idiothole: (prem)
idiothole ([personal profile] idiothole) wrote2012-08-19 06:46 pm

Fic-writing fandom as embraced creators of smaller canons.

In the brilliantly funny webseries, Husbands, there's this line where one character remarks to another that he obviously hasn't seen the fanfiction written about the two of them online. Now, regardless of whether such fanfic exists (which would be, in the universe of this series, RPS, but in our world, more standard fanfic written of fictional characters), I found it interesting that not only was this part of fandom directly referenced, but that when one viewer pointed this line out in the comments as a particularly funny one, the uploader of the video (assumably one of the main stars/writers) commented back, "Now let's see some fanfic of [character name] reading fanfic."

A maker of the show, soliciting fanfic?

Am I the only one positively weirded out by this?

I feel like fic-writing fandom has always been an awkward companion to most producers of media. Porny fanfics, some depicting homosexual relationships that don't exactly fit the makers' own views of the characters, are viewed as the slightly embarrassing form of fandom. You can watch our show, speculate on the internet and even make fanvids for pairings, but must you write those fics? Understandably, writers themselves don't necessarily want to read about it, a lot of other people involved in making the canon also don't.

Overall, I've always felt like I can share my interests with other people, but it takes a certain level of comfort in knowing my conversation partner understands the world of fanfic before I'll ever confess to writing some. It's not a badge I've ever been told to wear proudly.

Now, some creators will seemingly embrace the transformative works side of fandom pretty open-mindedly. Fanservice comes from understanding that even though the canon never really contained romantic undertones for a pairing intentionally, the creator can work some in to satisfy the needs of those fans who love the pairing. A lot of this has been queer-baiting - the idea that maybe, just maybe the homosexual subtext might become actual text. The sad thing? I don't know of a single incident in fandom when it has; when the creators have had the braveness to actually write a character that was previously assumed straight, to identify as gay or bisexual, somewhere along the line.

I think a lot of people are pretty sick of slash fanfiction, in the sense that when you realise how far you have to clutch at straws to undercut some of the overwhelming heterosexuality of most media, you desire some non-hetero representation - seriously, honestly, as opposed to winking at the screen or these persistently "no homo" labels like bromance or heterosexual life partners. Not that I don't still love those epic friendships, too, but it's 2012 and we could afford to be more, I think.

In all honesty, though, I was never too bothered by the fact that fanfiction wasn't exactly a hobby that people shouted about from rooftops. It helped preserve the "specialness" of it, and helped me connect to certain people almost instantly. When a relative stranger suddenly brings up a word associated with the fic writing fandom culture, it's like a secret handshake that leads to automatic bonding. On the other hand, at a time when my hobbies were writing fic and watching films, it was awkward not to be able to bring up the former, because even some fandomy folks just did not understand it. Because fic is that weird, porny stuff; fic isn't just a catch-all term for exploring the characters, limits and format of the canon itself. Fic isn't a celebration of the canon, it's the abomination of it.

So this makes me surprised that not only Husbands, but also the web series Lizzie Bennet Diaries had the main character encourage fanfic from the viewers. Of course, LBD is in itself a transformative work - it's an adaptation, modernized and slightly altered to fit the current world it takes place in (and it's a brilliant one at that!). But maybe something is going on -- maybe it's not just that these makers realise that fanfiction isn't weird, but a way of honouring the original material, or twisting it, or a way of exploring it further. Maybe they'd be honoured to be a part of such a process?

Maybe, just maybe - they don't see the delineation between themselves and the audience as so stark. We've got authors today who wrote fanfic. We've got authors today who, um, published their fanfic into original fiction. And we've got creators who maybe began writing as fanfiction writers, or involved in that world, and now don't feel that it's weird and alien, but instead seek that attention, because they know what it's about; it's about liking something, being obsessive, being imaginative.

And sometimes, it's also about porn.

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