OTW Fannews: How much is too much?

Banner by Diane of two graph lines labeled 'fanon' and 'canon' with fanon rising and canon sinking.

  • Death and Taxes complained about What happens when fan fiction takes over the original? “It’s not unusual to do a concept production of a play or musical.” But “Playbill has just announced a national tour of the long-running musical The Fantasticks that is ‘re-envisioned as a steampunk-inspired production.'” Writer Madeline Raynor complained “not only are you foisting a misguided concept onto the show, but you’re not actually integrating it in?” and concludes “[W]hen the creative team behind the source material uses fan fiction-like elements to change the original? That gets weird.”
  • Some reviewers agreed with this sentiment in regards to the third season of Sherlock. The International Business Times said “Some people have not been too happy that the series has catered to its online fan base over more casual viewers. ‘While any successful TV drama these days should generate fan fiction, it can not afford to become entirely fan fiction itself,’ said Mark Lawson in The Guardian.” But IBT countered “It’s an interesting point, but fails to recognise the unique position of Sherlock as fan fiction since its inception, as well as how over recent years the boundaries between professional media and fan fiction have become increasingly blurred.”
  • Laurie Penny at The New Statesman agreed, claiming “The BBC’s Sherlock doesn’t just engage with fan fiction – it is fan fiction.” However she goes further to note “What is significant about unofficial, extra-canonical fan fiction is that it often spins the kind of stories that showrunners wouldn’t think to tell, because fanficcers often come from a different demographic. The discomfort seems to be not that the shows are being reinterpreted by fans, but that they are being reinterpreted by the wrong sorts of fans – women, people of colour, queer kids, horny teenagers, people who are not professional writers, people who actually care about continuity (sorry). The proper way for cultural mythmaking to progress, it is implied, is for privileged men to recreate the works of privileged men from previous generations whilst everyone else listens quietly.”
  • NPR’s Monkey See blog discussed both Sherlock and the opening episode of Community when questioning the amount of outside intrusion. “Fan service is kind of a cheap gimmick, like a drug thrown out to keep the fans quiet for now, in case something happens down the line that will really upset them. It may feel really good, but it doesn’t last, and like a lot of other temporary boosts, it will one day lead to withdrawal…I didn’t tune in to Sherlock to see slash fiction or to Community for jokes about the people writing the dialogue. It’s great that they know their fans, but they should also remember what they did to get fans in the first place.”

What percolating fandom influences have you noticed in media texts? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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