Today’s post is going to get a little ranty (which my wife should approve of…seeing as she claims the not-so-ranty posts of late are much too boring). But it’s Tuesday…and that’s the day I’ve allowed myself for ranting.
And I have some good ranting to go around.
And one item I’ve been wanting to rant about for forever is fan fiction.
It’s nothing new. Fan fiction has been huge for forever. In fact, I once read that one of the best ways to get a job writing for television is to write a fan fiction episode and submit it for consideration (no clue if that’s true…just something I read some random place once). I’m pretty sure most of the books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (you know, the universe that Disney said no longer applies) started out as fan-fiction, and 50 Shades of Gray…well…that also began its life as Twilight fan-fic.
But you can look even further back and see how fan fiction has been around for forever. Most fantasy novels are really nothing more than Tolkien fan-fic, although not generally including the characters and places from those novels.
But it seems that in recent years, a certain acceptance of fan-fiction has come about. Heck, even Amazon has a deal in place with many properties in which authors can write fan fiction and legally make money off it (with, I’m assuming, a kickback going to the intellectual property owners). There’s a whole host of fan-fiction being sold right now on the Harry Potter universe (one series that keeps showing up in my recommended reading advertisements being on the adventures of Harry’s son James).
And…well…don’t get me started on 50 Shades.
As you can probably guess, I’ve got quite a bit of a distaste for fan fiction. Yes, I’ve read a couple Star Wars Expanded Universe novels and actually enjoyed them, and I did read Eoin Colfer’s addition to the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, but I don’t really consider either of those true fan-fiction…although I’ll admit feeling a little dirty with both.
But what I do have issue with right now is the current overwhelming acceptance of it. In fact, one could make an argument stating that it would be easier today to find success as an author by creating stories within a popular world than to create your own.
Perhaps that’s where my issue lies.
I mean, here I sit, crafting extreme backgrounds on new worlds while developing an interesting storyline within them, where other authors are really just rehashing old ideas and including themselves in romantic entanglements with favorite characters…and actually making money off the deal.
No…here’s the issue. I’ve decided and you can’t convince me otherwise :-). I think fan fiction and it’s currently growing acceptance, is killing literature. Sure, you could probably write a Hemingway-esque piece within the Harry Potter universe, but why would you? People are becoming so completely myopic in their interests in everything, books, television, movies and other, that before long, we’ll find that there will people who will choose to read nothing except Harry Potter fan-fiction. Then that will become a genre, wedged between the Hunger Games and Twilight fan-fiction sections, until we have no concept of anything except for books based on other books.
People are becoming so disinterested in things that they haven’t already experienced…and it frightens me. For example (and this one is a poor one, I realize, but I’m using it anyways)…on my recent vacation which included a niece and nephew of mine, the nephew had no interest in doing anything except for the one thing he knew about going in, that he could ride a ride based on Star Wars. You asked him if he wanted to check out the Tea Cups, he said no. Once he got to do the Star Wars thing, it was almost impossible to convince him of doing anything outside of playing with his new Legos inside the hotel room. (Note: he did try new things, and absolutely loved the Tea Cups).
I fear this could be a growing trend…a fear of the unknown. We see it everywhere, politics, religion, even just in traveling altogether, people seem to be completely disinterested (if not completely afraid) of trying new things. This isn’t just the old adage about kids and new food items, this is full-grown adults shutting themselves off from new experiences.
Books have always been a great opportunity to travel to new places, to experience new things, all from the safety of your own home. When we start to loose that freedom as well, that sense of adventure, then I fear the world’s growing agoraphobia, or even more terrible, neophobia, will become crippling.
We live in an awesome era of the world, where the distance between us and completely different cultures is almost non-existent. But at the same time, that distance is growing for many because they’ve found that they don’t need to even try to comprehend anything outside of the things they already know about. Try talking to someone with one of those Coexist bumper stickers on their car…you’ll often find that they are more likely to comment about how everyone needs to see things their way than they will want to understand the backgrounds that bring people to their different ideas.
So…you know…what I’m saying is that fan fiction and its rise to prominence just might possible mark the downfall of mankind.
Is that too hyperbolic?
Look, I get it…it’s just a little fun, a chance to explore new sections of a world that you enjoyed. I’m merely stating that there are countless other worlds for you to explore that might even be in different genres than you typically expect (and I’m talking about actual genres, like Westerns, Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the like, not that Steampunk, Paranormal Romance crap). In fact, you might find that genres are way less important than you think, once you start opening your mind to what all is out there…as long, of course, as you actually find a competent author.
Was that ranty enough?
Have fun out there!