Essays about fic.

Canonicity and the Nature of Fic

You know, I’m right alongside the critics who bemoan all the fic in which the sole and single resemblance between the fic character and canon character is name and possibly coloring. Or, at least, I’m right alongside the idea that this kind of fic should be clearly labled so I can avoid it. But I also see the same people pushing for total canonicity, which I really think is missing the point of fanfic itself.

Whose Smut?

One thing I find curious, though, is that the author doesn’t think there has been a debate in the West yet between straight women writing this stuff and gay men protesting the inaccurate appropriation of their sexuality. Admittedly, the more vocal rounds of it have taken place in slash rather than yaoi, but there’s enough overlap of authors that the effects have spread to both.

Communication and Textual Ownership

Stories have the weight they do because they are metaphors; they employ symbols, hopefully shared ones, to convey more than everyday words do. This demands even more work on the part of the hearers/collaborators than usual. After making that kind of demand, after choosing to use more than usually obscure and ambiguous media for communication, I think it’s a bit much for the authors to get pissy over readers attaching meanings they didn’t have in mind.

Two Discourse Communities of Fic

Stories that are stories (STAS): these are what people mean when they talk about caring for the art and craft of writing. These are the stories presented to convey something about the characters in question, commentaries on yet another story that serves as source text. Generally some effort is made to stay congruent with the source text.

Stories that are not stories (STANS): these make no attempt to interpret the source text, rather they function purely as shibboleths. These are gestures of community, presented to convey the writer’s interest in belonging. Generally, they include only enough reference to the source text to distinguish, say, Naruto from Fushigi Yuugi. At least half the fics posted at fall into this category.

Criticism and Authority in Fandom

A great many negative responses to negative comments that I’ve seen, my own included, are variations on the theme of “Where do you get off talking like that to me?” Which then gives rise to the standard return, which has become some variation on “You posted it in public and nobody paid me to be nice, get over it.” It may sound like an exchange over manners or freedom of speech or too much/too little personal investment, and those issues are, no doubt, present. But I think the underlying debate has directly to do with how authority is produced in fandom.