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.