Fanfiction and Fanart: The World Beyond Fifty Shades of Grey
December 7, 2015 - Fifty Shades of Grey
2015 has been, in some ways, a year that fanfiction came into a mainstream. Whether we adore or hatred Fifty Shades of Grey, a film finished a large dash during a box bureau and Grey, a retelling of Fifty Shades from Christain Grey’s POV, cracked book sales records. Speculation popped adult in vital news outlets seeking if Harper Lee can kick Grey in sales. Harper Lee! Spoiler alert: To Set a Watchman sole 1.1 million copies in 6 days vs. Grey’s 1.1 million in 4 days. You win this round, Grey.
It’s not only fanfic that’s carrying a moment, though. Fanartists are starting to see their work move in genuine income from outward a fandom world. Huge companies such as a BBC, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Disney have all protected renouned fanworks in a final integrate years, legitimizing fanart in totally new ways.
Even with a jot of acceptance, though, many fan creators find it tough to shake a eyerolls or even officious descent commentary. With this new call of legitimacy, we wanted to pronounce to leaders in a fanfic and fanart worlds to get a improved clarity of what desirous them to create, how they feel about a aloft profile, and how they see their work being devalued—not only in a media though from within a insincere protected space of fandom.
Sometimes, it’s about community
Community is a bit of a watch word in a fanfic and fanart communities, and for good reason. When we put out a call for fan creators, scarcely everybody who answered—whether writers and artists themselves or only admirers—had a recommendation ready.
“Here’s an article.”
“Here’s a story to read.”
“Here is a square of art we consider represents me.”
Betty Days, an author in a Marvel and Supernatural fandoms, was one of a initial to respond. She put a suspicion of village into viewpoint right away. She told me that, during a severe indicate in her life, she found herself though an opening for all a feelings bottling adult inside, so she motionless to try her palm during Supernatural fanfic.
“I woke adult a subsequent morning to dozens of acclamation and a handful of comments. we had never before created something so voraciously consumed by an audience, and maybe that’s a biggest advantage to fanfic: You will scarcely always have an audience. In a universe where courtesy is a changed commodity, fanfic is a abounding economy.”
Sometimes, it’s about representation
Another account that fast emerges as we pronounce to fans and creators comparison is a need to see themselves represented. That need—whether for some-more womanlike characters, odd characters, characters of color, or unequivocally anything not seen adequate in a mainstream—is partly what fosters that clarity of camaraderie.
Like many people we spoke to, Anna Clutterbock-Cook, owners of maybe a best hoop of all time (thefeministlibrarian), initial started essay fanfic out of a enterprise to see people like herself represented in media: “Politically, I’m a feminist and odd lady who identifies as bisexual, and I’m in a attribute with a lady (married given 2012). So I’m both intellectually preoccupied by a activity of enchanting with source element in this approach and privately invested in generating these narratives…” As a result, many fanfic she writes isn’t for worlds she’s a fan of though instead comes out of a wish to “fill a niche” where she sees a miss of illustration in a sold fandom.
In further to a suspicion of non-canon relations and condense (stay with me), race-bending and gender-bending are renouned genres.
“I don’t do it many anymore, given we wish to try to concentration on criterion characters of colour first,” explained artist Samantha Borje. “But we unequivocally enjoyed reading tags/comments on a [race-bent] work. One of my friends even pronounced she wanted to try cosplaying as Kate Bishop from Young Avengers/Hawkeye after observant my interpretation of her as East/Southeast Asian, and we desired that.”
Kiki Jenkins, whose gender-bent Supernatural design has developed into a full-blown striking novel called Idolon, thinks there’s a ubiquitous disagreement about since she creates gender-bent works.
She said, “They consider that I’m ‘unhappy’ that many of a Supernatural characters [are] masculine and that I’m someone who lobbies for them to be incited female. This isn’t during all true. I, like a lot of Supernatural viewers, trust that a uncover has finished a harm to their womanlike characters.”
Not all is ideal in fandom
Like many communities, a fanworks universe still has a issues when it comes to representation, generally in fandoms that are some-more white and male.
In a Dragon Age fandom, where Samantha Borje has recently begun formulating art, there has been recoil opposite canonically true characters apropos happy and opposite non-canon interracial couples. That form of greeting gives her postponement when she chooses a pairings for her art: “Even if feeling is not destined towards me privately though we still see it happening, we feel many reduction prone to make work for certain things. we consider eventually I’d do it anyway, though in any case, it’s not unequivocally encouraging.”
