by Leslie Harpold
If I was a grad student in a swanky literature program, I'd make a plea that someone let me write my thesis on Fan Fiction. I'd like to see some of those "Erotic XXX-Files Episodes" or "Me and Hanson go to Disney World" epics finally get some of the recognition they deserve.Barely scratching the surface, the most cursory search on fan fiction will yield you enough text to cover the earth at least twice with minute details about someone's idea of what would happen if the nice characters on "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" decided to try for another baby, or catch up with Sarah Crisman "the Internet's premiere author of Tomb Raider fan fiction" about her attempt to make Lara Croft a more developed entity in literature.
It's certainly not a pursuit the authors take lightly. For anything that can have fans, there is fan fiction; television shows, syndicated TV series, Anne Rice books, rock stars, and sports figures, but the two most popular pursuits fan fiction supports are pop idols and anything remotely science fiction related. When the two genres combine, we see the volume of devotees dramatically increase, which explains the popularity of fan created texts devoted to the holy trinity -- X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hanson.
I had read a few fan fiction stories, mostly about the Afghan Whigs, mostly humorous, back in the days I used to publish a paper zine and trade with other zinesters. While my zine was mostly about consumerism and media culture, with cursory rock reviews, there were a few fanzines on my swap list. I knew it existed, but I hadn't been exposed to the zealots the internet has shown me. As a matter of fact, in all my days of surfing, it took this spoof, by a smug contributor. Parodies are always more enjoyable when you're familiar with the object of the spoof, so I set out to find some Hanson Fan Fiction, thinking I would find maybe three or four stories languishing in semi obscurity on some Geocities page, likely penned by a moony Catholic school girl.
Boy, was I wrong. Yahoo has it broken down by sub genre, but there are well over 100 sites listed with many of them containing links to unlisted secret Hanson fiction sites. Since not all the writers are singularly devoted to those cute little boys, this lead me to a whole world of obsessed "writers" with too much time on their hands and a penchant for describing, to the smallest detail, the way they'd like to see their favorite fictional characters dress.
The fans just want to show their love, even if that love is scary and delusional. Pages of Hanson fan fiction tend to carry little warnings and disclaimers like
X-Files fan authors specialize. There is a group called the Relationshippers, who are devoted to the idea that Mulder and Scully should marry, and have created an encyclopedic body of work detailing the most minute aspects of how they imagine their crime solving life, as well as their private lives - would develop. The other compelling sub genre would be the X-Files Slash fiction, which develops alternate romances between Mulder and some of the other male characters in the show. The slash authors, who write exclusively about homoerotic relationships between the shows characters are almost exclusively women, citing their taste in stories as the feature that sets them apart for the group they call "the mundanes" which would be, anyone who's not into prefab character man on man action.
Without the need for character development, and stringent scrutiny by their peers who feel they "know the characters as well as themselves" authors of fan fiction work within tight confinement. They insist that it's about combining their two greatest passions, love for whatever it is they're a fan of, and of course, the writing. After reading hundreds (it amy be thousands, but I'll only admit to hundreds) of these half finished tomes, I can assure you that it's not about the writing.
Like a moth to the flame that will ultimately be it's undoing I am attracted to these stories though. Perhaps because I cut television out of my life a few years back, or maybe because it gives me confidence that I'm not actually the biggest hack out there, that somewhere in America, there's some 17 year old writing Taylor Hanson erotica that might actually have an even more tenuous grasp of the language than I do. Frankly I don't feel good about myself. Like the fat kid challenging the girl in the scoliosis brace to a foot race, the playing field isn't level.
The one thing I can't help but admire though, is the true believer mood of all the fan fiction sites. Hanson Fan Fiction has been my guilty pleasure of choice, and largely because Hanson fan writers never finish their stories or wish any harm on anyone. They optimistically long for a world in which everyone is in love, and everyone has a place to express themselves openly without being judged. And of course, where they can be bestest friends with those adorable little blonde boys from Tulsa. If you've ever wondered if you've gotten too cynical for this world, you might want at take a trip to fan fiction land. You'll come out on the other side even more jaded about the effectiveness of the food chain, but you will be much happier to possess whatever cynicism you can scrape together. The first moment you start thinking about how you would handle ti if stories likethis were getting written about you is when it all snapped into place for me.
Before you do though, remember this warning, as issued by one of the Internet's foremost purveyors of Hanson fan fiction:
If you're close minded and /or are unable to distinguish between reality and fiction and/or are simply squimish and easily shocked, do yourself a favor and DON'T READ FAN FICTION.
Although it seems the other warning would be true, if tyou have a hard time with reality and fantasy, you might not really be the best person to be writing fan fiction either. At least I never subscribed to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction erotica mailing list. (Oh yes, it's real).
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