PERFECTION. I’M CRYING. (WITH LAUGHTER.)
I fucking love this. And the great thing is that I think anyone from any fandom would love this. Unless, of course, they hate joy. In which case there’s no hope anyway.
AHAHAHAHA YES ALL OF THIS AHAHAHAHA
I HAVE READ EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE
tywinning asked you:
As a professor, may I ask you what you think about fanfiction?
I think fanfiction is literature and literature, for the most part, is fanfiction, and that anyone that dismisses it simply on the grounds that it’s derivative knows fuck-all about literature and needs to get the hell off my lawn.
Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else. Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.” He was the original Gary Stu). Milton wrote Bible fanfic, and everyone and their mom spent the Middle Ages writing King Arthur fanfic. In the sixteenth century you and another dude could translate the same Petrarchan sonnet and somehow have it count as two separate poems, and no one gave a fuck. Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot—although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF—and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic. Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school. And Spenser! Don’t even get me started on Spenser.
Here’s what fanfic authors/fans need to remember when anyone gives them shit: the idea that originality is somehow a good thing, an innately preferable thing, is a completely modern notion. Until about three hundred years ago, a good writer, by and large, was someone who could take a tried-and-true story and make it even more awesome. (If you want to sound fancy, the technical term is imitatio.) People were like, why would I wanna read something about some dude I’ve never heard of? There’s a new Sir Gawain story out, man! (As to when and how that changed, I tend to blame Daniel Defoe, or the Modernists, or reality television, depending on my mood.)
I also find fanfic fascinating because it takes all the barriers that keep people from professional authorship—barriers that have weakened over the centuries but are nevertheless still very real—and blows right past them. Producing literature, much less circulating it, was something that was well nigh impossible for the vast majority of people for most of human history. First you had to live in a culture where people thought it was acceptable for you to even want to be literate in the first place. And then you had to find someone who could teach you how to read and write (the two didn’t necessarily go together). And you needed sufficient leisure time to learn. And be able to afford books, or at least be friends with someone rich enough to own books who would lend them to you. Good writers are usually well-read and professional writing is a full-time job, so you needed a lot of books, and a lot of leisure time both for reading and writing. And then you had to be in a high enough social position that someone would take you seriously and want to read your work—to have access to circulation/publication in addition to education and leisure time. A very tiny percentage of the population fit those parameters (in England, which is the only place I can speak of with some authority, that meant from 500-1000 A.D.: monks; 1000-1500: aristocratic men and the very occasional aristocratic woman; 1500-1800: aristocratic men, some middle-class men, a few aristocratic women; 1800-on, some middle-class women as well).
What’s amazing is how many people who didn’t fit those parameters kept writing in spite of the constant message they got from society that no one cared about what they had to say, writing letters and diaries and stories and poems that often weren’t discovered until hundreds of years later. Humans have an urge to express themselves, to tell stories, and fanfic lets them. If you’ve got access to a computer and an hour or two to while away of an evening, you can create something that people will see and respond to instantly, with a built-in community of people who care about what you have to say.
I do write the occasional fic; I wish I had the time and mental energy to write more. I’ll admit I don’t read a lot of fic these days because most of it is not—and I know how snobbish this sounds—particularly well-written. That doesn’t mean it’s “not good”—there are a lot of reasons people read fic and not all of them have to do with wanting to read finely crafted prose. That’s why fic is awesome—it creates a place for all kinds of storytelling. But for me personally, now that my job entails reading about 1500 pages of undergraduate writing per year, when I have time to read for enjoyment I want it to be by someone who really knows what they’re doing. There’s tons of high-quality fic, of course, but I no longer have the time and patience to go searching for it that I had ten years ago.
But whether I’m reading it or not, I love that fanfiction exists. Because without people doing what fanfiction writers do, literature wouldn’t exist. (And then I’d be out of a job and, frankly, I don’t know how to do anything else.)
How the Colorado theater shooting exploited one of our last mass, in-person cultural events. (via think-progress)
it is never just a show
it is never just a book
it is never just a movie
it is never just a comic
The way we treat characters in media reflects the ideas we have about real people, and then our media goes on to enforce how we treat those real people.
