BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: DURING MY TIME OUT OF COURT, I GOT A SUBJECT REQUEST!!
This is my first real client! And like all lawyers when they accept a case, I screamed “OMG!!!!” and updated my diary. Next thing I know, I’ll be filing subpoenas and drafting up wills! Awwwwww yeah, knew I was ready for this shit! BRANG. IT. AWN.
“I was curious to see how you would handle FANFICTION,” my friend calmly typed before the sudden and understandable ALLCAP SCREAM. “Especially with such gems as Rekka no Badass.”
I always knew my first real client would include screaming and the word “badass.”
Before we get into my confusing main example, let me briefly explain fanfiction: Shit. Also, poorly-constructed fan creations using popular characters or stories, shared online and derided by millions.
But yeah… Shit.
Rekka no Badass is a fanfiction about Fire Emblem, an old Gameboy Advance game. In Japanese, the game’s titled Rekka no Ken, hence the disjointed jumble of portmanteau titling. Either that or all people named Ken are badasses.
But logistics aren’t important. Not when author sadal suud outwrites Hemingway. Here’s an excerpt…
(Eliwood) worked in silence on the top of the highest mountain in the world, his concentration so extreme it was like a gay monk and hardass mercenary had babies. That extreme. His knitting rapiers dueled each other desperately, throwing their long, hard forms against each other again and again and again, growing moist with the sweat of Eliwood’s hands…
AND IN THE MEANTIME.
The codpiece was completed!
In his ecstasy Eliwood punched the universe in half.
With this example, I run into a problem.
I don’t normally start with the precipice of an argument, but this is clearly the best fanfiction ever created. The entire genre has been validated. Without hyperbole, Rekka no Badass is the greatest creation of the human race.
However, last week I alluded to another fanfiction. And unfortunately, the Twilight-inspired Fifty Shades of Grey puts us back at a solid zero. When I add in the other fan porn, we descend to rock bottom.
Oh, did I not mention that a lot of fanfiction is sexual? Cause yeah…
Eliwood put on his shiny new codpiece. It sparkled in the reddish-burgundy light. In order to activate it, he hip-thrusted the sound barrier to oblivion, and immediately proceeded to dry-hump the ever-loving shit out of Lady Lyndis, for it is not really sex if all the clothes are on, and only a true badass waits for marriage.
See, there’s two main grievances people have with fanfiction. One’s the piss-poor quality. The second is constant teenage-level perversion. And nothing illustrates both better than (oh lord NOT AGAIN) Fifty Shades of Grey. Or, as it was known in the fanfiction community, Master of the Universe.
Here’s an excerpt of the original source, written by the incomparable Snowqueens Icedragon (now known as the far-less-awesome E. L. James):
The doors open and I hurry in… desperate to escape… I really need to get out of here. I turn to look at him and he‘s leaning against the doorway beside the lift, one hand on the wall… he really is very, very good looking… it‘s distracting. His burning green eyes gaze at me… “Isabella…” he says as a farewell. “Edward…” I reply and mercifully the doors close.
… … … … … … … Really, Snowqueens?
And here’s 50 Shades, by E. L. James (she should’ve kept Snowqueens Icedragon):
The doors open, and I hurry in desperate to escape. I really need to get out of here. When I turn to look at him, he’s leaning against the doorway beside the elevator with one hand on the wall. He really is very, very good-looking. It’s distracting. His burning gray eyes gaze at me. “Anastasia,” he says as a farewell. “Christian,” I reply. And mercifully, the doors close.
See what good an editor can do? Mrs. Icedragon put her story through a publishing house, had it edited, and now it’s cured of being a complete mess of dots and long pauses. Quality goes up with good editing. But since we can’t all have the opportunity of Snowqueens, how do we validate fanfiction? How do we defend unedited mayhem comprised of non sequitur and horniness?
Well, it’s actually even simpler than knitting a codpiece or whipping your lover.
In a post for badreputation.org, guest blogger Nat Guest defended fanfiction. Guest actively authors the stuff, and admits the community is “the home of squeeing fangirls high on sugar and manga, or else of hopeless deviants: furries, kink-seekers and the downright filthy.”
She said it, not me…
But really, the sexuality is not hard to defend. It helps mostly female fanfiction authors deal with pubescence.
“Out in the real world, it’s difficult to own our own sexuality,” Guest writes. “There’s simply no room for shades of grey. You’re either frigid or a slut; you’re either straight or gay; your sexuality and identity is whatever people perceive when they look at you. But within the fanfiction community, away from the patriarchal mainstream, we can discover and explore how we feel about our own sexual and gender and personal identity…. Through the medium of fandom, we can find out who we are, and what we like, and how we feel, all through just reading stories together. And then hopefully – eventually – we get to write our own story.”
Which is surprisingly similar to my defense of Fifty Shades of Grey. Who’da thunk?
Without the sexual deviations (looking at you, HarryPotter/ProfessorSnape), the only thing to defend is quality. And that’s also easy:
We all have to start somewhere.
TheMarySue.com published two articles that defend even the worst fanfiction as a form of communication and practice. Many fanfiction sites encourage discourse and criticism, which is editing in a nutshell. Giving these young authors a voice should not be looked at as a bad thing. Imagine the shit Shakespeare wrote in his teens.
Beyond that, I don’t see much of a problem. I realize there’s a lot of bad fanfiction out there, but it’s a case of babies and bathwater. Fanfiction has enabled anyone with imagination and a keyboard to create, to share, to communicate. And using established characters allows a fantastic jumping-off point. It’s also a way to get more readers and explore narrative structure. The more I think about it, the fewer downsides I see.
It might be shit. But it’s worthwhile shit.
Hmm. I fear my first request was pretty easy. I guess I’m just a badass lawyer. Though it could be the codpiece I knitted…