Part of a Celluloid Dream

I am ALL about breaking rules. One of the first, if not *the* first rule of fandom is to never talk about fandom. I break that rule every single day, and I’m pretty proud of that. Another rule is not to talk about fanfic. Not sure if anyone knows, but I have been doing a lot of reading on fan fiction lately. Shortened to fanfic – it’s a subject that is apparently pretty polarizing in fandom circles. People either like it or hate it.  It’s one of those things that tend to have nasty insults hurled “You’re crazy and basically fantasizing out loud!”, “Stop putting yourself into your stories!”, “You’re just a stalker with an overactive imagination!”.  What do you think?

I don’t write or read fanfic currently. Several years ago on my old message board home (duranduranfans.com – it’s gone so don’t try to find it!), there was a fanfic section and I did read a lot of it. I was amazed by the creativity. I also did attempt to write some of my own, but the problem I found was that I was creeped out at by the idea of writing about real people…because the band is made up of real people. For me, that stopped my creative juices cold, and I decided I was a much better reader than writer. No judgment, I just couldn’t write a story to save my life. Since then, I haven’t read because there’s just no time (in my day) for that. I can barely find time to read my research, much less a book or story for enjoyment. I am not totally FOR FanFic, nor am I totally against it. I think like everything else in fandom, my opinion is that there is a place for it, certainly. I also believe that there are probably boundaries – but that is a personal thing. I am not into telling people what they should or should not do with regards to fanfic, but I am very interested in reading what our Daily Duranie readers think either way. 
I asked a very innocent (well, mostly innocent) question on Facebook last week – I wanted to know how people felt about FanFic. Is in an integral part of being a Duran fan?  My reasons for asking were simple: in the fandoms I’m researching right now – they lend themselves well to FanFic. Books like Twilight and Harry Potter, television shows like Star Trek and Supernatural all have a thriving and growing fan base, yet in three out of the four examples I’ve given (Twilight, Harry Potter and the TV series Star Trek), the original series has ended. What keeps the fan base active? I’d have to offer up the idea of FanFic as at least one point.  To fans, the stories have continued in one fashion or another, and the “fanworks” are what keep the fandom alive.  
Interestingly enough, the storylines don’t always follow true to form. They aren’t always a continuation of existing stories. The authors of the FanFic put their own spin on things, it’s not a re-write of what has already been done, but brand new stories, and even more curiously there are many different genres that characters from the books, movies, TV series, etc. are written in which to reside. These genres include Romance, H/C (hurt/comfort), Slash (guy/guy; girl/girl), including incestuous and other types of relationships, they can be extremely sexual, not so much…and everything in between. So the boulevard for fanfic is incredibly wide, yet ridiculous to try and navigate in a single blog post. 
The answers I received to my question were very enlightening. Most of those who wrote publicly wanted to make sure I knew that they didn’t participate. Others were happy to tell me that they still participate, but that the entire topic has really moved underground. It’s just not out there in public for people to find. You’ve got to be a member of a private board or so forth, because a lot of writers are just tired of being judged. None of the reactions surprised me. As I said earlier, I think it’s something that you either love and participate in, or you hate the idea it even exists. Someone else pointed out to me that the band were real people – so fanfic probably doesn’t exist. In fact, DD fanfic still exists. It’s real, and it’s out there. For those of you who were on DDM.com a few years back, you probably know or have heard about Offenderland – the fanfic area that was removed.  The fact is, it does exist, RPF or not (Real Person Fiction), and yes, all of the above genres mentioned are still written with the band in mind.  
I know some of the questions people want to know. How can you write about real people? Isn’t it disrespecting the band? Isn’t it just flat out creepy?  Isn’t it invading their privacy?  Where can I find this fan fic?!? (Come on, I know somebody out there wants to know!!) 
I can’t answer all of these questions, because I’m not a writer in that sense. What I can tell you is this: fanfic is an important part of fandom, even if it’s not a publicly-seen cornerstone of our own. Real Person Fiction, however unnerving it might seem upon first glance – occurs across every single type of fandom out there. Fanfic can be therapeutic. It’s putting thoughts to paper (or screen) that you just need to get out of the system. Sort of similar to blogging!  Fanfic also opens the doors for discussion, in the very same way that this blog might. I would agree, there are parts to fanfic that yes, I find very creepy, but the trouble with extending that creepiness to all of it, insisting that it be kept out of sight and out of mind is that for many, it is how they choose to communicate. It is how those real world issues of race, sexuality, misogyny, homophobia, and other challenges to whatever the social norms might be get discussed. To those who write fanfic, the band are just the muse. They’re the characters in whatever situation they’re being written into. Let’s be honest: unless you’re a friend of the band – and by “friend” I don’t mean someone who has met them many times, I’m talking about someone who is invited “IN” past the curtain or stage door – they aren’t people we know. We only know the onstage, public persona. I don’t know how the band might feel about the stories being written about them, but I think their privacy is likely whatever happens after that proverbial stage door is “shut”. 
What I’d like to read though, are your opinions about fanfic. Like it? Hate it? Weirded out by the idea? Send in your comments. In coming blogs I plan to dig a little deeper into the subject – so prepare yourselves.  
-R