I am all for enjoying the media I consume (and contrary to how it must look, I do enjoy a lot of media) but I am critical of everything I enjoy. No media exists in a vacuum. No media does not shadow the social system that constructed it.
when you think about it fanfiction is actually amazing
there are thousands of brilliantly written novel-length stories kids wrote from their own brains about characters and shows/books/movies they love all twined into the internet and other kids read these 50k+ stories in their own time and invest themselves in it
nobody’s being paid to write it and nobody’s being told to read it, people do it because they legitimately enjoy it
that is just kind of amazing
22 Jun 2012 / Reblogged from theumbrellaseller with 102,514 notes / fanfiction fandom i have to say i've spent significantly larger amounts of time reading fanfiction that i have reading actual books probably more time than i've spent consuming every kind of media that isn't fanfiction isn't that scary / Source: holywatered
ok i lAUGHED REALLY HARD
OK, legit question time:
I am such a newbie to actual fandom participation (lurker 4 lyfe), so forgive me if this is something that’s been established, but: is there some sort of agreement on if fics/fannish works should be held to the same standards of representation we hold source material (or, really, any mainstream media) to?
I think this is a really complicated question, with a lot of really complicated answers, that people should definitely be asking and talking about! Also, as ever, opinions beneath the cut are just opinions, etc etc.
Simon Pegg, ‘Nerd do well’ (via homoerotics)
as in, META ABOUT META. yes i know that’s not really how inception works—believe me, i really know that—but i don’t care. it’s catchy! and there’s also the fact that that’s what inception has come to mean, in current cultural vernacular: people took the concept the movie is structured around (to wit, dreams within dreams) and made its title into a word meaning “a thing within itself/a thing about itself/etc.” which, as set-ups for posts about media go, is pretty solid, so, without further ado….
dear everybody who has ever felt it necessary to inform me that i am reading too much into [whatever piece of media] in writing meta about it:
first of all, congratulations, you are spot-fucking-on. i am definitely, for sure, no doubt about it, 100% reading far too much into it, every single goddamn time. this is not sarcasm, i very much mean this—in fact, all of my fanon meta is grounded firmly in reading too much into the canon in question. maybe it’s because i threw caution to the winds and went to school to study english literature and creative writing instead of leaning a more marketable trade; it does get hard to break that habit. however, mostly i’m pretty certain i read too much into shit because:
- it’s fun
- i find it rewarding
- it’s fun
I wrote a post about shipping, and it blew up in a way I never anticipated. Apparently my anger resonated with a lot of people, which is simultaneously amazing and sad. People who are completely outside the Avengers fandom have told me how closely my experience matches their own in fandoms ranging from Sherlock to the Legend of Zelda to Star Trek.
It’s funny. If I had known this would turn as big as it has, I might have written something a little more eloquent and with fewer pictures of Iron Man and Captain America being
gay whoops sorry folksheterosexual life partners.
I don’t have time to respond to everyone, but a few people made great points about that post that I want to address.
1. Fans that don’t fit into a gender/sexual orientation binary
The post contained very, very simplified definitions of “fanboy” and “fangirl,” and people from innumerable backgrounds felt left out. “What about fanboys who ship?” “What about fangirls who don’t ship anything?” Those are important questions and they deserve an answer.
I didn’t expand on this before, so I will now: Everyone has a place in fandom. Everyone. For the sake of that piece I targeted a very specific subset of fans and in no way want to generalize about the others. I could never even claim to speak for all heterosexual women who ship; that would be arrogance. Each person defines their own fanhood. The important thing is that fans respect each other and accept that different people find different ways of enjoying their fandoms.
2. Why this actually is a women’s rights/LGBT issue
Some people took offense.
I understand the frustration that comes from fetishizing homosexuality. I do. But I want to be clear: I never once considered myself some sort of GLBT rights crusader. I ship because I see interesting relationships to be explored, and because it’s fun. That being said, the angry tone of my post didn’t originate with me. It came as a response to very real anger from certain fanboys directed at people like me. And a lot of that anger comes from places that are, most certainly, a rights issue (“You can’t make [X character] gay because being gay is wrong!”)
I also take offense to the notion that “some of these characters are important to people” is a valid excuse for their anger. It implies that these characters aren’t important to people like me. You have no idea how important they are to me and how often a Captain America comic has gotten me through a rough day.
And it’s not just me:
Honestly, I can’t articulate any better than this why women’s rights do come into play here. Shipping is a great outlet for women:
It’s also a great outlet for anyone who enjoys exploring sexualities:
I’m honestly thrilled to have provoked so much discussion. People are saying important things, and I’m sorry I can’t quote all of them. So I’ll quote Captain America quoting Mark Twain:
Fangirls, fanboys, shippers, nonshippers: keep speaking. Let your voice be heard.
Yes, I know I reblogged it before; I’m reblogging it again.
