Lingua Mea Vita

An Argument for Fanfiction
April 24, 2011, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I was 12 years old, I remember reading an article about this new phenomenon called “fanfiction.” I specifically remember the article celebrating fanfiction writers, saying they were a breed of people with unmatched creativity who were able to take a  beyond a TV or movie screen or and into their own hands.

Fanfiction is  just one part of of a monstrous organized subculture called fandom (“kingdom of fans”). Trekkies are probably the best known and long lasting examples of intense fans. And while fandom is more mainstream now than in the Star Trek days, I’ve never heard a Gleek (“Glee”) or a Twihard (Twilight series) referred to as “powerful” nor are they credited with “unmatched creativity.”

There seems to be a line in fandom: If you watch all the shows/read all the books/go to the midnight showing at the movies and gush about the show/book/movie incessantly, that’s okay. But if you go to conventions, read and/or write fanfiction or wear  a certain scarf resembling a Gryffindor one, you’re taking it too far.

But why is it taking it too far? Especially when it’s the hardcore fans that marketers are targeting, not the lukewarm ones. I think the power of fandom, especially fanfiction, is severely marginalized as people severely underestimate the power of nerdery.

But the glory days of “unmatched creativity” are long gone. Now with crazy couples and Mary Sue characters and sex scenes worthy of a Vivid Entertainment movie, fanfiction has taken a turn for the…erm, awkward?

I know that a good chunk of existing fanfiction are fans writing horrid romance stories about  a couple from the series they’d like to see. Harry Potter comes to mind (Hermione/Draco, Luna/Draco, Harry/Draco). However, I think fanfiction writers are the main reason that Harry was paired with Ginny in the later books. J.K. Rowling knew what her fans wanted to see—it was all in the fanfiction.

And in the case of television, fanfiction can lead to a career. Some television writers start off freelancing, writing scripts for shows and sending them in. To write a successful script, it definitely helps to be a fan  of the show. You have to know the characters, what kind of plot would occur, things that a hardcore fan of the show would know.

Intense fandom can actually save a show (Family Guy, Jericho). It can create a new series based on a beloved favorite (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Sometimes, fandom can create a movie from a cancelled show (Serenity from Firefly). What do you think a “cult following” is? Intense fangirls and fanboys nerding out over their favorite thing.

So let’s be kind to extreme fans, especially fanfiction writers. They are shaping the future of your favorite media.