Interview With Kaitlin (#MCRdeviantClub)

When I asked people if they’d like to see interviews with MCRmy members, people generally said yes – so here’s the first!

Kaitlin is an English major and aspiring journalist in Missouri, USA. An MCR fan since she was 13, she runs the #MCRdeviantClub on deviantArt, archived here.

When did you become an MCR fan? Is there a backstory or did it happen over a period of time?

I became a fan in 2006 when I fell in love with Welcome to the Black Parade and bought The Black Parade with my birthday money. I’d heard Helena and I’m Not Okay on the radio when they came out and loved them, but I didn’t get into MCR before then. I think it’s because I saw the music videos for Vampires Will Never Hurt You and Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us on TV, didn’t like the songs, and assumed the rest of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge was like that (I didn’t realize they had two separate albums, haha.) I was actually afraid that TBP would be like that, too, so I was thrilled when I listened to the rest of the songs and fell in love with them. I listened to TBP over and over for weeks, because it was my first introduction to darker rock music with depth: before that, I listened only to pop and pop-rock (which isn’t bad, but usually doesn’t have quite as much depth.) I felt like I’d entered another world. Then I started checking out the fandom online, especially on deviantART, and MCR has been one of the biggest aspects of my life since then. At the time I had no idea how important they would become to me, but now…well, here I am, being interviewed about it.

You’ve got original artwork on your personal page – when and why did you become involved in deviantART?

I was actually underage when I joined– I joined when I was 11 to collect emoticons. I was collecting web graphics for some reason at the time, so I wanted to get my hands on the emoticons used on deviantART. I can’t remember why or when I became an active member, but I think it was when I made some friends on Neopets, and started posting Neopets fan art here. Eventually I moved on to generic cat-girl drawings, portraits, and eventually writing (though none of it is up at the time of writing this.) Most of my gallery is in storage, haha. Whenever I post something, I usually get sick of it within a few months or years and hide it away in storage. (For those not familiar with deviantART: putting something in storage means making it unavailable to viewers.)

When and why did you start MCRdeviantClub? Was there a specific plan involved or did you just learn as you went along?

I think a lot of people think I started MCRdeviantClub, but I actually came a long a year later. I joined the group after getting involved in the fandom because it was the most popular MCR group on dA. Then the original owner decided to leave and posted a journal asking people to volunteer to be the new leader. I sent in a message, not really expecting to get it, but to my surprise, she responded and told me that she wanted me to run the group. So I was like “…oh shit, what do I do now?”

I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to run the group– actually, I probably shouldn’t have been allowed online at all– until I was 17, because I did so many stupid things before then. Not that I was perfect at 17, but some of the things I did and said then were just plain embarrassing. I won’t go into detail, haha. I had no prior experience with running a group, and didn’t have much experience with groups, period, so I figured out what to do by trial and error. Some projects worked, and some were just plain stupid, but at least I learned.

I didn’t want this to be another run-of-the-mill MCR group, and I figured I had a responsibility to keep the place active, so I spent a lot of time coming up with ideas and projects (and still do.) I think I’ve gotten better at weeding out the bad ones, though I occasionally still slip up. I gauge whether something works or not by the group’s response: if there’s a lot of activity, responses, and/or views, and it has a positive outcome, I figure that it worked. If not, well, that’s the end of that! And I slither back under my shame rock and try to come up with something else.

One thing that seems to surprise people is the fact that I do everything myself. I’m a control freak and don’t like working in groups, so I’m happiest that way. I don’t like signing off responsibility on anything, even something small, unless it’s a one-shot project and it’s someone I trust.

When it comes to The Webways, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that visitors don’t see. What does the day-to-day running of the page involve?

Hmm, good question. Well, first of all, there’s accepting/rejecting artwork that gets submitted to the group. Most art gets accepted, unless it breaks the submission rules (or it was submitted to the wrong folder, in which case I notify the artist and they re-submit it.) There’s a limit of three deviations per day, because in the past I’ve had people dump their entire gallery (i.e. 60-80 deviations) at once, which wasn’t fun. The amount of submissions varies, but at this point I’d say it’s about five a day.

