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Anti-zinester sentiment! How do you feel about the term zinester?

Are all of you folks comfortable with the term zinester? I have big problems with the word because it implies that I am a part of a scene. I consider myself a writer. A writer who would be writing whether or not there are zines. The term zinester is one that started being prominent when the D.I.Y/radical dirty kids appropriated the zine in the mid-nineties when most independant writers went online. That was the same time that zines started to tank in quality because instead of being used as an available medium for anyone, it was fetishized for it's archaic quality by a certain scene who then started pushing zines about the same shit like making out and riding bikes and polyamoury.

Zines have since becoms a "safe place" where only a few topics are covered. You see less zines be older people or contraverisal people or disenfranchised people, very few zines about labor or cultural critique. Years ago, when someone said that they didn't like zines it meant they were square and needed a professional to tell them what to read. Now it means they don't want to read about how great it was on a rooftop on night.

The term zinester and the zine community that is being pushed is really confining. I write a zine because it is a medium I have access to, not because I want to be a part of a community. Have you heard of a book community that just calls themselves that because they all make books? Republican writers chilling with Leftists and people who write cookbooks chilling with a sci-fi author because they are all booksters?

It's also the zinester philosophy that's been pushing the idea that making a zine is the hightest good, no matter what the quality and that everyone should be making one no matter what. Teaching make-a-zine-in-an-hour workshops that encourage people to lower the bar. Fuck that! You should be making a zine if you have something to say. 

I don't really get offended when someone calls me a zinester by accident, it makes sense considering the prominence of the word. However, I always feel the need to correct them. I do take offense the fact that just because I make a zine I'm already a part of a club that I don't feel like I identify with at all. And that writing in zines isn't taken seriously anymore by anyone accept for this scene, because of the stuff that they are promoting.

I think that people can write about whatever they want and I don't have to read it. But I feel like the problem is more with the fact that, due to the speed of the internet making zines archaic has allowed a certain group (the zinester) to say that they are the voice of zines. I feel like some of the best zines being made out there like "Underworld Crawl" are marginalized due to the fact that they don't fit in the zinester scene/community stuff like that.

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Um... I think it's an annoying term. I am in the middle of seventh period and don't really have a mind clear enough right now to explain why... but I will later.
Zinester = one who writes/reads/participates in zine culture.

What is wrong with that?
Personally, I prefer the term "zine publisher" as opposed to "zinester" because I dislike the trivialization/infantilization/cuteification that happens when adding unnecessary suffixes. Zinester, hipster, scenester.... those words just irritate me on a semantic level.

So, if I need to label myself with something, it's "zine publisher". And I don't write zines about making out, bikes, or polyamoury, but curate comp zines about cleaning, television, and stuff you threw out.

Also - "Underworld Crawl" is a GREAT zine that deserves a much wider audience.
Well, I feel that the term zinester, being relatively new ,implies that one is among the new school of zine we're talking about. I'm not making that assumption but I know that assumption is often made of me. I have also used other mediums and venues for my writing but I guess that is the problem, I don't identify with the zinester movement or whatever it is and thus the association bugs me. It was the diy punk revivalists who popularized that term. Also, I would prefer to be called a zine writer rather than a zinester. I feel also that when I get tagged with zinester it implies that I'm writing for the scene that makes for the latter part of the word rather than for everyone.

Joseph Delgado said:
interesting points, but im not quite sure exactly what you mean. this begs some questions of me as a 'zinester' and i do not represent any sub culture, any group, any ism for that matter...but are you assuming that everyone that utilizes the term 'zinester' are collectively some hip crowd of punk diy revivalist? have you not considered the large and prominent number of makers of art zines, comic zines, contemporary art review zines? 'zinester' is that lack of a better term, yes we are writers, poets, artists but we use our talents and showcase our skills and ideas via zines; hence we can be classified as generic 'zinesters.' are there not multiple venues and media to express your ideas, art, writing in your perspective? as a 'zinester' i use my poetry, creative prose, drawing abilities and have chosen to showcase these via zines; however i also publish in other venues such as literary magazines, anthologies, and my own books---but when im making zines i see myself as a 'zinester.' i dont know....perhaps im not making sense...then again who knows? whats your take?
I prefer "zine writer", "writer who makes a zine" and yes, I would have no problem with "zine publisher." I get offended that I have to be a zinester because I make a zine when that's not what I am. I have punk records, but I seem to avoid being called a punk most of the time.