18 thoughts on “Part of a Celluloid Dream”

  1. I think the majority of fanfic writers create stories because they enjoy the “what if”. Some of my favorite Duran fanfics are about just that for example “What if Andy and Roger had never left” gives an interesting premise. What would the band have done? How would their relationships and lives have changed? Search for the Undeniable, a story on Lovely Blue Planet of There has a time travel aspect “what if each member (the story was written in the 90's so it was S/J/N/W) traveled back 200 years in time to their place of birth? How would they survive? How would they find each other? Similarly, there are stories that take the known aspects of someone's personality- for example John's intensity, Nick's creativity and see how they would react in a different place or time. What if John lived during the Regency era? I don't find anything creepy or weird about this type of fiction. It's an exploration of possibilities and character. We, the readers and writers, know it isn't fact even if we base it on an actual time or event. I also personally love it when a story tells a fictional background that ties seamlessly into actual events. One of my own stories does that. It creates a ficitonal love interest for John at the very beginning of Duran and follows how his fame affects their relationship and in turn, causes him to make certain choices in his life.

    I tend to shy away from stories where the authors put themselves in it unless it's done tongue-in -cheek. Generic “I met so and so after the concert and we hooked up” stories don't interest me although I still respect the right of those who want to write those types of fics. None of us should be harassed for reading or writing fanfic. – Shellyduran

  2. I write it, I read it, and I enjoy it very much. Your final assessment, R, is exactly why I'm not weirded out by it – they aren't who they are in real life in my stories because I don't know them personally. Sure, I've met them, but that doesn't make me their “friend”. In my writing, they are my fictionalized interpretation of who they are onstage and in the media. And I know that they are not the only band that fanfic is written for – they're not the only band I've written it about. It's a creative outlet and for those like me, who love to write, it keeps our creativity sharp and alive. I may share it on a private board with people who also enjoy reading/writing it, but honestly, I mainly write it for me (to express my own creative thoughts.)

  3. I agree that no one should be harassed for reading or writing fanfic, that is for sure…and I have absolutely no issue with what gets written either, because we can all decide what we want to read. It's a CHOICE. As for what the majority of writers create – I really and truly think it depends upon the community we're talking about. Some places lend themselves to creating more slash, others not so much…and that's OK.

    The other types of stories you mention – they are called Mary Sue's or Marty Stu's – and that is when the author literally writes her/his self into the story. Those are more of the fantasy-type, and they tend to be met with a lot of ire in other communities. I don't know how well they are received in Duranland. For that matter, they are met with a lot of ire even in total fictional pieces, and I can understand the point, but like you – I think it's up to each individual as to what they want to write and/or read about. -R

  4. @EasternViolet Okay… I am *bursting* here. I write alot of fanfic, but I outright refuse to write Duranfic. That is a line that I won't cross. I write fanfic based on a RPG, and I am part of a very vibrant writers group as well. In my experience, its an awesome hobby, with an incredibly supportive community (wtth real like connections like in Duranland). Within my writing, some of the characters are “canon” to the RPG and some are OC (original characters). Its also important for me, as a writer, to feel that I am in sanctioned territory. I feel this is a very “safe” form of fanfic, as NONE of the characters are real and the original publishers are cool as well, so long as we add disclaimers. (Most of us publish on Fanfiction.net). And, I've read it all. Slash,fluff, smut, porn. I know, as a writer what goes on inside my head when I write. In my own stuff, I primarily write OCs, with canon characters as supporting cast, in the RPG world. I am completely attached to my characters. I have to get inside their head to write them. I get to know them really, really well. To be honest, I blush at the thought of writing as if I was John Taylor, or another character interacting with SLB. Its very intimate, a sort of intimacy that I feel that I don't have the permission to have with Duran. That is my point of view anyway.

    Now, I admit, that I *did* write volumes of fanfiction back in the 1980s. It went hand in hand with my Duran obsession. I wrote everyday… and it was very typical teenage fanfic – how I was old enough to meet and JT fall in love with me )blush(. (I burned every last bit before I left home, there was no way that I was going to let THAT get into the wrong hands.

    So, for the most part, I think duranfic is a toe (sometimes the whole foot) over the line. Do I think the writers should stop? No. I'm just not going to read it, that's all.

