OTW Fannews: Fanworks going public

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  • Over the last ten years as fanworks have spread to more and more online sites, it’s become a daily occurrence to find a media story pointing to one or more of them. Often these stories profess a sense of astonishment that they exist but don’t do any research or provide any useful information. More recently, an even less informative but more unpleasant stunt has become common, as interviewers use fanworks to provoke a celebrity reaction. The fanwork creators are generally no more pleased at the outcome than the celebrities.
  • While such incidents have occurred repeatedly in connection to various fandoms, one has finally brought the fan point-of-view into the media coverage. As reported in various outlets, at a special screening for Sherlock fans its panel moderator insisted on the lead actors reading excerpts from a NSFW fanfic. What was different were the number of writers focusing on fans’ reactions. “There has been an outpouring of support for ‘mildredandbobbin’ from Tumblr Sherlockians, with one slash fiction writer even outing herself and declared that she was proud of what she wrote. Another supporter has written an open letter, attacking Moran and saying that she has helped perpetuate a misogynistic misrepresentation of the fangirls.”
  • Chris Meadows at Teleread prompted a discussion about the issue. “So, both Cumberbatch and Freeman seem to be more or less cool with the whole slash fan art thing. Yet various personalities seem to think it’s funny to confront them with this stuff over and over, as if this time they’ll manage to get a rise out of them.”
  • Author Angela Highland expressed concern at the message being sent by such incidents. “I’m a fan of not pointing and laughing at people. There’s way too much of that in the world. And not enough encouragement of people to make some goddamn art.”
  • Zap2It recounted the incident with many excerpts of the fic, but concluded “There may be two important lessons here: 1) Fan fiction has its place and this was not it. 2) Never mess with a fandom. They do not appreciate those who mock.”
  • Queerty called the stunt a disaster. “According to audience reports, as is often the case when mainstream tastes detect even a hint of kink, Moran presented the fanfic as mocking and silly and campy and lame. Because gosh, how stupid of people to be passionate about something.”
  • The Telegraph went beyond the incident to mention fanfiction traditions and explain what went wrong. “Some of the people writing fanfic – including the author of the piece Moran supplied to Cumberbatch and Freeman – are grown women and mums finding an enjoyable and productive outlet for having fun. They don’t want to see the fourth wall broken any more than the actors want to do it.”
  • Blogger Sarah Siegel took a contrary view, in part because of the lack of visible reaction to previous events. “And nobody’s ever really made a fuss about it. The author or artist chose to share their work publicly, and at worst it makes for an uncomfortable interview — which is the interviewer’s prerogative. The one caveat I’d add is that there is a difference between a TV interview intended to promote a project which will be screened to thousands (or millions) of people, and a very intimate Q&A intended for a small audience of die-hard fans. So if Moran made one gaffe, it was in not really understanding her audience.” If so, then presumably the next time such an incident occurs, no one will be able to suggest that it’s never mattered to anyone.

What fanwork ambushes have you seen happening? Write about them Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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