Aj Michel said:
Personally, I prefer the term "zine publisher" as opposed to "zinester" because I dislike the trivialization/infantilization/cuteification that happens when adding unnecessary suffixes. Zinester, hipster, scenester.... those words just irritate me on a semantic level.

So, if I need to label myself with something, it's "zine publisher". And I don't write zines about making out, bikes, or polyamoury, but curate comp zines about cleaning, television, and stuff you threw out.

Also - "Underworld Crawl" is a GREAT zine that deserves a much wider audience.
I've actually never thought of this this way but I must say it really doesn't bother me and to be honest, I actually kinda like the term. But then again, I am a moron that enjoys reading zines about rooftops and riding bikes. I think whenever it's mentioned how a zine "should be", it's going against what zines really are - anything you want. I understand not wanting to be lumped in with a scene, but I think it's a rather lovely "scene", and to be dissing people who makes zines about things you're not interested in, seems somewhat elitist.

I think too, I don't consider using the term "zinester" as a limited term, I don't see it meaning "oh everyone who is a zinester writes about rooftops". I see it as a term that means someone who makes a zine, and when I think of that, what comes to mind are people who write about queer issues, social issues, political issues, creative writing, art alongside everything else. I guess if you're embarrassed to be lumped in with the people who write about things that you don't enjoy, I can understand the balking at the term. Personally, I don't mind that. I enjoy that I'm part of a diverse "scene".

I don't object to people not liking the term and wanting to call themselves, say a "writer that uses the zine medium" instead though. As much I don't mind the term zinester, I do kind of understand what you're saying. Represent old-school right?

I write a zine to get my thoughts and writing out into a zine AND I also really dig being part of the community. I'm proud to be a zinester. Looks like I might stand alone on that one though going by the comments so far, eep. Maybe because I'm not old school and didn't make zines pre-1999? Am I the irritating new breed?
I've been reading zines since maybe '04, and making zines only for a few months, so I guess I'm part of that "irritating new breed" as well, but I'm proud to be a part of any scene that allows anybody at all to say anything they damn well please on their own goddamned terms. I think it's awesome being a part of such an all inclusive community. Maybe there is some elitism going on, but the elitism only really goes as far as who is friends with who-- how is everyone else going to tell me what I can and cannot include in my zines, and whether or not I can make them at all?!

Along with being proud of being part of the zining community, I'm proud to be called a zinester because it means that I am indeed a part of it.

But again... I'm a newbie. Maybe my thoughts aren't as valid as some who have been around much longer!

Tee Rex said:
I've actually never thought of this this way but I must say it really doesn't bother me and to be honest, I actually kinda like the term. But then again, I am a moron that enjoys reading zines about rooftops and riding bikes. I think whenever it's mentioned how a zine "should be", it's going against what zines really are - anything you want. I understand not wanting to be lumped in with a scene, but I think it's a rather lovely "scene", and to be dissing people who makes zines about things you're not interested in, seems somewhat elitist.

I think too, I don't consider using the term "zinester" as a limited term, I don't see it meaning "oh everyone who is a zinester writes about rooftops". I see it as a term that means someone who makes a zine, and when I think of that, what comes to mind are people who write about queer issues, social issues, political issues, creative writing, art alongside everything else. I guess if you're embarrassed to be lumped in with the people who write about things that you don't enjoy, I can understand the balking at the term. Personally, I don't mind that. I enjoy that I'm part of a diverse "scene".

I don't object to people not liking the term and wanting to call themselves, say a "writer that uses the zine medium" instead though. As much I don't mind the term zinester, I do kind of understand what you're saying. Represent old-school right?

