Note: this post was originally made in 2010 in response to Diana Gabaldon’s epic rant about fanfiction. The original version is still being updated. I’m reposting it to Tumblr by request, but if you have any additions, please feel free to drop a comment at LJ so they can be added to the masterpost!
You think fanfic is a personal affront to the many hours you’ve spent carefully crafting your characters. You think fanfic is “immoral and illegal.” You think fanfiction is just plagiarism. You think fanfiction is cheating. You think fanfic is for people who are too stupid/lazy/unimaginative to write stories of their own. You think there are exceptions for people who write published derivative works as part of a brand or franchise, because they’re clearly only doing it because they have to. You’re personally traumatized by the idea that someone else could look at your characters and decide that you did it wrong and they need to fix it/add original characters to your universe/send your characters to the moon/Japan/their hometown. You think all fanfic is basically porn. You’re revolted by the very idea that fic writers think what they do is legitimate.
We get it.
Congratulations! You’ve just summarily dismissed as criminal, immoral, and unimaginative each of the following Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and works:
"I came to read this as a lover and supporter of fic as literature (and I’ve used Shakespeare and Virgil as examples many a time!) but I noticed a trend in the examples which makes me think of a different angle: the works being transformed, and the odds that the work itself will survive its offspring.
"In most cases of Respected Art that you list, the offspring is no threat to its parent. Wicked doesn’t erase The Wizard of Oz; it complements it. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen actually encourages its readers to seek out the originals, the better to understand the in-jokes. No amount of Virgil will make us forget Homer.
"But what about Arthur Brooke? Who remembers "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet"? (Heck, who remembers who inspired Brooke? This is apparently tangled enough that the exact answer may be eternally lost to history.) Shakespeare’s fic eclipsed his sources to an astronomical degree.
"And this may be the fear of authors opposed to fic: that their work may be found mediocre (or worse, bad). That a gifted writer may create a fic which will involve their work in a legacy bearing none of their name. That, in the end, their story will stand as the pale shadow of someone else’s.
"I still don’t agree with authors opposing fic - I think literature is the better and richer for free exchange of story - but I can have a little more sympathy, if they are less concerned about fanfic being bad than its being good."
I think you’ve hit on the main reason fanfiction is so threatening to people—because it forces them to confront the reality that their works are not really individual masterpieces but part of a collective communal body of ideas and tropes, humanity’s attempt to speak a common language through literature. I think fanfiction and the whole of remix culture is honestly a really humbling eye-opener of a culture shock to a lot of people. Because now Stargate:Atlantis isn’t just Stargate, it’s Stargate:Atlantis, the work that produced Written by the Victors. “Baby Got Back” isn’t just a fun summer classic hip-hop anthem, it’s the work that inspired Nikki Minaj to produce the searingly feminist “Anaconda.”
I think it also forces people to recognize that fanfic isn’t something that’s happened to them like they’ve been mugged; rather, fanfic reveals to them that they never were creating in a vacuum. Chretien de Troyes didn’t just happen along to singlehandedly invent the Arthurian legends that would inspire 8000000000 works that came after him. He was just the first to go on record, using tropes that predated him, tropes that remain timeless.
“You may just simply—because of things you’ve already established in your story or where you see the story going—may not want to explicitly make a character gay, but you may feel that subtext is appropriate for your story.
So for example, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer the scene where her mother is saying, ‘Have you ever tried not slaying?’ Was that queerbaiting?
"We were using a gay metaphor, we were using a metaphor equating slaying to being gay that I thought was very powerful,” Espenson said.
“If you say any time that something is not canon that it’s just metaphorical, it’s queerbaiting, then you lose that opportunity. Then I think it also scares creators away from taking their first tentative step into using a gay character. If they start with some subtext and are rebuffed they’re never going to go near it. So I think let’s have better assumptions about people’s intent.”—We interviewed Jane Espenson about writing, queerbaiting, and the impact of her characters. (via dailydot)
fwiw I love David Yates’ direction, think his work on the last 4 HP films was absolutely superb, was really hoping that he’d be returning for Fantastic Beasts, and am really hoping that news gets confirmed. <3
maybe rethink shaming people and calling them “shitfaces” because they haven’t donated money to the Brown family. the inability or even the unwillingness to donate doesn’t automatically make a person part of the problem, nor does it mean that they aren’t working on the problem in other important ways which you can’t see from your fucking high horse.
No “shitface” was the word I wanted. “You have one job right now, and it’s to not be a shitface who sits back and does nothing but make sad faces on social media instead of giving whatever you can to make this right.”
"Whatever you can spare" means whatever that is, whether it’s to donate to the fund or to join a protest or to call your senator or to try and have a serious conversation about race with the one person you’re scared to talk to about it, or to read a book about the history of police brutality in America or to join a government lobby or something, something to challenge other people, to challenge yourself, to change.
But if you’ve spent the last week and a half on social media watching what’s going on, and you haven’t actually done one thing to try to change the culture, then yeah, “shitface” is exactly the word I was looking for. It reflects the level of my deep frustration and sorrow and anger and grief right now, which shouldn’t even register on the map of emotions compared to the actual lived experiences of black Americans, and if we’re not doing all we can to help change thus culture then we’re all shitfaces in the face of that, every last damn one of us.
Most of us have followed the terror in Ferguson all week from afar, and I’ve seen Tumblr reblogging and engaging passionately on this platform about the unbelievable police state that’s taking place in Missouri right now.
Michael Brown’s Memorial Fund currently has donations from a grand total of 5,180 people.
That’s less than 1% of the people I’ve seen reblogging posts about Ferguson on this platform alone, much less the millions of people who’ve been glued to this situation across the world.
If you want to make this situation just one iota less horrible for the family of Mike Brown, this is how. GoFundMe lets you choose how much you want to donate. It doesn’t matter how much you contribute. What matters is that you do something, that you add your donation to the people who are supporting this family. We are in the middle of the biggest civil rights moment the U.S. has seen in four decades, and that means something, and it means something that you do more than just sign a Change.org petition or use a Twitter hashtag to express your grief.
We are fighting against an ideology that is so insidious that it has normalized the behavior of cops who shoot unarmed teens and remove their badges and point their guns at civilians and gas 8-year-olds without apology. It has normalized the belief that good true Christian white people should support those cops and support Michael Brown’s killer.
You know how many people have contributed to the Darren Wilson campaign so far? 4200. And they’ve managed to raise $172,000 on the backs of white privilege and black bodies. They believe, in their racism, that justice isn’t justice, but rather a war they have to fucking outspend you on.
There is nothing more important than this right now, this week. You have one job right now, and it’s to not be a shitface who sits back and does nothing but make sad faces on social media instead of giving whatever you can to make this right. There is nothing more important than this. There is nothing more important than every one of us sacrificing whatever we can spare to help this family, to help this town, to help this country. There is nothing more important than boosting the number of contributors to Michael Brown’s memorial fund from 5,180 donors to 50,000, to 500,000, to 5 million, to 5 billion people who will not let systemic white oppression win out over the moral obligation to seek justice for Michael Brown’s murder.
and you once said i wish you dead you sinner, i’ll never be more than a wolf at your door for dinner, and if i see you ‘round like a ghost in my town, you liar, i’ll leave with your head oh i’ll leave you for dead, sire.