On a flip side, some debate recently erupted when a fan artist whose work had regularly been called into doubt as cryptic presumably attempted to dedicate self-murder as a outcome of online nuisance from within a fan community.
Embrace a bad stuff
I see we walking away. Nope; come behind here, since I’m headed right to Dira Sudis—another Marvel fan author—who creates a illusory box for since even objectively bad art has a place.
Sudis sensitive me that in librarianship—yes, another librarian—there are 5 laws. Number dual and 3 are, “Every reader their book,” and, “Every book a reader.” It is a librarian’s shortcoming to compare a right book with each reader, regardless of her possess opinion of a story.
“Good or bad don’t unequivocally enter into it; we don’t consider we ever met a librarian who thought Fifty Shades was an objectively good book, though we also don’t consider we ever met a librarian who didn’t do all in their energy to get copies of it into a hands of readers,” she told me.
Sudis went on to couple a suspicion of bad fanfic with representation, observant that even a many cringe-worthy stories competence have a deeper tie for some readers:
Somewhere out there is a chairman who honestly indeed needs to review that badly punctuated story about dual Transformers removing it on…Maybe since their gender temperament or passionate course or abuse story or some other thing going on in their life creates them feel worried meditative about sex involving soft unprotected tellurian bodies, and robots carrying sex helps them to express, or understand, something about their possess temperament or enterprise that they can’t get during any other way.
Think Before we Devalue
Let’s go all a approach behind to this past summer when E.L. James participated in an epically cursed Twitter QA with fans. It didn’t take prolonged for people to implement a #AskELJames forum to wittily dump on a author about her cryptic portrayals of assault and sex. we laughed; a internet laughed. It felt like karma, though afterwards Britta Lundin wrote an essay about how a occurrence unprotected a some-more sexist and ageist views that feed into anti-fanfic sentiment.
In a fascinating essay in 2009, Dira Sudis drew parallels between Joanna Russ’ mind-blowing book How to Suppress Women’s Writing and a criticisms mostly heaped on fan authors. Arguments like, “She wrote it, though demeanour what she wrote about,” “She wrote it, though she isn’t unequivocally an artist, and it isn’t unequivocally art,” and, “She wrote it, though she shouldn’t have,” are all flattering customary when a media discusses fanworks. A woman’s work is always “less than,” and only like a crueler #AskELJames tweets, there is an undercurrent of, “How brave we be a lady creation this thing?”
Unsurprisingly, all of a creators we spoke to were unwavering of a certain devaluation of their work. They were, however, discerning to indicate out that devaluation doesn’t only come in a form of sincerely descent comments from outsiders, though also from within fandoms themselves, where a suspicion of fan novella and fan art are thrown out as synonymous with meaningless filth.
Even on a criminal circuit—a place you’d consider starved fandom would be welcomed—Kiki Jenkins has seen a rising trend of “bad fanfic” readings. Sometimes, pithy erotica is forced on talent to review aloud in sequence to bleed an broke and disastrous reaction.
“I get unhappy during people who provide us like zoo animals,” says Betty Days. “Who are meddlesome in a enlightenment and a difference and a approach we work, who investigate it underneath a lens and afterwards uncover it to their peers like, ‘look during these weirdoes, what freaks.’”
It’s a view many cultures or movements competence feel and never get a possibility to state outright, though it gave me pause. I’ve finished that. I’ve intent in “hey, let’s review bad fanfic” function though giving a suspicion to a creator or how many heart competence have left into those dual sentences that send me into a fit of giggles. I’m a writer, and we do that. we should know better.
Perhaps even some-more importantly, a fanfic and fanart communities are overwhelmingly womanlike and though a need to greatfully anyone though themselves and other fans (i.e. no studios, no networks, no publishers), they have a group and leisure to emanate works that pronounce to that experience—to tell stories unconditionally by a womanlike gaze. Where in any form of media can that be said?
Rachel Crouch (@racrouch) works in film by day and writes by night/while she’s on the phone/on her lunch hour. Nothing creates her happier than violation down gender in media, Star Wars, and doing Madeline Kahn impressions. She is currently a writer over during Everygeek.net and was once a Babe in a Woods.
—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s ubiquitous criticism policy.—