I write a zine to get my thoughts and writing out into a zine AND I also really dig being part of the community. I'm proud to be a zinester. Looks like I might stand alone on that one though going by the comments so far, eep. Maybe because I'm not old school and didn't make zines pre-1999? Am I the irritating new breed?
I'm not dismissing your dislike of the word "zinester" or your reasons for it, but I don't have much problem calling myself by that name, even it does have a lot of connotations that don't apply to me. (As you may have noticed, I'm not that "hip".)

I've also called myself a self-publisher, a papernetter, and an essayist. I don't shun the label, but I don't think I've often referred to myself as a "writer", maybe because that has the connotation of a "professional" writer. Also, a writer isn't necessarily a self-publisher, and I usually self-publish what I write. I use "zinester" for convenience. It's short and understood by most people I'm addressing, which I feel outweighs the stereotypes it's often associated with.

I'm not sure what the "thread" is that binds us self-publishers together. I read in old, old "amateur press publication", dating back to 40's, maybe earlier, that it was an "itch to see oneself in print". But I'm not sure anymore that we even have that much in common anymore.

I guess, one thing that draws us together, is a loose and messy alliance of "mutual self-promotion", sort of an ad hoc "trade co-operative". This used to be done mainly through Factsheet 5, Zine World, etc., but it's more scattered and Internetized these days, for good or ill. Maybe that's about it. Maybe we still need each other, whether we like or understand each other all that much.

As a papernetter, I'm still in the "Big Mail". (Don't ask me to define or explain what that is. I tried to research it myself, and couldn't find much on it, if anything, on the Net.) Anyway, there are lots of "old" and "square" self-publishers out there I'm sure most "zinesters" know nothing about and probably wouldn't want to. Many are on the "Christian" and "conservative" side, yet at least one was an old-fashioned freethinker. I write for one such publication, which by the way, the publisher freely refers to as a "zine", and I correspond and work with an elderly gentleman, helping to get his stories published. I'm glad and honored to do that.

Then there are the Amateur Press Associations, another surviving old branch of amateur publishing. I think they call themselves "ajayers". Anyway, you're right, there are many branches and layers to the self-publishing "world". One thing that unites us, I guess, is the preference for paper and postal distribution, but again, even that seems to be eroding in some quarters.

I belong to many subcultures. I often feel a little marginalized in all of them, but I'm grateful for what acceptance they're each willing to grant me. I'm sort of a universal misfit, a marginal among marginals. (God! I'm SO ALIENATED!) Zines, self-publishing, amateur journalism, are just several of many ways I try to communicate and connect with people I hope I share some values with. I even keep trying with the Internet, despite my reservations about it.

How we "self-label" and "identify" ourselves is an interesting phenomenon I've often thought about. I think there may be more to it than meets the eye.
Really interesting thoughts James!
My problem is more with the fact that a scene has made certain things cool and trendy to talk about to such a huge degree that it does dictate how zines "should be". Especially, when the zinester community strives so much for a "safe place".
I would argue, Tee Rex, that I wasn't being elitist against subjects that I don't want to read about but am in fact calling for more open-mindedness and a broader spectrum of thought.The kind that are out there but more marginalized because they aren't of the "zinester" variety. This is also the fault of the internet and blogs.
I also didn't make a zine until pretty late. I think my first was in '02, but I just remember when reading them was way more interesting because they were more diverse and tackled broader and more interesting topics. There was more of a dialogue between zine people, people weren't afraid to confront bad behavior and didn't just ignore it. I liked it better when there was room for both Jim Goad and Profane Existance.
But I guess more than anything it's my problem. I don't like to be called a zinester because of it's connotations and associations. It's a term that I reject but that still gets applied to me.
"The term zinester and the zine community that is being pushed is really confining. I write a zine because it is a medium I have access to, not because I want to be a part of a community. Have you heard of a book community that just calls themselves that because they all make books? Republican writers chilling with Leftists and people who write cookbooks chilling with a sci-fi author because they are all booksters?"

This is what I don't get. By joining WMZ and posting this message, you joined a community. You may not want to be in a community, but you are. Have you ever attended a zine fest? Do you trade zines with other people? Community! It's underground (sort of), but it's there.
I've used the term zinester for 20 years, it doesn't bother me at all. But I rarely get hung up on words or feel confined or pigeon-holed by them.

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