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Discussions & Debates > Why we're terrified of fanfiction

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message 1: by Gary (new)

Gary | 1472 comments I don't know where you fall on the fanfiction issue; it may be a symbol of the deterioration of culture into overly-enfranchised fandom dictating to artists or harmless, maybe even beneficial promotion of the original work. Somewhere in between is probably the case, depending on a range of factors--not the least of which would be the quality of the fanfic, the quality of the original work and, the linchpin, who gets credit for what.

Nonetheless, the prevalence of the stuff has sparked a lot of debate. I was somewhat taken aback a while ago when surfing the net when I came across a guy who takes original photographs and other artwork, adds a few glowy eyed effects to make them look mesmerized/brainwashed and then puts them out in the public. Doing that alone isn't what made me skeptical--it was his repetitive use of the words "art" and "artist" to describe his efforts and himself. I'll grant you that it wasn't just a case of using a little Photoshop to change an image in some cases, but is that guy an artist now?

(My conclusion: he's an artist. He's not much of one, and a derivative one to boot, but it is art. At least on some very fundamental level.)

But what struck me in the following article was this aspect of the debate:
Historically, whenever young women are interested in a form of media, we like to tell them it is bad for them and that they are bad for liking it — unless the media goes mainstream, in which case it becomes no longer feminine and hence okay. Novels are dangerous and cause insanity, until they become classics worthy of being studied in college. Beatlemania is the province of “the dull, the idle, the failures," until the Beatles become a band that everyone loves.

Young women are so attacked for loving the media they love that it is a radical act for a young woman to love something unashamedly. And transformative fandom is the most radical act of all, because it reverses that "lady thing to respectable thing" process. It takes a piece of media that may not have been designed for young women and makes it for young women.
Full article:

message 2: by Text (new)

Text Addict (textaddict) | 60 comments That was a very interesting read, very incisive.

I have to admit I'm one of those who goes "Why not just write original stuff?" In that respect, fanfiction is baffling to me.

But I'm also one of those who goes, "Other people's hobbies are not my problem. (Unless their hobby involves harming people or otherwise breaking laws.)" Seriously, all those twisted panties she cites are just bizarre.

message 3: by Gary (last edited Jun 06, 2016 06:53PM) (new)

Gary | 1472 comments I go back and forth on this one. On the one hand, there's no reason why people shouldn't be engaged in their fandom. On the other, there's a line that can get crossed.

Like anything with as many people participating as fanfiction, I'm sure there's a wide range of motivations, ability, skill and results. In general, though, I think it's just one manifestation of a much broader cultural trend that's been going on in the last generation or so. That is, we're going through a period of deeply derivative culture in which the producers of derivative works present themselves as artists with all the authority of the original art, and nobody seems to question that fundamental assumption. What passes for pop music these days, for instance, is incredibly derivative at best. Hip hop? It's definitively derivative of a definitively derivative byproduct from a technological accident. (Rap and DJ "musicians" plying their respective trades.) With than in mind, I'm personally mystified by the existence of Hip Hop at this point. To me, any possibilities of the concept were played out by the 90s.

On the other hand, Star Trek is almost certainly still in existence because of the fans--in fact, I'd argue that it exists in spite of the activities and efforts of those who have been nominally in charge of that product, whose actual talents when objectively examined have to be said are clearly no greater than the average fan contributor. Other products are comparably maintained. At this point, I'd argue that the longevity and quality of Star Wars has less to do with the influence of Abrams or even Lucas than it does with the fans.

So, six of one, half-dozen of the other.

message 4: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 152 comments I have conflicting opinions.

As someone who does write, I feel quite protective about 'my' worlds and characters. I know how much work goes into creating them, so the idea of someone taking my world/characters and then playing with them, is painful. Particularly if they were to attempt to make money out of it. At that point I'd be very unhappy.

On the other hand, if it were to happen, (it hasn't yet), then I think I'd feel flattered that someone loved my characters and world building so much they couldn't leave them alone.

But I'd also wonder why they wouldn't want to make their own world and characters. Surely someone with that inbuilt creativity would want to do so.

message 5: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 301 comments It is damaging for a young writer to get stuck in fanfic. Better to learn from it and then do your own stuff.
From the author's point of view it is important to -not- get too involved in the fanfic that others create. The possibility of a plagiarism lawsuit always looms -- Marion Zimmer Bradley had an issue with this. You want to always be able to say, it may exist but I never look at it.
It is important for your own financial standing to always retain a good ownership of your intellectual property. There is a sad case of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and her St. Germain books -- they're vampire historicals. Somebody in Hollywood was thinking movie, which would have made a major financial difference for her. But her trademark was somewhat clouded, because of fanfic. The suits don't like that, and the deal fell through.

message 6: by Amber (last edited Jun 08, 2016 09:21AM) (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments For me it depends on how well written the piece in question is. If it's badly written, as in poor spelling, bad grammar and doesn't make any damned sense at all, then I'm against it. So in that regard, I too subscribe to "six of one, half-dozen of the other. and pick 'em."

Although works in progress, I would hope that the crossover fan fiction here,, is good.

Leonie: Maybe they do but they write fan fiction first, to see if they CAN write. FSOG was originally meant to be a Twitlight, I mean Twilight fan fiction.

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