reposted from my Tumblr
Is it too much to hope that Caitlin Moran will see any of our posts and realize what she’s done? That she’ll even feel guilty and apologize? I don’t know. Wonders do happen.
What bothers me, personally, is that after a night’s sleep (and a bad one, no kidding) I have very strange feeling about writing fanfic. I’ve written more than 100 stories in the past ten years, and I was never worried about it, but now I feel like I should be very careful what I post, thanks to Ms. Moran (anyone else noticing her last name the irony of it?).
Recently I started reading “Fic – Why Fanfiction is taking over the world” and I think it points out some very interesting and important facts. They’ve been named here on Tumblr before also – for example, that Sherlock (the BBC series, or any other televised form/cinematic realization, for that matter), is nothing else than fanfiction, either.
Sherlock Holmes isn’t a mid-thirties man with a Blackberry phone. That’s (fan)fiction created out of the original.
Sherlock Holmes isn’t a man living in New York, having a female partner (and sobriety counselor!) in his Watson. That’s (fan)fiction created out of the original.
Sherlock Holmes also isn’t all that steampunk like it’s shown in certain (fantastic) movies. That’s (fan)fiction created out of the original.
And while we’re at it – the whole homoerotic part that is always mocked by interviewers and the press is something BBC’s Sherlock brought in (others did as well, Granada, for example, but let that be about BBC’s in particular). They made it a running gag. Not us. ACD was very much opposed to homosexuality (which is to be expected), although some research a while ago told me that while he was opposed to it, he didn’t see it as the devil’s work or something, but “merely” as a curable disease (a whole different issue, though).
Almost everything that is created out of one original work is (fan)fiction. Is it made by fans? Maybe not always, though I strongly assume that in some areas, some fandoms, you have to be a fan to make it. Can we consider Peter Jackson a LotR fan? I think so. Are Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss fans? Well, they’ve said so themselves, and numerous times. Are Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner fans of Doctor Who? Certainly, even though Nu!Who is technically still farthest away from fanfic.
So what is next? Will they mock 8-year-olds for playing pirates and cowboys in the street? Because that’s basically fanfiction as well. It’s a fictional universe created by fans, a fictional replay in any form coming from people who love something so much that they can’t get enough of it, and when there stops being something of it, they create their own.
And why don’t they create their *own*? Well, because it’s the known that brings us together. TV series, movies, books, games, anything some people know, some people can communicate about. When we write fanfic, when we create fanart, when we cosplay, when we go to conventions, it’s because we have something that connects us all. One fandom, one fictional universe, we all know, and we know all about, and it makes us an in-group, it makes us friends where we thought we were alone, it makes us part of a community in the easiest way possible, whereas else we live in a world where you have to fight for every bit of approval amongst others.
So is fanfiction, or any fan work, shameful? Is it wrong? Is it plagiarism? No.
It’s just us, being passionate about something that makes our lives that tiny bit better.
So, dear members of the press, before you next go and mock us, try to think about it for a moment. Have you something you are passionate about? Something you love? Any fictional work of art you don’t get enough of? If your answer is yes, then you should shut up now very quickly, because you’re no different than us. If your answer is no… then you might very well just shut up all the same, because you have NO idea what all this is about. And I don’t know about you, but I when I was brought up I was told to just keep my mouth shut about something I know nothing about. Or at least do some research first.
There is a wall between creators who make the fandom, and the fandom itself, and it’s there to protect both sides. We know about each other, and most of the time we love each other – but we don’t need to know everything about the other in detail. And especially not if something from one side is shoved down the other side’s throat, without any of us having a say in it. BBC Sherlock’s creators know about our works. Fine. What makes me sad about it is that even Steven Moffat said that we show our adoration for the show with “gay porn”. This is hurtful – but not because I think Moffat said it on purpose to hurt us, but because I believe it’s what he really thinks; that he doesn’t know better because it’s all he’s ever confronted with. And that’s a shame, because there is so much great writing and art in this fandom (as in every other), but all we are defined by is the (of course existing and well-loved, but still not solely) adult slash.
Another thing about the BFI incident: What makes me really sad is that Benedict apparently saw himself inclined to comment on the fanfic, or fanfics in general. I couldn’t understand it properly, but it didn’t sound very kind (something about ludicrous?). Now, that’s not criticism on Ben, by far not. After what he and Martin had just been made to do, I probably wouldn’t have reacted much different. What makes me sad about it is that it creates a misconception that is neither necessary nor the whole picture. It’s one part, and while I love porny fanfics like the next fangirl, there are – and I’ve said it before – thousands, millions of fanfics that are cute and harmless and G-rated and might just have made for a very nice read-through. Stories that made me laugh out loud when I read them, and that were very much in character and in canon of the show, with humor and friendship and subtext. That is not to say that I want any of them read fanfics in general (at least not in such a situation, and out loud), but giving them an M-rated fic is– I’m still so embarrassed about that.
Ben was shown the “harmless” fanart before (on Jimmy Fallon I believe it was) – why not do the same with fanfic, if one has to do it at all? Why support an impression that is just wrong, because it is only one part, and one that will make everyone uncomfortable when confronted with (I’m proud of every fanfic I write, but do I need people IRL to know about it? God no!)?
There was this incident a while back in the Mentalist fandom, when during a Q&A at the Paley Festival the actors and creator were told about the shipper name of the primary couple from the show (who are not a couple (yet)). This name has been subject to controversy in the fandom itself, because it does sound a bit… uncreative. Now, at first sight the reaction of the makers is quite funny. But on second thought, it’s just hurtful. They are confronted with something the fandom uses for itself (and, as said, isn’t even fully agreeing on, other than, for example, Johnlock as shipper name!) in front of a public audience including many fans, and are forced to react to it. They were all shocked and, you could say, even disgusted, with the male actor of the ship commenting on it with “this is just wrong”. And to me, as a fan, as someone of a community that has created for itself this fandom where we have our in-jokes and names and labels that are there for reasons, whatever they may be, it’s like being slapped in the face.
I’m aware that actors and creators are not always happy about what we fans do, but they tolerate it, and most of the times, they accept it as what it is – appreciation for their work. I don’t like everything the fandom (any fandom I’m in) does, but that doesn’t mean I go and shame those people who do it. But telling those on the other side of previously described wall about it and forcing them to react is breaking same wall – in moments when they are not prepared for it, and not able to consider it for a moment before they react – is causing harm in ways we might not be able to predict the outcome of. And that isn’t fair to either side.
I don’t want actors and creators lose respect for the fans just because they think all we can create is (gay) porn (especially when it’s taken out of context like the fic Ben and Martin had to read a part of) and strange names. But what I also don’t want is to know when they disapprove of it, when they think of it as crazy or wrong. It’s okay and I accept it, but I do not need to hear/see it.
Sorry, followers, I try to let this be my last post about the BFI incident. It’s just that, as a fanfic writer (and I think everyone out there who writes fanfics as well will know what I’m talking about – especially the author of the story that was used) I feel completely powerless, and that’s a terrible feeling. Maybe fanfic is a work of art created from another work of art, but it is still ours. And no one has the right to take it and shame it, much less when we – and in that case, the writer herself – can’t do anything about/against it.