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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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I like this viewpoint, and I try and live by it too.

A label or word might describe me, but it fits me, not the other way around.

Dan 10things said:
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.
Ok, We Make Zines is a community. Sure. Zine fests I would argue as being a culture. I approve of zine culture enough to review zines for a big zine. But I think you're missing my point. I think smaller communities should arise within this, but overall, I think that zines should be too broad for it to be considered a community and it's a bad sign that everybody thinks so much alike that they can call it a community, more specifically a zinester community. Would a cop fit in the zinester community? Would a bigot? These are extremes, but I guess I'm asking what a zine community is. If the cop and the bigot don't fit than why not? Because the community isn't excepting of them? Than that is my problem with the zinester community. I'm adult and can confront and deal with what offends me on my own. I would rather my standards not be set by a community. Is a library a community because all the books are in the same place or is it too diverse and spread too thin? I think that any medium should have the same amount of respect granted it, especially zines.

Erin H said:
"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.
See, I don't see it as the scene making things cool and trendy to write about. I think it's (mostly) just people bonding over shared interests, and sharing those loves via zines. Awesome things will get written about. I get excited to write about the things I love, knowing that there are others out there who love them too. I love common themes in zines, whether that be queer issues, anxiety-stories or bike-riding. Reading about other people riding their bikes, makes me want to get out there and ride mine, not because I want to be seen as trendy - but rather because fuck yes, riding bikes is fucking fun!

Obviously I'm using bike-riding as an example. We all know this isn't an argument bike-riding and it's merits.

I really hate trends but should I not write about these things in order to portray myself as being original and unique? Should I deny my love of bike-riding to buck a trend? Some of these "trendy" things are part of who I am, and what I love too. It connects me to a bunch of other people with similar interests.

There certainly are several popular zines that have very similar themes to what you've mentioned BUT I find these zines also contain a lot of unique, open-minded, broad spectrum material. Some of them have really kicked my ass into reevaluating the way I think about things. And this shit is right in there amongst bike-riding and rooftop sitting. I guess I'm just in defense of the zines that you are criticising, because I think generalising discredits a lot of awesome zines out there. And yeah, there's a lot out there that are boring vapidity- but I've always put them aside and just thought, well that one wasn't for me - but it could very well interest somebody else. It's the same with the more activist/ "out there" zines, a lot of it isn't for me - but I'm not going to go say that it's all bullshit. It doesn't make me ashamed or uncomfortable to be a "zinester". There's always going to be shit zines, but who are you or I to judge whether these things are good or bad?

Fuck yes to originality, I'm all for that. Fuck yes to pushing the envelope. But I dig being part of the zine community. I feel like I'm part of something awesome, regardless of whether there might be people or zines in it that I don't personally like.
Actually, I think I can relate Craven's discomfort with the word, even though I don't share it specifically.

I have a *little* problem with "vegan". I have all sort of little shortcomings in that area, and often feel a little "wrong" in calling myself a vegan. I accidently bought a coat I later learned had down in it. I wasn't going to waste it or give it away, so I wore it. I use cheap "waxed" dental floss (that's supposedly unvegan, like honey). I've broken down and bought mostly man-made material boots, but with leather uppers (pure man-made can sometimes be nearly impossible to find, and I absolutely cannot afford "vegan" footware. So, am I a vegan? Some hardcore vegan "gatekeepers" say, "No!" (and, hey, they're perfectly sincere and have a right to speak their mind.) Others say, of course you are, "vegan" doesn't mean perfect. But still, with this particular "label issue", I remain inwardly "nagged".

So I can understand the "priniciple" behind it. I think a lot of people have labels they're uncertain or at least slightly conflicted about. It's an identity issue. I don't dismiss it, because I have some myself.
I'm a parent and I see myself part of a large community out there - other parents. I don't dismiss the term parent just because there's shitty ones out there. I consider being a "zinester" similar.

Craven Rock said:
Ok, We Make Zines is a community. Sure. Zine fests I would argue as being a culture. I approve of zine culture enough to review zines for a big zine. But I think you're missing my point. I think smaller communities should arise within this, but overall, I think that zines should be too broad for it to be considered a community and it's a bad sign that everybody thinks so much alike that they can call it a community, more specifically a zinester community. Would a cop fit in the zinester community? Would a bigot? These are extremes, but I guess I'm asking what a zine community is. If the cop and the bigot don't fit than why not? Because the community isn't excepting of them? Than that is my problem with the zinester community. I'm adult and can confront and deal with what offends me on my own. I would rather my standards not be set by a community. Is a library a community because all the books are in the same place or is it too diverse and spread too thin? I think that any medium should have the same amount of respect granted it, especially zines.
Ahhh, okay. Putting it this way, I do understand Craven's point a hell of a lot more, as I also share your discomfort as classifying myself as vegan for similar reasons.

