woman and the Borg queen—a motive that is carried out further than their e-mail addresses and fan fiction. The Borg are a technologically enhanced, rational people that form communities via telepathy. The Borg's destructive nature and their colonial invasion of space are some of the main threads in Star Trek: Voyager. The metaphor of destruction is further played out when Ziggy meets Adisa and compares her to a vampire, and when Ziggy's mother, when first meeting Adisa, notes that "there is a dark cloud above her" (Er hangt een donkere wolk boven haar) (60). Later in the novel, Ziggy blames Adisa for their breakup and perceives Adisa as literally self-destructive through her drug use.

[5.5] However, it is not just any Borg that Adisa is compared to, but the Borg queen. This makes her more special than Ziggy's previous lovers and highlights her extraordinary features. Adisa is one of a kind. Moreover, the Borg provide a metaphor for Adisa's sexuality: they are cold and asexual, like Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine, and, like Adisa, have a lot to learn about love and emotions. In opposition to this is the half-Klingon, half-human character, like Star Trek: Voyager's B'Elanna Torres, associated with Ziggy (although, strikingly, the character of Torres is not mentioned in the novel). This character is very emotional, which results in strong sexuality but also aggression, expressed as anger or long-lasting grudges. The text thus links the personalities of these two characters with their Star Trek counterparts.

[5.6] These science fiction motives and alien races are not only referred to but are also embedded within the novel as fan text. One example of this is a fictionalized erotic scene between Ziggy and Helen, a straight woman whom she meets in Greece. The scene is written in a different writing style and is set in italic type to differentiate it from the text proper. In it, Ziggy describes the story of two female characters from the Star Trek universe. One belongs to the telepathic Betazoid race, and the other is Ziggy's half-Klingon character, which symbolizes Ziggy herself. Through this analogy, Ziggy describes her love affair with Helen and the erotic tension between them. The beginning of the scene illustrates this well: "Hasty, as if it's urgent. That's how we kiss each other. Like any moment something can happen. Something that can disrupt it. I like it that she is smaller than me. I'm used to genetically modified tall girls that make me seem small despite my mixed blood as a half-Klingon" (Haastig, alsof het urgent is. Zo kussen we elkaar. Alsof er ieder moment iets kan gebeuren. Iet kan het verstoren. Ik vind het leuk dat ze iets kleiner is dan ik. Ik ben gewend aan die genetisch gemanipuleerde lange meiden waar ik in het niet bij val met mijn gemengde bloed als half-Klingon) (138). The fantasy is shattered when Helen blocks Ziggy's advances: "'Ziggy?' 'Yes?' My hands stop. She steps back and breaths deeply" ("Ziggy?" "Ja?" Mijn handen stoppen. Zij stapt van me weg en ademt diep) (139). The narration then resumes a normal style in which Helen explains that she does not want to sleep with Ziggy.

[5.7] This embedded text is a fascinating example of how Maak me blij reworks both the motives and aesthetic conventions of femmeslash. Ziggy's original half-Klingon character becomes a placeholder for events that unravel in reality rather than in Ziggy's imagination. The fragment illustrates Ziggy's characterization as a fan author whose active imagination and passion for fictive texts fictionalize daily situations. Ziggy's fan behavior shapes her sexuality. Femmeslash is not discussed as a separate, online affair but as related to face-to-face, off-line spaces where the fan actively mediates these real-life discourses.

[5.8] The influence of media texts, particularly alien imagery as presented by Star Trek: Voyager, positions the fan as an outsider with her own views of the world. Although Maak me blij seems to celebrate fandom at first, it also reinforced the idea that fandom is a deviant, escapist activity. The novel pays much attention to fandom as a space in which the fan can contextualize a text in accordance with her own life and preferences, but the novel also critiques this activity. Ziggy, as half Klingon, partly fits into society while her other half relies on her imagination. Ziggy's daydreams and fan practices, which often penetrate into her own life, also contribute to the idea that she is somehow exotic. Like Ziggy's mediation of her relationship with her mother, which depends on fiction as a way of softening a harsh reality, the comparison with aliens suggests that the fan does not entirely belong in this world.

6. Conclusion

[6.1] As an account of lesbianism and of fandom, Maak me blij is an insightful work to analyze. This highly intermedial novel relates to popular culture on a number of levels. Maak me blij's integration of femmeslash, lesbian fiction, and science fiction shows that intermediality fruitfully permits textual meaning to be created even as it provides a lens through which to read the fan text. It does not suffice to look at what fan fiction borrows from a source text. Instead, the broader landscape in which a text is produced and consumed should also be considered. Intermediality allows genre comparisons to be made and (textual) cultural influences to be assessed.

[6.2] In its references to and echoes of various different genres, Maak me blij sheds new light on fandom and lesbianism. Via its prominent themes, such as the mother-daughter relationship and alienation, it narrates fandom as a personal, affective endeavor and as something that is exotic and distant—a form of imaginative play that permits connection. The primary relationships in the novel between Ziggy and her mother and between Ziggy and Adisa, constantly flow between media texts that help them perform and voice their feelings and care for one another. Giphart stages female intimacy as a platform of fantasy that is partly mediated through fictional scenarios. Ultimately the novel shows that modern fandom is both deeply personal and deeply estranging.

7. Notes

1. Page references to Karin Giphart's Maak me blij (2005) are indicated parenthetically in text. The translations of the original Dutch text are mine.

2. WAO refers to Dutch legislation that provides financial and legal benefits to ill or disabled people.

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