This image epitomises the delight I get from transformative works, and it’s a beautifully eloquent response to Robin Hobb’s misguided rant about fanfiction:
“The intent of the author is ignored. A writer puts a great deal of thought into what goes into the story and what doesn’t. If a particular scene doesn’t happen ‘on stage’ before the reader’s eyes, there is probably a reason for it. If something is left nebulous, it is because the author intends for it to be nebulous. To use an analogy, we look at the Mona Lisa and wonder. Each of us draws his own conclusions about her elusive smile. We don’t draw eyebrows on her to make her look surprised, or put a balloon caption over her head. Yet much fan fiction does just that. Fan fiction closes up the space that I have engineered into the story, and the reader is told what he must think rather than being allowed to observe the characters and draw his own conclusions.” Robin Hobb on fanfiction
And she’s wrong, she’s SO wrong. Granted, drawing a mustache onto the Mona Lisa would be a bad thing, a final thing, a change-the-source thing, but there are COUNTLESS images that mess with the Mona Lisa without ever actually damaging the source image, without ever preventing a viewer from engaging with the pristine source image and interpreting it as they see fit. The Mona Lisa remains inviolate, regardless of weed-smoking iterations or The Da Vinci Code, and the audience are free to interpret her as they will. Transformative works based upon her are examples of people sharing one possible interpretation, or addressing problems they perceive, or bringing a marxist/feminist/whateverist reading to the fore, or just making their friends giggle.
This, though, this is so much better than anything I’ve seen that transforms the Mona Lisa. This takes that gorgeous, familiar image of Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring (an image that the book and movie of the same name have made familiar to people outwith Art History students [who might know it as the ‘Mona Lisa of the North’]) and reworks it with brilliant and elegant simplicity.
Manet’s painting ‘Olympia’ does something similar with Titian’s ‘Venus of Urbino’ (which is itself a reworking of Giorgione’s ‘Sleeping Venus’); Georgione dresses up his objectifying & titillating high class porn as an image of a goddess, and has her eyes closed - she doesn’t know we’re ogling her. She’s helpless before our (male) voyeuristic gaze. Titian’s nude knows we’re ogling her, but she’s still putatively a goddess, and despite that she’s glancing coyly away as she consciously provokes the viewer, offering herself up to him. Manet’s nude, however, is unambiguously presented as a human and a prostitute, and she looks straight out at the viewer, her hand on her thigh making it clear that she alone chooses who gets access to her sex. The painting was received with shock and disgust and had to be protected from those who wanted to destroy it for its obscenity - not for showing naked flesh, but for making the naked woman into a subject, rather than an object.
God, I’m rambling. Anyway, point being - transformative work, intratextual work, is most emphatically not a new thing, nor a creatively barren thing. It’s awesome. And this image here is delicious, because it takes that lovely painting, in which the model is mysterious, alluring, her parted lips gleaming and her eyes wide as she looks out at the viewer, objectified - and it drags it straight into the 21st century by adding the camera, making it into that recognisable MySpace pose, making her the CREATOR of the image not just the object. She is looking at herself, not at us, and this careful composition becomes an ephemeral snapshot, a fleeting moment in her day.
Okay, okay these are ALL EXCELLENT POINTS, all right? I love you to death, fanfic forever, but every time I hear this part where Robin Hobb gets up on her high horse and tries to tell us writing fic is like defacing the Mona Lisa I just fall down laughing. PEOPLE DEFACE THE MONA LISA ALL THE TIME! Famously! With mustaches and word balloons and phonetic initials that spell out “She’s got a hot ass.” Has she even heard of Marcel DuChamp?
FAM—wait for iiiiitttt—OUS. FAMOUS GRAFFITI’D PAINTING. Like, you don’t want to read fic, you don’t have to, but the art world is mostly laughing at your choice of an ‘inviolable source.’
And the idea that a reader must never posit a theory concerning an ambiguous textual moment and then write it down is not merely startling, but a ridiculous and asinine refutation of, oh, centuries of literary theory, an academic discipline built upon, apparently, the sheer effrontery to take an author’s text and squeeze its grey areas until truth comes out. This is what people do with texts, they internalize them and gnaw at them, and shake them over the floor for loose change to come out. They analyze characters and debate philosophies. They list psychological traits in order to create profiles. They applaud successes, and sometimes they call out the aspects of a work where the author failed. And libraries are full of their ideas, their forewords, and annotations. Entire colleges rise and fall on the reputations of these academics, all scribbling not merely mustaches, but their own names across these texts in big, bold print.
That work still counts, it still makes sense of ambiguity—indeed, if someone decided to say ‘you can’t form this hypothesis! The author left it blank for a purpose!’ then that too is a valid argument. And they’ll write a forest of pages defending that ambiguity, explaining its placement and what that murky textual shadow means. So not even your blank spot is safe, my dear author, and that work matters as well. We’re all sharing your space, from Jane Eyre to The Wide Sargasso Sea. Stories do not exist in a vacuum unless they live wholly in their author’s mind.