In Defense of Fanfiction (or, The Nerdiest Thing I Have Ever Written)

14 Feb 2015 by Brianna, Comments Off

There is this Very Popular Book Series that is being turned into what will most likely be an Equally Popular Movie Series. The first of these movies came out yesterday.  I don’t care about these books at all. The little bits that I read I didn’t like very much because I don’t think they were written particularly well.

There is a lot of valid criticism to be made about the Very Popular Book Series. All of it has all been said with varying degrees of eloquence. I understand and agree with most. The hate over the fact that this series started out as “Bad Twilight Fanfiction” is what gets my nerd hackles riled up.

As Carl Sagan would tell you, every story begins at the beginning of the universe. Back at the beginning of when stories were being told, back before we wrote or chiseled or painted, stories belonged to everyone. I mean that once a story was told it would be retold in different ways by everyone who heard it, of course. But I also mean that anyone could come up with and tell their own story. You didn’t have to be a good storyteller. You didn’t have to be clever, or know the right people, or have enough money to become well educated.  You just had to open your mouth.  Whether or not anyone heard you is a different story.

It might have been harder to get your fanfiction read before the internet, when you had to know about fan zines and how to get copies of them. Now all you need is an internet connection, which you can get at the public library. Thirteen year olds write fanfiction, as do adults. A large number of fanfiction writers are women, but there are also men out there. Yes, a lot of it is bad. Yes, a lot of it is as gross as you would expect. But the same can be said for any other type of storytelling. There are plenty of renowned  authors out there who just don’t speak to me. (Some of the students I am tutoring are reading Camus in their AP English class and are incredibly amused by my
response whenever he is brought up.)

But there is a lot of well written, blow-your-socks-off fanfiction out there, even if we call published riffs on someone  else’s work as “homage” and not fanfiction. May I suggest Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality? (YMMV on this one- personally it is too “Textbooky” for me, but lots  of non-fanfiction readers like this one.) There have also been lovely character pieces on Luna Lovegood that left me more satisfied than Rowling’s “let’s give the weird outlier character the same happy ending as everyone else: she grows up, gets over some of her crazier theories and gets married to some dude, idk.” (memo to self: Write “Luna Lovegood: Squatch Hunter.”)

The value we sometimes place on other people’s favored type of storytelling often bothers me. We all can be too exclusionary- I, too, can’t help but scrunch my nose up when ever my mom watches “Real Housewives.” It happens when serious literary types get into “graphic novels” but still stick their  nose up at sweaty nerds reading their non-Watchmen superhero ”comic books.”

It is why Anton Ego was so deplorable when he dismissed Gusteau’s cookbook based on it’s title, Anyone Can Cook.

Sure, dismiss a book for having started off as bad fanfiction, but don’t dismiss it just because it started off as fanfiction.

 

TLDR;

people are stuck up, yo

if anyone takes “Luna Lovegood: Squatch Hunter” away from me, I will hunt you down Liam Neeson Style.

 

 

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