I am genuinely curious why people do this.
I think I’m going to write some Arrow fics based solely on what I’ve seen on my dash.
There’s tons of Supernatural on my dash, sure I think I could write a couple (or 40) fics about it. Let’s see, the blond one is putting it to the hot angel or possibly his brother who may or may not be a moose. Okay, both of them at the same time. Then the Advanced Placement kid runs in the room screaming “I’m not dead!” and hops into the bed. Booger from Revenge of the Nerds stands around glowering at the fuckpile because he is apparently Not Nice and any woman that appears will spontaneously combust or be evil. The attractive mens will kill Booger and the evil vaginas with salt. The End.
Who needs to watch a show? Gimme some motherfuckin Kudos.
I read so many Merlin fan fics this summer without seeing an episode. I have now but over the summer I didn’t know any secondary characters. I needed to look them up to see what they looked like.
Write what you love. This post rocks.
It’s not weird! What’s weird about it? How many fanfic writers HAVEN’T at some point encountered a fanfic that we loved so much we wished we could write fanfic of the fanfic? These people are writing fanfiction based on fandom. And considering the depth and richness and excitement of many of the fanfics you can find in any given fandom, quite often it’s frankly better than the show to begin with anyway.
There are at least two or three shows that I refuse to ever watch, because I encountered their fandoms first and I know that the shows themselves will only be a letdown.
I cannot stress enough how very sarcastic my post was.
No, I don’t want to write a fic based on a show I have never seen. I think it’s a terrible idea. Why? Because I don’t really know the characters at all. All I know are the broad caricatures that Tumblr has reduced these characters to, in a very selective manner. If I didn’t have a few friends that are very into SPN, and talk about it around me, I’d never know that Supernatural has had a lot of female characters on it, some of them longish running and/or recurring, because I almost never see them on my dash. The fic that gets written is about Dean/Castiel (understandable, I gather) or the brothers, or it pairs one of those people up with one of the recurring male characters. The women are mostly ignored. If anyone ever on the show is not white besides Kevin, you wouldn’t know it from Tumblr.
You could write a story basing it on the characterizations you’ve come across in other stories, but what that is essentially is a Xerox of a Xerox. An altered photocopy of a copy that loses more and more detail and clarity with every watered down transference of impression. (I don’t think every fanfic story is a duplicate, btw- I’m referring to the characterizations being spread.) So instead of people watching the source and creating their own impression and putting it into words, they’re making copies that are more and more removed from the source until they bear no resemblance to it.
Can they do that if they enjoy it and don’t care about accuracy to source and character? Absolutely. Writing is a pleasure. You do it for free, so do what makes you happy. But it’s pretty arrogant to think that fanfic is better than the source. First of all, shows have limitations and they can only have one hour per week, or what info they can convey within a 2-3 hour film. Fanfiction is a great place to elaborate on the blank space, the in-between time. The romantic and sexual interludes, the quiet domestic spaces that a TV show would never bother with, the family moments, the silly bits in a darkly dramatic show. That’s why fanfiction survives and thrives.
But we also have another issue- and let’s use the new Bond fandom as an example: so many fics erase women or paint them negatively, and generally ignore characters played by PoC like Felix Leiter (played by Jeffrey Wright in the Craig films). Authors basing only on other fic will themselves now be eliminating women and people of color and a lot of other diversity in the fictional world. Mostly because they didn’t even know these characters existed or have been led to believe that is what that character is like, canonically.
But I cannot begin to understand why you would refuse to watch a show because you think the fanfic will always be better. Fanfic, though related, is very different from the visual medium of film and television.
TL; DR: Yes, you can base your fics solely on other fic if it makes you happy but it doesn’t make it quality and you’re missing out on the chance to explore great characters from that fictional world.
Oh, no worries, the sarcasm of your post came through clearly!
"But I cannot begin to understand why you would refuse to watch a show because you think the fanfic will always be better. Fanfic, though related, is very different from the visual medium of film and television.”
Because ‘better’ is entirely subjective. When it comes to consumption of media, ‘better’ pretty much translates entirely to ‘what you personally like better.’ That’s not arrogant. That’s just how humans work. In fact, you just answered yourself: “Can they do that if they enjoy it and don’t care about accuracy to source and character? Absolutely. Writing is a pleasure. You do it for free, so do what makes you happy.”
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. There’s no ‘but’ or ‘except’ or any additional perspectives or information to impart.
And on this issue:
“But we also have another issue- and let’s use the new Bond fandom as an example: so many fics erase women or paint them negatively, and generally ignore characters played by PoC like Felix Leiter (played by Jeffrey Wright in the Craig films). Authors basing only on other fic will themselves now be eliminating women and people of color and a lot of other diversity in the fictional world. Mostly because they didn’t even know these characters existed or have been led to believe that is what that character is like, canonically.”
Don’t buy it. I don’t think it changes anything.
I think that the people who don’t include diversity in their fanfic are the same people who wouldn’t include diversity in their fanfic even if they realized they had the option.
I think that if we want diversity in our fanfic, we basically have to invent it anyway, either by inventing characters or reinventing the characters who are presented to us. Western media isn’t exactly super-hot at providing these characters with depth or range to begin with. It’s generally not like you’ve missed out on some rich, inspired well of diversity if you skip out on the source material.
I think that for every fan creator who cuts out or belittles characters of diversity in their work, you’ll find another who respects them, includes them, and goes DEEPER than the source material.
I think that sometimes it gets pretty offensive to insist to people that we we’re failing if we DON’T like these characters, when quite frequently the reason we don’t like them is because they read to us as tokens or caricatures.
And frankly fandom is where I have LEARNED the vast majority of what I understand about feminism, POC, and LGBT. Certainly people should should be trying to expand their horizons when it comes to inclusion in their fanfic, and people in fandom are just as capable of being racist or saying stupid things as everybody else in the world, but these are NOT subjects that are being ignored or dismissed in fandom. In fact in my experience, they get a lot LESS glossed over in fandom than they do in the shows that serve as the source material—where, even if you think the heroine of the show is the coolest, baddest-ass thing you’ve ever come across, you still live in fear from episode to episode that at any moment she’ll be relegated back to rescue-sack and door prize.
So frankly yeah, quite often I think fandom does it better.
Finally, your analogy of ‘Xerox of a Xerox’ is a false comparison. That would only apply if the purpose of fanwork was to preserve the integrity of the original image, which is NOT the purpose of fanwork. The purpose of fanwork is to bring your own interpretation to a character or creative idea you have encountered. And for that purpose, it is just as valid to bring your own interpretation to somebody else’s interpretation as it is to bring your own interpretation to the character as shown on TV.
There’s this concept that professional media has inculcated into us that creative work that has made it through the gatekeeper is somehow inherently BETTER. That if it’s on TV or in a hardcopy book on the shelf at B&N, it’s inherently superior, more valuable, more worthy of preservation and protection. And that’s just not true. Certainly the production quality is often better, because big profitable companies have poured money into the spit & polish. But it doesn’t make the CONTENT better than what anybody else in the world invents. Do you see how insidious that idea is? That’s how Hollywood and the RIAA and the big publishers preserve their hegemony and keep all the other voices and minorities and groups in their place.