    I'd love to hear another opinion on that matter… something a little more substantial that “Its a free country, I can write what I want to write.” Is the idea here, that JT is just an empty vessel, a mere ideal that a writer can fill ideas with… that this JT has nothing to do with the real one, other than the fact that readers all know what he looks like? There is a community-building aspect to writing fanfiction, so I am imagining that it has to be a big factor with Duranfic.

    But the Duranfic, that I could never be convinced of, is slash. And I've seen it. Nick/John, Simon/Nick. Thats. just.strange.

    And I also get very miffed at writers who find no value in fanfic. Cory Doctorow has a great article on that. (This is more connected to fanfic of fiction).

    http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2007/05/cory-doctorow-in-praise-of-fanfic.html

    Does Doctorow's arguments also say something about Duranfic? I'm not sure. Maybe I am being too judgmental and narrow. My boundary is there because it is the way that I can pay respect, as a fan. (And I am not saying that if you are writing duranfic that you are disrespectful… I am saying, this is one way I exercise it). I hope a fan fic writer participates in this dialogue, I am interested in their POV for sure. No flaming, promise!

  5. Makes total sense to me. I know fanfic is written about a multitude of bands – even in the books I've read many different bands have been mentioned (and DD was NOT among them).

    I think that like any of the other creative outlets to represent fandom – the band is the inspiration, but probably not the end-all, and I just don't see the harm. -R

  6. GREAT comments. I will let others (hopefully) comment in return because to be honest – unless you want me to basically spew everything that I've been reading as of late that has no regard to the Duran community at hand – I don't have answers that I myself have experienced and know to be true. -R

  7. I have read it and written it. And yes, some of what I wrote was slash. Very explicit slash. I also wrote some hetfic, with myself, though unnamed, as a participant. It is all fantasy. Straight out fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that. It is all part of a normal healthy sex life. Choosing to share it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I have a lot of friends who think the same way I do and I know they would appreciate it. I have had some VERY positive comments on my writing. Yes, I realize they are real people, but it is clear that this is simply my fantasy version of them. While I DO make every effort to capture their true spirit and personality in my writing, I also know that it is not real. I am not delusional, as some critics of fanfic would try to say I (or any writer) am. I completely understand if some people have zero interest in reading it or in writing their own. But the beauty of this community is we are all different people coming together (uhm, maybe more literally than I intended there, lol) to share our interests. Why should anyone care if like-minded fans share these sorts of things? We really are not hurting anyone. We are not implying these things have happened. Some say, “What if they or their family read it?” Well, I would hope that anyone reading would understand it is simply fiction and no intentions are there to harm anyone or make any claims in real life. To me, I think that is the biggest issue. Those who have been vocal critics do not seem to understand that. People take things far too literally and it simply is not intended to be.

  8. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, definitely not, even if I don't write it myself. That isn't the point at all here though.

    What is interesting to me though, because of the social scientist in me, is how the authors view their own work. Is it really purely fantasy? Is it a way of working through issues in their own life? Is it something else entirely? Believe it or not -for a lot of people it serves as therapy. I can see that as easily as I can see the fantasy in it all. Thanks for sharing! -R

  9. I was curious to see what responses you would receive here. I don't write it – I'm not counting the stories my friends and I wrote as teenagers 30 years ago, which apparently a lot of us did! Thankfully, those stories are long gone, and I bet I would be embarrassed if I (or anyone else) ever read them now!

    However, I have been known to read fan fiction on occasion. Not just Duran fan fiction, but some involving other real-life personalities, as well as those relating to totally fictional shows and movies. The ones dealing with fictional shows/movies, I view those as just another chapter in a totally make believe story that hasn't been told yet. The ones dealing with IRL persons I have to admit I read from a curiosity factor, I’m bit intrigued by seeing how people write about IRL personalities. It’s a lot different from the 100% fictional character stuff, because you can more clearly visualize the story in your head, or at least the characters. There are fan fic websites out there that have rules that you cannot post a fan fic about a real life person, not sure why that is because it’s should be pretty clear that the writing you find there is purely fictional.

    My thoughts on fan fiction. Some of it is downright awful. Some of it is ordinary. Some of it sounds like it was written by a teenager, and maybe it was. Some of it you can tell is the author clearly fantasizing about themselves, even if it written in the 3rd person. But some of it is really good. What I mean by really good is that it is very well written. As far as well-written band fan-fics, I don't admire those so much because they are about the band, I admire them more because I think they are just really well written fiction pieces. Put a fictional band/musician in there that never existed IRL and I still would like it just as much. I'm a reader, and love reading fiction, even if it is a fictionalization of real people.

