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In response to the latest fandom kerfuffle...

Author Diana Gabaldon has come out against fanfic in no uncertain terms. So unambiguous, in fact, that she summed up her position here:

"OK, my position on fan-fic is pretty clear: I think it’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters."

She's since followed up her initial post with a somewhat amended comment where she admits that she never considered that fanfic comes from love of the original material. How she could miss that, I don't know, but whatever.



Everyone's in an uproar over this, and I don't know why. I have no idea who Diana Gabaldon is or what she's written and for that reason I say... so what? She's hardly the first author to come out against fanfic. Her comment is both ignorant as well as offensive, but there isn't a damn thing she can do about us. Fic isn't illegal. If it were, then we would have been put out of business decades ago. All she or anyone else can do is send one of those little cease and desist letters to various websites and hope that the site maintainers will be intimidated enough to comply. But the important thing is that they don't have to listen.

For further thoughts on this issue, I defer to [Bad username or site: @ livejournal.com] (also known as the illustrious Aja), who wrote an answer in defense of fic and has compiled an enviably long and thorough list of all the professionally published fanfic here. I had no idea so many Pulitzer Prize winners were on that list! I think that list speaks for itself, frankly.

What really bothers me about this whole thing isn't that she's against fanfic, but that she felt compelled to make the entry in the first place because so many people have talked to her about fic involving her characters.

I beg, I plead, I prostrate myself before the fandom hoard to stop showing fics to authors. As a fandom, we're a subculture, y'all. Sub means that we'll never be part of the mainstream. Fandom will never get the outside validation some people seem determined to seek. As if the fact that Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and so on are okay with fic based on their stuff makes it okay that we write it. It's awesome that they're in support of it, but our validation comes from within our community, not outside. We're in a good, legally ambiguous place right now, and it ticks me off that these well-meaning people are jeopardizing our safe space. Poking the sleeping dragon, if you will. By inviting outsiders-- people who don't understand our community and don't want to-- into our safe space, we're inviting ridicule and judgment. And it stops being a safe space.

It wasn't so long ago that the average person had no idea what fanfic or slash was. Now, a perverted view of who and what we are has seeped into the mainstream consciousness, and I don't think the loss of anonymity has been to our benefit. In short, we gain nothing from showing fic to professional authors or from bombarding authors like Gabaldon with defensive comments on her blog because she hurt our feelings. So I wish people would just stop. Keep it where it belongs-- in the family.
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starvinbohemian

May 2010

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