“The fan feud is not quite coeval with fandom itself, but it comes close.” —Frederik Pohl
Fan feuds are ongoing conflicts between individual fans or fan groups (such as clubs, concoms, regional or political groups or factions thereof). While they are sometimes quiet enmities, usually the term encompasses much issuing of written rants, diatribes and manifestos full of intemperate language, formerly in hastily cranked out fanzines, but now largely online. (The net equivalent is "flamewar.")
Feuds may arise because of ill-considered words and hurt feelings, often a result of typically fannish social geekiness, because of pronounced differences on fannish issues, or anything else resulting in personal antagonism. Unfortunately, some fans foment feuds deliberately — their favorite fanac is to get up somebody else's nose. Others like to agitate from the sidelines: "Let's you and him fight." A love of sparring has also created mock feuds, such as the Great Staple War.
Some truly epic fan feuds — the 1939 Exclusion Act, WSFS, Inc., the Boondoggle, the TAFF Wars, Sad Puppies, among others — have been pervasive over large areas of fandom, and detrimental to the microcosm as a whole. The phrase "All Fandom Was Plunged Into War" can be quite literal.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|In principle a feud exists when one party to an argument tries to drive the opposition out of fandom, or to get fans as a whole to follow some course he opposes or refuse to follow one he advocates. And the word is also often applied to the mere slinging of bitter words.
The cause of a feud may be an important issue which isn't settled peaceably, such as the failure of Wonder Stories to pay young authors which brought on the ISA-SFL war; or the scrapping over a fan organization which characterized the Insurgent Wars; or it may be something as minor as the rights to the pename Franklin Ford. A number of conflicts we consider as feuds spring from apparently idealistic motivations: opposition to crackpottism in fandom with some of Degler's opponents; ditto in the proz with Palmerism in general and the Shaver Mystery in particular; opposition to commercialization in the TAFF fracas. Or feuds may rest upon differences of opinion or ideology which continually show up in fan writings, as on sociological questions (example: the origin of the Wollheim-Moskowitz feud in the latter's denunciation of Michelism as "Communism".) A necessary ingredient to a feud as distinguished from a disagreement, however, is personal antagonism. (This antagonism, it may be defended, is based on the person's actions and opinions; anyway, it exists.)
"Real" or classic feuds have been the serial Sykora-Wollheim and Moskowitz-Wollheim hassles in New York; Ackerman vs various Bohemian elements in Los Angeles; Degler and the Sane Fringe; Ackerman against Palmer, Shaver, and Graham; and the brawl over WSFS and its Plane Trip. The middle class of feuds-by-usage includes frivolous matter like Pete Vorzimer against the world, intermittent cuss-fests between Gertie Carr and anybody left of the late Arthur Wellesley, and the three-cornered cat-fight between the various NY clubs in 1947-50. Some feuds, like Vorzimer's, were possibly attempts to gain BNF status thru notoriety; results are usually disappointing to people who try this. There are also fake-feuds in which perfectly sensible faaans burlesque the ravings of the fugghead element and sometimes are almost as funny as the real feudists; such was the Chuck Harris-James White feud of 1952 which introduced the zapgun to Anglofandom. In this connection we should mention the Ballard Code.
It was thought by many at one time that fan feuds were a good thing; articles have been written to say so, but apparently the knock-down-drag-out kind aren't meant.
Fans usually take the form of vituperation in fanzines; intemperate language is used by non-veteran fans and was used by the veterans in their wars, words like "lie", "vicious", and "sneaky" being thrown around freely, not to mention the colossal effort to seem merely amused by your opponent's actions. Heat has never risen so high, however, that fans could not occasionally commend a good story or article by one of their opponents, and it should be remarked that when fans meet face to face, they are usually quite fraternal, regardless of the fights they've been waging on paper; the worst usually found is an insulting coolness. At the 1939 PhilCo, after tempers had been rising for some time, violence was threatened by Sykora with the words "You can say whatever you want to about me behind my back, but you can't call me a liar to my face!"; when the Triumvirs tried to eject Futurian visitors from a QSFL meeting in early 1941 there actually was rough stuff; and during his anti-Degler feud T. Bruce Yerke once was at the point of laying hands on the Cosmic One when he, (Yerke), suffered a heart attack [!!!!] But the unfavorable reaction of fandom at large indicates the unusual character of such incidents.
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|The feuds we have always with us, but they are particularly prominent in the Second Fandom, and suffered a momentary revival after the Exclusion Act thru the 1939 Philco that fall, at which time each faction was purposing to drive the other out of fandom. Public fan sentiment was against feuding by them, however, and neither side felt like pushing the initiative and taking the responsibility.
The cause of a feud may be an important issue which isn't settled peaceable, such as the failure of Wonder Stories to pay young authors (which brot on the ISA-SFL war) or the scrapping over a general fan organization, or it may be a thing as minor as the rights of the fanzine name Stardust. Feuds may rest upon differences of opinion which continually show up in fan writings, as on sociological questions (example: the origin of the Wollheim-Moskowitz feud in the latter's writeup of the Third Convention). A necessary ingredient to a feud as distinguished from a disagreement, however, is personal antagonism. This antagonism, it may be defended, is based on a person's actions and opinions; anew, it exists.
From the breakup of the ISA down to 1943 when they lost interest in feuding or retired from fandom, there was a constant antagonism between Wollheim and Sykora. The two sides which may be defined by these individuals (this does not imply that they were the controlling figures of the two sides with the others merely ranged behind them) have included the Futurians, Wiggins, Beck, Tucker, Ackerman, and Morojo on the one hand, and on the other hand the Phillies, Queensies, and the Miske. There have also been private work-fites between such pairs ad Lowndes and Speer, Wilson and Moskowitz, Singleton and Hamling, etc, but the forgoing is the general lineup when fan feuds became so universal as to constitute a fan war. At various times other active fans have occupied middle ground, Warner, Rothman, Swisher, Wilson, Koenig, and others having in some case held aloof from the feuding, in other case joined the battle in particular sector. This middle ground, for that matter, has also included Taurasi, Tucker, Ackerman, the Phillies, and others previously indicated, if cases in which they have opposed the opponents of their opponents, or converselywise, be considered.
It was thot by many at one time that fan feuds were a good things; Morojo wrote an article saying so, but apparently wasn't referring to the knock-down-drag-out kind; by early 1939 the IPO voted 8 to 19 against them.
The general purpose in a feud is to discredit your opponent, either to drive him out of fandom (as in the case of G. G. Clark), or to get fans as a whole to refuse to follow some course he advocates or to follow one which he opposes, such as forming an organization or adopting certain principles in their discussions.
Intemperate language is used in feuding by non-veteran fans, and was used by the veterans in their wars; words like like, "vicious", and "sneaky" being thrown around freely, as well as the colossal effort to seem merely amused by your opponents' actions. Heat has never risen so high, however, that fans could not occasionally commend a good story or article by one of their opponents, and it should be remarked that when fans meet face to face, they are usually quite fraternal, regardless of the fites they've been waging against each other on paper. The worst usually found is an insulting coolness. At the 1939 Philco, after temperatures had been rising for some time, violence was threatened by Sykora with the words You can say whatever you want to about me behind my back, but you can't call me a liar to my face!"; and when the Triumvirs tried to eject Futurians visitors from the QSFL meeting in early 1941, there actually was ruff stuff. But the unfavorable reaction of fandom at large indicates the unusual character of such incidents.
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