Hrm, interesting.

James N. Dawson said:
Actually, I think I can relate Craven's discomfort with the word, even though I don't share it specifically.

I have a *little* problem with "vegan". I have all sort of little shortcomings in that area, and often feel a little "wrong" in calling myself a vegan. I accidently bought a coat I later learned had down in it. I wasn't going to waste it or give it away, so I wore it. I use cheap "waxed" dental floss (that's supposedly unvegan, like honey). I've broken down and bought mostly man-made material boots, but with leather uppers (pure man-made can sometimes be nearly impossible to find, and I absolutely cannot afford "vegan" footware. So, am I a vegan? Some hardcore vegan "gatekeepers" say, "No!" (and, hey, they're perfectly sincere and have a right to speak their mind.) Others say, of course you are, "vegan" doesn't mean perfect. But still, with this particular "label issue", I remain inwardly "nagged".

So I can understand the "priniciple" behind it. I think a lot of people have labels they're uncertain or at least slightly conflicted about. It's an identity issue. I don't dismiss it, because I have some myself.
But a community is just a group of people who live in the same area, or, in this case, who share a common interest - zines. There are creeps in the zine community, and maybe even a cop. They ARE part of the community. And a library is not a community because it is inanimate. Like a table isn't a community. I don't get where you were going with that analogy, sorry.

Craven Rock said:
Ok, We Make Zines is a community. Sure. Zine fests I would argue as being a culture. I approve of zine culture enough to review zines for a big zine. But I think you're missing my point. I think smaller communities should arise within this, but overall, I think that zines should be too broad for it to be considered a community and it's a bad sign that everybody thinks so much alike that they can call it a community, more specifically a zinester community. Would a cop fit in the zinester community? Would a bigot? These are extremes, but I guess I'm asking what a zine community is. If the cop and the bigot don't fit than why not? Because the community isn't excepting of them? Than that is my problem with the zinester community. I'm adult and can confront and deal with what offends me on my own. I would rather my standards not be set by a community. Is a library a community because all the books are in the same place or is it too diverse and spread too thin? I think that any medium should have the same amount of respect granted it, especially zines.

Erin H said:
"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 wouldn't say this is an argument so much as it is friendly discussion, and I'd much rather this than some of the drama I see a lot of. This is nice, this is healthy and friendly discourse, and it's important to have a voice! :D

E.T. zine distro said:
hey everybody, maybee we shouldn't be arguing, maybee we should be MAKING zines!!!! cause zines really are great ya know. i have sooo much fun with zines! i get to make friends & talk to people and do stuff, and i feel good because of it!!
there are SO many zines that i like, and because of those zines> they were made by other people> zinesters > i am happy to call myself a zinester too!!!
+1 to Dan

I think that the OP is too hung up on a silly little term that just makes things easier when speaking about the large array of people who make zines as a whole.

Dan 10things said:
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.
"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 mind workshops so much as a way to teach the basics. If I had had a workshop to teach me how to avoid stupid xeroxing mistakes it would have saved me a lot of time and some money over the years. But yeah, I've seen so many "Help! I wanna make a zine but have absolutely no idea what to put in it" threads here that I just wanna say "Then don't make a fucking zine! Don't start a distro if you apparently have not the slightest idea how they work!" You can't fault people for wanting to be a part of what excites them, I guess, but if you don't have enough material for even a 4 page mini zine maybe you should wait until you can make a zine w/o asking anyone for ideas.

I don't mind the word "zinester" I guess, but I'm not sure I feel a lot like a member of any community. I do know zines on the whole would be much better off with more zines like UNDERWORLD CRAWL and fewer that are just a poor man's COMETBUS.
idk... personally i feel weird whenever i say/type "zinester". i sounds so... idk, juvinile maybe? to me it feels like it lacks seriusness... but hey that's just what i think... but what else can we call it?
Exactly. Adding "-ster" just makes it seem so diminutive. But I also dislike when words are feminized like "songstress" or "poetess".

That why I generally try to say "zine publisher". Or, this weekend at MoCCA Fest, I introduced myself and said "... I publish a zine and write a blog..." instead of saying "... zinester and blogger...". I prefer to say what I *do* (e.g., publish a zine), rather than create a word to say what I *am* (e.g., "blogger").

Again, just my preference. Really, call yourself a "papernett-y zinestar with staples and sprinkles on top" if you wish. (That's a bit too long for me.)

Saling Pusa Distro said:
idk... personally i feel weird whenever i say/type "zinester". i sounds so... idk, juvinile maybe? to me it feels like it lacks seriusness... but hey that's just what i think... but what else can we call it?

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