Then I search “my chemical romance,” “gerard way,” and “killjoy” on deviantART to see if there’s any great new art that I want in the group, and send the artist a request. (I don’t search “frank iero,” “mikey way,” or “ray toro” because there’s not as much art of them, and when I search “mikey way,” a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles art shows up. I get the “mikey” part, but I don’t know where “way” comes in.)

I also check mychemicalcollective on Tumblr a few times each day to see if there’s any news that I need to post in the group blog. At night, I reblog MCR GIFs, edits, and other gems on the group Tumblr. We don’t have much bandwidth, so I have to wait until 2 A.M., when we get free bandwidth until 7 A.M., meaning that I can’t do this on school nights!

Super Groups on dA are ridiculously high-priced ($60 or 4,796 points), so I have to do pixel commissions to get enough points to renew it each year. This usually takes about six months. I get some donations from group members, too, which is a big help.

If I’m running a project/contest, I have to keep that maintained, obviously. I also try to reply to group members who leave comments on blogs, especially if their comments are well-written and thoughtful. This can take a while, because I leave LONG replies if someone brings up an interesting point.

What is the most challenging aspect of running the page?

Right now, the biggest challenge is dealing with the fact that this fandom isn’t as active as it used to be, and activity will probably continue to decrease until the group doesn’t have much of a purpose anymore, unless MCR gets back together before then. The group and fandom are such huge parts of my life that I’m terrified of losing them. So I try to keep the dA fandom active, both for myself and the group members.

What is the most rewarding aspect of it?

The most rewarding aspect is definitely all the great fans I’ve met there. I know that sounds sappy, but there are the regulars who comment on many of my blog posts, the friendly ones who almost always have a good attitude, the patient ones who listen when I go off on a rant (which is often), the ones who write long and thought-provoking responses and get involved in discussions, and the multitudes of silent members who I’ve never spoken to, but still have a presence in the group. I can’t say that I’ve gotten along with every member, and I’ve met a few who were just plain nasty, but in general, I’ve met hundreds of people from all over the world with different stories, talents, personalities, and viewpoints. This never would have happened without the group. It’s incredible to engage with so many people in one place.

The page has expanded, with resources for artists, a Tumblr blog and discussion posts. What was the inspiration or motivation behind building it up?

Part of the reason is that I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to keep the group active, like I said. I didn’t want this to be another MCR group that posted one blog a month, held a bunch of contests, and eventually died off. I wanted to provide resources for this fandom and keep people engaged. Something about running a group, shop, or organization really appeals to me, because I start thinking about all the different things I could provide people.

I’m also the type of person who loves thinking of projects and activities. When I was a kid, I daydreamed about running clubs and stores, hosting a fair, publishing a magazine etc. The group is the perfect outlet for that creativity, and as I get older, I learn that I can actually do some of this stuff. There are limitations, since we can’t do anything in real life, I have no contact with MCR or anyone involved with them, we can’t spend money, and this is a relatively small part of a relatively small fandom (compared to, say, the Sherlock or Avengers fandoms.)  But there’s a lot that I can do, and I don’t know what I’d do with myself without this group. Sometimes I check out magazines, shops, websites, or other groups for inspiration (though it doesn’t yield much, unfortunately, because of the limitations I listed.)

You’ve done some great work keeping the MCRmy together as a community since the band ended; do you think the fanbase has become closer since it happened?

Wow, thanks so much. That’s quite an honor. In some ways, I think it hasn’t, because I’ve noticed more arguing and divisions among the fans (“So-and-so is the reason they broke up!” “That’s not true, shut up!”) There’s also a lot of hate aimed at the guys, which attracts some fans and pushes others away (it’s fine to be angry/upset, but a daily dose of insults like “cheating bastard” or “fat dork” is not my cup of tea, and I know it’s the same for some other fans.) And many people have simply left the fandom. A lot of the MCR blogs I follow have basically become Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco blogs.

