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Fanfiction is everywhere

The negative connotation surrounding fanfiction should not exist

Oxford Languages defines fanfiction as “fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, book, etc.” While the word itself has a very neutral definition, it has a very negative connotation for those who are not familiar with it.

Oscar Bullock, a grade 11 student at King, says, “I don’t know too much about it [fanfiction], but I know that usually it’s associated with really weird romantic ships that make a lot of people uncomfortable.”

Fanfiction can definitely be problematic with its content, but is the same not true for other forms of media? Are there really that few bad movies? Are there not TV shows that tackle problems in very insensitive ways? Do books that glamorize abusive relationships not exist? 

“I like that it lets people express their own opinions and their own stories,” Bullock continues. “But the fact that it has to use someone else’s template and usually certain writers give it a really bad rep in general, so I’m just not a fan of how people can take someone else’s pre-established work and just kind of ruin it in their own twisted way.”

Many do not understand that the daily content they consume can easily be considered fanfiction. By the official meaning, various types of stories would fit under the category: anything based on mythology (since it uses the characters from the legends), any movie or TV show adapted from a book, and even the later Star Wars movies could be considered fanfiction because Dave Filoni, the chief creative director of the later Star Wars projects, is a fan of the earlier films. Even the grade 11 ENG 3U1 course is fanfiction because it involves taking an act from The Tragedy of Macbeth and rewriting it in modern English in an alternate setting. 

The main differences are that instead of being written down on paper, it stays in their minds, and the writers do not get paid.  “I think fanfiction kind of naturally spirals out of a child’s imagination, especially if it’s something you love and you want more of that, you know?” says Mr. Wilkinson, RH King Academy’s very own published author. “Anytime I had my Star Trek toys, my Star Wars toys, my transformer toys, they’d be having adventures. They’d be having battles. And some of these things were just as real to me as what you would see in a movie. So, yeah, I guess fanfiction is just a natural extension of that desire for more.”

Fanfiction is also similar to books and movies in the sense that it is a type of media that contains multiple genres within itself. To say someone likes books does not give the full picture of their interests; within the category, there exists fantasy, romance, dystopia, historical fiction, mystery, and so much more. The same is true for fanfictions because it is such a diverse type of media. There are alternate universes where the characters are famous, cowboys, they can even be werewolves! The settings also vary as one fanfiction can take place in a coffee shop while another fanfiction in the same fandom featuring the same characters can take place in Hogwarts. Some writers opt to fill in a missing scene, while others decide to rewrite it. Some add so much of their own ideas that it is indistinguishable from the original! Marlene Mckinnon was only mentioned a few times in the Harry Potter series, but has her own tag on Archive of our Own (Ao3)—a site on which users can read, write, and post fanart, fanfiction, and original work—and has multiple stories written about her life!

Yes, while there are silly stories on Ao3 that anybody can write, such as a story titled “I Am Groot” by sherlocksmyth, there are also extremely well thought out pieces of fiction like “All The Young Dudes” by MsKingBean89. “I Am Groot” simply consists of the words “I am Groot” over and over again for 1 308 words, and was one of the most clicked on stories on the site for a while. “All the Young Dudes”, on the other hand, details the lives of the Marauders from Harry Potter through the point of view of Remus Lupin. This series (yes, a series: it is over 570 000 words, which is equivalent to four novels) explores themes of friendship, acceptance, prejudice, grief, war, alcoholism, and many other topics that the original seven books did not even touch!

Now that it is clear that fanfiction accomplishes much beyond its reputation, where exactly does this negative connotation come from? One reason is that anything posted online is open to criticism. The way characters behave in a particular story, the overall writing style, and even the overuse of commas is on the table for audiences to berate and make fun of! As soon as something hits the general population, it is subjected to hate. 

It is possible the negative connotations are due to the majority of fanfictions writers and consumers being female. In society’s misogynistic beliefs, anything that a woman enjoys is automatically seen as silly, stupid, and cringey. After all, lots of men enjoy partaking in fantasy football, a game where players own a virtual American football team with any combination of NFL players. So, participants are taking real people and putting them in fictional scenarios… Does this sound familiar to anyone? Perhaps it is almost like a subgenre of fanfiction where real celebrities are the main characters of stories; stories that are widely seen as creepy and disrespectful, yet making players on opposite teams play side by side for fun is not. There can certainly be problems with fanfiction of real people, but when one is created and enjoyed by grown men, and the other by teenage girls, why does the former not receive any criticism? Why is Thor, a character based in Norse mythology not seen as twisting the original tales? Why is the continuation of the Star Wars franchise not met with uproar? 

Fanfiction has countless upsides: it does not exist for the sole purpose of generating profit (at least the ones posted to fanfiction sites do not), is an excellent way to broaden the enjoyment of existing content, and it is filled with tags that let the reader know what they are about to read (should they choose to avoid certain subject matter). Most importantly, however, people engage with it far more often than they believe.

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About the Contributor
Nabiha Tahseen, Section Editor
Nabiha Tahseen is a Section Editor for the Books and Music section of the Kingsley Voice. She can often be found binge-watching Parks and Recreation and listening to Louis Tomlinson. According to her, the best book in the world is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nabiha has been a part of the team since 2021.

Comments (4)

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  • A

    Aleesha QureshiApr 12, 2024 at 11:38 pm

    omg this is so fire nabiha you are so amazing! i love fan fic !

  • S

    Salwa and KanishaMar 7, 2024 at 10:42 am

    This has offered a different perspective on fanfictions, thank you it was so informative 🙂

  • P

    PriyankaMar 4, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    Woah! Very informative and stupendous article!

  • N

    Nikita HardialMar 3, 2024 at 7:50 pm

    This makes me want to check out that “i am groot” fanfiction…