    I have to admit though, some of the explicit sex scenes embarrass me. Maybe it’s because most of us have no idea how the band is in their personal lives, they work hard to keep their personal life and professional life separate, and to keep their private life private, and reading explicit stuff, even if it is all made-up, feels a bit like intruding on their private life!

    All of that being said, as long as the writer and the reader realize it is a 100% fantasy that has nothing to do with who they are in real life, I don’t think there is anything wrong with writing or reading it. To me it is no different from picking up a fictional novel and reading it for pure enjoyment. I don’t think anyone should be put down because they happen to read or write it, and if anyone views it as disrespectful and inappropriate, then they always have the option of not reading.

    PS. Not including my real name here, just in case there is an off chance that any of my Duran friends happen to be reading this and put 2 and 2 together. I don’t want them to know about my guilty pleasure of reading fan-fiction. Perhaps my desire to stay anonymous says more about some of the perceptions of fan-fiction better than my post ever could.

  10. Sometimes, being anonymous is comforting – and I completely understand where you're coming from.

    Thank you very much for your comments – they gave me things to consider, which I always appreciate! -R

  11. I used to write and read Duran fanfic, but I don't so much anymore. I think after “getting to know them better” (as much as is possible) via Twitter/Facebook/etc and Andy's & John's books, it's harder for me to write them as fictional characters. I know too much now. They're not the empty vessels they were before, that I could put whatever I wanted into, based on what I thought I knew, or their personality archetypes. But I can tell you what it did do for me: It made me a better fiction writer. I had written a lot before, but it was always non-fiction. The positive responses I got from my stories boosted my confidence and killed some of my fear of writing fiction.

    I very much understand why some people are squicky about it. Some of it is definitely not my cup of tea, and if the first fanfic someone chooses to read is dreadful, it could easily turn them off from reading further. But some of it is VERY VERY GOOD.

  12. I can completely see where it would make someone a great writer – and not just fiction, but non-fiction as well. Creative writing is always a great exercise, no matter the topic or genre. It's really what we do here every day.

    I don't know the band, but I have a tough time just writing fiction as it is, much less writing it about people I know exist. That's my own hangup though, not one that I think should stop anybody else. Writing is a good thing. -R

  13. I meant to reply to this the other day but didn't get the chance. I liked the article and like him, I'm flabbergasted when I encounter negative attitudes towards fanfic. I love that he addressed how many stories are retold countless times. This time of year, it's especially prevelant. How many versions of It's A Wonderful Life, Gift of the Magi, and of course, A Christmas Carol exist? Our own JT even appeared in A Diva's Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Present. There have been many articles written about the 7 basic plotlines in literature, everything is based on or influenced by something or someone else.

    As far as RPF goes, I honestly don't see a difference between RPF and historical fiction. Phillippa Gregory, Victoria Holt, and many others have found fame and fortune writing about the Tudors and other real people . Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter according to one recent book-turned-movie. The only difference I see between RPF and historical fiction is enough time passed that the main “characters” in historical fiction are deceased. However, reading stories written from Anne Boleyn's point of view or Marie Antoinette's perspective are no different to me than reading stories written from John Taylor's point of view or Nick Rhode's perspective. I love them all.

    One last thought, fanfic was once the realm of science fiction and was once dominated by men. However, the two most popular fanfic fandoms on fanfiction.net are Harry Potter and Twilight and they are mostly female writers. There has been an explosion of published female writers who got their start in fanfic. Here is a list of just a few of the published stories that started out as Twifics. http://www.twiifanfictionrecs.com/published-fics/ The most famous is of course, Fifty Shades of Grey. Most will never see that type of financial success but quite a few have done well enough that the authors can work as full time writers. Not bad for a bunch of fangirls. – Shellyduran

  14. My fave fanfic tales were the ones I got from the Communty Message Board- the Adult portion that the Management removed. Loved in particular the Roger's novels by “Sheila”: this was her nickname, don't know if she's still a paying member, but before we last PM-ed each other I did thank her for her posts.
    I can remember the fans raising protest against the Administrators removal of those stories: I basically regret they actually didn't understand it was just “fiction” and there wasn't anything offensive against the guys.

  15. Hi,

    I'm so late reading this. I still read and write fanfic from time to time, only not as much since I'm a professional author. I did a blog about fanfic when I was first published. I compared it to authors using actors in their stories or you can even say directors to play a part in their story. I've done this several times. I've used JT's face as a muse in my real stories. Not his life or persona, etc. In fanfiction, we write them as WE see them. By no means am I delusional nor am I embarrassed. I'm proud of every slash story I put the boys in and still run a website with my fics and others on it. It's a locked community because many like their privacy, which is fine. I get it but really, people must keep in mind its only FICTION, which means NOT REALITY. By no means am I slandering these guys by writing them as couples with each other or any other women I write them with. Its only fiction and fun!

    SLira

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!