But at the same time, I’ve had deep conversations with fans that I never would have otherwise, and I’m sure it’s the same for other people. I stayed off Tumblr for a week off the split because it was too upsetting, but I heard there were fans comforting each other. With those raw emotions exposed, I think this fandom reached a certain level of intimacy, in a way. I also think that some of the remaining fans have more of a drive to keep the fandom alive and stay close to other fans. When you feel like MCR will be around forever, and they abruptly split, you suddenly realize how precious the fandom is. So yeah, I think this fandom has grown closer overall, especially when we’re all going through the same grief and can relate to each other.

Do you have any ambitions for the page, or any plans to expand or alter it?

Right now I don’t have plans to expand to any other sites besides Tumblr, though that could change. There’s nothing I could do on Twitter that isn’t already covered by another fan– though I used to say the same thing about Tumblr, until I saw the great fan art and fanmade edits that aren’t available on dA. I don’t want to create a blog, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook page for the group unless it serves a purpose that the dA group and another fan’s page doesn’t fill.

The one bad thing about dA is that Tumblr and Twitter reach a far wider audience. I’d love to get as much of the fandom involved as possible, but since not everyone is an artist or looking to find art, not everyone’s going to join dA. Not that I don’t love dA, and the good on that site definitely outweighs the bad, but sometimes I wish I could cast a net out into Tumblr and haul in a whole crop of new fans, gasping and flopping around. Okay, bad metaphor.

If you could change one thing about the MCRmy, what would it be?

Ahaha, the number of discussions I’ve had with other fans about this…people need to stop thinking that harassing and mocking the guys, especially Gerard and Mikey, is funny and cool, because it isn’t. I know that not all fans are like this, because I’ve met plenty of thoughtful, mature ones on dA and Tumblr (don’t know about Twitter, but I’m sure there are some there, too.) But so many fans have this idea that abusing the guys makes them cool, funny, and intelligent, even better than other fans, and use it as a quick way to get attention. Which sadly works, because all you have to do is say “Mikey Way’s a prick” on Tumblr, and boom, you’re rolling in faves and reblogs. I try to unfollow people who post/reblog that garbage, but when one of those posts has 8,000 notes, it’s like– what am I supposed to do, unfollow the whole fandom? Ergh.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day, and she said that this probably started because many fandoms (including the MCRmy) have a reputation for being full of “blind fangirls” who worship everything their idols do. So people probably wanted to prove that they’re not blind. “Look, I’m criticizing Gerard!” “Look, I’m making fun of Mikey’s clothes!” “I’m not blind, I’m pointing out their flaws!” Which I understand, but at this point, it’s gone way too far. The guys are being literally harassed every day, everything they do is mocked and insulted, and childish bullying gets attention and praise. For a fandom that’s always spoken against bullying, we sure as hell glorify it.

I don’t mind if people don’t like Gerard or Mikey– that’s their business, and if they can speak about it civilly, good for them. But name-calling, mocking their appearance and weight, sending them insults on Twitter, encouraging other fans to hate them, spreading around stupid rumors, threatening their lives, telling them to commit suicide (yes, I’ve seen that), etc., etc….that’s not cool, funny, intelligent, or mature. That’s tormenting another human being. This fandom needs to stop encouraging it already.

Of course, I know that not all fans are like this, and I’m incredibly grateful to the ones I’ve met who treat the guys like human beings. I just hope the rest of this fandom opens its eyes and realizes how much pain it’s causing. Just because they’re celebrities doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. You’ve got to ask yourself: “Do I want to be remembered as someone who spread hate and negativity and encouraged mindless bullying, or do I want to be remembered as someone who spread positivity and truly cared for others?” I’ve asked myself that question a few times while in this fandom, and each time I’ve changed my behavior.

As a fellow MCR-fansite-administrator, Kaitlin’s views about the fanbase and her dedication to the page resonate. Let us know what your thoughts are!

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3 responses to “Interview With Kaitlin (#MCRdeviantClub)

  1. Love this interview! I think that posting these more often would be a good idea, Francesca. It was a great post; the background info about how much work it takes to run a group was especially intriguing, so thanks Kaitlin!

    Like

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